UPS workers prepare to strike as deadline for new labor deal approaches

UPS workers in North Texas are preparing to go on strike. 

Their union, which represents 340,000 delivery drivers and warehouse workers, held a picket practice on Wednesday.

UPS workers have authorized a strike if a new contract is not ratified by the end of the month. 

Both sides are accusing the other of walking away from the negotiating table. 

To show the company they mean business, dozens of UPS employees held a practice picket in Fort Worth.

"UPS, show us the money," picketers said Wednesday.

The Teamsters Union is trying to put pressure on UPS to meet its demands.

Union and company representatives met for negotiations that reportedly went all night long and into the early morning hours.

On Wednesday morning, union leaders tweeted a picture with their fists in the air. They claim UPS walked away from the bargaining table after presenting an "unacceptable" offer.

UPS denied that and said it was the workers that stopped negotiating. 

Their current contract expires at the end of the month, but the union said Wednesday is the final day for it to receive a new deal in time to review and vote on it before the current one ends.

"We have people being forced to come in on a sixth day, outdoor work in the heat, and they are sick of it," said Scott Sexton, business agent for Teamsters Local 767.

Sexton said workers are fighting for better pay for newer employees, creating more full-time positions, and addressing safety and health concerns. 

The last time UPS workers went on strike was in 1997.

"Now we have some of those same issues," Sexton said.

Sexton was on the strike lines in 1997.

"That was 15 days. We are prepared to go 15 weeks or as long as it takes to get a fair contract," he added.

A spokeswoman for UPS said in a statement: "The Teamsters have stopped negotiating despite historic proposals that build on our industry-leading pay. We have nearly a month left to negotiate. We have not walked away, and the union has a responsibility to remain at the table. Refusing to negotiate, especially when the finish line is in sight, creates significant unease among employees and customers and threatens to disrupt the U.S. economy."


Negotiations break down between UPS, Teamsters Union, future uncertain

After a marathon overnight session, negotiations have reportedly collapsed between Sandy Springs-based United Parcel Service and the Teamsters Union which represents nearly 340,000 employees.

In negotiations last month, UPS agreed to add air conditioning in its delivery trucks next year. That was a major win that the union had been pushing for safety.

A strike could lead to package shipping delays and possibly supply chain disruptions across the country.

UPS has said it continues to be willing to negotiate on a new four-year contract.

Mike Davis, an economist with SMU's Cox School of Business, said a strike would hurt the economy in many different ways.

"It will be more expensive to get goods shipped," he explained.

Davis said it is almost impossible to predict all of the ripple effects from a UPS shipping shut down.

"This one example, car dealers. How do they get parts? Well, many of them get shipped by UPS. If the dealership can't get the part, they can't fix your car," he said.

While there would be a strike fund to pay employees for a time Davis said the longer the uncertainty goes on, the greater likelihood of future layoffs.

"Long term, customers of UPS are going to start looking to other sources. So UPS is going to start losing business long before the strike actually happens," Davis said.

UPS profits have ballooned more than 60% compared with before the pandemic, according to company earnings statements. 

The National Retail Federation is urging the company and union to continue talks to avoid a strike.