One of the biggest strikes in American history is being prepared at UPS

One of the biggest strikes in American history is being prepared at UPS
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Contract negotiations between UPS and Teamsters Union will begin in the spring before their current contracts expire at the end of July 2023. Before negotiations begin, business experts anticipate that drivers and package handlers will be gone. he hits.

“The question is how long will it take,” said Todd Vachon, professor of Labor Relations at Rutgers. “The union president ran with a more militant approach and won. Even if they were very close [to a deal]The rank and file company will be hungry to take over.”

In such a situation, a strike at UPS would affect almost every household in the country. An estimated 6% of the country’s gross domestic product is transported by UPS trucks each year. The explosive growth of online retail has made the company and its drivers more important than ever to the country’s struggling supply chain. In addition to home deliveries, the company also delivers many products found in stores, factories and offices.

Approximately 350,000 Teamsters work at UPS as drivers and sorters from a global workforce of 534,000 permanent employees. And that’s growing fast – the company has added nearly 72,000 jobs represented by Teamster since the start of the pandemic.

While there are competitive services FedEx (FDX)The US Postal Service and Amazon’s own delivery service, neither of which are capable of handling more than a small fraction of the 21.5 million US packages UPS transports daily.

“We want a contract that benefits our people and gives 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 almost 100 years to meet the needs of UPS employees, customers, and the communities where we live and work. We believe we will continue to find common ground and reach a good deal with Teamsters for everyone involved.”

The union hasn’t gone on strike against UPS almost since. Two weeks of protest in 1997. If the union goes on strike, it will be the largest strike against a single business in the history of the country.

Anger at the current contract

There are certainly signs of strain in relations between the company and the union – both its leadership and lower-tier members.

A majority of members voted against ratification of the current contract in 2018, only to see the previous Teamster lead under his leadership. then President James Hoffareplaced it because not enough members participated in the approval vote to trigger the strike.
The new president of the union, Sean O’Brienwon his office earlier this year UPS is contracting, which is the focus of its campaign. He has pledged to pay Teamster members much more this time around, and he often talks about a $300 million strike fund the union has raised to pay members if they go on strike.

“Our members wake up every day asking for a strike. I would say no. But are they fed up? Yes, they are,” O’Brien told CNN Business last week. “Whether it strikes or not is entirely up to the company. We will leverage as much as we can to get our members the contract they deserve.”

UPS said the average salary for delivery drivers is $95,000 per year, with benefits like the traditional retirement plan worth an additional $50,000 per year. UPS semi tractor drivers are paid even more. That’s far higher than most salaries at FedEx and Amazon, where many drivers work for small independent contractors.

The current contract expires on August 1 at 12:01. O’Brien swears that the union will not allow any contract extension after this deadline.

and added that In addition to improved pay and benefits, the union will demand better working conditions, including the addition of air conditioning to panel trucks used in UPS deliveries, which the union says poses a health risk to drivers.

“It’s not a heavy burden for the company to install air conditioning,” he said. “I get a lot of heat stroke.”

Record profit at UPS

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

And in an important way — employment numbers — UPS is one of the best friends labor has in the ranks of US corporate management despite obvious tensions. UPS is one of the few unionized employers to significantly increase payrolls and union membership. In other businesses, union membership numbers have been declining steadily for decades.

The increase in Teamsters business at UPS was driven by steady growth in online purchases, particularly during the rise during the pandemic period. Last year, it only took nine months for something to be reported anyway. record profit for a full year. UPS closed 2021 with operating revenue of $13.1 billion, up 50%. In the first half of this year, earnings increased 10% more than a year ago.

“Everyone but our members continues to get richer,” O’Brien said.

FedEx partners threaten to halt holiday deliveries
UPS CEO Carol Tome, who started this business as soon as the pandemic hit, says the company’s union contract now has a competitive advantage. shortage of workers.

It also tries to reassure both investors and UPS customers that the company will be prepared if the union goes on strike. He declined to comment on what these preparations were.

“Our goal with Teamsters is win-win-win,” he told investors in July. But he added that UPS is “creating contingency plans.”

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