While nonunion Amazon workers were celebrating the company’s pledge to hike their minimum wage pay to $15 an hour last week, unionized UPS workers were busy voting against a collectively bargained five-year contract with a starting pay of only $13 an hour.
By Friday, 54 percent of the 92,604 UPS workers had voted against the contract. Many were not only unsatisfied with a lower starting pay than nonunion Amazon, but also with the proposal’s creation of a new underclass of lesser-paid drivers who work weekends.
Despite this, their union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), ratified the largest private-sector contract in the US – covering 243,000 UPS workers – over members’ wishes that they return to the bargaining table and hammer out a better deal.
A spokesperson for the Teamsters, the nation’s largest industrial union, said the union’s own constitution triggered the proposal’s ratification because less than half of eligible union members actually cast ballots. When turnout is under that threshold, at least two-thirds of members must vote against an agreement to reject a final offer. This is known as the “two-thirds rule.”
“Only 44.3 percent of members voted and 54.2 percent opposed the agreement – triggering the constitutional provision,” the union said. “Thus, the National Master Agreement has been ratified.”
A number of other, smaller contracts were also rejected, including an agreement representing 11,000 UPS Freight workers, who have prioritized the elimination of subcontracting. Negotiations are set to resume with those workers after 62.1 percent voted against the agreement. Teamsters face turmoil in other divisions too, including aircraft mechanics, who also recently rejected national agreements.
Even UPS itself was caught off-guard by the rapid ratification of the agreement. The company issued a revised…