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Thousands of Louisville UPS workers could go on strike in August

Three UPS employees hold up signs supporting the union efforts to secure a new contract with the company.
Danielle Kaye
/
LPM
Louisville UPS employees Madison Carrico (left), Noah Britt, and Justin Hester vote to authorize a strike if the company fails to reach a new contract with their union.

United Parcel Service employees represented by Teamsters Local 89 voted to allow their contract negotiators to call a nationwide strike Aug. 1, should they fail to negotiate a new contract. More than 10,000 workers in Louisville could walk off the job.

The local union announced this week that 99% of their UPS members voted in favor of authorizing a strike, if needed. Nationally, 97% of UPS workers voted in favor of strike authorization, Teamsters announced Friday.

The results come just days after Teamsters and UPS reached a milestone agreement on heat safety, guaranteeing delivery vehicles will be equipped with air conditioning, among other provisions. That concession from the company could help avert a strike when the current UPS Teamsters National Master Agreement expires on July 31.

In reference to the heat agreement, Jim Mayer, a UPS spokesperson, said worker safety “remains our top priority.”

But national contract negotiations, which began in April, are ongoing. Negotiators are pushing UPS to create more full-time jobs. The union is also campaigning against what they call a two-tier wage system, by which some UPS package drivers earn less than others.

Teamsters Local 89 represents more than 10,000 UPS workers in Louisville, the majority of whom work at Worldport, the largest UPS air hub in the United States. Local 89 communications director Stephen Piercey said the threat of a strike is a useful tactic to pressure the company to meet union demands.

“We are hopeful that this sends a message to the company that we’re not playing around,” Piercey said. “We want them to get serious and get us a good deal on the table.”

Local 89 is trying to secure compensation for the time Worldport workers spend on shuttles at the massive facility – a demand that is unique to Louisville workers, and would be included in the supplemental Air Rider contract.

Noah Britt, a part-time hazmat responder at Worldport, said he’d like part-time workers to have at least four hours of guaranteed work each day. He also hopes to be paid for time he spends on shuttles at the 5.2 million square-foot facility, which he estimates amounts to almost one hour per day.

“As soon as I’m on their property, I should be paid for that,” Britt said. “That’s something I would love for them to guarantee for this contract.”

Britt said he wouldn’t mind striking, because it would show the company workers deserve more.

Madison Carrico, a part-time employee who loads airplanes at Worldport, also voted in favor of strike authorization.

“A strike wouldn’t be great for any of us, but if it means getting better hours and things that we need in our contract, it’s something we’d be willing to do,” Carrico said.

The Teamsters’ national UPS contract is the largest private-sector collective bargaining agreement in North America, covering roughly 340,000 Teamsters members, including delivery drivers and warehouse workers.

A nationwide strike at UPS would be the largest single-employer work stoppage in U.S. history.

“The hope out of this [strike vote] is that a strong strike authorization will bring the company back to the table in a more serious manner – so that ultimately, a strike is not necessary,” Piercey , of Local 89, said.