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Jillian Voege

Holiday Labor Disputes (And How to Work Around Them)

by Jillian Voege

Picture this. You've spent the last few months poring over models and forecasts from your marketing and operations teams. You've hired extra help and spun up extra servers for the spike in demand. You've approved multi-channel marketing campaigns to drum up hype around your brand. It's a critical season for your business to execute, and you've gone the extra mile to ensure that it will.

Striking worker standing outside of Sears

Then you get an email from your main carrier. They tell you that because of upcoming labor disputes, they might not be able to deliver your packages. All of that meticulous planning, derailed by a labor dispute that you have no control over.

The bad thing about this hypothetical is that it plays out in real life much more than you think. Labor disputes - especially when it comes to shipping - are becoming more commonplace. However you feel about unions and strikes, it makes sense to shut down operations when the labor is needed most. Unfortunately, businesses like yours suffer because of the dispute between the carrier and its labor.

In 2016 alone, we've seen strikes from Canada Post to Amazon and DHL's crucial air freight partners. A planned strike by UPS' workers will thankfully occur after the holiday season, but still threatens to derail a huge part of UPS' operations.

You can't really influence a labor dispute to resolve itself quickly, but you can have contingencies in place if a strike happens with your main carrier. Being able to quickly set yourself up with an alternate carriers - regional, national, or international - can be a crucial fail-safe against unexpected labor disputes. Of course, you might have to spend more on shipping with unfamiliar carriers, especially if you haven't had the chance to negotiate rates with your alternate carriers. But having a contingency can be crucial to keep your packages moving, especially if your main carrier is dealing with a strike during the busiest season of the year.