News & Commentary

August 21, 2023

In today’s News and Commentary, a Navy shipbuilders union approves a 3-year contract averting a repeat strike, Los Angeles’s striking unions pause demonstrations due to Hurricane Hilary, and the Teamsters prepare to announce the results of the vote to ratify the UPS deal.

The largest union at Maine-based Navy shipbuilder, Bath Iron Works, approved a three-year contract. Machinists’ Union Local S6 represents 4,250 of the shipyard’s 6,500 employees. The deal was approved with 72% of members voting in favor. The contract includes yearly pay raises – 4-9.5% in year one, 5% in year two and 4% in year three. The company will also increase 401(k) contributions. The contract eliminates an unpaid week off in late December and increases health insurance premiums by about 4%. Despite these concessions, the union negotiating committee called the proposal, “a clear indication that our company believes in its current workforce.” In 2020, Local S6 struck for two months due to contract negotiation disagreements. Both sides were eager to avoid a strike in this round of negotiations. The shipyard was recently awarded a large Navy contract.

Hurricane Hilary is raining on the parade of Los Angeles’s many striking unions. Out of an abundance of caution, WGA and SAG-AFTRA have chosen to stay home today. The paused picketing comes just as WGA begins to see some progress with negotiations. The actors remain at a stalemate. Both unions plan to resume picketing as soon as it is safe to do so.

The Teamsters will announce the results of the vote to ratify the proposed UPS contract. The union, which represents 340,000 UPS employees, reached a tentative agreement late last month. With 161 of the 162 Teamster locals endorsing the agreement, the UPS contract is likely to pass and has the potential to impact union and nonunion workers at companies around the country. UPS is one of the United States’ ten largest employers. The agreement, which Michelle covered here, includes pay raises, health and safety improvements, and bans on driver-facing cameras. If approved, the contract could be the rising tide that raises all trucks. The top rate for full-time UPS delivery drivers would increase to $49 an hour. Meanwhile, the average pay for an Amazon delivery driver is $18 an hour. The union’s success in securing air conditioning and heat safety equipment could help other workers who experience extreme heat on the job to negotiate for similar protections. Workers around the country will be interested to hear the outcome of the union’s vote.

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