Why Teamsters authorized a strike against UPS

Photo: Mark Holloway/Wikimedia
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As we await the full picture of the tentative contract agreement struck by Teamsters leadership with UPS, this report by a package car driver gives a strong picture of workers’ conditions and what they are fighting for.

Alexander Carritte – Teamster Local 174 – UPS Package Car Driver

I have been a UPS Teamster for 17 years, and I’ve never seen energy like this before. Not in the rank and file, and certainly not in the leadership.

5 Years ago, our previous president, Hoffa Jr., not only forced through a contract Teamster membership voted down, he did so to create a lower-tier driving job, the 22.4 position, which paid $10 less/hr. and incentivized the company away from creating more RCPD (Regular Package Car Driver) full-time jobs.

With the help of Teamsters for a Democratic Union and Teamsters United, we amended our Teamsters constitution to prevent leadership from overriding the member’s votes. Nothing will be forced through this time.

Our Teamsters negotiating committee has already secured Tentative Agreements with the company on important issues like safety, forced overtime, and the 22.4 driving position (which has been eliminated!)

Now we’re negotiating economics. The company’s offer for RCPD wages was to LOWER them DOWN to the lower-tier wage! As if we would work to get that lower-paid job eliminated only to bring the current tier down as well. After record profits, they determined a $10/hr wage cut was fitting for the Package Car Driver “heroes” who earned them billions during the pandemic.

The company also wanted to institute a “reverse COLA” (Cost Of Living Adjustment) that would LOWER our wages in the event of a deflationary period. Madness!

Our negotiating committee rightfully walked away from this proposal.

UPS has made progress on its subsequent offers, but crucially they have not offered part-timers a wage increase commensurate with the rest of the industry (currently Amazon, target, and Starbucks employees make more than UPS part-timers).

Part-time employees make up 60% of UPS’s labor force. The drivers you see on the road are full-time employees. However, the employees who load and unload those package cars, load and unload tractor trailers, load planes, sort packages, process hazardous material shipments, etc. are almost entirely part-time workers who start at only $15/hr.

Across the country, UPS had to voluntarily raise the wages of these part-time workers by up to $6/hr. during the pandemic, just to keep people coming in. Then, without warning, they took it away. Part-time employees quit in droves and the company has had trouble keeping these employees ever since.

Now, in negotiations, the company assumes they can offer full-time drivers wage increases and throw part-timers under the bus. Previous Teamster leadership would’ve taken that deal.

Under our new president Sean O’Brien, however, we’re fighting for these part-timers harder than any time in my career as a Teamster, in the hopes of raising the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of members and creating the work environment UPS needs to thrive as an industry-leading company.

Securing a big win for these part-timers, who again make up 60% of UPS Teamsters, would help strengthen our union like never before. Our current contract ends July 31st, and unless our negotiating committee sees an offer from UPS that we like, we will stop working on August 1st and create the biggest work stoppage this country has seen in decades.

WHAT WE ARE ASKING: Anyone with a shipping contract with UPS should contact their rep and tell them you support the Teamsters and the company needs to give us a great contract. Tell them how much you appreciate your UPS driver and the invisible part-timers inside the warehouses.

Please spread the message to the public that UPS has made record billions in profits and has doubled their stock buybacks. Instead of further lining the pockets of shareholders, they should compensate the employees who created those profits in the first place.

Please let the public know that UPS Teamsters are fighting for underpaid part-timers who have been ignored for decades, which is one reason this fight is so hard. But full-timers are willing to stand with our part-time brothers and sisters to get them strong wages and dignity on the job. And we will strike if necessary.

If and when we do strike, we will have more information on how you can help. We would certainly love to see you join us on the picket line with food, water, and solidarity.

Thank you to everyone for your support. Exciting times ahead. Solidarity forever.

Rank and File Teamster Local 174

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