Teamsters chief asks White House not to intervene if UPS workers strike

Teamsters President Sean O’Brien told union members over the weekend the White House has been asked not to intervene if UPS workers strike, saying the administration should be concerned only with corporate greed.

“We’ve been very clear with the White House,” O’Brien said on a UPS Teamsters members update webinar Sunday when asked about the chances of the White House forcing a contract.

“We told the White House — and I used this analogy throughout our negotiations, throughout our rallies and practice pickets that we have taken a strong position with the White House that, you know, my neighborhood where I grew up in Boston, if two people had a disagreement and you had nothing to do with it, you just kept walking. And we echoed that to the White House on numerous occasions and we don’t need anybody getting involved in this fight,” he said.

The White House intervened last fall to avoid a nationwide railroad strike. President Biden called into talks between negotiators, led by former Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, and made clear a shutdown of railways was unacceptable. Then, following 20 hours of negotiations, a deal appeared to avoid a strike that could have crippled the U.S. supply chain.

“The White House shouldn’t be concerned with the Teamsters, they should be concerned with corporate America who keeps making billions upon billions of dollars off the sweat of our members,” O’Brien said. “We’re not going to allow anybody to implement a contract.”

Contract negotiations between UPS and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters fell apart earlier this month, increasing the chances the estimated 340,000 workers could strike. 

The union voted 97 percent last month in favor of authorizing a strike if they don’t reach an agreement with UPS by July 31 when their contracts are up.

The UPS Teamsters, which represents more than half of the UPS workforce, is fighting for better benefits and working conditions.

“We don’t need side hustles, what we need are better wages,” O’Brien said on Sunday. “Since July 5, we have sent UPS a loud message.”

He said they have been preparing for a possible strike and making sure Teamster members understand what would happen.

“UPS is scared, we’re backing them into a corner,” he added. “We will win this fight. We will force UPS to come back to the table, but we have to stay united.”


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