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UPS Teamsters fight against wage cuts

By Severin Mortensen

UPS Teamsters oppose wage cuts to part time workers.

Lansing, MI – As UPS moves out from its peak season, the company is ending market rate adjustments (MRAs) and bonus programs designed to attract workers and boost part-time employees’ pay. The negotiated part-time pay rate for workers hired since August 1, 2018 is $15.33 per hour, with a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) included. Teamsters Local 623 reports that UPS paid its members $19 an hour as part of an MRA and the workers are taking a 27% pay cut as the adjustments expire.

While higher pay is a good thing, these MRAs and similar weekly attendance bonus programs have had a divisive effect on workers and have pitted new hires and higher seniority workers against each other. The wage scale in the contract represents a minimum amount a worker can be paid. However, when an MRA is in effect the new hires can make the same or very close to the same as the high seniority workers.

In centers where attendance bonuses were given by the employer, they were not given evenly. In Local 243, for example, bonuses were only given to workers hired after May 1, 2021. Matt Hermann, a member from Local 243 in Madison Heights, Michigan said of the bonus, “They’re basically telling me my labor is worth less than the new person.” Don LePard, another member of Local 243 from Lansing, Michigan described the bonuses as “a double-edge sword,” elaborating, “If they don’t do anything for the long-term employees, it’s not going to go over well.”

As the MRAs end, the UPS workers who are members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are not accepting these wage cuts without a fight. The Teamsters Joint Council 7, Local 553, Local 315 and Local 623, among others, have held rallies, petition drives, and parking lot meetings to organize members around the issue. Matt Hermann has gone as far as filing labor charges against the company over unequal implementation of bonuses.

The incoming administration, the O’Brien-Zuckerman slate, released a statement on their Facebook page calling for UPS to reinstate the MRA pay rates and stated they would fight for higher part-time wages at the bargaining table.

The pay cuts – in the form of ending the MRAs – are being announced at the same time that UPS reports $10.9 billion in profits for 2021, beating what had the previous record profits they made in 2020. Stephanie Shiver, a member of Local 767 from Mesquite, Texas, said, “The MRAs and bonus programs are definite proof part-timers got low-balled in 2018. We deserve better wages, and we need better wages to survive. We must fight for them in 2023 so that we don’t rely on the ‘kindness’ of this company to maintain them.”

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