UPS Teamsters overwhelmingly ratify tentative agreement
For several weeks, UPS Teamsters voted by phone and by computer on whether or not to accept a recently negotiated tentative agreement on terms for the next union contract. On Tuesday August 22, The International Brotherhood of Teamsters released the results of that vote.
Over 86% of ballots cast were votes to accept the national agreement with more than 58% of eligible voters turning out to put their vote in the box.
In addition to the national agreement, members voted on 28 regional and local supplements. Only one of these was originally rejected, which was a small supplement covered by Local 769 in Miami. The Local 769 supplement was approved on Friday, August 25, and the contract will now go into effect immediately.
This vote comes after months of practice pickets, rallies, petitions, parking lot meetings and informational flyering. Tens of thousands of Teamsters participated in the contract struggle, most for the first time in their lives. Both the turnout and approval rate are starkly different from the results of a similar vote five years ago as well as prior contract votes.
In 2018 an agreement included concessions from the union was rejected by over 54% with less than 45% turnout. That vote to reject the contract was overruled by then-President Jimmy Hoffa Jr., and the contract was put into effect despite the “no” vote.
Numbers can’t tell the whole story, but they do say something. A comparatively high turnout indicates a more engaged membership in a contract campaign. A high “yes” vote on a tentative agreement generally indicates that members felt that the credible strike forced the company to give in. Taken together, it means when we fight we can win. While this understanding on its own isn’t enough to transform the labor movement, it’s certainly a requirement.
Eric Dorland is a 22.4 driver with UPS, and a member of Teamsters Local 638 in Minneapolis. He said, “My coworkers and I worked on this contract campaign for months and we’re proud of what we have won. Building a strike threat is what gets the goods.”
While the outstanding supplement in Miami and several stand-alone contracts in Chicago still need to be ratified, many Teamsters at UPS are looking toward the future of turning this contract fight into long-term gains. Though not everything was won, union militants are looking for more improvements to fight for in the next contract battle. There still remain massive unorganized non-union sections of the logistics industry, specifically at Amazon, that the Teamsters are going after. Using the recent wins at UPS will surely help the effort.
Many new leaders stepped up over the past year as part of the contract fight and they will now have a key role to play in building struggle on the ground to enforce this new contract, and to win further gains in future negotiations.