The Teamsters are threatening UPS with a strike. In a statement released on 28th June the American International Brotherhood of Teamsters trade union (or the ‘Teamsters’) said that it had “walked away from the national bargaining table and officially demanded UPS exchange its last, best, and final offer no later than June 30”.
UPS and the Teamsters have been in negotiations over new pay and conditions since April. The discussions cover the ‘National Master Agreement’ for 330,000 employees in the US.
The Teamsters asserted that they “gave UPS a one-week notice on Tuesday to act responsibly and exchange a stronger economic proposal for more than 340,000 full-time and part-time workers. UPS executives couldn’t make it one more day without insulting and ignoring union leaders and rank-and-filers as negotiations resumed on Wednesday”. In reply, UPS released a statement sub-titled “We remain at the table ready to negotiate”.
The Teamsters have already held a strike ballot amongst its members at UPS, a majority of whom voted to support strike action. However, UPS called this a “routine part of the bargaining process” and said that it did not “mean that there will be a strike.”
The Teamsters are suggesting that the strike is scheduled to start of 1st August. It is difficult to measure the seriousness of this threat. There has not been a serious strike at UPS by the Teamsters since the 1990s however relations between the two-sides have not always been good.
It is being suggested in the US press that any strike would be the largest “single employer strike” in American history, however assessing the impact of a strike by UPS workers would be complex as the parcel company has significant competition in the US and its role in the logistics economy is distinctly different to other parts of the transportation system such as ports or railways whose workers have threatened strike action recently.
None-the-less the impact on the US economy of UPS being ‘non-operational’ for any length of time would be considerable. This is likely to attract the attention of the politicians as the treat of strikes at the West Coast ports did recently. This would suggest that the prospect of a strike at UPS may be less than the rhetoric from the Teamsters union implies.
Author: Thomas Cullen
Source: Ti Insights
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