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Corporate greed at the root of late UPS holiday deliveries

By staff

Jacksonville, FL – Many UPS customers woke up on Christmas morning with a few packages missing under the tree. On Dec. 25, UPS management admitted that they failed to deliver many packages to expectant customers due to a surge of late holiday orders. FedEx customers reported similar delays in package delivery.

Although UPS spokeswoman Natalie Black tried to place the blame for the service failure on high volume, the actual cause of the late deliveries is the greedy and exploitative policies of UPS management. November and December are the busiest and most profitable months for the giant logistics corporation, which reported fourth-quarter revenues of $14.57 billion in 2012 alone. This period, dubbed ‘peak season’ by the company, is also the time when UPS workers are asked to work the longest and most intense hours, with many drivers working 14-hour shifts.

During peak season, UPS hires a large seasonal workforce to deal with the higher volume. Most seasonal employees receive low pay and little to no training, while many permanent part-time employees work two or three jobs to make ends meet. During peak season, these part-time employees work shifts often over eight hours and many are forced to go without sleep to work their second job.

“The issue is instead of working people to the bone they should hire people full time,” said Cory Oliver, a UPS worker and member of Teamsters Local 344. “There are way too many people pulling 13 to 16 hour shifts when they're only scheduled for 3.5 hours minimum. It creates dangerous working conditions when you're working with a person that exhausted. They also rely on people who are months-in with no insurance or knowledge of their rights and take advantage.”

UPS delivers high profits to shareholders by keeping their labor costs low, which means low wages and long hours for workers. In southern states, like Florida, UPS hires temporary workers to deliver packages using unshielded golf carts. These workers are barely paid over minimum wage. UPS cuts corners by hiring these temporary workers off of the street, rather than adding more jobs and delivery routes for permanent employees during the holidays.

UPS’s long-established practice of inadequately staffing their operations seems to have finally caught up with them. Oliver put it this way: “So then they rely on drivers who don't know their routes and seasonal loaders who don't know where the boxes go, creating a back-up in service that then makes service failures for the company and customers’ gifts.”

Oliver continued, “We had one night where our entire belt, short of one load, was unable to scan [boxes]. So we were yelled at to work faster to pick up the company’s confusion of what boxes went where.”

On Dec. 26, Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) released a statement about the massive service failure, saying, “For years, management has been boosting profits by shrinking the workforce – cutting and combining routes and eliminating full-time jobs inside on the package trucks and in the hubs. Excessive overtime, supervisors working and production harassment are no substitute for having enough Teamsters to get the job done right.”

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represent UPS workers across the country. According to Article 3, Section 7 of the National UPS Master Agreement, UPS “shall make every reasonable effort to maintain a sufficient workforce to staff its operations with bargaining unit employees.”

As of Dec. 27, UPS customers continued to report late deliveries.

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