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Highly Paid Union Workers Give UPS a Surprise Win in Delivery Wars

FedEx’s less costly contractor drivers were supposed to give it an edge. But labor shortages are hobbling services.

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Illustration: Jordan Speer for Bloomberg Businessweek

Dave Helminski will drop off his last package for United Parcel Service Inc. on Christmas Eve 2022 and retire after four decades as a driver in Chicago. He joined UPS after four years in the Marine Corps and a yearlong stint installing carpet. He put in a few years loading trucks, then became a driver and was set for life. After Helminski drops off that last package, he’ll have pensions that provide almost the same $100,000 a year he makes now. “I came out of the lower middle class, and I’m living the dream,” Helminski says, wearing a face covering with the Marines emblem as he heads home from his shift at a large UPS facility in the northern suburb of Palatine.

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