One of the biggest attacks in American history was brewing at UPS.

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Contract negotiations will begin in the spring between UPS and the Teamsters union before their contracts expire in July 2023. Before the talks even started, Labor experts predicted that drivers and packages would go away. On strike.

“The question is how long,” said Todd Vachon, a professor of labor relations at Rutgers. “The president of the union ran and won by taking a more military approach. Even though they were very close [to a deal]The rank and file are hungry to take the company.”

If that happens, a strike at UPS will affect every family in the country. Approximately 6% of the country’s gross domestic product is moved by UPS trucks each year. The explosive growth of online retail has made the company and its drivers more critical than ever to the nation’s challenging supply chain. In addition to the company’s furniture, it supplies most of the items found in stores, factories, and offices.

Among the 534,000 permanent employees, 350,000 Teamsters work at UPS as drivers and packagers. And that’s growing fast — the company has added about 72,000 Teamster-represented jobs since the outbreak began.

When there are competing services on FedEx (FDX)Neither the U.S. Postal Service nor Amazon’s delivery service has the capacity to handle more than a fraction of the 21.5 million U.S. packages that UPS moves each day.

“We seek a contract that delivers wins for our employees and allows UPS to remain competitive in a rapidly changing industry,” the company said in a statement this month. “UPS and the Teamsters have worked together for nearly 100 years to serve the needs of UPS employees, customers and the communities in which we live and work. We believe we will find common ground with the Teamsters and reach a good deal for everyone involved.”

In the year Following a two-week strike in 1997, the union did not strike at UPS. If the union goes on strike, it would be the largest strike at a single trade in the country’s history.

Anger at the current contract

There is definitely a connection between the company and the union—between its management and its rank-and-file members.

A majority of members voted not to ratify the current contract in 2018, when President James Hoffa put former Teamster leadership in place, because enough members participated in the ratification vote to trigger a strike.
The union’s new president, Shane O’Brien, won the office earlier this year UPS made contracting a major focus of the campaign. This time around, UPS promised to do more for Teamster members and often talks about the $300 million strike fund the union has set aside to pay members if they go on strike.

O’Brien told CNN Business last week: “Our members wake up every day. I would say no. But are they fed up? Yes, they’re gone. Whether there’s a strike or not, that’s entirely up to the company. We’re going to do whatever we can to get our members the contract they deserve.”

Average pay for UPS delivery drivers is $95,000 per year, with benefits such as a traditional retirement plan, an additional $50,000 per year. UPS semi tractor drivers are paid more. That’s far higher than wages at FedEx and Amazon, where many drivers work for small independent contractors.

The current contract expires at 12:01 am on August 1st. O’Brien promised the union would not offer any contract extensions.

He added. In addition to improved pay and benefits, the union wants better working conditions, including air conditioning, in UPS trucks, which it says are dangerous to drivers’ health.

“Installing an air conditioner for the company is not a heavy lift,” he said. “There’s a lot of heat stroke going on.”

Save money with UPS

The company often talks about how much it values ​​the Teamster-represented workforce.

And in one important way — employment numbers — UPS is one of the best friends in US corporate governance, despite the obvious tensions. UPS is one of the few unionized employers that increases wages and union membership. In other businesses, union membership has been declining steadily or for decades.

The increase in teamster jobs at UPS comes from the steady growth of online shopping, especially during the pandemic. Last year, it took just nine months to post a record full-year profit. UPS ended 2021 with operating income up 50% to $13.1 billion. Revenue in the first half of this year was up 10 percent from a year ago.

“Everybody is getting rich except for our members,” he said.

FedEx partners threaten to halt holiday deliveries.
UPS CEO Carol Tome, who started that job as the pandemic began, said the company’s union contracts are a competitive advantage during labor shortages.

The union is trying to reassure both investors and UPS customers that the company will be prepared if a strike occurs. He declined to comment on what those arrangements are.

“Our goal with Budstar is a win-win,” she told investors in July. But UPS is “developing contingency plans,” she added.

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