Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Teamsters are preparing for what could be the nation’s largest strike in decades

June 6th, 2018 | ThinkProgress Staff

The Teamsters union represents the 280,000 UPS employees who voted overwhelmingly in favor of going on strike if a deal is not reached before the current labor contract expires on August 1. More than 90 percent voted for a strike.

Issuing a strike authorization vote does not necessarily mean UPS workers will order a work stoppage, but it does give the union leverage over management to win their negotiations.

Since UPS began offering regular Saturday delivery service just a year ago, labor demands have increased. While the company hasn’t announced plans for Sunday service, the union claims UPS has made several proposals to expand weekend deliveries.

Both sides have reached tentative agreements on non-economic related issues and have only begun discussions on healthcare and raises. According to CNN, one proposal from the company promote part-time workers to full-time, while keeping their wages at $15 an hour. Full-time drivers currently earn more than double what part-time employees earn at $36 an hour, or roughly $75,000 a year. The union is divided on the proposal.

The shipments UPS transports comprise an estimated 6 percent of the United States GDP. A labor strike among the company’s workers would have a sizable effect on the economy and would be the largest U.S. labor strike in decades. Three bargaining sessions ago in 1997, UPS workers went on strike for 16 days, and there were 180,000 Teamsters at UPS at that time. There hasn’t been a bigger strike since.

The possibility of one of the largest labor strikes in recent decades comes just weeks after thousands teachers across the country went on strike to demand better wages and healthcare. In almost all the cases, the teachers won their demands from GOP-controlled state governments.

This article has been updated to correct an error that incorrectly described the UPS wage proposal “a two-tier wage system that would allow part-time workers currently making $15 an hour to be paid the same wage as a full-time employee.” The company is proposing part-time workers be promoted to full-time while maintaining their part-time wage.

This article was originally published at ThinkProgress on June 6, 2018. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Rebekah Entralgo is a reporter at ThinkProgress. Previously she was a news assistant on the NPR Business Desk. She has also worked for NPR member stations WFSU in Tallahassee and WLRN in Miami.

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