SEPTEMBER 1, 1997
Did anybody win the UPS Strike?
By Don C. Burnell
Association of Washington Business
According to the news media, the Teamsters Union won the UPS strike hands down and is already focusing on its next target: our state's apple growers. But have the Teamsters really won if UPS customers opt for other shippers so they don't get caught in this pickle again?
There are no winners in strikes, especially in volatile businesses such as shipping and apples. Striking these businesses is different than striking the copper mines in Butte where I grew up. That copper ore had bee in the ground for years and would be there after a strike.
Not so with UPS or agricultural. UPS competes with the Postal Service and other overnight shippers. Its customers won't wait weeks or months for a strike settlement when they can easily take their business elsewhere.
The jury is still out, and UPS customers will ultimately decide who won the strike. The 10,000 new full-time jobs the Teamsters won at the bargaining table won't mean much if, as predicted, UPS is forced to lay off 15,000 workers because of lost business.
And a strike against Washington's apple growers may be just the opening out-of-state and foreign growers need to worm their way into our state's apple market. It's something to think about.