Twenty-one years after the historic 1997 United Parcel Workers strike, are UPS-Teamsters ready to once again walk off the job? After Tuesday night’s strike authorization vote, workers are one step closer to that possibility. On Tuesday, thousands of Teamsters across the country listened-in on a national conference call as the union’s chief negotiator, Denis Taylor, reported that UPS and UPS Freight members voted by over 90 percent to authorize a strike if UPS does not agree to an acceptable contract by July 31 when the current contract expires.
UPS is the largest private-sector unionized employer in the United States and a strike at the company could see up to 280,000 UPS-Teamster members walk out, with potentially major disruptive impacts on the U.S. economy. And it would be the largest strike the country has seen in decades.
The Teamsters are negotiating two national contracts with UPS. One contract covers the parcel division that is most familiar to Americans with their chocolate brown trucks on commercial and residential streets. The second is the lesser-known UPS Freight, previously Overnite Transportation and Motor Cargo, that UPS bought in 2005 and subsequently rebranded.
The issues at the negotiating table include the poverty level pay for part-time workers, healthcare and pensions, subcontracting union especially feeder work [or over-the-road work between hubs] to non-union contractors, and UPS’s demands for drivers to work a 70-hour week.
In late April, Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), the longstanding rank-and-file reform organization, reported:
UPS has a contract proposal on the table that gives the company the right to force package drivers to work up to 70 hours a week anytime they deem it necessary “to avoid service disruptions.”
Under the current contract, UPS drivers can refuse work after completing their 60th hour of work in any work week.
Throughout negotiations, UPS has remained focused on winning…