The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents United Parcel Service workers, expressed doubts that a new contract could be worked out much before the July 31 deadline.
The union criticized UPS’s initial economic plan, which the carrier put forth on June 18. The proposal “fails to address the needs of our members,” Teamsters negotiator Ken Hall said in a statement. “This offer raises serious questions about the company’s sense of urgency.” The union made its initial proposal to UPS last week.
While he wouldn’t divulge exactly how UPS’s proposal fell short of Teamsters’ expectations, union spokesperson Bret Caldwell describes the difference as “significant. We were making significant progress over the past few weeks and expected to get a contract done by the end of June. But after this proposal, that’s not in the cards.
Nonetheless, Caldwell adds, “We still expect a good contract in place by July 31. That’s why we had a contract deadline.”
UPS spokesperson Norman Black says the two sides are still well ahead of the game, having already volleyed initial proposals. “The hardest part of any negotiation is when you get to the money,” he says. “And the two sides will work together, narrow our differences, and find some middle ground.”
Eager to avoid another strike, the union and UPS began their current labor negotiations in January. Already the two sides have ironed out a number of nonfinancial issues. At this point in 1997, Black notes, UPS and the Teamsters had made far less progress. That year the two sides failed to negotiate a contract before the deadline, leading to a 15-day strike.