UPS Workers Ready for Historic Strike: Everything You Need to Know

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UPS Workers Strike
Photo Source: NBC News

United Parcel Service (UPS) workers are set to make history with potentially the largest U.S. strike in six decades. As negotiations between the Teamsters union, which represents 340,000 UPS employees, and the delivery giant continue, we explore the key issues at stake and what it means for the U.S. economy.

The Heart of the Issue: Pay Disparity

The primary point of contention in the ongoing negotiations is pay, especially for part-time employees who constitute approximately 60% of UPS’s workforce.

Part-time workers at the company start at $16.20 per hour, with an average of $20 per hour after their first month, according to CBS MoneyWatch. However, these part-timers argue that this initial wage is significantly less than what full-time UPS employees earn for similar tasks.

Many workers are advocating for a starting wage of $25 an hour, which, when adjusted for inflation, aligns with what they were earning back in 1983.

Preparing for the Strike

As the contract deadline of July 31 looms, the Teamsters union has been organizing practice pickets and urging members to save money in anticipation of a potential strike.

In the event of a walkout, the workers would receive strike pay, which would be five times their union membership dues. Despite the potential financial risks, many employees believe it’s worth fighting for higher pay in the long term.

UPS’s Response

In response to the looming strike, UPS has been training non-union employees to work in warehouses. Despite the preparations, most businesses relying on UPS still expect the strike to be averted, according to industry observers. However, if it does happen, it could cause significant disruption for businesses and consumers alike.

The company handles approximately 28% of America’s shipping, including high-value items. During the pandemic, it was one of the two carriers chosen to deliver the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Potential Economic Impact

According to a recent estimate from the Anderson Economic Group, a 10-day strike at UPS could cost the U.S. economy more than $5 billion. Workers would lose about $1.1 billion in wages, while customers would lose around $4 billion.

Such a strike could also impact the broader U.S. economy and cause some small businesses to temporarily close, similar to the effects of the United Auto Workers strike against GM in 2019.

White House Intervention?

The possibility of White House intervention remains a topic of discussion. Teamsters President Sean O’Brien has asked the White House to stay out of any potential strike, but some industry experts believe that President Biden — who intervened in December to defuse a threatened railroad worker’s strike— would also exert pressure to avoid a disruption that could severely affect the nation’s cargo.

As the clock ticks down to the contract deadline, the eyes of the nation are on the negotiations between UPS and the Teamsters union. Will America’s largest strike in 60 years be averted, or are we on the brink of a significant disruption to the nation’s economy? Only time will tell.

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