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UPS, Teamsters to resume contract negotiations next week

By Kelly Yamanouchi, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published: July 22, 2023, 6:31am

The Teamsters union said it is set to resume negotiations with Sandy Springs-based UPS next week, with less than two weeks to reach a deal before their strike deadline.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters said Wednesday that the company reached out to the union, and dates will be set soon for the resumption of bargaining.

The breakthrough marks an end to a stalemate that had been in place since July 5, when talks broke down. The union has said one of the key sticking points was pay for part-time workers.

On Wednesday, UPS said in a written statement: “We are pleased to be back at the negotiating table next week to resolve the few remaining open issues.”

“We are prepared to increase our industry-leading pay and benefits, but need to work quickly to finalize a fair deal that provides certainty for our customers, our employees and businesses across the country,” the company said.

The Teamsters have threatened to strike if the two sides do not reach a new labor deal by Aug. 1, the day after their contract expires July 31. That leaves less than two weeks remaining to reach a deal.

Meanwhile, the pilots union at Sandy Springs-based UPS said it would honor picket lines in the event of a Teamsters strike against the shipping giant.

That would expand the impact of a potential strike at UPS.

The head of the Independent Pilots Association, which has more than 3,400 members at UPS, wrote a letter to Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien this month saying: “In the 1997 IBT strike, 100% of our pilot group respected your picket lines by not ‘turning an aircraft wheel’ on behalf of the Company.”

“Just as we did in 1997, the IPA is committed to exercising our contractual rights, both domestically and internationally, to honor any potential IBT strike and act in sympathy with our fellow workers at UPS by not working,” the letter from IPA president Robert Travis said. “No one wants a work stoppage, but should a legal IBT strike be initiated, you and the IBT can count on the IPA for support.”

Travis noted that the IPA has a long history of supporting the Teamsters in negotiating contracts with UPS.

Travis also wrote that he was “grateful” that the Teamsters would also support the pilots union during its upcoming contract negotiations with UPS next year.

The Transport Workers Union, which represents 111 flight dispatchers for UPS Airlines at its hub in Louisville, Ky., also stated it will not cross a Teamsters picket line at UPS.

“We absolutely, 100% stand in solidarity with the Teamsters,” said TWU International President John Samuelsen. “The planes cannot fly without the dispatchers in the same way they can’t without the pilots.”

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