What the UPS Contract Means for Collaborative Governance

Today, 86.3% of UPS workers voted in favor of the agreement bargained by the Teamsters. This is a historic contract for workers, including:

  • The end of the two-tier wage system
  • Pay raises for all workers and a new $21 floor for part-time workers
  • An end to forced overtime
  • Air conditioning in all new vehicles
  • MLK Day as an official paid holiday
  • The creation of 7500 new full-time positions


These wins are reverberating across the country and expanding what’s possible for workers in multiple industries. But these concessions did not come from the generosity of UPS: they came from deep organizing by the Teamsters and rank-and-file UPS workers themselves. In the face of a divisive two-tier system, workers showed solidarity with each other and demanded higher pay and better benefits not just for themselves, but for their coworkers. 

As workers demonstrated their collective power in the leadup to the contract negotiations with a strike vote and practice pickets, local elected officials across the country showed their solidarity with the workers in their fight for a fair contract. Local electeds from Massachusetts to Minnesota to Pennsylvania joined the Teamsters on the practice picket line, showing UPS that they were ready to stand by workers in case of a strike. Collaborative governance means local elected officials showing up for workers organizing and continuing to pass policy to support that organizing.

Across the country, local elected officials have been working to improve organizing conditions, raise worker pay, and improve enforcement of existing labor protections. These efforts not only raise the floor as to what workers are legally entitled to, but they also help labor unions and worker advocates to organize for even stronger protections. Local elected officials have used the power of their offices to raise labor standards by pushing legislation to mandate protections like higher wages, wage theft prevention, and rest breaks. We should continue to build on these policies as the workers movement continues to strengthen and gain momentum in the fight against corporate greed. Wins for UPS Teamsters, ongoing strikes with SAG-AFTRA and WGA, a rolling strike with Unite Here hotel workers, and a possible upcoming strike for workers at the three biggest automakers in the country with UAW have also worked to put pressure on employers nationwide, including in states facing abusive preemption. Organizing masses of workers and negotiating contracts can support workers in preempted states and put pressure on state government while local elected officials continue to fight for local autonomy to determine workers’ rights.

Although the UPS contract fight is over for now, in the coming months, we’re going to see continued labor fights with screenwriters and actors, autoworkers, baristas, warehouse workers, and others across the country fighting for their fair share. We’re in the middle of a historic wave of labor organizing and Local Progress members are ready to continue partnering with their local unions on contract fights and legislative fights. To create a world where workers can thrive and live their fullest lives, progressive local elected officials, labor, and community organizations can and must collaboratively govern. Our efforts are stronger together. 

Si se puede!

Photos in this post are from the Teamsters, Aisha Chugtai, Kendra Brooks, and Robin Wonsley.