Contract negotiations are set to begin in the spring between UPS and Teamsters Union before their current contract expires at the end of July 2023. Already, before talks begin, labor experts are predicting drivers and package handlers will go on strike.
“The question is how long will it take,” said Todd Vachon, professor of labor relations at Rutgers University. “The Guild Leader ran and won by taking a more hardline approach. Even if they were very close [to a deal]Rank and file will be thirsty to face the company.”
If that happens, the UPS strike will affect nearly every household in the country. An estimated 6% of the country’s GDP is transported in UPS trucks each year. The explosive growth of online retail has made the company and its drivers more important than ever to the struggling supply chain in the country. In addition to the company’s home deliveries, it also delivers many merchandise found in stores, factories, and offices.
About 350,000 Teamsters work at UPS as drivers and package sorters from a global workforce of 534,000 permanent employees. And that’s growing fast — the company has added about 72,000 jobs represented at Teamster since the start of the pandemic.
“We want a contract that delivers benefits for our employees and provides UPS the flexibility to stay competitive in a rapidly changing industry,” the company said in a statement this month. “UPS and Teamsters have worked collaboratively for nearly 100 years to meet the needs of UPS employees, customers, and the communities in which we live and work. We believe we will continue to find common ground with Teamsters and reach a good agreement for all involved.”
The anger of the current decade
There are certainly signs of strain in the relations between the company and the union – both its leadership and its regular members.
“Do our members wake up every day wanting a strike,” O’Brien told CNN Business last week. “I’d say no. But are they sick? Yes they are sick.” “Whether there is a strike or not is entirely up to the company. We will use as much leverage as possible to get our members the contract they deserve.”
UPS said the average wage for delivery drivers is $95,000 a year, with benefits like a traditional retirement plan, which is worth an additional $50,000 a year. Semi-tractor drivers at UPS are paid more. This is significantly higher than most wages at FedEx and Amazon, where many drivers work for small independent contractors.
The current contract expires at 12:01 am. 1 August. O’Brien pledged that the union would not grant any kind of contract extension beyond that deadline.
added it Besides improving wages and benefits, the union will demand better working conditions, including adding air conditioning in trucks used for UPS connections that the union says poses a health risk to drivers.
Register earnings at UPS
The company often talks about how much it values the workforce that Teamster represents.
And in an important way – employment numbers – UPS is one of workers’ best friends in the US corporate management ranks, despite the obvious tensions. UPS is one of the few union employers to add significantly to payroll and union membership. In other businesses, union membership numbers have been declining steadily or decades.
“Everyone is getting richer except for our members,” O’Brien said.
It is also trying to reassure both investors and UPS customers that the company will be prepared in the event of a union strike. She refused to comment on the nature of those preparations.
“Our goal with Teamsters is win-win,” she told investors in July. But she added that UPS was “building contingency plans.”