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Labor negotiations at UPS could have nationwide ripples

UPS delivers about a quarter of parcels across the country every day — meaning labor negotiations at the company might be noticed nationwide.
A UPS driver loads a truck in New York
Posted at 11:13 PM, May 23, 2023

Contract negotiations are underway between UPS and the Teamsters, the union that represents organized labor at the company — and there are signs that effects might be felt nationwide.

UPS delivers some 24 million packages a day, or about a quarter of all the parcels sent in the U.S. UPS says this is equivalent to about 6% of U.S. GDP.

It's also millions more packages daily than UPS moved in 2018, the last time its workers renegotiated their contract.

Negotiations on a new contract began in April. Now, unionized UPS workers and the Teamsters are expected to fight for a larger share of the profits UPS has brought in since the pandemic, and say they'll strike if their contract expires without a new deal on July 31.

Atlanta-based UPS said it made record profits in 2022. It issued some $8.6 billion in dividends and stock buybacks that year.

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"Our members worked really hard over the pandemic," said Teamsters spokesperson Kara Denize. "They need to see their fair share."

Negotiations — or a strike — could affect prices and wait times, and may rekindle some of the supply chain woes that consumers faced for years during the pandemic.

Experts say a high-profile contract fight at UPS could also galvanize other labor initiatives in the U.S.

"This has just huge implications for the entire labor movement in the United States," labor expert John Logan told The Associated Press. "There’s greater assertiveness and militancy on the part of a lot of young labor activists and some sectors of the labor establishment."

Officials at UPS, meanwhile, say they're optimistic that they can reach a mutual agreement with the Teamsters "by the end of July."

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