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Bad news for Teamsters, UPS begins drone deliveries

By staff |
April 29, 2020
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Bad news for Teamsters, UPS begins drone deliveries

Tampa, FL - UPS announced April 27 that the company would begin drone deliveries in early May. The drones would deliver medications from a local CVS pharmacy to the largest retirement community in the U.S. Experimenting with drone delivery is only the latest development in automation at UPS. While good for shareholders, automating deliveries through drones will be disastrous for UPS workers.

Drone deliveries will be limited to The Villages, a retirement community in central Florida. At first, the drones will be shuttling prescription medications from a local CVS pharmacy to a meet point where a package car driver will then deliver the medications. Eventually, however, the drones will be able to deliver the medications directly from CVS to the customer.

The drone will deliver packages to customers by hovering about 20 feet in the air and slowly lowering the medications using a cable and winch system. Previously, drone deliveries were limited to hospital campuses but now are being expanded to residential customers. UPS and CVS partnered in October of last year to explore drone delivery options for medications.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) which represents over 400,000 UPS workers, has not released any statement on this. The concessionary 2018 UPS Teamsters contract, which was passed despite a historic majority ‘No’ vote, has no language protecting Teamster jobs from automation. The contract instead allows the company to automate as long as the company meets with the union to discuss the changes.

Given the sell-out leadership of James Hoffa Jr., this contract provision amounts to nothing more than a blank check for the boss. Teamsters wanting to fight automation should support the O’Brien-Zuckerman Teamsters United slate in the 2021 IBT elections, a slate that is willing to fight against UPS and corporate greed and take back the Teamsters union for the members.

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