Over 90% of Teamsters who work for United Parcel Service (UPS) voted to authorize a strike on August 1st if they cannot come to an agreement on a new labor contract with the package-delivery company.
The labor union is headed for a showdown with the parcel giant that could lead to the largest U.S. strike since 1997 if a deal is not reached by the time the current contract expires Aug. 1.
Members of the Teamsters union employed by UPS and UPS Freight have authorized their respective negotiating committees to call a strike if they cannot come to terms with the company on a new contract before the current pact expires Aug. 1.
According to a statement from the Teamsters, UPS members approved the strike authorization by a 93 percent margin, while UPS Freight workers were 91 percent in favor of the measure.
The biggest issue is how UPS will expand to offer deliveries on Sunday. The current proposal would convert all part-time workers to full-time workers, but pay them the same wage that they currently make, $15 per hour. Current full-time employees make an average of $36 per hour.
The Teamsters Union believes that the newly classified workers should earn the same amount of money as current full-time workers.
UPS spokesman Glenn Zaccara said that the company “is confident in our ability to reach an agreement” with the union before the August 1st deadline. He added that “UPS and the Teamsters have already reached tentative agreements on a wide variety of non-economic issues.
Between the two divisions, UPS employs roughly 260,000 Teamsters, with more than 40,000 new union member employees since 2014.
Votes to authorize strike actions are fairly common during contract negotiations, and generally pass when put to a vote, but given the size of the UPS Teamster workforce, an actual strike would be the largest such action in the United States in more than 20 years.
In 1997, the Teamsters staged a 16-day walkout from UPS, but the company only employed about 180,000 union members at that time.
“This vote by our UPS and UPS Freight members gives the negotiating committees bargaining leverage this week and during subsequent negotiations for the national contract and the supplements,” said Denis Taylor, director of the Teamsters Package Division and co-chairman of the Teamsters National UPS Negotiating Committee.
“It is very helpful to have the members’ backing as we work toward negotiating strong contracts at UPS and UPS Freight.”
UPS spokesperson Glenn Zaccara downplayed the likelihood of a strike, however, telling CNN Money, “The reality is that UPS and the Teamsters have already reached tentative agreements on a wide variety of non-economic issues.”