The possibility of an impending UPS strike from its workers inches close after labor talks between UPS and its unionized drivers and warehouse workers broke down early on Wednesday, with both sides accusing the other of walking away from the negotiating table.
A strike from UPS workers would disrupt the supply chain and the US economy and drive customers to rival shipping companies.
The problem started after the union, which represents about 340,000 full- and part-time drivers, loaders, and package handlers, said UPS presented an “unacceptable offer” that “did not address members’ needs.”
“UPS had a choice to make, and they have clearly chosen to go down the wrong road,” Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien said in a statement.
The Teamsters Union also said that the workers’ current contract expires on July 31, and no additional negotiations are currently scheduled.
The Teamsters said UPS did not want to negotiate and walked away.
UPS denied walking away from the negotiation. “We have not walked away, and the union has a responsibility to remain at the table,” they said.
“Refusing to negotiate, especially when the finish line is in sight, creates significant unease among employees and customers and threatens to disrupt the U.S. economy.”
Employees at the company have authorized a work stoppage should the parties fail to strike a deal.
The Teamsters union last week gave UPS a deadline of June 30 to bring its “last, best and final” deal to the table, warning that a strike would be “imminent” if the company didn’t improve on its offering.
What Does UPS Workers’ Union Want
The union is asking for higher pay and more full-time jobs for UPS employees. It has also requested delivery trucks’ surveillance cameras be removed and that employees, regardless of their tenure, be paid the same wages for working the same job.
UPS told CBS MoneyWatch that the technology used to monitor their drivers’ movements is for their safety, describing the devices as a “sensor” rather than a camera.
UPS workers said that their current pay was poor. The contract was arrived at by the union’s former leaders out of “technicality”. The unsatisfied workers removed the leaders and put the current head, O’Brien.
UPS on its part holds that its drivers are the highest-paid in the industry.
The union, according to a Bloomberg report, argues that salaries haven’t reflected the large profits UPS enjoyed in recent years. They also say the pay was not commensurate with the current cost of living.
The Teamsters also say UPS hasn’t done enough to reward workers who risked their health to deliver packages during the pandemic.
UPS workers last went on strike in 1997. The. strike lasted for 15 days and resulted in a $850 million loss to the company.
The continuity of UPS operations is of great importance to the US economy. UPS says they deliver the equivalent of about 6% of America’s GDP. A stoppage in its operation will disrupt very many business supply chains both inside and outside of the US.