UPS Workers Give Union Leaders Option to Call Strike

Anticipated Action Follows Recent Progress in Talks
UPS workers and Teamsters members during a rally in April
UPS workers and Teamsters members during a rally in April. (Paul Frangipane/Bloomberg News)

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UPS Inc.’s unionized workers voted in favor of giving Teamsters leaders the option to call a strike as the two sides continue talks to renew a five-year labor contract.

Of the union members that voted, 97% supported the strike authorization, the Teamsters said June 16 in a statement. The union didn’t provide data on voter participation. Teamsters President Sean O’Brien has pledged to call a strike if an agreement, which would cover more than 340,000 workers, isn’t reached before the contract expires July 31.

“This vote shows that hundreds of thousands of Teamsters are united and determined to get the best contract in our history at UPS,” O’Brien said in the statement.

Strike authorization votes are typical during labor talks and are usually timed to increase pressure on the company. The Teamsters have made progress on the talks, including winning a pledge from UPS to have air conditioning on new trucks it purchases, but haven’t yet begun negotiations on the thorniest issues, such as pay raises for part-time workers.

Even with strike authorization, O’Brien wouldn’t be able to hold a walkout until Aug. 1 after the current contract expires. UPS Chief Executive Officer Carol Tomé said in an April 25 earnings conference call that she’s “confident” the two sides will reach an agreement before that deadline.

UPS said in a separate statement on June 16 that the union vote doesn’t mean a strike is imminent and the company is operating normally.

“We continue to make progress on key issues and remain confident that we will reach an agreement that provides wins for our employees, the Teamsters, our company and our customers,” UPS said.

UPS Inc. ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

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