LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Union workers at UPS have voted overwhelmingly to support a potential strike should they fail to reach an agreement with the Atlanta-based shipping giant on a new labor contract next month.

UPS and the union are in midst of negotiating new contract setting wages, benefits and work conditions for about 260,000 package handlers, delivery truck drivers, driver helpers and freight truckers across the country.

About 12,000 of those workers are in Louisville, home to UPS’ Worldport global air hub.

The jobs start at $10.35 per hour, with some senior workers making more than $35

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents the workers, announced the “strike authorization” approval on Tuesday night. The company said the vote was expected, and that no strike is imminent.

The strike authorization is meant to pressure the company to come to terms with the union by showing that union workers are prepared to walk off the job if necessary.

The Teamsters’ current five-year deal with UPS expires on July 31.

UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot said negotiations remain on track. “UPS is confident in our ability to reach an agreement that meets the needs of our employees and the business,” he said in email.

Any new agreement would have to be approved by a vote of rank-and-file workers across the country.

Some regional union leaders, including Fred Zuckerman, president of Teamsters Local 89 in Louisville, have criticized the union’s national leadership for being too conciliatory to UPS in the negotiations.

Zuckerman nearly unseated longtime Teamsters General President James Hoffa in the union’s national elections in 2016.

Last week, Zuckerman said he would run for the international union’s No. 2 post in the next election in 2021, with Sean O’Brien, president of Teamsters Local 25 in Boston, at the top of the ticket.   

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2018 WDRB News. All rights reserved.