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UPS Given Friday Deadline by Union as Strike Looms

by Ethan Kim
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strike

Expressing frustration with an unsatisfactory counterproposal earlier this week, the leader of the union representing 340,000 UPS workers has declared that a strike is imminent. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has given the shipping giant a Friday deadline to improve its offer, demanding the receipt of its “last, best, and final offer” no later than June 30.

The Teamsters have not specified the exact time of the Friday deadline or the potential actions they might take if their demands are not met.

In addition to this development, here are some other news updates:

  1. Starbucks union reports that Pride weekend strikes have resulted in the closure of 21 stores in the US.
  2. H&M workers across Spain are striking for higher wages, leading to store closures.
  3. A Starbucks union calls for a strike over Pride displays, but the company dismisses it as a misinformation campaign.
  4. The German rail union threatens open-ended strikes due to a pay dispute.

“The largest single-employer strike in American history now seems inevitable,” stated Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien, who accused UPS executives of hoarding profits rather than sharing them with the workers.

O’Brien added, “Executives at UPS, some of whom receive tens of millions of dollars annually, have no regard for the hundreds of thousands of American workers who keep this company running.”

United Parcel Service released a brief statement indicating that it has made significant changes to its initial financial proposal. The statement also emphasized that reaching a consensus requires time, serious and detailed discussions, as well as concessions from both sides.

Negotiations for the national contract began in April, with the current contract set to expire on July 31.

Earlier this month, the Teamsters announced that 97% of unionized workers had voted in favor of a strike authorization, providing the union with increased leverage during negotiations with the company.

The Teamsters represent over half of the company’s workforce, making it the largest private-sector contract in North America. If a strike occurs, it would be the first since a 15-day walkout by 185,000 workers crippled the company 25 years ago.

While UPS has contested these claims by highlighting its industry-leading pay and benefits, unionized workers at UPS remain dissatisfied with the current contract. They believe it was imposed on them by previous union leadership in 2018 due to a technicality, resulting in two tiers of workers with varying pay scales, hours, and benefits. The union aims to eliminate this division.

Two weeks ago, the union and the company announced a tentative agreement to equip more trucks with air conditioning equipment, which was a major point of contention. UPS committed to adding air conditioning to small delivery vehicles purchased in the US after January 1, 2024.

According to the global shipping and logistics firm Pitney Bowes, UPS delivers approximately 25 million packages per day, accounting for about a quarter of all US parcel volume. This volume is approximately 10 million more packages per day than the pre-pandemic years.

UPS profits have experienced a significant surge since the start of the pandemic in 2020, as an increasing number of Americans have relied on doorstep deliveries.

In the past two years, UPS’s annual profits have nearly tripled compared to pre-pandemic levels. The Atlanta-based company returned approximately $8.6 billion to shareholders in the form of dividends and stock buybacks in 2022 and is projected to distribute another $8.4 billion to shareholders this year.

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AP Business Reporter Haleluya Hadero contributed to this report from New York.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about strike

Q: What is the current situation between UPS and the union?

A: The union representing 340,000 UPS workers has declared an imminent strike and given UPS a Friday deadline to improve its contract offer. Frustrations arise over profit-sharing and dissatisfaction with the current contract.

Q: What actions will the union take if UPS fails to meet the Friday deadline?

A: The union has not specified the exact actions it will take if UPS fails to meet the Friday deadline. However, the possibility of a strike looms as the union seeks to leverage its position in negotiations.

Q: What is the International Brotherhood of Teamsters?

A: The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is a union representing a significant portion of UPS workers. It is involved in negotiating contracts and advocating for the rights and benefits of its members.

Q: What is the significance of the Friday deadline?

A: The Friday deadline serves as a final opportunity for UPS to improve its contract offer before the union potentially proceeds with a strike. It puts pressure on the company to address the union’s concerns.

Q: How has UPS responded to the union’s demands?

A: UPS has offered significant changes to its initial financial proposal and emphasized the need for detailed discussions and concessions from both sides to reach a consensus. The company aims to find a mutually acceptable resolution.

Q: What are the key issues of contention in the negotiations?

A: The union’s frustrations center around profit-sharing and dissatisfaction with the current contract, which created two tiers of workers with different pay scales, hours, and benefits. The union aims to eliminate this division.

Q: How significant would a strike be for UPS?

A: If a strike occurs, it would be the largest single-employer strike in American history. The Teamsters represent over half of UPS’s workforce, making it a substantial disruption to the company’s operations.

Q: How has the pandemic impacted UPS’s business?

A: The pandemic has led to a surge in package deliveries, with UPS delivering approximately 25 million packages per day, about a quarter of all US parcel volume. This has resulted in increased profits for the company.

Q: What has been UPS’s stance on pay and benefits for its workers?

A: UPS claims to provide industry-leading pay and benefits to its workers. However, unionized workers remain unsatisfied with the current contract and believe that more should be done to share the company’s profits.

Q: Has there been any progress in negotiations prior to the Friday deadline?

A: Two weeks ago, the union and UPS reached a tentative agreement to equip more trucks with air conditioning, addressing a major sticking point. However, other core issues remain unresolved leading up to the deadline.

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