Some Rank-and-File Teamsters Plan to Vote “No” on Tentative Deal With UPS

This Tuesday, UPS and Teamsters introduced they’ve reached a tentative settlement for a brand new contract for UPS employees nationwide, every week earlier than over 340,000 employees have been set to go on strike throughout the nation in what could be the largest strike of its sort in U.S. historical past. Now that strike is on maintain as employees learn, debate, and vote on the tentative settlement.

After years of stagnant wages and deplorable working circumstances, UPS employees have been organizing across the clock to battle for his or her calls for, together with a lot greater beginning salaries for part-time employees and ending the two-tier system. Many of those calls for replicate circumstances that aren’t simply restricted to UPS; profitable them would have implications for the struggles of different employees on this sector who face comparable circumstances of precarity, low wages, hazardous circumstances, and weak contracts (if they’ve contracts in any respect).

Simply the potential for a strike at UPS has struck worry within the hearts of capitalists and politicians, who stand to lose billions in income from simply someday of employees strolling off the job; nevertheless it has additionally galvanized and impressed hundreds of employees and activists who see that if the working class fights again with the sharpest software at our disposal — the strike — we will win even the calls for the bosses say are unattainable.

Left Voice sat down with UPS part-time employee Luigi Morris to debate his impressions of the contract, what’s subsequent for this battle and why he’s going to vote No.

Employees: With the announcement of a tentative settlement for UPS employees, many individuals — from Teamsters leaders to politicians — are heralding this as a “historic” and “game-changing” contract. Given what we all know to this point, what are the large modifications mirrored within the newest contract? What does this imply for the 340,000 employees nationwide who have been getting ready to go on strike on August 1?

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Luigi Morris: After UPS walked away from the bargaining desk, stalling negotiations for 2 weeks, UPS and the Teamsters bargaining workforce reached a tentative settlement on Tuesday morning. Because of this we won’t go on strike subsequent week as we evaluate the proposed contract and vote on it.

We all know that our dedication to strike and our collective motion inside the final months — with observe pickets, conferences, and demonstrations — scared UPS to its core and have already pressured it to make a number of massive concessions. After many years of main losses that lowered labor requirements for UPS employees and the logistics sector, it is a contract that makes some positive factors.

We additionally know that we now have the help of the working class as a complete, in addition to sturdy public help for our battle. Folks perceive that UPS employees, together with Amazon employees and plenty of others, have been on the frontline within the Pandemic, risking our lives whereas the bosses made billions; we will’t proceed with the circumstances we’ve been below for years and now we’re combating for extra.

What are a number of the essential victories or steps ahead on this contract?

On the optimistic facet, the hated two-tier system of drivers will come to an finish. This method, imposed on UPS employees by the final contract, created a system the place there was no equal pay for equal work amongst drivers. On the similar time, there are nonetheless limits to how drivers’ work is organized; many drivers have been anticipating that the 4 yr development to the highest pay price in Tier 1 be decreased to only two years, however there is no such thing as a stipulation for that as of now.

One other win is that there gained’t be pressured time beyond regulation on a employee’s scheduled day without work.

A/C might be put in in all package deal vans purchased after January 1, 2024 and followers might be put in within the vans’ cargo compartments. This isn’t a small factor, particularly as employees have been combating for this demand for a few years and the corporate mentioned it was “unattainable.” Nonetheless, it solely makes for the minimal quantity of package deal automobiles fitted with A/C to be 28,000 (~1/4 of the present fleet) in the course of the lifetime of the settlement. However we have to get these modifications as quickly as attainable. We will’t proceed exposing and risking drivers and helpers to those circumstances. We face file temperatures internationally this summer season as a consequence of local weather change and tales of employees dying on the job from the warmth have gotten disturbingly extra frequent. Do not forget that UPS driver Esteban Chavez Jr. died final yr after collapsing in his truck from warmth stroke.

The proposed contract actually makes some vital modifications to wages, wages which have been degraded with years of inflation. Once they launched the highlights of the TA, it was worded in such a approach as to make full- and part-time employees suppose that we have been going to get a $10.25 increase by way of the lifetime of the contract; however now that we’ve seen the precise language of the proposed contract, it’s clear that we’ll get $7.50 over the subsequent 5 years — that features the automated bump of $2.75 in 2023. That’s nonetheless nicely beneath inflation. Additional, it’s nonetheless not clear what modifications are being made to pensions throughout classifications and the totally different supplementals throughout the nation.

UPS was pressured to make different essential concessions. The newest TA stipulates that Martin Luther King Jr. Day might be a paid vacation, that we’ll get two further sick days, we’ll get extra Surepost on package deal automobiles, and extra.

On the similar time, there are numerous essential shortcomings to this contract, particularly these regarding part-timers.

Half-time employees at UPS are a number of the most traditionally exploited sectors of the workforce; they’re combating for giant modifications of their office. One of many foremost calls for coming from sectors of the rank and file is a $25/hour beginning wage. Does the proposed contract meet these expectations?

For part-timers this was a historic alternative to battle for $25/h minimal as beginning wage. We have been known as important in the course of the pandemic and we generated file income for UPS. UPS CEO Carol Tomé made $27 million final yr. In the meantime, part-time employees at UPS live out of their automobiles, working two or extra jobs, and hardly seeing their households. They’re making poverty wages amid rising inflation. We deserve extra. We’re nonetheless nationwide information and there may be momentum to battle for extra.

Going from $15.50 to $21 an hour as a beginning wage is a crucial leap, however as half timers we have been already very behind on our wages after many years of sellouts. $21 isn’t even the naked minimal of what our wages ought to be if we modify for inflation.

Half-time employees with seniority are particularly pissed off. For them, below the TA, somebody who has been working for 9 years and is already making $17.85 will solely get bumped to $21.50. That isn’t far more than the brand new beginning wage, and it’s nonetheless approach beneath what they need to be making given how inflation ensures that our wages don’t go as far and the price of residing retains going up.

We heard rather a lot about the necessity to eliminate the two-tier system amongst drivers. It’s an incredible win that it has come to an finish with this proposed contract. However this TA maintains the casual “two-tier system” between part-time employees and drivers. A top-rate driver will make $49/h by the top of the contract whereas new part-timers will begin with $21 and after three years will attain $23; they’ll make lower than half the wage of a full-time driver. Underneath the proposed contract, inside employees would nonetheless have second-class standing and it could create a brand new tier separating employees employed earlier than and after August of this yr.

There are nonetheless massive modifications that must be made to our working circumstances. Primarily based on the highlights from the TA, it does appear that we’re going to get A/C within the warehouses. Within the midst of this large warmth wave, part-time employees like me work in sweltering warehouses, packing bins that weigh as much as 70 and even 100 kilos. It’s unsafe. It’s inhumane. And we don’t receives a commission sufficient to go house and relaxation afterwards — many individuals work two, three, or extra jobs simply to get by.

With the proposed TA, we’ll nonetheless solely be assured 3.5 hours of labor per day, which doesn’t translate to even a subsistence wage. We’ll nonetheless solely get a ten minute break, which is way from sufficient to relaxation from the back-breaking tempo of inside work, to get out of the warmth for a bit, and now have time to go for meals, drink and use the toilet.

There was no hazard pay in the course of the Pandemic. Regardless of exposing ourselves, risking our households’ and communities’ lives, preserving society operating and bringing individuals important items, and producing file income for the corporate, the TA doesn’t even embody an “important employees” bonus.

Lots of the calls for of part-time employees haven’t but been met; we shouldn’t be left behind with this contract.

Many politicians and media retailers are celebrating a attainable strike being averted with this tentative settlement, claiming that the battle is over. However in the long run, solely the employees determine whether or not the contract is ratified. What’s subsequent for the contract battle? How do employees determine whether or not that is the contract they need or if they’ll preserve combating for extra?

The complete contract was simply launched. There might be conferences to debate it and the voting will begin on August 3 and final till August 22. Whether it is voted down, the negotiations must resume and the potential for strike might be on the desk once more.

Up to now employees’ opinions span your entire spectrum: some employees are happy with the TA, whereas others have blended emotions and will not be completely determined but; an essential sector is sad with it and is planning to push for a no vote. However there’s a basic feeling that we might have fought for extra. We have been able to strike.

The upcoming conferences, conversations at work, exchanges on social media, and the time we take to learn the total TA will enable us to have a greater characterization of the place employees stand. We positively needn’t solely time, however democratic areas to debate each side of the contract — the positive factors, the boundaries, and what we wish to battle for. We have to manage areas the place we don’t solely passively take heed to stories concerning the TA, however the place we overtly share our totally different opinions and plan subsequent steps.

Inside our ranks, one of many weaknesses we now have to beat is the shortage of group amongst half timers. It is extremely essential that warehouse employees create democratic avenues to replicate on the proposed contract, debate it, and make our personal selections about the best way forward. It’s the one approach we will know for positive that the contract works for us. In fact, that is difficult as a result of all of us have exhausting shifts and most of us have two or three jobs. Many employees are additionally moms and have the double work of elevating their youngsters and incomes sufficient cash to pay the payments. Our our bodies are often damaged. Typically we now have car parking zone conferences, that are a superb house for dialogue and debate, however we have to discover different inventive methods to debate as a collective and to strengthen the unity between drivers and half timers that’s so important to unite our battle within the energy of a single fist.

UPS employees have been gearing up for this battle for years, and all eyes have been on them for months as negotiations stalled and a strike date loomed nearer. Why was simply the specter of a strike sufficient to get UPS to make vital concessions on this tentative settlement? What does this imply for UPS employees who’re able to battle for higher circumstances?

First I believe that there was no must rush to succeed in a TA just some hours after resuming the negotiations. There have been nonetheless six days earlier than the strike was set to start. We might have positively taken what was good and continued to make use of the specter of the strike to strain UPS towards even larger concessions. And in the event that they didn’t meet these calls for, we have been able to strike. UPS was working in opposition to the clock, not us.

The specter of the strike was highly effective due to the strategic function that UPS employees play within the U.S. economic system. Withholding our labor would haven’t solely prompted billions of {dollars} in losses for UPS, however it could have additionally disrupted your entire economic system. This may have put the federal government in a tricky spot, caught between wanting to make sure that capitalist income stream and Joe Biden’s posturing as a buddy of the organized labor motion to win again a working class social base to the Democratic Social gathering forward of the elections. We had all of the leverage in our favor to have a historic strike; we might have joined the over 100 and sixty thousand employees who’re already on strike and who have been already sending us their solidarity. There might have been over half 1,000,000 employees on strike! That’s what the working class must battle again. Our strike would have even concerned UPS pilots, who swore to not cross the picket line by flying UPS packages.

UPS was desirous to avert a strike that would price the bosses billions of {dollars} and set the bar greater for the subsequent contract negotiations. The politicians are joyful that they might not must take care of working class unrest. That’s why we gained the concessions which can be already within the tentative settlement; that’s the facility of our collective motion and it’s an influence we will’t quit now. Our strongest weapon is the strike. It’s additionally the explanation why employees ought to think about voting no on the present settlement — If we truly use that weapon, we might win all of our calls for, together with getting half timers a beginning wage of $25/h.

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