Package overload: Shipping companies overwhelmed with deliveries

The coronavirus has assured steady employment for shipping company workers at UPS and FedEx.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the shipping industry with a tsunami-like inundation of packages. It appears that all that commerce is having a corresponding curse for workers and consumers alike: too many package backlogs and late deliveries.

Recently, the Teamsters Local representing East Bay UPS drivers sent out a blistering letter to its members criticizing UPS for overwhelming its workers with the growing mountains of packages brought on by the coronavirus lockdowns. 

"There's too much going into the system and not enough going out which is backing it up," said Marty Frates, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 70 in Oakland. 

He said drivers are being asked to deliver far more packages they can handle. 

"The driver who may go out with 150 stops, is now getting 300. He's not getting them some because he can only do so much," said Frates.

Frates said if a driver can't deliver all the packages it goes back into the system and gets lost. 

He offered a possible solution. 

"Load the truck with enough that the driver can reasonably do and back off. Don't process the freight until you know where it's at. Do what you can do and be honest with the customers," said Frates. 

The union said that when the packages are finally delivered, the drivers get the blame and the nasty comments.

For its part, UPS sent a statement defending its record of delivering packages in a timely manner in most cases.

"UPS is delivering volume similar to the peak holiday shipping season with about 70% of our deliveries to residences compared to about 50% during the rest of the year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic."

As to any thoughts of drivers lounging, the union said the UPS tracking and delivery system monitors driver locations and movements every second of every shift. 

Though UPS says it is hiring, training takes a while. 

Both sides are considering a proposal for the driver to have an assistant to actually deliver the packages to residences.