Driver Dan Partyka delivers an overnight package last year. As more people buy more goods online, the rapid and unrelenting expansion of e-commerce is causing real challenges for UPS. It costs more to deliver items to individual doorsteps instead of delivering a whole pallet full of goods to stores. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

UPS-Teamsters labor deal tackles weekend deliveries, potential for drones and driverless vehicles

A tentative deal for a new labor contract between UPS and the Teamsters union creates a new category of drivers to handle weekend shifts, as the surge in online shopping prompts increased demand for deliveries on the weekends.

The deal also calls for the company to review technological changes with the union six months before rolling out changes, such as the deployment of delivery drones, driverless vehicles or some other innovation, according to a document on the deal released by the Teamsters on Tuesday.

The tentative deal reached last month on massive collective bargaining agreements covers roughly 260,000 workers at UPS, including drivers, package sorters and loaders, operations and dock workers, and is subject to approval by UPS local unions.

The current contracts run through July 31. But the union agreed to a contract extension to allow time for local unions to review the deal and supplemental agreements being negotiated.

If the deal is ratified after this month, pay increases in the deal would take effect retroactive to Aug. 1.

Denis Taylor, co-chairman of the Teamsters negotiating committee, said in a written statement that the deal provides “tremendous gains in wages, benefits and working conditions for years to come.”

UPS has said the deal  would “reward the company’s employees.... while enabling the business to remain flexible,” according to a written statement.

The deal calls for pay raises, including a boost for the company’s thousands of part-time workers, who would start at $13 an hour under the new agreement, up from $10 an hour currently, according to the Teamsters.

The tentative agreement also calls for the creation of 5,000 new full-time jobs over the five-year term of the agreement.

To prevent regular drivers from having to work weekend shifts, the agreement would create a category of drivers that would work Tuesday-Saturday or Wednesday-Sunday.

UPS recently added Saturday pickups and deliveries, since people tend to do a lot of online shopping over the weekend and the orders can pile up by Monday. The company has not expanded such deliveries to Sunday, but the union deal allow the company to do so in the future.

The weekend drivers would make up at most 25 percent of the total work force of regular drivers.

In June before the deal was reached, the union announced the results of a vote to authorize a strike if necessary, a negotiating tactic to ratchet up pressure during negotiations. The Teamsters have faced challenges from dissident groups criticizing deals the union has reached. 

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