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UPS strike could bring the economy to a standstill

Hundreds of thousands of UPS workers this week could authorize a strike that will bring the world’s biggest package courier to a standstill.

That’s a really big deal for the world’s economy. The company transports more than 3% of global GDP and nearly 6% of US GDP each day.

A nationwide UPS strike would be the largest work stoppage in US history, reports my colleague Vanessa Yurkevich. The union represents more than half of UPS’s total global employee base — 340,000 UPS Teamsters — which includes drivers and package sorters.

The vote would only authorize the strike if their union — the International Brotherhood of Teamsters — does not reach a new contract with UPS by August 1st.

The vote results will be announced next week on June 16, the union said. Strike authorization votes are routine during contract negotiations, and almost always pass.

At the heart of the negotiations for the union is improved pay and benefits and better working conditions, including adding air conditioning in the panel trucks used for UPS deliveries, which the union says poses a health risk for drivers.

“All Teamsters at UPS must be ready to show these corporate executives how serious we are about our new contract. We’ve been organizing, training, and rallying in the lots. Now it’s time to vote,” said Fred Zuckerman, the Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer. “UPS is going to give us what we’ve earned. But we have to fight like hell for it. We must be prepared to hit the streets August 1 if UPS screws this up.”

In April, UPS signaled it was committed to reaching an agreement before then.

“Taking care of our people and delivering for our customers is our top priority,” UPS said in a statement.