UPS has been telling customers to be prepared in case the Teamsters union votes down a tentative five-year contract with its UPS Freight less-than-truckload (LTL) division later this month, giving them a cutoff calendar for freight shipments starting today.

While the majority of ecommerce volume is handled by the UPS Ground parcel division, merchants rely on UPS Freight for shipments to their fulfillment centers, and to stores that handle online orders.

Teamsters working for UPS Freight will be voting on the contract between Nov. 7-11. Union leadership has already signaled its willingness to strike sometime after Nov. 12, when the voting period closes.

More than 60% of the 12,000 eligible union voters struck down UPS Freight’s contract proposal last month, leading to an extension that expires Nov. 12. UPS made its last-best offer on Oct. 25, but the original proposal is what the Teamsters will be voting on.

The company’s UPS Ground parcel division was able to settle its contract with the Teamsters last month, even though more than half of those voting went against it. But because fewer than 50% of eligible voters participated, a two-thirds majority no vote was required to nix the contract, so it was automatically ratified.

“To ensure transparency and not put your volume at risk, starting Thursday, Nov. 1 UPS will not pick up any UPS Freight volume with a delivery date after Nov. 8,” the company said in a note today to customers. “The last day UPS will pick up UPS Freight will be Thursday, Nov. 1 for five-day shipping commitments; Friday, Nov. 2 for four-day shipping commitments; Monday, Nov. 5 for three-day shipping commitments; Tuesday, Nov. 6 for two-day shipping commitments; and Wednesday, Nov. 7 for one-day shipping commitments.”

UPS spokesman Glenn Zaccara said the company wanted to make sure that shippers had adequate notice in the event of a “no” vote by Teamsters on the UPS Freight contract in order to make contingency plans.

“We are disappointed that the Teamsters union leaders have chosen to announce the potential for a strike, should…