UPS and Teamsters, one of the United States' largest labour unions, finally reached a tentative agreement on July 25, averting a potentially disruptive strike set next week as contracts of thousands of its workers were set to expire.


"UPS and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the union representing about 330,000 UPS employees in the US, have reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement," UPS said in a statement announcing the deal.


The world's biggest package courier said the agreement called the tentative agreement a "win" for its employees, the company and its customers.


"Together we reached a win-win-win agreement on the issues that are important to Teamsters leadership, our employees and to UPS and our customers," said Carol Tomé, UPS chief executive officer. 


"This agreement continues to reward UPS's full- and part-time employees with industry-leading pay and benefits while retaining the flexibility we need to stay competitive, serve our customers and keep our business strong," she added.


Teamsters called the deal a "historic contract", noting higher wages, more jobs, equal pay, better working conditions and additional holidays.


Most-historic contract 


"Today, the Teamsters reached the most historic tentative agreement for workers in the history of UPS, protecting and rewarding more than 340,000 UPS Teamsters nationwide," Teamsters said in its own statement announcing the deal with UPS.


The union cited an "overwhelmingly lucrative contract raises wages for all workers, creates more full-time jobs, and includes dozens of workplace protections and improvements" — and said that the UPS Teamsters National Negotiating Committee unanimously endorsed the five-year tentative agreement.


"Rank-and-file UPS Teamsters sacrificed everything to get this country through a pandemic and enabled UPS to reap record-setting profits. Teamster labour moves America. The union went into this fight committed to winning for our members. We demanded the best contract in the history of UPS, and we got it," said  Sean M. O'Brien, Teamsters General President.


O'Brien noted that UPS had put US$30 billion in new money on the table as a direct result of these negotiations.


"We've changed the game, battling it out day and night to make sure our members won an agreement that pays strong wages, rewards their labour, and doesn't require a single concession. This contract sets a new standard in the labour movement and raises the bar for all workers," the Teamsters chief added.


He went on to note that UPS came "dangerously close" to putting itself on strike. "But we kept firm on our demands."


Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman noted that in his more than 40 years in Louisville representing members at Worldport — the largest UPS hub in the country — he has "never seen a national contract that levels the playing field for workers so dramatically as this one."


"The agreement puts more money in our members' pockets and establishes a full range of new protections for them on the job," Zuckerman said. "We've hit every goal that UPS Teamster members wanted and asked for with this agreement. It's a 'yes' vote for the most historic contract we've ever had."


The labour talks were concluded ahead of the July 31 expiration of the existing agreement. Union leaders have been warning of an imminent strike should both sides fail to reach a deal on a new contract.


UPS said the five-year agreement covers U.S. Teamsters-represented employees in small-package roles and is subject to voting and ratification by union members.


Earlier,  international shipping and logistics company Pitney Bowes noted that UPS distributes over 25 million items each day or about 25% of all US parcel volume.


That is around 10 million more packages than it daily delivered in the years prior to the outbreak.