Unionized UPS workers voted overwhelmingly Friday to authorize a strike, setting the stage for the largest U.S. labor walkout since the 1950s.
Teamsters, the union representing more than 340,000 package delivery drivers and warehouse workers, said 97% of employees voted to approve a work stoppage if the company and employees can't agree to a new contract by midnight on July 31. The authorization is just the latest in a high-stakes negotiation process that could upend the U.S. economy.
A looming strike would be the largest in the U.S. since the 1959 steelworkers' walkout, when half a million were off the job for nearly four months.
🚨UPS TEAMSTERS AUTHORIZE STRIKE BY 97%!🚨
— Teamsters (@Teamsters) June 16, 2023
"This vote shows that hundreds of thousands of Teamsters are united and determined to get the best contract in our history at UPS. If this multibillion-dollar corporation fails to deliver on the contract that our hardworking members deserve, UPS will be striking itself," Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien said in a statement. "The strongest leverage our members have is their labor and they are prepared to withhold it to ensure UPS acts accordingly."
Negotiations between the Teamsters and UPS began April 17 but the two sides have failed to agree upon a new contract. Workers are demanding a five-year agreement that guarantees higher wages for all workers, more opportunities for full-time employment, the elimination of its so-called "two-tier wage system," and and end to forced overtime work. They are also requesting additional protections from heat and other workplace hazards.
"This strike authorization vote sends a clear message to UPS that our members are damned and determined to take necessary action to secure a historic contract that respects their dedication and sacrifice," said Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman. "Our members are the backbone of UPS, and they are the reason this corporation hauled in more than $100 billion in revenue just last year. It’s time for UPS to pay up."
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents over a million workers across several public and private sectors in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.
Atlanta-based UPS said it made record profits in 2022, delivering an average of 24.3 million packages per day to more than 220 countries and territories around the globe. It also issued some $8.6 billion in dividends and stock buybacks that year.
With millions of people relying on delivery services for essentials like food, clothing and medication, a looming strike could bring a large swath of the U.S. economy to a grinding halt. It also poses broader complications for companies like Amazon, which allows sellers to ship goods through UPS.
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