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UPS, Teamsters to restart negotiations less than a week before potential strike

About 12,000 UPS workers in the Louisville Metro area could go on strike in August.
Jacob Munoz
/
LPM
About 12,000 UPS workers in the Louisville Metro area could go on strike next month.

Representatives for the United Parcel Service and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters plan to resume talks Tuesday on a new five-year national contract for full- and part-time employees.

Around 340,000 unionized UPS workers, including at least 12,000 in the Louisville area, could walk off the job next week. Many of the local employees work at the UPS Worldport, the company’s largest air cargo facility.

UPS’ current agreement with the union expires after July 31. Workers are poised to strike if demands aren’t met by the deadline, a move that would rattle one of the United States’ largest shipping companies and strain delivery services across the country.

Jim Mayer, the senior director of UPS Media Relations and Network Communications, said in a statement that the company aims to quickly finalize a deal.

“We are pleased to be back at the negotiating table next week to resolve the few remaining open issues,” Mayer said on Wednesday.

Teamsters said in a recent press release that the company contacted the union to restart talks.

“As thousands of UPS Teamsters practice picket, rally, and mobilize around the country, UPS bowed today to the overwhelming show of Teamster unity and reached out to the union to resume negotiations,” unions spokesperson Kara Deniz said in the statement.

Earlier this month, negotiations broke down as the company and its workers union couldn’t agree on a full contract. The two sides previously made progress on several changes, including adding air conditioning to new delivery vehicles.

Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien said at a virtual meeting last week that unionized UPS workers will strike if national negotiators don’t reach a tentative agreement by July 31.

But if a temporary agreement is reached, union members will continue working while they vote on whether to approve the contract, he said. O’Brien estimated the vote could finish around three weeks after an initial agreement.

“We are not going to agree to a tentative agreement unless it’s good for our members, and we know what our members want. UPS knows what they need to do,” O’Brien said.

He said the union is pushing for part-time workers to receive wage increases and that negotiators rejected “offensive and embarrassing” offers.

“We have 100,000 part-timers making less than $20 per hour,” O’Brien said.

UPS says its part-time union employees average $20 an hour after their first 30 days on the job, according to its website.

Earlier this month, the company said it would train many of its non-union workers to continue working in the event of a potential strike. Mayer said Monday the plan involves having managerial employees cover the work of union members.

O’Brien dismissed UPS’ plan as impractical during the virtual meeting.

Teamsters negotiators have already reached tentative agreements for smaller, supplemental contracts, including the Air Rider contract that covers Teamsters Local 89 workers at the UPS Worldport in Louisville.

Stephen Piercey, Local 89’s communications director, said earlier this month that his union’s UPS workers typically vote on the national contract, the Air Rider contract, and a third regional contract all at once.

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