New Teamsters chief, Sean O’Brien, who took over for the retiring James P. Hoffa in March, did not waste time attempting to rejuvenate the (historically) deep-pocketed union, which saw membership plunge in 2019 and throughout the pandemic. As he took office, O’Brien signaled his strike-hungry ways (he even described himself as “militant” in that way), and he wasn’t kidding. In fact, O’Brien busted out of the gate with plans.
For one thing, UPS employees haven’t gone on strike since 1997, but this summer’s nation-spanning heatwave appears to give O’Brien ammunition to pull that trigger. O’Brien appears to be setting the stage for battle ahead of the UPS national master contract’s expiration date of July 31, 2023. Teamsters officials already sent UPS drivers to rally in New York City to protest the sweltering temperatures in which they work. Given that the Teamsters claim to represent the interests of 350,000 UPS workers, it’s no wonder that O’Brien (who’s already threatening strikes) wants to make his reputation here.
The Teamsters are pulling a few more substantial cards this month:
(1) O’Brien threatened to send 17,000 Costco workers (who make $17 per hour minimum wage or higher, company-wide) on strike after contract talks hit a rough patch on the issue of higher wages;
(2) The long-running Seattle-area concrete truck-driver strike ended in April, but contract discussions have grown no closer to a deal. This month, Teamsters Local 174 rejected the latest offer from concrete companies as “unjust” while vowing to hold out for greater retiree benefits and better pay.