UPS Teamsters vote to authorize strike if contract deal isn’t reached

Shipping giant says labor talks are making progress and no strike is expected
UPS workers listen to Sen. Raphael Warnock speak during a campaign rally at the UPS Smart Hub facility in Atlanta on Monday, December 5, 2022. (Natrice Miller/

Credit: Natrice Miller /

Credit: Natrice Miller /

UPS workers listen to Sen. Raphael Warnock speak during a campaign rally at the UPS Smart Hub facility in Atlanta on Monday, December 5, 2022. (Natrice Miller/

Teamsters members at Sandy Springs-based UPS have voted in favor of authorizing a strike in the event that ongoing negotiations fail to reach an agreement.

The vote was 97% in favor, according to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

A strike authorization vote is a way for the union to bolster its bargaining position by demonstrating solidarity among members, but does not mean a strike is planned against the shipping giant.

“The strongest leverage our members have is their labor and they are prepared to withhold it to ensure UPS acts accordingly,” said Teamsters general president Sean O’Brien in a written statement.

UPS issued a statement saying “The results do not mean a strike is imminent and do not impact our current business operations in any way.”

“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 said.

Some of the Teamsters’ key priorities are doing away with a two-tiered pay system that was put into the current UPS contract, increasing pay for workers including part-time package handlers, and stopping what they call “forced overtime.”

While Teamsters members voted to authorize a possible strike, the two sides have made significant progress at the bargaining table.

Earlier this week, the Teamsters said UPS had agreed in contract talks to put air conditioning in new trucks for its drivers, a major resolution of a long-standing battle.

The air conditioning deal was something “a lot of people thought would never happen,” said UPS driver and Teamsters member Jimi Hadley. “It really shows what labor can do.” Hadley said he voted in favor of authorizing a strike, adding “that’s what organized labor is all about, it’s standing together.”

On Wednesday, the union said it had already reached tentative agreements on 43 non-economic changes to the UPS agreement.

“This is an extraordinary number of tentative agreements reached and language changed at this stage of negotiations,” O’Brien said. The union plans to submit its full proposal for wages, holidays and health benefits to UPS negotiators in the next two weeks.

Still, a deadline looms. The UPS-Teamsters contract currently runs through July 31. National negotiations began April 17, and O’Brien has said that if the two sides do not reach agreement on a contract by then, Teamsters would go on strike at UPS Aug. 1.

The Teamsters with more than 340,000 members at UPS have the largest private collective bargaining agreement in North America. A strike would cripple shipping across the country, affect millions of deliveries a day and damage UPS’s reputation with customers.