Teamsters Kick Off Strike Authorize Vote for Nearly 350,000 UPS Workers

With the biggest personal sector labor contract in the US set to run out on July 31 at midnight, the eyes of the American labor motion are on United Parcel Service (UPS) and the almost 350,000 Teamsters who work there.

The Teamsters introduced a UPS strike authorization vote beginning this week, with outcomes to be introduced June 16. Union leaders are strongly urging a sure vote. “That is how we win,” stated Teamsters Normal President Sean O’Brien.

Our contract battle issues for the complete working class. We would like staff in every single place—and particularly at Amazon and FedEx—to see that organizing a union results in higher pay and dealing circumstances and better management over their working lives, and opens the door to a greater world.

There’s no higher alternative to point out what we imply than a strike victory in opposition to UPS and Wall Road this summer season.

Second-Tier Drivers

The roots of this battle return many years. UPS jobs had been as soon as thought-about a yardstick of safe union jobs. Now 60 p.c of the workforce is part-time, making across the minimal wage in lots of areas.

Drivers in lots of places are pressured to work six days every week and as much as 14 hours a day with pressured additional time. Managers comply with drivers in private automobiles and relentlessly harass staff to scare us into working sooner.

In 2018, former Teamsters President James P. Hoffa forced a contract upon members regardless of a majority no vote. It saved part-time wages low and established a second-tier driver place, named “22.4” for the contract part that created it. Now new drivers make much less cash and get fewer additional time protections than present drivers doing the identical work.

The rank and file, organizing via the reform caucus Teamsters for a Democratic Union, fought these concessions the entire manner. TDU activists organized a “vote no” marketing campaign in 2013 and once more in 2018 in opposition to concessionary contracts. Then in 2021, TDU led the cost to elect a coalition slate of reformers to the union’s high management, on a platform of preventing extra aggressively to reverse these concessions.

Now UPS Teamsters are demanding a big pay improve for part-timers to $25 an hour, the elimination of twenty-two.4’s two-tier wages for package deal automotive drivers, an finish to pressured sixth days of labor, elevated pension payouts for 60,000 staff in order that they’re extra equal throughout the nation, no driver-facing cameras, extra holidays, and an finish to subcontracting and the usage of gig staff.

Within the rank and file, expectations are excessive. If the two-tier wage construction for drivers shouldn’t be eradicated on day certainly one of this contract, it’s a strike difficulty. If part-time staff don’t get a big pay improve, it’s a strike difficulty. If all work days past the five-day work week will not be completely voluntary, it’s a strike difficulty.

A few of these calls for are about regaining floor misplaced by previous union administrations. However for a lot of staff, particularly these employed because the final contract, that is about preventing for extra. UPSers saved the economic system operating all through the Covid-19 pandemic and not using a penny of hazard pay, and we watched UPS make document earnings off our backs whereas working pressured additional time. In fact we now need our fair proportion.

There’s widespread help for these calls for, and persons are able to battle for them. The rank and file is not going to settle for a half deal, trade-offs, or “sharing the burden” with UPS.

Wall Road Marching Orders

Seventy-two p.c of UPS shares are owned by Wall Road corporations; the 2 largest shareholders are Vanguard Capital and BlackRock. These corporations and others personal large chunks of our economic system, together with not simply UPS but in addition its essential personal rivals, together with FedEx and the railroads.

What does Wall Road need out of the UPS contract? Regular and big earnings. From their perspective, UPS is among the nice success tales of the pandemic.

From 2012 to 2019, UPS yearly earnings ranged from $7.1 billion to $8.2 billion. In 2020, when the remainder of the economic system was struggling, UPS nonetheless remodeled $8.7 billion. Then the corporate reported the biggest earnings in its historical past: $13.1 billion in 2021 and $13.9 billion in 2022.

UPS will attempt to additional improve these earnings within the 2023 contract by asking for “flexibility” to schedule workers to work any of the seven days in every week, the set up of driver-facing cameras to additional harass staff, and the continued use of gig staff to ship packages.

The largest obstacle to Wall Road dictating phrases for the complete logistics trade is the Teamsters’ UPS contract. Merely look to the rivals to see what companies would do and not using a unionized counter-force: Amazon drivers are paid almost minimal wage and get their hours minimize subsequent week if they don’t meet inhumane manufacturing requirements this week; FedEx is shifting to eradicate all direct hires and switching to a one hundred pc subcontractor mannequin.

A two-week strike might cost UPS about $3.2 billion. However extra vital, a strike at UPS could be the biggest demonstration of working-class energy seen but within the post-Covid economic system. Each employee might see that they’ve the ability to win higher circumstances by collectively withholding their labor.

That result’s what Wall Road fears probably the most.

Began a 12 months In the past

Our contract battle began almost a yr in the past. Final August, we had contract kick-off rallies across the nation. Within the fall, we stuffed out contract surveys, affirming the recognition of formidable calls for. Over the winter, 1000’s of us stood at gates and in break rooms handing out Contract Unity Pledge Playing cards to construct help for the key contract calls for we’re keen to strike over.

Within the spring, we held Contract Motion Staff trainings across the nation to map our workplaces, choose picket captains, and develop organizing plans to interact our co-workers. And within the final month, rank-and-file TDU activists started petitioning at dozens of UPS “barns” to demand the corporate settle for the next nationwide pension plan and lift part-time pay to $25 an hour.

We’re agency in our excessive expectations. We need to win the perfect contract in Teamster historical past—and if we now have to, we’ll be keen to hit the streets on August 1 to do it.

This story was reprinted from Labor Notes.

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