UPS drivers on average deliver fewer packages each day than Amazon drivers and were successful securing better living wages. According to Business Insider, this is leading some of its drivers, like 24-year-old Jordan Talmon, to consider other options even after the Amazon Delivery Service Partner Talmon works for raised its wages from $17 an hour to $18 an hour.

“It’s a dollar raise. I wasn’t really that excited about it, honestly,” Talmon remarked.

“Seems kind of pitiful compared to UPS.”

Amazon’s delivery drivers are subcontracted out to different DSPs to keep them from being directly employed by Amazon. As a result, those delivery workers can’t officially unionize collectively. Some workers, however, have joined the Amazon Labor Union. Others are aware that the Teamsters have an Amazon Division, whose goal is to establish a union for Amazon’s delivery drivers.

Amazon spent millions of dollars in 2022 to prevent its drivers, whom they have referred to as contract workers, from classifying them as employees.

According to Vice, this was done to specifically discourage the workers from unionizing under a Teamsters contract. Now, it appears that those efforts could cost them delivery drivers as many know the money UPS drivers make following their record-setting deal with Teamsters.

Randy Korgan, director of the Teamsters Amazon Division, told Vice, “Amazon has a level of responsibility that they’re trying to escape here. If the subcontractor is its own entity, and the subcontractor employs these drivers, then what is their interest in making sure that there are anti-union consultants meeting with drivers for a company that they don’t have any control over?”

In April, a group of 84 California-based Amazon drivers and dispatchers who joined a Teamsters union negotiated a deal to raise their pay from $20 an hour to $30 an hour. Still, that deal is contained to that specific group of workers and it is contingent upon Amazon renewing its contract with BTS.

Amazon uses around 3,000 subcontractors, so unionizing against Amazon and its union-busting tactics has proven difficult. However, the Teamsters have made inroads by negotiating with the subcontractors directly. Some subcontractors are afraid to negotiate with the Teamsters for fear that Amazon could retaliate by not renewing their contract, which is technically illegal, but not if Amazon can prove that there have been reliability issues over the life of their contract and not simply because a subcontractor voted to unionize their drivers.

In the short term, however, drivers like Talmon and another driver that works for the same subcontractor, Hunter Deaver, are eyeing a switch to UPS during the extremely busy holiday season.

“I think it puts Amazon in this situation where they’re going to have to decide if they want to keep quality drivers or not,” Deaver told Business Insider.

Benjamin Sachs, a labor professor at Harvard Law School, told Vox that the long-term future of Amazon drivers is contingent on how labor law interprets Amazon’s relationship with its delivery drivers and its delivery service providers.

“If Amazon is able to get away with ignoring the workers’ decision and hiding behind the subcontractor relationships, then I’m afraid we’ll have yet another story of the failure of American labor law,” Sachs said.

“If this leads to a recognition that these drivers are Amazon employees, joint employees, then this could be massively important.”

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