As UPS strike looms, Emory economist confident a deal can be reached

A shipping container rests outside a UPS depot, Thursday, June 29, 2023, in New York. More than 340,000 unionized United Parcel Service employees, including drivers and warehouse workers, say they are prepared to strike if the company does not meet their demands before the end of the current contract on July 31. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Teamsters at UPS, who number about 340,000, said Wednesday was the last day for their Sandy Springs-based employer to offer a new contract that speaks to higher pay and better conditions.

Breakdowns early Wednesday ended ongoing and often contentious negotiations. Each side says the other walked away, and the Teamsters plan to start picketing on Thursday.

Tom Smith is an economist at Emory University’s Gouizetta School of Business. He specializes in labor issues, and he said he’s confident the two sides will work something out before the actual July 31 deadline.

Smith says neither side ever gets 100% of what they want, and each side knows that. Instead, both parties cling to as much as they can, for as long as they can, in a cat-and-mouse type scenario.

In this regard, these contract negotiations are just like every other contract negotiation, but Smith says there are a few differences when looking at UPS’s current situation.

Christopher Alston contributed to this report.