Teamsters reach compromise with UPS on 2 key issues as strike looms

Hours after the union representing UPS employees told them to be prepared to authorize a strike, Teamsters said it reached an agreement on two key issues late Tuesday. 

Teamsters said that it agreed to increase the number of arbitrators to help workplace grievances be processed “fairly and quickly.” 

The two sides also agreed on clarifying the penalties UPS would owe to full-time Teamsters who are not paid correctly or suffer from payroll errors. There is also contract language that guarantees paid hours for part-time employees who suffer payroll errors and are not made whole, the union said. 

“The Teamsters will do everything we can to hold UPS financially accountable to its workforce — to all of our full-time and our part-time UPSers — who deserve to be paid more and to be paid on time,” Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien said in a statement. “When UPS screws up, it needs to own its mistakes. This company needs to be sincere and compassionate about rewarding the people who make it move, who are its backbone. Today was a good day for our team to make real progress.”

The union has claimed UPS has not taken action to improve working conditions in the heat. Teamsters said Wednesday’s negotiations between the union and UPS will include a deeper debate around heat and air conditioning infrastructure. 

UPS said discussions began with the union in mid-April. While it has not been providing updates, it went into negotiations claiming that it has already made improvements to workplace safety. 

“We’ve installed a fan in every package car,” UPS said. “We’re rapidly increasing the installation of new fans in our facilities and continue to invest more than $343 million in safety training each year. And to ensure UPSers have what they need to stay hydrated, we’re improving access to ice, cool water and electrolytes beverages.”

UPS employees have not gone on strike since 1997. The New York Times reported that the 15-day strike cost UPS $600 million in business.

One of the major issues in the 1997 strike was the number of full-time positions that had become part-time.