The president of the Teamsters union said Sunday that he has asked the White House on several occasions to make sure President Biden does not interfere with in his ongoing negations with UPS, even with the possibility of a strike looming at the end of July.
The comments from Teamsters President Sean O’Brien came during an online meeting with union members, where he warned workers to be prepared for a strike.
“The White House shouldn’t be concerned with the Teamsters,” O’Brien said on the meeting Sunday. “They should be concerned with Corporate America, which continues to make billions upon billions of dollars off the sweat of our members. We’re not going to allow anybody to implement a contract.”
Negotiations between the Teamsters and UPS, which has roughly 340,000 employees, have been ongoing for weeks.
The Teamsters have made clear that if a new contract is not reached by July 31, the workers will strike, which could cause massive shortages in delivery options across the nation.
However, O’Brien said he does not want the White House, or anyone else, getting in the way.
“My neighborhood where I grew up in Boston, if two people had a disagreement, and you had nothing to do with it, you just kept walking,” O’Brien added. “We don’t need anybody getting involved in this fight.”
O’Brien’s call for Biden to refrain from involvement in negotiations comes less than one year after Biden used executive authority to leverage an agreement between union workers and railroad companies amid threats of a strike.
The Teamsters touted a near-agreement in early July with UPS, but negotiations broke down days later over demands to increase salaries for part-time workers.
UPS said it will begin to train nonunion members in preparation of a potential strike from the Teamsters.
The company delivers 24.3 million packages per day — a pace it is unlikely to maintain if workers strike.
Biden, who has claimed to be the most pro-union president, is a longtime ally of the Teamsters.
However, a strike could pose challenges to his administration as it touts the benefits of “Bidenomics” during his re-election campaign.
The last strike at UPS from the Teamsters was in 1997.
A complete strike from the members this year would mark the largest in U.S. history as demands for online shopping continues to grow.