UPS workers vote to strike, increasing worries for supply chain

A strike by shipping truck drivers would be the largest work stoppage in decades, threatening a wide spectrum of the economy.

Members of the Teamsters union, which represents about 340,000 workers at UPS, have voted overwhelmingly to strike if no agreement is reached with the company by the time the current contract expires on July 31.

The vote sets the stage for the biggest U.S. labor walkout since the 1950s.


Driving the news: Some 97% of voting members approved a strike, although the voting turnout was not immediately known. The union is seeking higher pay, the elimination of so-called two-tier wages, the removal of surveillance cameras from delivery trucks, and more full-time jobs.

  • The current contract was unpopular, with a majority of UPS workforce rejecting it, but the union’s former leadership pushed it through on a technicality. The backlash led to the ouster of the union’s leadership in favor of Sean O’Brien, who has been vocal about his willingness to strike, including going on a national tour of union locals this year to prepare members for a walkout.
  • The Teamsters union point to UPS posting record profits in 2022 and issued more than $8 billion in dividends to shareholders — money they say should be spread out among workers. However, while the company’s profits boomed during the pandemic, boosted by a surge in online shopping, they fell in the most recent quarter as inflation continued to weigh on household budgets.
  • A strike at UPS would be the biggest work stoppage in the U.S. since a 1959 steelworkers’ strike that saw half a million workers walk out for nearly four months. With millions of Americans relying on package delivery for basics like food, clothing, and furniture, a strike would bring a large portion of the economy to a standstill.
  • If a strike were to occur, it would have implications not only for UPS but also for the broader labor movement, as the Teamsters try to organize Amazon workers and support high-profile union campaigns at Apple, Starbucks, and Trader Joe’s.

    What they’re saying: “If this multibillion-dollar corporation fails to deliver on the contract that our hardworking members deserve, UPS will be striking itself,” Teamsters President O’Brien said in a statement. “The strongest leverage our members have is their labor and they are prepared to withhold it to ensure UPS acts accordingly.”

    • “We continue to make progress on key issues and remain confident that we will reach an agreement that provides wins for our employees, the Teamsters, our company and our customers,” UPS spokesperson Glenn Zaccara said in a statement.
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