Sean O'Brien, Teamsters general president

Sean O'Brien, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters general president, joined United Parcel Service workers for a practice picketing in Brooklyn, New York on July 14, 2023.

(Photo: Teamsters/Twitter)

'Get Back to the Negotiating Table,' Says Teamsters as UPS Trains Scabs for Strike

"UPS is making clear it doesn't view its workforce as a priority," the union said. "UPS should stop wasting time and money on training strikebreakers."

After negotiations between the United Parcel Service and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters broke down last week, UPS on Friday announced "business continuity training" to prepare for a potential strike by 340,000 union members next month.

"We remain focused on reaching an agreement with the Teamsters that is a win for UPS employees, our customers, our union, and our company," the shipping giant said. "While we have made great progress and are close to reaching an agreement, we have a responsibility as an essential service provider to take steps to help ensure we can deliver our customers' packages if the Teamsters choose to strike."

"Over the coming weeks, many of our U.S. employees will participate in training that would help them safely serve our customers if there is a labor disruption. This temporary plan has no effect on current operations and the industry-leading service our people continue to provide for our customers," UPS added, claiming that such activities "will not take away from our ongoing efforts to finalize a new contract" with union workers.

"UPS is not ready for the fury of 340,000 Teamsters."

Meanwhile, the Teamsters toldThe Associated Press on Friday that "UPS is making clear it doesn't view its workforce as a priority."

"Corporate executives are quick to brag about industry-leading service and even more quickly forget the Teamster members who perform that service," the union said. "UPS should stop wasting time and money on training strikebreakers and get back to the negotiating table with a real economic offer."

As the Teamsters explained earlier this month, the union is fighting for a deal that "guarantees better pay for all workers, eliminates a two-tier wage system, increases full-time jobs, resolves safety and health concerns, and provides stronger protections against managerial harassment."

Last month, 97% of UPS workers represented by the Teamsters voted to strike if there is no deal by July 31. The union has been holding practice pickets, including one in Brooklyn, New York on Friday that was joined by Sean O'Brien, the Teamsters general president.

"For too long, this multibillion-dollar corporation has padded its bottom line with the unpaid wages of our members who sacrificed themselves and their families during the pandemic," O'Brien said at the event, according to the union. "UPS is not ready for the fury of 340,000 Teamsters."

After the Friday rally, O'Brien made clear that the union is still prepared to negotiate with UPS, tellingReuters that "the clock is on our side, not theirs. I assume at some point they'll be reaching out looking to try and get a deal."

The last strike by UPS workers represented by the union was in 1997 and is considered a major labor win in U.S. history. As Labor Notes recalled in 2017: "For 15 days, Teamsters shut down UPS nationwide. Managers struggled to make even a tiny fraction of deliveries... Out of options and running out of time, management surrendered on every key demand."

If the looming strike happens, "things could be a lot worse this time around, putting even more pressure on companies, consumers, and UPS. That's because the economy a quarter-century ago is entirely different than now—one where package delivery is more important than it's ever been," Voxreported Friday. "While competitors like FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service could pick up some of the deliveries, experts said logistics networks are too strained to fill many of the gaps that would be created."

"A 10-day strike would cost the economy more than $7 billion and be the costliest work stoppage in at least a century, according to a new study by Anderson Economic Group, which researches labor disruptions," Vox noted. "That includes $4.6 billion in losses to consumers and businesses that rely on UPS, as well as more than a billion in lost wages and $800 million in company losses."

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