The union representing the nation’s largest private delivery company voted to authorize a nationwide strike this summer, setting President Joe Biden up for another showdown with big labor.
On Friday, The Teamsters—a union representing 340,000 UPS employees—gave a 97 percent vote to allow its members nationwide to engage in a strike as soon as August 1 if a deal on a new contract is not met, potentially putting a significant share of the U.S. private shipping sector at risk at the height of the summer months, a press release said.
According to industry statistics, UPS represented the largest share of the U.S. market share in 2021, delivering approximately 37 percent of all parcels nationwide. It also reported record-high profits and stock prices in 2022, spurred by increased deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, UPS has seen recent hits as private retailers like Amazon have sought to bring their logistics operations in-house, causing the company’s revenues from the retail giant to fall from 13.3 percent in 2020 to 11.3 percent in 2022, according to a UPS securities filing.
Employees at the company, however, claim they have been stonewalled in their pursuit of a new contract since negotiations began in late April, pushing for a new five-year agreement guaranteeing “higher wages for all workers, more full-time jobs, an end to forced overtime and harassment from management, elimination of a two-tier wage system,” and the retrofitting of many of its delivery trucks with air conditioning, which many vehicles lack.
“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,” Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman said in a statement announcing the vote. “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.”
If it comes to a strike, the collapse of UPS—and presumably, the 37 percent market share it commands—could present a significant disruption to the U.S. delivery system, potentially prompting government intervention similar to Biden’s efforts to broker an agreement between the unions and major railroad companies amid their impasse over a new contract last year.
While many anticipated the strike would have had detrimental impacts on goods prices around the country, numerous labor groups criticized the federal government for intervening in the negotiations, accusing Biden—who pledged to be the most pro-union president in history—and Congress of forcing railroad workers to accept a deal they did not fully support.
Newsweek has reached out to the Biden White House via email for comment.