UPS Chief Confident of Averting Strike

United Parcel Service chairman/CEO Mike Eskew has said that catalogers shouldn’t worry about the ongoing contract negotiations between UPS and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters: “We’re confident we’ll get it done,” Eskew told Catalog Age on June 11. But the Teamsters union criticized UPS’s initial economic plan, which it put forth on June 18. The Teamsters contract with the parcel carrier expires July 31.

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.”

While he wouldn’t detail the specifics of how UPS’s offer fell short of the union’s expectations, Teamsters spokesperson Bret Caldwell told Catalog Age on June 19 that the difference was “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 added, “We expect a good contract in place by July 31.”

UPS spokesperson Norman Black appeared to agree. “The hardest part of any negotiation is when you get to the money,” he said on June 19. “The two sides will work together, narrow our differences, and find some middle ground.”

Eager to avoid a repeat of the Teamsters’ 1997 strike against UPS, which paralyzed the carrier for nearly two weeks, the union and UPS began their current labor negotiations in January. “Last time, we didn’t even do anything until at least June,” Eskew said. “And this time, the Teamsters have said all the way through that they’d like to work this thing out in a timely manner.”

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