This is “What Can Be Learned From the UPS Case?”, section 1.2 from the book Public Relations (v. 1.0).
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Although UPS ultimately overcame the setbacks it incurred from the Teamsters strike of 1997, the company would have much preferred avoiding the strike altogether. Clearly, the strike had an adverse impact on the company’s reputation, an impact that took years to reverse. The case demonstrates the importance of developing and maintaining relationships, even with those whom you may feel are adversaries. In this case, the company underestimated the Teamsters willingness to call for a strike. They also miscalculated the underlying resentment of Teamsters members toward the company. Once the strike was under way, the company began to regain its footing. Management consciously chose not to vilify its employees, even though they had walked off the job. This strategy proved to be a key in limiting the long-term damage from the strike and allowing UPS to recover its reputation and rebuild labor relations within a relatively short time.