Teamster union members at UPS (CCJ Top 250, No. 2) voted earlier this month to authorize a strike, allowing the UPS Teamsters National Negotiating Committee to call a formal strike should UPS fail to come to terms on a new contract by July 31, when the union’s current National Master Agreement expires.
The Teamsters represent more than 340,000 UPS package delivery drivers and warehouse logistics workers nationwide. The two sides returned to the bargaining table this week and without a revised or economic proposal in-hand, union General President Sean M. O’Brien issued UPS a stern reminder.
“When we say the current contract expires July 31, that means we want a new contract in place starting August 1. Not in six months. Not next spring. We demand a historic new contract August 1, with more money in our members’ pockets immediately,” he said. “UPS has wasted enough time and hoarded these record profits. Our members want what they have earned.”
O’Brien reiterated that the Teamsters will not work beyond July 31 without a new contract, demanding "a powerful tentative agreement within the next week — or the union will demand UPS present its last, best, and final offer."
UPS Wednesday afternoon issued an eight-word statement in response to O'Brien's ultimatum: "We remain at the table ready to negotiate."
Any tentative agreement would need to be endorsed by the Teamsters’ national committee before being properly disseminated and voted on by the membership by the end of the current agreement. Before caucusing to review economic proposals, the Teamsters told UPS they are committed to working seven days a week and through the upcoming holiday weekend — punctuating the fact that UPS executives have very little time left to make significant movement on its financial proposal.
“This is why there’s new leadership at the Teamsters. UPS isn’t working with the union’s prior administration, dragging out the bargaining process and submitting to extensions until finally agreeing to a watered-down deal months after the expiration of the contract,” said General Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman. “This is what hard bargaining looks like. This is labor’s leverage, and the Teamsters are not afraid to use it.”
The union is already embroiled in a heated battle with LTL giant Yellow. The carrier this week filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and its affiliates, alleging that the labor union breached a binding contract with Yellow and caused more than $137 million in damages by "unjustifiably blocking, for over eight months, Yellow’s restructuring plan to modernize its business, which is necessary to compete against non-union carriers that dominate the LTL business today."
Teamsters are also on the clock with TForce Freight, formerly UPS Freight and now a subsidiary of TFI International (No. 4), which represent more than 7,000 workers nationwide. Members there voted by 91% to authorize a strike if the two sides can’t reach an agreement by the July 31 expiration of their contract.