UPS workers in North Texas prepare to strike as contract negotiations stall
UPS workers are one step closer to a strike after talks with the company broke down early Wednesday morning following hours-long negotiations in Washington, D.C.
The union said UPS walked away from the bargaining table around 4 a.m. Wednesday after presenting an offer that that workers found "unacceptable." The Atlanta-based company disputed that, saying in an emailed statement that it was union members who walked away from negotiations.
"Refusing to negotiate, especially when the finish line is in sight, creates significant unease among employees and customers and threatens to disrupt the U.S. economy," read the statement.
UPS union workers are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union. The union covers more than 340,000 UPS workers across the country.
“The company has just given really insulting offers that we're not going to accept,” said Scott Sexton with Teamsters Local 767 based in Forest Hill, south of Fort Worth.
Every five years, the union has contract discussions with UPS that cover both full-time and part-time employees. The last contract was adopted in 2018.
Sexton said Teamsters came to a tentative agreement with the company this year, but this week disagreed on several key issues. Those included pay increases and more opportunities for part-time workers, as well as eliminating what they say is a two-tier wage system put in place in the 2018 contract.
Under that structure, workers with similar jobs have different protections from forced overtime, Sexton said — a key issue amid the recent heat wave.
"We've had incidents of people [with] heat exhaustion, heat stroke and those types of things," Sexton said.
Union members voted for a strike authorization in June. The current contract expires July 31. After that, UPS workers can strike.
In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Teamsters chief Sean O'Brien said a strike is now more likely as there haven't been any negotiations scheduled since Wednesday.
"If they choose not to do the right thing, they'll be striking themselves," O'Brien said.
Teamsters Local 767 held a practice picket at UPS Independence Hub in northern Fort Worth ahead of a potential strike as soon as Aug. 1. Another practice picket was scheduled Thursday in Tyler, east of Dallas.
"As we do this location after location, we hoping to communicate that we're very clear about this," Sexton said. "People are just very, very eager to give the company a strike if that's what they force us to do."
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