Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne discusses the possibility of a UPS strike and talks about the upcoming DCC Day.

It is looking more and more as if the UPS Teamsters union will go out on strike when their contract expires at the end of July (see "UPS-Teamster’s Talks Break Down").  The last time this happened was back in 1997, when negotiations broke down between the two groups and roughly 185,000 UPS drivers went out on strike for 15 days, causing UPS to lose about $850 million and a drop in the US economy of $2 to $3 billion.

Non-union employees, supervisors and managers were told to "brown up" and handle deliveries.  If I remember correctly, our UPS shipments took two to four days longer to arrive at the time.  The only reason our comic deliveries were not affected more was that we could pick them up at the Diamond Comics Distribution center, located in Sparta, Illinois at the time.  Our game shipments did see serious delays while the strike lasted, as well as more damages due to the dragooned drivers having only a short amount of training before going into the truck.

I fear we will see something similar happen this time as well.  UPS has started training managers, supervisors and other non-union employees to drive trucks and deliver packages in the event of a strike, which I would expect to mean an increase in incorrect deliveries and damaged boxes, as well as an estimated $7 billion hit to the U.S. economy.  UPS accounts for about 25% of all parcel deliveries in the U.S. and while USPS, FedEx, and other shippers have said they are ready and able to pick up the additional shipment, given how strained they are already, I do not see them able to handle the influx of packages without some major disruptions.

UPS has over twice as many union employees as it did back in 1997, and should a strike take place, it would be the largest walkout ever in U.S. history.  Asmodee is already encouraging customers to increase orders on evergreen games (and probably new ones too) to get them in stock before a strike gets called.  Nothing like a little fear of supply chain disruptions to spur some extra orders.

I expect, or at least hope, that UPS realizes how much of its success is built on the logistical patterns and the delivery people it has hired and trained to carry them out.  The company had its first $100 billion year in 2022.  While it expects that total to slip slightly in 2023, it still booked a healthy profit of $11.3 billion in 2022, up $600 million from 2021.  That is more than enough to meet the Teamsters’ primary remaining demands of an end to a two-tier wage system and increased wages for part-time line and dock workers.

For what it is worth, I think the current standoff between the two is a negotiating ploy by the Teamsters to put pressure on UPS, which has far more to lose than the Teamsters do.

Dungeon Crawl Classics Day is this Saturday, July 22 and marks the fourth year Goodman Games has put on the event. I am a big fan of events like this and Free RPG Day and wish more RPG publishers would sponsor them (see "Warhammer 40,000 Launch and Free RPG Day").  We have promoted DCC Day since the first of the month and, while we will not see the foot traffic generated by Free Comic Book Day and Free PRG Day, DCC Day costs us far less and pulls in fans of the game from 100+ miles away who avidly want the freebie, the DCC Day module and the limited-edition rulebook.

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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of