UPS walks out of talks with Teamsters; 340,000 Workers set to strike Aug. 1

Washington (PAI) — After UPS took one step forward in marathon bargaining with the Teamsters, by eliminating the hated two-tier wage system at the nation’s largest package firm, the company took a bigger one back. It presented its prior inadequate wage offer, then walked out of talks at 4 a.m. on July 5.

The union’s bargaining team unanimously rejected what union President Sean O’Brien previously called an insulting company offer. Talks broke down, with no new sessions scheduled before the current contract covering 340,000 workers expires at midnight on July 31.

The union intends to walk on Aug. 1, O’Brien said. Around the country, Teamsters UPS locals have been staging practice strike picketing and informational picketing at UPS terminals to let the public—and UPS customers—know what’s going on.

Worker pressure, including a nearly unanimous earlier strike authorization vote, forced the firm to junk the two tiers wage system and to promise to promote all current part-time drivers to full-time status.

UPS made that part-time promotion promise in its last contract, with O’Brien’s predecessor, Jim Hoffa. But it never followed through.

“UPS walked away from the bargaining table after presenting an unacceptable offer to the Teamsters that did not address members’ needs. The UPS Teamsters National Negotiating Committee unanimously rejected the package,” O’Brien said in the first of a series of tweets about the talks.

“UPS refused to give the Teamsters a last, best, and final offer, telling the union the company had nothing more to give,” O’Brien added. The Teamsters bargaining team demanded such an offer by July 5, and negotiated round-the-clock through the Independence Day holiday to try to pry it out.

O’Brien previously told the firm it needed the offer by July 5 to let the bargaining team, then Teamster leaders at UPS locals, then the union’s 340,000 UPS workers, all vote on it before the old pact expired.

Union solidarity against two  wage tiers, a management divide-and-conquer tactic at many firms — including the Detroit 3 automakers — for more than a decade forced UPS’s hand on that issue. Tweets showed widespread Labor support for the Teamsters in the U.S., from the AFL-CIO, and abroad, from the International Transport Workers Federation. Prominent politicians weighed in for the union, too.

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