US labor secretary sees no need now to step into UPS-Teamsters talks


By Kanishka Singh and Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Acting U.S. Labor Secretary Julie Su said on Friday she does not see a need at this stage to step in to urge parties to reach a deal in contract talks between the Teamsters Union and United Parcel Service.

“That is right,” Su said on CNN when asked if she felt there was no need for her to intervene at this stage. She added she expected the parties to respect the bargaining process.

On Wednesday, the Teamsters said UPS “walked away” from negotiations over a new contract. The company denied that and accused the union of stopping negotiating.

On Friday, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that President Joe Biden’s administration was in contact with both sides and remained optimistic they would reach an agreement.

“I don’t have any information on increased administration involvement, but certainly we remain in contact with both parties,” Jean-Pierre said.

The sides have traded salvos in statements as they try to avoid a strike when the current contract, which covers some 340,000 workers, expires at the end of July.

If talks break down, UPS workers have already authorized a strike that would be their first since 1997. That strike lasted 15 days, cost the company $850 million, and sent some customers to rivals

Both union and company officials have said they want a deal to prevent a strike, which could put millions of daily deliveries at risk.

After missing out on wage increases during the pandemic, unions are aggressively seeking higher pay and better working conditions, pushing back on contract offers from companies grappling with labor shortages.

Su recently helped negotiate a crucial contract deal between U.S. West Coast seaport employers and a union representing 22,000 workers.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by David Holmes and David Gregorio)

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