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Did Amazon’s Wage Increase Just Wreck UPS’ New Teamster Contract?

Earlier this week, Amazon announced it is raising wages to $15 per hour. The announcement comes at a critical time for the Teamsters and its newly-negotiated contract with UPS.


Whether intentionally timed or not, Amazon’s much-publicized minimum wage increase to $15 per hour could not have come at a worse time for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and its biggest and most-valued employer, United Parcel Service.

Although the tally of voting Teamsters members who approve or reject the Teamsters newly-negotiated agreements with UPS will not be announced until Friday evening, thanks to Amazon’s wage announcement, either outcome will put the Teamsters between a rock and a hard place with its members at UPS.

If the contract is ratified as is, the contract will only boost UPS’ starting wages to $13 per hour from the current $10.50. That is $2 less than Amazon is giving its non-union workforce.

However, if less than half of the eligible Teamsters actually cast ballots, even if a majority (but less than two thirds) of voting members reject the contract, union leadership can implement the rejected contract on the members.

This is something that Teamsters leadership has already threatened UPS union members with, according to the Teamsters for a Democratic Union.

After teaming up with UPS management to push a Yes vote, the Hoffa administration is now threatening to impose the contract even if a majority of UPSers Vote No.

Hoffa’s Package Division Director Denis Taylor made this threat at a meeting of local union leaders at the UPS national grievance panel in San Diego on Wednesday.

On the other hand, if less than half of the eligible members vote, then two thirds or more vote would have to vote to strike in order for the union to call UPS members out of strike.

Neither UPS or Teamster executives want a strike to happen.

The Teamsters for a Democratic Union—who have been strongly opposed to the tentative contract—are already calling out the obvious problem for the Teamsters:

…under the contract givebacks negotiated by Hoffa’s Package Division, tens of thousands of UPS part-timers will be stuck at just $13 an hour.

We cannot allow Teamsters under our union’s biggest contract to be paid less than nonunion workers at Amazon. [Emphasis added.]

In Louisville, KY, Teamsters Local 89 urged its members to vote against the UPS contract on its Facebook page.


However it works out for the Teamsters and its UPS membership—whether they strike or they get stuck in the already-negotiated new contract—Amazon’s wage-increase announcement could not have come at a worse time.

If, by chance, UPS goes back to the bargaining table to sweeten the offer, Teamster members can thank non-union Amazon for raising the stakes in the game for them.

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