Package Division Update from Denis Taylor, Director
As all of you are aware, we are living through an unprecedented time at UPS. As the Covid-19 pandemic reached the United States, the shopping and buying habits of the general population changed dramatically. From online grocery orders to purchasing everyday items like paper goods and clothing, consumers are staying home and having these things delivered. The residential volume that our members are processing daily exceeds peak season levels by a large margin.
No one feels the effects of this surge more than you. As a frontline essential worker you have kept this company afloat. You have worked through equipment shortages, manpower shortages, and personal protective gear shortages. The only thing we haven’t seen shortages of is cardboard.
At the onset of the virus UPS, like many companies, had difficulty acquiring enough PPE to adequately protect our members. The local unions were encouraged by the Package Division to create a partnership with UPS to help source products that could be purchased by the company and distributed to the members. Thousands of gallons of sanitizer and cleaning supplies were acquired as a result of using our collective strength and tens of thousands of masks were obtained because somebody knew somebody who knew somebody else that had them available.
Since March of this year trucks, trailers, package cars, and the drivers who operate them have been in short supply. Finding itself grossly understaffed the company resorted to forced overtime and an extension of hours of service. Six day workweeks became the norm and 70 hour workweeks were not uncommon. The only logical solution to this was to put more drivers on the street but to accomplish this the union would have to agree to some unique training requirements and some adjustments to the social distancing requirements imposed on the company.
You should know that as of July of this year UPS has 8,000 more drivers than it had at this time last year. In addition, 2,000 feeder driver and 28,000 part time Package handler positions have been created. This exponential growth dwarfs anything ever seen in the history of UPS and while this growth will present some unique challenges for our Union it is a good problem to have. Many of our sisters and brothers are experiencing layoffs and permanent closures in many Teamster industries. Our problem is finding solutions to having too much work. We can all agree this is better than the alternative.
In any other year and under any other circumstances the 10,000 new full-time jobs and 28,000 part time jobs would be seen as an incredible accomplishment and rightfully so but, as I have told the company, much more needs to be done. More delivery drivers have to be trained, more feeder drivers have to be trained, more clerks, more sorters, more pre loaders. We must insist on getting ahead of the manpower shortages because our current staffing is still inadequate to deliver the daily volume we are currently experiencing. We can’t let up until the average workweek falls to the pre-pandemic levels.
On behalf of the Package Division and the International Union I want to personally thank you for your hard work and exceptional dedication to keeping this country moving. I want to thank you for allowing others to stay at home while you rarely see yours and I want to thank you for being the most essential part of this union: a member.