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Possible UPS Strike Delivers New Worries for Upcoming Events

The union representing 340,000 UPS workers is threatening a strike when its contract expires on July 31, risking delays and higher costs for event organizers, exhibitors, and others who must ship materials to host properties.

Since the beginning of 2023, labor issues at meeting facilities have been at the fore in several big meeting destinations. First, Las Vegas and Orlando saw strike threats from front-line convention-center personnel, but the employees’ union and the centers came to a contract agreement by late January, before a walkout happened.

Then in April, hotel employees across 87 hotels in the Philadelphia and New York City metro areas threatened to strike but were able to come to an agreement with owners on a new deal.

At present, more than 60 hotels in Southern California are contending with an on-and-off strike by employees represented by Unite Here Local 11, which seeks a new contract to replace the one that expired on June 30. That contract dispute has resulted in the Democratic Governors Association plus a few other business groups relocating their events from hotels without a labor deal to the Westin Bonaventure, one of the few hotels to come to terms with Local 11.

And now, it's not just meeting venues with labor issues that could throw a wrench into business events. UPS, the largest private shipping company in North America, faces a labor walkout on August 1 if a new contract is not reached with the Teamsters, the union representing 340,000 UPS employees. Given that UPS delivers 24.3 million packages each day—compared to 23.8 million delivered by the U.S. Postal Service and 10 million delivered by FedEx—a walkout at UPS would cause significant complications for event hosts as well as event sponsors and exhibitors around the country.

According to this article on, even if UPS management personnel and non-union hires filled in for striking workers, most packages would be subject to unpredictable delays. Further, even if event hosts and their sponsors and exhibitors find another delivery company to ship their packages, the switch from a contracted UPS rate to standard published rates at a different company would drive up costs dramatically.

Negotiations between the Teamsters and UPS management have been at a standstill since July 15, and the Teamsters have asked the Biden administration not to intervene if a strike happens—not a good sign for an agreement by August 1, nor for the meetings and events industry.

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