UPS Driver Delivering Packages in Florida

UPS Contract Negotiations Collapse – Time for Sellers To Prepare

A year ago, we warned that UPS workers were ready to strike if contract negotiations between UPS and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters broke down.

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With the Teamsters representing more than 340,000 full- and part-time workers at UPS, the labor contract is the largest private-sector union agreement in the country and one that could significantly impact the economy.

Unfortunately, as of today, it seems a strike is one step closer!

The Teamsters claim that UPS had walked away from the bargaining table at 4 am this morning after presenting an unacceptable offer. The offer, which the union said failed to address the needs of its members, was unanimously rejected by the UPS Teamsters National Negotiating Committee.

This development comes after the union had previously given UPS a one-week deadline to present a stronger economic proposal. That deadline ran out today.

The Teamsters have expressed their disappointment with UPS’s actions, accusing the company of refusing to meet the workers’ needs. Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien commented, “This multibillion-dollar corporation has plenty to give American workers – they just don’t want to. UPS had a choice to make, and they have clearly chosen to go down the wrong road.”

However, UPS spokesperson Malcolm Berkley provided a different perspective. In a statement to Bloomberg, Berkley stated that it was the Teamsters who halted negotiations with the carrier, despite UPS offering a generous deal.

“We have not walked away, and the union has a responsibility to remain at the table,” Berkley said.

UPS / Teamsters Stalemate

With no further negotiations scheduled, the situation remains in a stalemate. The existing labor contract is set to expire on July 31, but the Teamsters require time to ratify a new contract before the end of the month to prevent a work stoppage.

Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman warned, “Time has run out for UPS to give workers that honorable contract. The Teamsters repeatedly told the company from the beginning of this process that there would be no extensions. But UPS has sat on its hands and chosen to turn its back on these workers.”

Although further negotiations could still result in a resolution, the absence of scheduled talks increases the likelihood of a strike. This could lead to significant disruptions for shippers, affecting businesses of all sizes.

While larger shippers have been exploring alternative options in case of a UPS strike, small businesses may be more vulnerable, particularly if their products cannot easily be shipped through USPS or if they lack an active FedEx account.

A possible nationwide strike is not expected to have the same magnitude of impact on shipped goods as the nationwide UPS strike in 1997 when the carrier held an estimated 75% market share.

Still, the current logistics market and overall economic reliance on shipped goods have changed.

Even with a smaller market share today (around 24% according to Pitney Bowes), a strike at UPS would still have significant repercussions for online merchants and shippers.

The situation has garnered attention from the White House, with spokeswoman Robyn Patterson expressing optimism “that they can reach a mutually beneficial agreement.”

However, given the limited time left and the union’s stance on negotiation beyond August 1, small business merchants and marketplace sellers should prepare for alternatives now to minimize potential disruptions.

“Come August 1, it’s going to be damn hard for UPS to ignore us any longer,” reiterated Zuckerman, emphasizing the determination of the Teamsters to achieve a satisfactory contract for its workers.

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