Under new contract, UPS must give Teamsters notice — but not veto power — for new tech
- The new master contract between the Teamsters Union and UPS would require the company to provide the union six months notice before implementing emerging technology like drones, driverless vehicles or truck platoons, according to a fact sheet sent to reporters Monday.
- "We're not going to have any type of veto power over their changes," Denis Taylor, co-chairman of the Teamsters UPS National Negotiating Committee, told reporters in a call. "But we're going to get notice" and input when it happens, he said.
- The provision is part of a National Agreement in Principle reached by the two parties last month, ahead of the current contract's expiry on July 31. The parties are negotiating supplemental agreements for local unions that would finalize the deal this week, before it is sent to union members for a ratification vote.
The change to Article 6, Section 4 of the Teamsters' contract with a UPS is a bid to futureproof members' jobs, as drones, driverless vehicles, platoons and countless unknown technologies threaten to affect labor.
During the call, Taylor spoke to how changes in technology had affected workers' hours and job duties and influenced the current contract negotiations. As a result, the UPS and Teamsters will now meet at least three times a year to "review any planned technological changes covered by (Article 6, Section 4)."
There are circumstances where a technology change may take place without six months notice. In such a case, UPS is required to give Teamsters notice "as soon as possible" or "when the change has entered the field testing phase," according to the highlighted changes in the contracts' language.
The purpose is to ensure the Teamsters can plan accordingly and secure input in the process, even if the labor union has no teeth to guarantee its jobs due to technology shifts.
"We're not opposed to new technology," Taylor said. "What we're opposed to is the unilateral implementation of this policy without any input from our folks."
A technology shift that would classify under this section is defined as anything that would shift the work or classification of an employee, or diminish the number of workers "in any classification of employees in the bargaining unit."
"I'm not concerned that during the term of this contract we're going to have drones flying off the back of our package cars as much as I am some of the other things that could be possibly be implemented I believe more reasonably during the term of this agreement, such as platooning," he said.
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