The UPS (United Parcel Service) strike is presented as one of the most famous cases about win-lose negotiations where one side had almost no bargaining power. At the same time, the other could control the course of negotiations because of its stronger position. The part-time workers at the UPS were underpaid compared to full-time workers. Furthermore, part-time workers could not hope for wage increases and better opportunities for their carriers because they were treated as temporary workers.
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The Teamster Union and UPS union members were concerned not only with the lower wages compared to full-time workers but also with the inability of part-time workers to become full-time workers. The reduction of full-time workers was beneficial to UPS because it could reduce costs and follow fewer employer obligations. The Teamster Union researched economic imbalances in the company and began to prepare the workers for a strike. The Teamster’s preparedness for the strike and careful examination of the existing discrepancies and violations allowed them to weaken the UPS’ positions and gain more bargaining power in the negotiations. Furthermore, the Teamster Union also used public support to strengthen their positions. It should also be noted that although the UPS had counted on sub-contracting, the Teamster Union did not agree to such conditions because sub-contracting provided no benefits to the workers and prevented part-time jobs from advancing into full-time employment.
Although the UPS workers could not act independently from the company, the company was more dependent on them because the strike caused severe losses that increased every day. Since the Teamster Union was able to prepare workers for possible temporary unemployment, the UPS had no real influence on the strike and its duration.
Another prominent feature of this negotiation is the Teamster Union’s focus on eliminating inequalities among the UPS workers. The Teamster Union aimed to provide efficiency in negotiations, and it did, which stimulated the workers to support the Union and not break the strike untimely. The strike was the Teamster Union’s main pressure point because it had an incredibly adverse impact on the UPS and its revenues. Additional attention should be given to the public support of the Teamster Union. It seems reasonable to assume that if the Union demanded improved work safety conditions, there were accidents and injuries during the working process at the UPS. These factors could be used as additional support to attract the public to the case. Therefore, the UPS’ position was unfavorable from many sides: it did not only suffer from losses but was also frowned upon by the public.
Furthermore, the UPS also did not have any government support, which significantly undermined its position. Thus, the company had no other choice as to agree to the provided demands because it did not have any help in the case and faced severe losses until the strike’s end. It should also be considered that none of the parties agreed to sign long-term contracts with each other. On the one hand, the UPS was not interested in providing its workers with long-term contracts due to the new conditions. On the other hand, workers and unions were unsure whether signing a long-term contract would not become a limitation in the future.
As can be seen from this case, excellent preparedness and well-thought strategy can result in a strong bargaining position.