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UPS Warns of Possible Strike in Freight Unit Over Teamsters Contract

UPS has warned its freight customers of a potential strike by the Teamsters union, and the company has said it will not accept freight shipments scheduled to arrive after Thursday, Nov. 8.

UPS and the Teamsters Freight National Bargaining Committee concluded the current round of discussions on Oct. 25. UPS said it made an offer it believes should be ratified because it “rewards our employees with wages and benefits at the top of the industry and compensates them for their contributions to the success of the company.”

“We are disappointed that the Freight Teamsters union leaders have chosen to announce the potential for a strike, should their members vote ‘no’ on the offer,” UPS said. “The company has now begun discussions with UPS Freight customers to inform them of the potential for service disruption and the need to arrange alternative carriers.”

UPS said since the company does not have a guarantee against a work stoppage, it doesn’t want to put customers’ volume at risk of “being stranded in our system.”

“Therefore, we will work to empty our network of freight by Friday, Nov. 9,” the company said. “A vote is scheduled to be counted on Sunday, Nov. 11. With a ‘yes’ vote, normal service will resume Monday, Nov. 12, or shortly thereafter.”

In a statement posted on its website, the union said it could not come to terms with UPS on certain key issues: “Our members at UPS Freight rejected the tentative agreement in a vote on Oct. 5. The Teamsters National UPS Freight Negotiating Committee went back to the table with the company to address member concerns. Unfortunately, the company refused to address a number of key issues for our members. The company presented the negotiating committee with a last, best and final offer on Oct. 24 that our members will vote on beginning Nov. 7, with the results announced on Nov. 11.”

The Teamsters said UPS made the decision “to give a last, best and final offer and to stop taking freight,” adding, “This could all have been resolved by the company addressing the key issues at the negotiating table.”

In the third quarter through September, UPS Freight revenue increased 11 percent on higher pricing and heavier shipments. The Supply Chain & Freight unit saw revenue increase 12 percent, to $3.5 billion.

Meanwhile, only freight customers have the potential for disruption due to the strike. The UPS Small Package National Master Agreement has been ratified already, so customers in that shipping class won’t be affected in the runup to the holiday season.