Teamsters union members are confident they will approve a major strike at UPS in a vote that ends Friday. A prolonged strike would hurt the economy – but the strike is still more than seven weeks away.
Strike votes are a common part of labor negotiations designed to give union negotiators an advantage when trying to reach a collective agreement. They usually go overboard, and Most contract negotiations are completed without interruption.
If a strike comes, it will be the largest by a single employer in American history. More than 330,000 Teamsters work at UPS, making it the largest union employer in the private sector. And an estimated 6% of the United States’ gross domestic product, a broad measure of economic activity, is driven by UPS trucks, which are critical to the nation’s economy. It delivered 18.7 million domestic packages per day in the first three months of the year.
The current five-year contract expires on July 31, meaning a strike could begin on August 1 if a new contract is not agreed before then. But there have been signs of progress at the negotiating table.
This week the teams announced A tentative deal was reached on one of the key issues in the negotiations, the push to get air conditioning for UPS’s fleet of 95,000 delivery vans, many of which have only one fan to beat the heat on hot days.
The union argued that the lack of air conditioning was a health and safety issue for members, beyond the comfort of drivers. The union said temperatures in the van’s cargo compartment recorded temperatures of more than 120 degrees, and workplace safety inspectors issued citations and danger letters to the company for working conditions.
The heat-related death of at least one UPS driver in Texas is being investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
But the tentative agreement requires air conditioning only on future van purchases, not retrofits of existing vans. Although there will be other improvement measures to reduce the heat in the cargo area of the vans.
UPS says it’s taking steps beyond air conditioning in vans to help drivers deal with the heat, including cool sleeves and other heat-reducing clothing. He said safety is a top priority for the company.
The union said that it has reached a temporary agreement on more than 40 other issues, but said that there is still a lot of work to be done to reach an agreement, especially in relation to wages.
The teams have not officially announced the salary increase. But they wanted Apply to record the gains UPS has made in recent years. Adjusted net income in 2018 doubled from $6.3 billion to $11.3 billion in the corresponding period last year, with UPS’s profit doubling over its current five-year life. The surge in online shopping that began during the pandemic has resulted in record package delivery volumes for UPS and other delivery services.
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UPS workers and members of Teamsters protest outside the UPS Center in the borough of Brooklyn, New York, USA, on Friday, April 21, 2023.
But UPS’s profit, revenue and volume fell in the first quarter, and the company warned it was seeing signs of a slowdown in shipping.
One of the main reasons for the union’s push is to close the wage gap for different workers, which allowed UPS to begin regular Saturday deliveries in 2019. According to Deutsche Bank’s analysis, the gap is about $6 an hour. Under $1 an hour for most senior employees and new hires. Closing the gap would cost about $140 million a year, the study said, which is less than 0.2 percent of UPS’s current cost structure.
“This is a very small amount for what appears to be a major demand by group teachers,” Deutsche Bank’s analysis said.
While other union negotiations may be trying to meet cost-of-living costs for its members, the Teamsters’ current contract includes cost-of-living increases, allowing the company to raise wages by 6.1%, according to Deutsche Bank.
In an effort to reassure customers and investors, UPS CEO Carol Tome has repeatedly expressed confidence that the deal will go through without a strike.
“While we expect to hear a lot of noise during the negotiations, I am confident that a win-win contract is very much within reach and that UPS and the Teamsters will achieve it.” [an] Agreement at the end of July,” Tome said in April.
Teamsters General President Shane O’Brien, however, acknowledged the progress and refused to say whether or not he thought it might be a strike.
“When you get into the meat and potatoes of salary and benefits, things can get very messy and controversial,” he told CNN last week. “Our goal is to get the best deal to avoid a strike. If we don’t give UPS what we want and what they know we want, they will strike themselves.”
Even if an agreement was reached before the strike, there is a case of rank-and-file anger at UPS that could make it difficult to ratify a contract.
Most of the members agreed to that agreement in 2011. They voted against ratification in 2018, but the former Teamsters leadership under then-President James P. Because the membership was not enough, he did not participate in the rally. That contract became a major issue in last year’s union presidential election, when Hoffa’s endorsed candidate to replace him lost to O’Brien.
Despite the opposition, the provision that allowed the implementation of the previous contract was removed, and a “no” vote to approve it would mean a strike at this time. O’Brien said that while he was confident that any deal reached would be approved by members, there was a lingering anger at the company.
“There’s a lot of animosity and anger, not just in the last deal, but in the outbreak,” O’Brien told CNN.
UPS was not rewarded for making record profits.