NEW YORK (AP) — The Teamsters said Wednesday they will resume contract negotiations with UPS next week, marking an end to a stalemate that began two weeks ago when both sides walked away from talks while blaming each other.
The union, which represents 340,000 UPS workers, credited the picketing and rallies it's been holding across the country for getting the delivery company back to the negotiating table before the current contract expires on July 31.
It said UPS reached out to resume negotiations.
In a prepared statement, the company confirmed negations will resume next week and said it was pleased to go back and "resolve the few remaining open issues."
Before contract talks broke down, both sides had reached tentative agreements on several issues, including installing air conditioning in more trucks and getting rid of a two-tier wage system for drivers who work weekends and earn less money. A sticking point in negotiations has been wage increases for part-time workers, who make a minimum of $16.20 an hour.
"We are prepared to increase our industry-leading pay and benefits, but need to work quickly to finalize a fair deal that provides certainty for our customers, our employees and businesses across the country," UPS said.
The Teamsters represent more than half of the Atlanta-based company's workforce in the largest private-sector contract in North America. If a strike does happen, as the union has been threatening, it would be the first since a roughly two-week walkout by 185,000 workers crippled the company a quarter century ago.
On Sunday, Sean O'Brien, the head of the Teamsters, said during a webcast with union members that he has asked the White House on numerous occasions not to intervene if workers end up going on strike. Last year, President Joe Biden had intervened to avert a railroad strike and force workers to accept an agreement that wasn't broadly accepted.
On Wednesday, more than two dozen senate democrats sent a letter to O'Brien and UPS CEO Carol Tomé pledging not to intervene in case of a strike, mirroring a similar letter sent on Monday by members of the U.S. House.
Earlier this month, UPS said it will temporarily begin training nonunion employees in the U.S. to step in should there be a strike.
Both sides will set dates soon as to when negations will happen next week.