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Buttigieg talks supply chain improvements in visit to UPS Worldport

120622 UPS WORLDPORT_Pete Buttigieg_by J. Tyler Franklin_7.jpg
J. Tyler Franklin
/
LPM
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited the UPS Worldport Air Hub on Tuesday to highlight the measures being taken to relieve bottlenecking in the American supply chain as the country heads into the holiday season.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited Louisville on Tuesday, touring the UPS Worldport and meeting with local leaders and employees as the holidays approach.

He discussed American supply chain improvements and local infrastructure investments while at the cargo hub.

Buttigieg said transit across the Pacific Ocean has improved, with lower shipping costs and fewer backed-up ships than a year ago.

“Some of the Pacific Ocean shipping rates are down 80%, which ought to help lower prices that Americans are seeing at the store in a moment where we're fighting inflation with everything that we've got,” Buttigieg said.

He also thanked supply chain workers, including those at the Worldport — one of the world’s largest air transit hubs — for their efforts during busy holiday shopping weeks.

“I know so many gifts for the holidays, engagement rings arriving [on] New Year's Eve, [and] countless other physical items that make this time of year special for people, will come through here,” he said.

120622 UPS WORLDPORT_Pete Buttigieg_by J. Tyler Franklin_2.jpg
J. Tyler Franklin
/
LPM
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited the UPS Worldport Air Hub on Tuesday to highlight the measures being taken to relieve bottlenecking in the American supply chain as the country heads into the holiday season.

Buttigieg added the Biden administration is making investments to improve freight infrastructure across the country in order to improve supply chains, including nearly $2 billion announced in Kentucky for highways and bridges through the Congressional infrastructure bill signed into law last year.

In August, Buttigieg’s Department of Transportation awarded Louisville more than $20 million to improve the city’s Ninth Street and Broadway corridors.

Buttigieg, who met with Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien at the Worldport, also spoke about recent Congressional action averting a rail worker strike. While the Biden administration forced union workers to accept a contract establishing raises and limits on health care premiums, it did not provide the paid sick days that workers were looking for.

Buttigieg said the move was important to prevent damage to the economy, yet he added that the conversation isn’t over.

“I want to be clear, we do not believe that this is where things should end. And now that we've avoided a national catastrophe for our economy, we will continue to push for paid leave for all workers because it is the right thing to do,” he said.

UPS workers could enter into a showdown with the company next August when their current contract ends, as unionized employees push for changes such as improved pay for part-time workers and safer working conditions.

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Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.