The International Brotherhood of Teamsters says a nationwide strike at UPS "is imminent" after union negotiators walked away from national contract talks with the company on Wednesday.
The union also called on UPS to "exchange its last, best, and final offer no later than June 30" as the two sides seek to reach an agreement on economic topics like pay and benefits. The current contract covering roughly 330,000 UPS employees expires July 31, and the Teamsters have vowed to strike if a new contract isn't in place starting Aug. 1.
“The largest single-employer strike in American history now appears inevitable,” said Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien in a statement.
While more than a month remains before the existing contract's expiration, the Teamsters are pushing for a tentative agreement to be reached with enough time for members to review the proposal and vote on it before then.
"Time has run out for UPS to give workers that honorable contract," said Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman in a statement. "The Teamsters repeatedly told the company from the beginning of this process that there would be no extensions. But UPS has sat on its hands and chosen to turn its back on these workers. Come August 1, it’s going to be damn hard for UPS to ignore us any longer.”
UPS said in an emailed statement that it presented "a significantly amended proposal to address key demands from the Teamsters" this week, adding that give-and-take is needed from both sides to reach a consensus.
"We’re working around the clock to reach an agreement that strengthens our industry-leading pay and benefits ahead of the current contract’s expiration on August 1," UPS said. "We remain at the table ready to negotiate."
After the company and the Teamsters sped through non-economic deals on topics like SurePost deliveries and technological implementation, pay and benefits talks have proved to be more difficult.
Negotiators met Tuesday to discuss a section of the contract — Article 34 — that covers pensions and health and welfare benefits, according to the Teamsters. The union pushed back against "concessionary language" to that section before resuming negotiations with UPS the next day.
"When corporate executives showed up, they only resubmitted the same proposal for worker concessions under Article 34," the Teamsters said.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with a response from UPS.