Published: Sat, June 09, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

UPS workers authorize strike

UPS workers authorize strike

The Teamsters and UPS could be heading toward the nation's largest strike in decades.

More than 90 percent of the shipping company's union members voted in favor of going on strike if a deal is not reached before the current labor contract expires on August 1, according to CNN.

The current contract, which was for a five-year duration, expires at the end of July. "It means we have a credible strike threat". UPS started making regular Saturday deliveries a year ago, and while it has not yet unveiled plans for Sunday deliveries, the union said the company has made proposals to expand weekend services. The shipping giant now does not deliver on Sundays, and began offering delivery service on Saturdays only a year ago to keep up with the demands of e-commerce shoppers. It hasn't officially announced plans for Sunday service, but the union says the company has made several proposals to expand weekend deliveries. Under the new plan, the company would be able to hire part-time workers who are now making $15 an hour, and upgrade them to full-time while keeping them at the same pay rate.

UPS and the union are in midst of negotiating new contract setting wages, benefits and work conditions for about 260,000 package handlers, delivery truck drivers, driver helpers and freight truckers across the country. "They don't need concessions to do that".

A union spokesperson declined to comment on the negotiations.

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Meanwhile, the courier giant said it is has already reached tentative agreements with union members on a variety of non-economic issues. While it's not uncommon for union members to approve a potential strike, leading to better negotiating power for the union, the disagreement within the union itself about the two-tier pay system could stall negotiations past the deadline.

The largest labor strike in history was the Steel Strike of 1959, which involved 500,000 workers.

The 1997 UPS strike lasted for 16 days.

For online retail, that's bad news, as many medium and large merchants use UPS for ecommerce deliveries at a time when they are promising fast and free or low-priced shipping.

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