UPS Teamsters Warn ‘Nationwide Strike Imminent’ if Friday Deadline Isn’t Met

UPS Teamsters Warn ‘Nationwide Strike Imminent’ if Friday Deadline Isn’t Met
Teamsters march on May Day in Los Angeles on May 1, 2018. (David McNew/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

The Teamsters Union warned that a U.S.-wide strike is imminent if the United Parcel Service (UPS) doesn’t come to an agreement with the union Friday, potentially triggering one of the largest strikes in American history.

The union, which represents hundreds of thousands of UPS drivers, “walked away from the national bargaining table” and said that UPS must give its “last, best, and final offer”  by Friday, June 30.
“The largest single-employer strike in American history now appears inevitable,” Teamsters General President Sean O'Brien said in a news release this week. “Executives at UPS, some of whom get tens of millions of dollars a year, do not care about the hundreds of thousands of American workers who make this company run,” O'Brien said.

UPS is the second-largest ground carrier of packages in the United States, only behind the U.S. Postal Service. The company delivers some 20 million packages per day, meaning that a protracted strike could be devastating for some industries and workers.

“With a deadline of Friday to return a last, best, and final offer, UPS risks putting itself on strike by August 1 and causing devastating disruptions to the supply chain in the U.S. and other parts of the world,” the Teamsters said, adding that “we have an economy today that is reliant on parcel delivery and no one in the game handles more packages per day or provides better service than Teamsters at UPS.”

Amid negotiations, UPS said earlier this year that it would  “equip all newly purchased U.S. small package delivery vehicles with air conditioning” by next year, and it also said that it would install more cab fans and heat shields in trucks. The union also has demanded higher wages for its members.

Reports indicated that UPS Teamsters had held practice strike pickets in various locations in recent days.

UPS Responds

In a statement, UPS denied some claims made by the Teamsters and said its executives are “ready to negotiate.”

“Last week, we provided our initial economic proposal,” UPS said in its statement Wednesday, coming after the union issued its latest strike threat. “This week, we followed with a significantly amended proposal to address key demands from the Teamsters. Reaching consensus requires time and serious, detailed discussion, but it also requires give-and-take from both sides. We’re working around the clock to reach an agreement that strengthens our industry-leading pay and benefits ahead of the current contract’s expiration on August 1.”

On its website, UPS also said that its employees get “industry-leading pay” along with a pension, benefits, paid vacation time, and superior healthcare coverage.

“Our delivery drivers make $95,000 a year on average in wages, and our part-time union employees are paid on average $20 per hour after 30 days,” it said in what appears to be a counter-claim to the teamsters’ demands about wages. “We will continue to provide highly competitive wages and benefits that reward our employees and attract and retain the best talent.”
A United Parcel Service (UPS) truck leaves the yard October 29, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Frank Polich/Getty Images)
A United Parcel Service (UPS) truck leaves the yard October 29, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Frank Polich/Getty Images)

“UPS drivers have planned workdays with reasonable overtime. Our planning considers normal volume fluctuations by day of the week and time of the year, which has enabled us to keep our delivery drivers’ average paid day to about 9 hours,” said the company. “We need to remain flexible to meet the changing needs of our customers, but we also want to consider our employees’ desired number of work hours.”

As of Thursday afternoon, shares of UPS Inc. were down less than 1 percentage point. Over the past month, UPS’s stock has seen a 3.42 percent increase.

Previous Threats

Earlier this month, members of the Teamsters overwhelmingly voted to strike if the union’s demands aren’t met by Aug. 1, as the current five-year contract ends on July 31. But at the time, UPS said it was confident that no strike would occur.
“The results do not mean that a strike is imminent and do not impact our current business operations in any way,” the firm said on June 16. “We continue to make progress on key issues and remain confident that we will reach an agreement that provides wins for our employees, the Teamsters, our company and our customers.”
While the Teamsters have accused UPS of making record profits in recent years, in the first quarter of 2023, profits, volume, and revenue have all dropped year-over-year. The company also warned of a possible economic downturn around the world.

“While we expect to hear a great deal of noise during the negotiation, I remain confident that a win-win-win contract is very achievable and that UPS and the Teamsters will reach [an] agreement by the end of July,” UPS CEO Carol Tome also said in April, as reported by CNN.

If there is a strike, reports indicate that it would be the largest one against a single employer in U.S. history. UPS is the largest unionized employer in the private U.S. sector. CNN reported that about 6 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP, is moved on board UPS trucks each year.

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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