UPS drivers’ $170k/year deal shows that unions (and Biden) may save the middle class after all

August 10, 2023

Dogs might not be so happy to know that their sworn enemies are about to make salaries in the high six figures. After contract negotiations this summer, full-time drivers for UPS saw their salaries boosted from $145,000 to $170,000 annually including benefits, according to data shared by the shipping company on a recent call, reports Fortune Magazine.

While not everyone is winning as much as these UPS workers, this represents a symbolic triumph for unions, the middle class, and the labor-friendly White House, as it’s a testament to collective efforts to boost the middle class for the first time in a generation—or two, says Fortune.

The public has noticed: Jobs site Indeed reported a 50% surge in searches for “UPS” or “United Parcel Service” within a week of the new contract, Bloomberg reports.

Biden’s campaign premise to revive the average American quickly has led to a new word: Bidenomics, a portmanteau (much like Obamanomics and Reaganomics) that refers to, in Biden’s own words: “Building an economy from the middle out and the bottom up—not the top down.”

In that vein, Biden hasn’t just been governing in opposition to his former opponent Trump, but also to the Republican hero Ronald Reagan—the onetime union leader during the last Hollywood dual strike who decades later slashed taxes for the wealthy as part of what became known as trickle-down economics.

Tax breaks to the rich helped the rich, of course, but data has progressively mounted that they didn’t help the middle class whose wages stagnated for decades, barely keeping pace with inflation.

Now it’s Biden’s turn at the wheel, and drivers are getting paid famously. Rather than building from the top down, Joe’s strategy of bottom up and middle out, which can be seen in his push to invest in manufacturing jobs and record-breaking wage growth for those in historically lower-compensated positions.

Of course, this doesn’t come without accusations from the now neglected rich, which was faring quite well the last time fanny packs were big. The waning glory days of the wealthy is deemed the “richcession,” where the economy may be growing overall but just doesn’t feel so good anymore for those at the upper echelon.

The largest union in the nation, the Teamsters, recently bargained for an historical contract on behalf of UPS. While not every worker is getting that hefty salary, part-time workers also won a pay raise of around $21 hourly, and employees were finally able to have better conditions like air conditioning.

“This contract sets a new standard in the labor movement and raises the bar for all workers,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien in a statement.

This UPS victory might be the clearest sign yet that Biden’s plan to invest heavily in the middle and lower class has a real-life impact on wage gains. But the success is not Biden’s alone, rather it’s also a signal regarding the influence of a strong union backing: America could not stand to be without its millions of packages every month.

This victory demonstrates that unions can get the job done, and signals to vulnerable workers in white-collar fields that protections can get them the benefits they are looking for.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine