ECU supply chain expert comments on proposed UPS strike

The potential Aug. 1 UPS strike will have major repercussions throughout the logistics industry, including sectors related to truck and air transportation, warehousing, inventory, ports and transportation hubs.

Jon Kirchoff headshot

Jon Kirchoff is the chair of the marketing and supply chain management department in East Carolina University’s College of Business. (ECU photo)

East Carolina University supply chain expert Jon Kirchoff offers insight into what a large-scale strike by UPS would mean for industries and small business owners in North Carolina and across the country.

“The strike is estimated to disrupt 30% of the parcel industry plus a yet-to-be-determined amount of pallet shipments. Also, the UPS pilots have said they will not fly in solidarity with the Teamsters. Of course, the disruption will impact anyone who depends on UPS logistics, which is significant.

“Because UPS is ubiquitous in North Carolina, most areas of the state will be affected. Parcels, consumers and small businesses will bear much of the brunt in terms of higher prices and delays. To prepare for the strike, UPS is quickly training non-union employees and temps. It will be challenging in the short term but may be necessary if the strike isn’t quickly resolved.

“Will the strike affect Amazon or its customers? The company is not expecting any significant impact because Amazon vertically integrated delivery to the point where they almost no longer need UPS.

“I’m keeping an eye on the rate at which other logistics companies will absorb the unfulfilled demand because of the strike. It could vary depending on the contracts UPS has with current customers, the capacity of other carriers, the willingness of other carriers to take on the business, and cost factors.”

About Kirchoff

Kirchoff is the chair of the marketing and supply chain management department in East Carolina University’s College of Business in Greenville, North Carolina. His primary areas of research include sustainable supply chain management, health care supply chain management and functional integration. Before academia, he worked for 15 years in global purchasing and logistics management at Fortune 500 companies, including Mercedes-Benz U.S. International and Dish Network. He has published articles in the Journal of Operations Management, Journal of Supply Chain Management, International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management and other academic and professional publications including Harvard Business Review.