Teamsters, the US labour union, has approved a five-year contract with UPS despite 54% of the 92,605 UPS employees who cast their vote rejecting the deal.
The reason is that less than half of the over 200,000 UPS workers who are members of the union cast their vote. A union “two-thirds” rule specifies that if participation is low, at least two thirds of voters must reject the deal, or it will still go ahead.
A point of contention in the new contract is the creation of the new role of “hybrid drivers”, who will both sort packages at hubs and deliver them by truck, as opposed to driving full-time. They will be paid on a lesser scale than full-time drivers and won’t have the same protections against mandatory overtime.
Some UPS drivers are worried that more of their work will be shifted to the hybrid drivers, who could end up doing the same work for less pay.
However, UPS argues that these cheaper drivers are needed to keep the company competitive, especially versus rivals whose workers aren’t generally unionised.
UPS was not initially expecting the agreement to be ratified after the vote took place, issuing a statement that the company was “disappointed”, but releasing a second statement shortly after, which welcomed the deal.
Teamsters insists everything was done according to the union’s own rules and that it still intended to negotiate further.
However, Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a reform group, has expressed anger at the decision, arguing for elimination of the two-thirds rule and a change in union leadership.