A strike by UPS workers is imminent as negotiations collapse. Unionized staff members are staging rallies and pickets across the country as a deal remains out of reach and the deadline of July 31 looms. Sean M. O’Brien, leader of the Teamsters – the primary UPS union – said, “We’re sending a message… all 340,000 of our members are united and ready to fight.”
If a deal is not reached by July 31, 340,000 workers will walk off the job and carry out the biggest strike in the United States in more than six decades.
The main issue for workers is pay, particularly for part-time workers, who make up 60% of UPS staff. Part-time employees are paid $15.50 an hour, less than full-time workers. The parties haven’t said what figures are on the table, but some workers say they are looking for an increase to $25 an hour.
Company filings show that the CEO earned $18.9 million last year, and the median employee pay is $52,000. Staff member Jason Flynn said it isn’t unreasonable to want better pay and described how he needs to take on side jobs, including dog walking, just to make ends meet. “I’ve been in near poverty for a long time,” he said.
Conditions were also on the table for discussion, and negotiations were fruitful. For example, the company has agreed to make Martin Luther King Day a paid holiday, and in June, UPS agreed to install air conditioning (AC) in delivery vans.
Analysts say a UPS strike will hit the US economy hard. The Anderson Economic Group predicts a $5 billion cost if workers down tools for ten days. The hit will be harder the longer the strike goes on. CEO Patrick Anderson said, “The biggest losses are to people who are not striking and not connected to UPS. Everyone in America will feel it if it happens.” He added that it is highly unusual for a strike to have such an impact.