The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents a wide range of industrial and other workers, but has long been associated with the trucking industry. Since the union's beginnings in the early 1900s, the Teamsters has represented drivers who transport freight, parcels and other goods across the country. Some of the nation's largest trucking and transportation firms, including United Parcel Service, employ Teamster drivers. Like other union workers, Teamster drivers earn higher wages than their non-unionized counterparts.
Union Representation and Average Salaries
Truck drivers in the U.S. earned an average hourly wage of $17.92 in 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Assuming a 40-hour work week, this translates to an average annual income of $37,273.60. Bureau data, however, includes both union and nonunion members. Because union workers typically earn more, the average wage of a Teamsters driver is likely to be higher. Bureau data added that the top 10 percent of truck drivers earned more than $24 an hour, or $49,920 a year. The BLS reported that about 16 percent of truck drivers belong to a union, usually the Teamsters.
A 2010 survey of more than 7,000 truck drivers by PayScale Inc. found that drivers’ hourly wage averaged between $14 and $20 an hour. Adding overtime, profit sharing and bonus compensation, the average salary of truck drivers ranged from $34,000 to $52,000 a year.
Salaries by Employer
PayScale also reported average salaries by employer, including YRC Worldwide Inc. and United Parcel Service Inc. Both companies have had contracts with the Teamsters Union for truck drivers. Drivers for YRC Worldwide, one of the nation’s largest long-haul trucking firms, earned between $19.88 and $22.56 an hour, or between $41,350 and $46,924. Drivers for UPS, meanwhile, averaged between $19.65 and $29.52 an hour, or $40,872 to $61,401 a year.
News reports suggest that financial problems in the trucking industry have negatively impacted the average earnings of Teamster drivers. The Seattle Times reported in 2009 that YRC Worldwide and the Teamsters agreed to a 5 percent wage cut, as well as an 18-month moratorium on pension contributions, to lower the company’s costs. In 2008, the Teamsters agreed to a 10 percent wage cut. The newspaper reported that 35,000 union members work for YRC.