A new Kentucky law reportedly sparked a spat between the world's largest parcel carrier and the union representing its delivery truck drivers.
The Wall Street Journal reports that state law now allows golf carts to operate on public roads in Kentucky, and that UPS plans to outfit old carts with cargo storage areas, seatbelts, turn signals and other indicators in order to help deliver packages in the state.
Members of Teamsters Local 89, however, opposed the legislation and argued that UPS' decision would create more dangerous roads and reduce wages for UPS workers.
The issue is particularly important in Kentucky, where UPS is the second-largest employer and Louisville is home to the parcel giant's sorting hub.
Local 89 member James DeWeese told the paper that part-time cart drivers earn about $15 per hour. Truck or van drivers, by contrast, start at $18.75 per hour, and that rate, in most cases, nearly doubles after four years on the job.
“They’re just looking to pay the drivers less at the expense of the safety,” DeWeese alleged.
UPS officials disputed those claims and said that the carts, with a top speed of 15 miles per hour, would only operate in areas where the speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less.
The retrofitted golf carts can reportedly travel up to 40 miles on a single charge and offer the company more flexibility — particularly during the holiday shipping season. The initiative is one of numerous efforts by UPS and other companies to curb rising shipping costs.
"We will not operate in conditions that are determined to be unsafe," UPS spokesman Glenn Zaccara told the Journal.
The contract between UPS drivers and the company allows golf cart deliveries, but the paper noted that provision was intended to address communities that primarily rely on golf carts for getting around. That language could be revisited when the sides meet for contract talks next year.