Graham Jones said his shifts are long, but he’s grateful for his job as a UPS feeder driver.
Courtesy of Graham Jones
Graham Jones has been working with UPS for 10 years and earns about $4,000 weekly.Jones is a feeder driver and basically works 11 to 12 hours a day, 5 days a week.He said UPS feeder drivers are not overpaid; their shifts are long and they get time-and-a-half overtime pay.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Graham Jones, a 47-year-old UPS semi-truck driver from Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s been edited for length and clarity.
I worked as a UPS package delivery driver for seven years, and I’ve been a feeder driver for three years. I make about $4,000 weekly, driving the UPS semi-trucks in the feeder department, which means we deliver packages from major delivery hubs to other warehouses.
I’m paid a bit more because I’m on the only sleeper run at my Albuquerque UPS location. Our income is high for a blue-collar job because our overtime is time-and-a-half, after eight hours, and our shifts are long. I’ve seen the posts about UPS workers earning $170,000 yearly and it’s slightly misleading. That figure includes our pension, health care, and other benefits.
After four years, UPS feeder drivers make an average salary of $140,000
UPS feeder drivers make more than package delivery drivers, who earn about $95,000 a year after they’ve been doing it for about four years.
We earn more than drivers who deliver packages because we work more hours — we work about 55 to 60 hours a week. The average package delivery shift is eight to 10 hours. Also, UPS pays about $1 per mile for some routes.
My driving partner and I are on the road for five days at a time, driving for 11 to 12 hours a day
The route I’m currently on pays per mile rather than hourly. Only the time I spend waiting on trailers and doing other things like fueling up or washing the windshield periodically are paid by the hour.
On my route, I’m paired with another driver and we leave on Sunday mornings. We drive from Albuquerque to Louisville, Kentucky; Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, and back.
There are bunk beds in the back of the truck. While one guy is driving his 11-hour shift, the other sleeps in the back — I do days, and my buddy does nights.
I probably won’t do this run again because it’s harder than expected
Driving gets tiring and boring. It’s a lot of coffee and energy drinks, but it’s not too bad. I keep myself busy with podcasts, satellite radio, and music. Many guys talk on the phone with other drivers throughout the shifts.
When I get back into town, I only have two days to get errands and all the house and yard work done. I don’t even get to sleep in on my first day back, because I need to go to the gym. That’s a big sacrifice, since I can only go a couple of days a week.
Sleeping on a truck four nights a week is rough, but I wanted to try it out because it’s lucrative. After starting this route in April, I decided I’d rather make $40,000 or $50,000 less yearly and be home more. Next year, I’ll choose a route that allows me to do that.
More package delivery drivers should become feeder drivers
Package delivery is tough; you’re in the heat, snow, rain, and wind. It’s really hard on your body. You’re in and out of the truck all day, with two or three steps going up into that package truck; many guys can mess up their knees and hips.
It’s also rough on your back. Twenty years ago, you couldn’t buy a couch on Amazon, but these days people are buying huge bookshelves and sofas, and they live in third-floor apartments. It’s only you and a dolly, and you’ve got to get it up there somehow.
UPS paid for my commercial driver’s license training. I don’t understand why more package delivery drivers don’t graduate to feeders.
I’m happy I became a feeder driver, but there are certain things I miss about delivering packages
First, you have more human interactions with customers as a package delivery driver; second, it’s more physical so the days go by faster; and third, the sense of accomplishment at the end of each day seems greater.
But that physicality makes the risk of injuries higher, and it seems too daunting to consider doing hard physical labor in my later years.
UPS feeder drivers are well paid, but I wouldn’t call us overpaid; most people don’t want to work 60 hours a week — but I’m so grateful for my job.
Are you a UPS driver with an interesting story? Contact Manseen Logan at [email protected].