The Possibility of a UPS Strike Looms Over 2023
UPS workers are demanding higher pay for tough working conditions, leading up to a contract negotiation next spring before the existing one is set to expire, creating the threat of a strike.
A UPS strike isn't without precedent: UPS workers organized a nationwide strike in August of 1997, culminating in $780 million in losses for the company across the 15-day strike, with 80% of packages going undelivered, according to Fortune
Obviously, at a time where supply chain issues are already causing issues for businesses, a UPS strike is the last thing they need. Contract negotiations between UPS and the Teamsters Union are scheduled for next spring, with the existing contracts (negotiated by James Hoffa, Jr., son of infamous union head Jimmy Hoffa) set to expire next July.
If the strike were to take place, it would likely affect many back-to-school campaigns, and even some year-end plans as companies have been shifting their holiday business further and further up the calendar to battle supply chain issues.
UPS already pays its package delivery drivers higher than its competitors, but employees are upset that UPS pulled extra pay that some part-time workers receive in certain cities where "the job market was particularly tight and during the busy holiday season." UPS asserted that the additional pay wasn't meant to be permanent, but the union is still fighting for what it considers fair pay for tough working conditions.
Part of that agreement would include better pay, overtime work protection and health consideration as temperatures take a toll.
Robert Bruno, a professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, told Fortune that the current trend of unions forming and winning battles at big-name companies like Amazon and Starbucks could indicate that the Teamsters Union and UPS escape this without a strike.
But, as we saw in 1997, it's still a possibility. And, if it came to that, distributors and suppliers would need to once again adapt to a roadblock in the supply chain.