Union negotiators representing more than 340,000 UPS workers have walked away from the negotiating table and said a worker strike is imminent if the company does not improve its contract offer.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters called UPS’ latest counteroffer “appalling” and demanded the company present its “last, best, and final offer” by no later than June 30.
“The largest single-employer strike in American history now appears inevitable,” Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien said in a statement. “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. They don’t care about our members’ families. UPS doesn’t want to pay up. Their actions and insults at the bargaining table have proven they are just another corporation that wants to keep all the money at the top.”
UPS workers voted overwhelmingly this month to authorize a strike if the company and employees can’t agree to a new contract by July 31 at midnight, setting the stage for the largest U.S. labor walkout since the 1950s. UPS workers at several locations nationwide are already participating in “practice pickets” in preparation for a looming strike.
TEAMSTER PRACTICE PICKETS SPREAD TO MORE UPS BARNS ✊
In overwhelming numbers, locals and rank-and-filers are answering the call to action by the National Negotiating Committee to assemble practice picket lines all over the country.
— Teamsters (@Teamsters)
Employees are demanding a five-year agreement that guarantees higher wages for all workers, more opportunities for full-time employment, the elimination of its so-called “two-tier wage system,” an end to forced overtime work, and additional protections from heat and other workplace hazards. UPS has already agreed to equip all new package delivery vehicles with air conditioning starting in 2024, but the two sides remain divided on other issues.
“Reaching consensus requires time and serious, detailed discussion,” to the Teamsters’ deadline. “But it also requires give-and-take from both sides … We remain at the table ready to negotiate.”
Atlanta-based UPS said it delivering an average of 24.3 million packages per day to more than 220 countries and territories around the globe. It also issued some $8.6 billion in dividends and stock buybacks that year.
“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,” said Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman. “Our members are fighting for a post-pandemic agreement that honors the sacrifices they made to keep this country moving during the last several years.”
“Come August 1, it’s going to be damn hard for UPS to ignore us any longer,” Zuckerman added.
With millions of people relying on delivery services for essentials like food, clothing and medication, a potential strike would bring a large swatch of the U.S. economy to a grinding halt. It would also pose broader complications for companies like Amazon, which allows sellers to ship goods through UPS.