UPS begins training managers to deliver packages in case of strike

ALSO: New study shows UPS strike could cost billions in losses.
Many UPS workers gathered on Saturday morning to practice a picket line for a potential strike.
Published: Jul. 14, 2023 at 10:11 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 17, 2023 at 10:55 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Atlanta-based UPS announced Friday it has begun training its management employees to deliver packages should the company’s 340,000 Teamsters workers strike at the end of this month.

UPS and the Teamsters have been locked in negotiations for weeks as they work to avoid a potentially crippling strike of the world’s largest carrier of parcels and packages. The contract between the union and UPS expires on July 31.

“We remain focused on reaching an agreement with the Teamsters that is a win for UPS employees, our customers, our union, and our company before Aug. 1,” the company said. “While we have made great progress and are close to reaching an agreement, we have a responsibility as an essential service provider to take steps to help ensure we can deliver our customers’ packages if the Teamsters choose to strike.

“Over the coming weeks, many of our U.S. employees will participate in training that would help them safely serve our customers if there is a labor disruption,” UPS said. “This temporary plan has no effect on current operations and the industry-leading service our people continue to provide for our customers. This training is aligned with our ongoing commitment to safety and business continuity. These activities also will not take away from our ongoing efforts to finalize a new contract that increases our employees’ already industry-leading wages and benefits, allows UPS to remain competitive and provides certainty for our customers and the U.S. economy.”

Also on Friday came a new study estimating a 10-day UPS strike could cause $4 billion in losses for consumers and small businesses.

According to the analysis from Michigan-based Anderson Economic Group (AEG), a threatened strike could become one of the nation’s costliest in at least a century.

According to the AEG study, a 10-day strike would likely furlough 340,000 workers, who are currently earning annual wages of approximately $90,000 per year (excluding benefits), resulting in wage losses of $1.1 billion. UPS customers could incur losses in excess of $4 billion.

RELATED: Georgia UPS workers prepare for strike, demand better wages and conditions

Patrick Anderson, AEG’s principal and CEO, said a UPS strike would result in “lost parts and goods within just a few days.” This interruption would trigger near-immediate lost sales and lost wages, along with “significant and lasting harm for small businesses, household workers, sole practitioners, and online retailers across the country.”

“In addition to having potentially severe consequences for those who need these supplies, this sort of interruption in service could prove very costly due to required intervention and emergency medical services,” said AEG analyst Shay Manawar.

To determine the economic impact of a potential UPS strike, AEG estimated losses that include:

  • Lost wages to workers, including striking workers and others who are temporarily laid off or forced to decrease hours worked;
  • Lost earnings for UPS, taking into consideration that the company would not be paying wages to the striking workers;
  • Lost goods, services, and worker wages in other industries; and
  • Direct losses to consumers that cannot be absorbed by adjusting noncritical timelines or substituting goods.

The firm’s consultants followed the methodology used to estimate impacts from other strikes and threatened work stoppages over the last quarter century.

The Teamsters represent about 340,000 UPS employees, more than half of the company’s workforce. A quarter of a century ago, 185,000 UPS employees walked off the job for 15 days after a contract dispute.

Wages and profits remain the main sticking points. The starting pay for part-time workers who handle packages in UPS warehouses is $15.50 an hour, which workers say is not a sustainable wage. Roughly half of UPS Teamsters’ positions are part-time warehouse jobs. The Teamsters want an agreement that shares billions of dollars in UPS profit with workers and helps to recruit new members.

UPS delivers the equivalent of about six percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. It delivers around 25 million packages a day, representing about a quarter of all U.S. parcel volume, according to the global shipping and logistics firm Pitney Bowes. That’s about 10 million parcels more than it delivered each day in the years leading up to the pandemic.

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