There are a few handlers that last past 18 months as a handler, but not many. The average handler last about 6 months before they either transition to aircraft operations, or quit (or become a Courier if they are at a station). There are some that last 12 or more month to change jobs to being a Courier, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Those that do last more than 18 months tend to work solely for insurance benefits and waive their minimum hour guarantees so that they can work 13-15 hours a week. UPS handlers are holding out for a well paid union job, FedEx handlers are just holding out. A FedEx handler that waives minimums, and has their family on their benefits is basically working for the health insurance card only. The weekly premiums leave only about $100 a week in net take home pay for the 13-15 hours of hard work.
A FedEx handler can transition to a Courier position in as little as a year and in many locations Couriers are hired off the street. The starting wage for Couriers now is just under $15 base market rate. So it took you 5 years as a UPS handler to get $15/hr, a FedEx new hire Courier can make that from day 1.
However.... the pay raises are only between 5 and 6.5% - when we had payraises. For the first couple of years, a new hire was lucky to get a 5% raise based off how the evaulation system is structured.
So... UPS and FedEx new hires starting on the same day will result in the FedEx employee being paid more per hour than the UPS employee (assuming the FedEx employee was hired directly as a Courier). This will continue until the UPS handler becomes a driver. Then the pay difference flips. It will take about 12-18 months for the UPS new driver to surpass the FedEx Courier in total compensation received to date and after that it is all money in the bank compared to the FedEx employee.
This is why for a short term employment situation, FedEx is the better option. For a career, UPS is by far the better option. Many FedEx employees get "stuck" in thinking that their employment is going to be short term, and they are left shaking their head 10 years later wearing purple. If they are full-time at this point, they are stuck.
Express has tremendous turnover of employees. The turnover is at the lower 20% of compensation levels/positions. There are about 140,000 Express employees and it seems that Express has been going through about 40-45,000 employees a year. The bottom end of Express is a revolving door. Express is about to hit employee # 800,000 if they haven't already. Nine years ago the new employee #s were in the 300,000 range. That is half a million in just under 10 years. In the Memphis area, everyone knows someone that has worked for FedEx if they haven't worked for FedEx themselves.
There are part-time Couriers that have 10 and even a few have upwards of 20 years. Some were full-time that switched to maintain a steady source of income while they pursue other income opportunities. With the way the traditional pension plan was structured, this was a viable option. There was no differentiation in years of service between full and part time status, only the average high years of income were used to calculate pension amount. Others are working parents that want time with their children while they maintain continuous employment. For those who want only part-time employment and a modest health insurance benefit, Express works. For those that are full-time employees, they are getting hosed.