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Teamsters Union Moves Closer To Largest U.S. Labor Strike In Decades At UPS

Contract negotiations falter as frustrations over wages and working conditions, raising concerns for the U.S. economy.

A dark cloud is hanging over the United Parcel Service, Inc (NYSE: UPS) as the Teamsters Union, representing nearly 340,000 UPS workers, moves toward what could be the largest labor strike in the U.S. in decades.

Georgia Democratic Senate candidate U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) speaks at a Get Out the Vote event with members of the Teamsters at a UPS worksite December 5, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia. (WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY) 

With the union’s contract set to expire at the end of July, a storm of labor unrest is gathering pace, fueled by frustrations over wage inequalities, working conditions and labor rights.

The Teamsters Union, which represents 340,000 members of the UPS labor force, said on Wednesday that UPS abandoned efforts to negotiate a new contract.

UPS contests this, telling Zenger News in a statement, “Teamsters have stopped negotiating despite historic proposals that build on our industry-leading pay. We have not walked away, and the union has a responsibility to remain at the table.”

The union’s primary contention revolves around securing higher pay and more full-time jobs for UPS employees. In response, UPS said, “We’re proud of what we’ve put forward in these negotiations, which deliver wins for our people.”

The Teamster demands extend beyond monetary terms, insisting on the removal of surveillance cameras from delivery trucks and wage parity across workers performing the same job, irrespective of their time on the job.

As negotiations falter, there is growing concern about the potential disruption a strike of this breadth could bring to the economy.

“Refusing to negotiate, especially when the finish line is in sight, creates significant unease among employees and customers and threatens to disrupt the U.S. economy,” UPS said to Zenger News.

UPS handles nearly 25% of all U.S. parcel volume, roughly 24 million packages daily. The $154-billion company accounts for about 6% of the U.S. economy, according to shipping and logistics firm Pitney Bowes. A strike would inevitably lead to a breakdown in national supply chains and delay millions of Americans’ package deliveries.

A strike by UPS employees would be the most significant labor walkout since a steelworkers’ strike in 1959, according to CBS. Given UPS’s integral role in the U.S. economy, the ripple effects of the labor disruption would be far-reaching, potentially causing significant bottlenecks across national supply chains and impacting a significant portion of the economy.

The labor dispute also places UPS’s competitors, FedEx Corp (NYSE: FDX) and, Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN), under the spotlight. They stand as potential beneficiaries should the strike proceed, offering a potential for market share expansion. 

The labor unrest at UPS also sends a cautionary message to its competitors about the growing assertiveness of labor unions, which could resonate across the entire industry.

Interestingly, UPS warned that the union’s actions could also inadvertently boost its competitors. “Only our non-union competitors benefit from the Teamsters’ actions,” UPS added, urging the Teamsters to return to the negotiating table to finalize the deal.

Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB) in May told investors in a note that it expects a UPS strike to be averted, cautioning that shares are likely to underperform until a new labor agreement is reached. Deutsche also projected a sharp rebound in shares once a settlement is finalized and the strike is effectively off the table.

The labor struggles at UPS are a critical example of the broader labor unrest in the U.S. this year, as seen with the Writers Guild of America strike and the Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX) strike.

Produced in association with Benzinga

Edited by Alberto Arellano and Joseph Donald Gunderson

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