How a UPS strike could affect your Amazon deliveries

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A labor agreement between the United Parcel Service (UPS) and the more than 260,000 Teamsters who are responsible for delivering to consumers all kinds of goods from online retailers like Amazon and eBay is set to expire on July 31, 2018.

As negotiations continue to heat up, UPS (package workers) and UPS Freight Teamsters (delivery drivers) gave their approval last week for their representatives to authorize a work stoppage, tallying votes of 93% and 91% in favor of picket lines over packages if necessary.

3 ways a UPS strike could affect your Amazon packages

As labor talks have been ongoing for months now, union brass have been trying to prepare workers for the worst as a way to garner solidarity among the ranks.

In a May 15 letter to members, Teamster General President James P. Hoffa and Teamsters’ chief negotiator Denis Taylor wrote: “Nobody wants a strike. It hurts the company and it hurts members. However, the ability to strike is necessary in order to ensure a timely and positive conclusion to negotiations. We have to show that we’re not afraid of striking.”

While UPS has downplayed the talk of a strike, it is interesting to note that while negotiating for the current contract in 2013, Hoffa didn’t call for or publicly mention a strike. But the stakes are higher now.

While even a brief work stoppage is far from imminent, an extended strike by UPS workers would severely crimp the delivery of many of the goods we order online, industry observers say. Six months away from what will likely be another blockbuster holiday season, Amazon can ill-afford to have its delivery apparatus at anything less than full strength.

How would an extended strike affect the regular consumer?

  1. Amazon will likely step up shipments via the U.S. Postal Service and its nearly totally non-union shipping partner FedEx. That means consumers would likely see more packages delivered by the mail carrier. And instead of those familiar chocolate-colored trucks pulling up to your home, you’ll see a lot more of the purple variety.
  2.  Look for Amazon’s “Shipping With Amazon,” (SWA) program to expand rapidly. The SWA program quietly launched in Los Angeles, California, this past winter and takes on UPS and FedEx directly by hiring people to pick up packages from businesses and ship them to consumers. While Amazon hasn’t updated the public on SWA in months now, it’s reasonable to expect that it could be rolled out to more cities soon.
  3. Local courier companies would likely benefit from a UPS strike. Although it’s relatively rare, Amazon typically uses local couriers if the ordered product is close enough to one of its myriad Amazon warehouses. Smaller companies like Lasership and OnTrac could see increased Amazon deliveries.

No matter if the UPS strike comes to fruition or not, one thing is certain: Amazon will no doubt fulfill its orders and get customers the items they buy. Over the last year, the world’s #1 online retailer poured more than $13.2 billion into expanding its logistics platform through warehouses and other leasing arrangements, according to Forbes. That is five times what they spent on similar expenditures in 2015.

So whether it be via in-vehicle deliveryAmazon Hub lockers or by leaving packages inside your home, customers can trust that their packages will continue to be shipped and delivered. Still, a strike would likely be a major blow to both Amazon and UPS from a public relations standpoint.

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Craig Johnson is a conscious money-saver who still reads paperback books and listens to vinyl. He likes to write about how technology is making things easier and more affordable — but also sometimes more dangerous — for the modern consumer. You can reach Craig at [email protected]
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