The International Brotherhood of Teamsters which represents 340,000 UPS workers considering a strike, walked away from the negotiating table with the company this week, starting a countdown to July 31 when the union vows to strike.

At stake are wages and working conditions. Recently, the company agreed to add air conditioning to UPS trucks, a move UPS resisted for years. Also at issue: higher pay for part-time and inside workers, removal of surveillance cameras in cabs and an end to a two-tier pay system that favors newer workers over more senior staff.

“We all have a contract ‘til July 31st–we will work under that contract,” Local Teamsters 171 Vice President Scott Barry told “July 31st at midnight, if we don’t have a contract, we’re not working without another contract.”

In a statement, UPS said: “We have not walked away, and the union has a responsibility to remain at the table. Refusing to negotiate, especially when the finish line is in sight, creates a significant unease among employees and customers and threatens to disrupt the U.S. economy.”

While projections on the possibility of a strike vary, meeting planners who often rely well in advance on materials shipped via UPS to meeting sites should plan ahead, says Smart Meetings Event Director Michele Gardner-Kelley.

“Shipping has grown more and more difficult and not dependable,” she says and shared the tips below to ensure any disruption doesn’t negatively impact an event.

Meeting Planners’ Workarounds for Shipping

  1. Plan ahead: Schedule shipping with an extra 5 days for delivery to account for weather and staffing delays.
  2. Diversify shippers: Use other carriers such as FedEx, USPS (US Postal Service), DHL and others.
  3. Restock for onsite offices: Order new items for onsite offices through Amazon and ship directly to the venue.
  4. Use a local printer for marketing materials so delivery of printed materials (agendas, copies, poster boards, etc.) can be locally printed and delivered.
  5. Make Instacart your friend: Use for any items that may not have arrived. This works with Office Depot, Target, Walmart, CVS and Staples.
  6. Uplevel your tracking: Use a live doc like a Google sheet with tracking numbers and share with the onsite venue contact and purchasing team. Require a signature and set reminders and notifications for when items are delivered. Download the shipping app to stay up to date.
  7. If a close turnaround from one event to the next.
  8. Pack office with 2 sets of delivery locations: Ship event items that are always used at one event directly to the next and send other items back to the office.
  9. Restock items, order and ship to the venue.
  10. Arrange a backup plan with those for any AV needs that may be needed.