‘We deserve equal pay across the board’: EKY UPS employees host practice strike ahead of agreement deadline

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 5:30
Published: Jul. 19, 2023 at 1:03 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2023 at 5:45 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - UPS and Teamsters, the union which represents nearly 340,000 UPS workers, need to agree on a new labor contract before midnight on July 31 to avoid a strike.

UPS workers are hosting practice picketing rallies across the country, including one on Wednesday in Hazard.

“Part-timers are the backbone of UPS, and it doesn’t get done without them,” said James Brant, the president of the Teamsters Local Union 651.

On July 5, both UPS and Teamsters walked away from the table, bringing negotiations to a standstill with the largest hold-up being related to part-time workers.

Local part-time employee William Smith said they are frustrated.

“We’ve got a CEO that’s making millions of dollars a year which that’s her job, but you know when a company is making record profits off of everybody sitting at home ordering and they’re still slipping us with $4 or $5 dollar an hour thing. Not really but you know it’s what it feels like sometimes,” Smith said.

He added the expectations they have are not feasible for the low paid, part-time employees.

“They’re just really hard on us at times. They’re wanting us to meet goals that you know we just can’t meet with the staffing they’re wanting to give us,” Smith said.

Teamsters Local Union 651 President James Brant said part-timers start out at $15.50 per hour, and only get paid for about four hours per day.

“Folks have to work a couple jobs to pay bills and the company is not willing to pay them anymore right now,” expressed Brant.

If the agreement is not reached, Hazard UPS employees are prepared to take a stand alongside their part-time employees to make a change.

“We’re a brotherhood. Part-timers, full-timers we all work for the same company. We want to service the customers in the best way, but we deserve equal pay across the board,” said Tracy Parks a local UPS employee.

If UPS and Teamsters do not reach an agreement it will be the largest single-employer strike in U.S. history.