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Local UPS workers prepare for impending strike

For months, UPS United Parcels Service employees have been in contract negotiations that have seen such little movement, that employees of the Franklin office have begun to prepare to strike at the end of this month. The Teamsters Union has been negotiating the contracts of 340,000 employees with a strike date for the largest trucking company in the nation authorized by 97% of members to begin on August 1. 

National negotiations between the Teamsters and UPS began April 17. Union representatives and rank-and-file members serve on the national negotiating committee. The back and forth between UPS and the Union has produced some compromise, however this week both entities walked away without a resolution and just over two weeks left to reach a deal.

The UPS Teamsters National Master Agreement is the largest private-sector contract in North America. Full- and part-time UPS Teamsters are working in lockstep for a new five-year agreement that guarantees higher wages for all workers, more full-time jobs, an end to forced overtime and harassment from management, elimination of a two-tier wage system, and protection from heat and other workplace hazards.

UPS carries just under 10 percent of America’s gross domestic product and moves an average of 20.8 million US packages a day in 2022. 

UPS Teamsters have previously demanded a better contract and improved working conditions. Back in 1997, around 185,000 UPS workers went on strike for 15 days. This strike caused major disruptions in delivery services and put a strain on FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). However, the workers were successful in gaining higher starting wages, additional benefits, and the creation of thousands of new full-time positions.

According to a statement from the Teamster Union, despite the Teamsters having reached a consensus on 55 non-economic issues with the company on June 19, UPS has continued to seek a cost-neutral contract during economic negotiations.

“The world’s largest delivery company that raked in more than $100 billion in revenue last year has made it clear to its union workforce that it has no desire to reward or respectfully compensate UPS Teamsters for their labor and sacrifice,” said the release. 

The crux of the issue is over employee compensation, with the last Union claiming that the last offer from UPS only offered minuscule raises and wage cuts to traditional cost-of-living adjustments. 

“The largest single-employer strike in American history now appears inevitable,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien. “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. Working people who bust their asses every single day do not matter, not to UPS.”

A strike by UPS workers would undoubtedly impact the entire economy, causing devastating disruptions to the supply chain in the U.S. and other parts of the world. 

“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. 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,” said Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman. “Time has run out for UPS to give workers that honorable contract. The Teamsters repeatedly told the company from the beginning of this process that there would be no extensions. But UPS has sat on its hands and chosen to turn its back on these workers. Come August 1, it’s going to be damn hard for UPS to ignore us any longer.”

A strike’s impact would result in a reduction in the speed of goods transportation, leading to anticipated package delays, increased shipping expenses, and possibly higher prices for goods. While big businesses may not face as severe consequences unless they heavily depend on UPS—which is the case for many small businesses.

FedEx says its priority is to protect its existing customers and is advising shippers who are considering moving their business to FedEx to do so now, according to a news release Thursday.

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