UPS Workers Prep to Strike for Demands That Would Improve Lives of Over 340,000

UPS staff are training picketing for a historic strike if the Teamsters and package deal supply big don’t attain an settlement earlier than their contract expires on July 31. Negotiations stalled after the corporate and the union failed to succeed in an settlement. Ninety-seven % of Teamsters have voted to authorize a piece stoppage.

The contract applies to 340,000 full- and part-time staff. Practice pickets, the place staff assemble exterior a office as if they’re on strike, have taken place not too long ago throughout the nation together with in Connecticut, Louisiana, Michigan, Oregon and California, the place staff held indicators that learn, “simply training for a simply contract.”

“Either side is blaming the opposite for what occurred on the negotiating desk,” Richard Hooker Jr., secretary-treasurer and principal officer for Philadelphia Teamsters Native 623, advised Truthout. However to Hooker, it’s clear which facet is at fault. “[UPS] selected to pull this factor out and now on the eleventh hour, they need to level the finger on the Teamsters once we’ve been prepared, prepared and capable of negotiate from the very begin. So that is simply them making an attempt to make it appear to be the working class or the working households are the unhealthy guys when it’s them. They’re those that induced all these points.”

A job at UPS could be tough. Staff must cope with hovering temperatures because of the local weather disaster, for instance. Additionally they didn’t have the posh of staying dwelling throughout COVID-19 lockdowns. As a substitute, the burden fell on them when folks averted procuring in individual.

The Teamsters had an enormous win when the corporate agreed to place air-conditioning in vans starting subsequent yr, however the adjustments haven’t met the entire union’s core calls for. These calls for are primarily financial, reminiscent of wage will increase for all staff, together with for individuals who have labored on the firm for a very long time, in addition to for part-time staff. The Teamsters are additionally demanding improved pension advantages and protections for well being and welfare advantages.

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“This multibillion-dollar company has loads to offer American staff — they simply don’t need to,” Teamsters Common President Sean O’Brien said. “UPS had a option to make, they usually have clearly chosen to go down the unsuitable street.”

One of many calls for that UPS and the Teamsters couldn’t agree on is increased wages for part-time staff.

“We’re most likely $6 to $7 per hour aside on the place these part-timers must be for beginning charges of pay, but in addition the place they must be for the long-term workers,” O’Brien told Supply Chain Dive.

“Half-time staff get screwed over, taken benefit of, and forgotten about,” said Teamsters Common Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman. “The Teamsters Union should put an finish to this once-and-for-all at UPS. If the corporate’s sample of exploitation doesn’t finish now, it by no means will.”

O’Brien told Bloomberg that one other subject in negotiations is {that a} UPS full-time employee would possibly make $93,000 a yr, for instance, however that’s solely once they work 60-65 hours per week.

Hooker advised Truthout he wish to see “excessive wages, extra full-time jobs for part-timers, higher and safer working situations” together with “a extra responsive grievance process.” He mentioned the corporate retaliates towards staff who communicate out about situations by disciplining or firing them, including, “Above all, we have to actually do away with the harassment.” Final yr, 4 staff told The Nation that UPS fired them for his or her involvement with the union.

In 2022, UPS reported a file $11.3 billion in earnings on $100 billion price of income. UPS CEO Carol Tomé told investors on an earnings name in April that the corporate is working to “defend within the unlikely occasion of a piece stoppage.” She made $19 million in complete compensation in 2022.

Through the name, Tomé in contrast the negotiations to a disagreement she had together with her husband a couple of pet.

“Like every negotiation,” she mentioned, “it’s going to be noisy and some bumps alongside the best way. And I simply had this argument with my husband a couple of pet. It was noisy, it was stuffy…. However in any negotiation, that’s going to be the case, and it’s actually the case right here. And that’s why I am going again to our gross sales technique of those high-impact executives placing their arms round our clients and ensuring they’re snug with us as a result of we’re assured we’ll ship our contract.”

“Bought it. Thanks. Good luck with the pet,” a participant with Deutsche Financial institution on the decision responded.

The Teamsters have made some progress within the negotiations. In June, they won air-conditioning for UPS vans, which is able to start being put in subsequent yr.

“We made progress with the [tentative agreement] for [air-conditioning] and warmth mitigation and different non-economic objects,” Teamsters Division of Strategic Initiatives Assistant Director Kara Deniz advised Truthout. “This tentative settlement is topic to the ratification of the nationwide settlement, and UPS must ship the contract with the wages UPS part- and full-timers deserve.”

However the tentative settlement didn’t come quickly sufficient. Final summer season, UPS employee Esteban Chavez Jr. collapsed after delivering packages on a sizzling day within the Pasadena, California, space. The temperature was within the higher 90s, and it was even hotter in his truck. He died within the warmth only a day after turning 24 years outdated.

“It hurts, it’s a ache that’s by no means gonna go away. And that’s one thing I want on no one, having the expertise to lose your youngster,” Chavez’s father, Esteban Chavez Sr., said last year.

Knowledge from the Occupational Security and Well being Administration (OSHA) present a case from August 2021 the place an worker died at 2 am after lifting and carrying packing containers within the warmth. According to local news media, the employee was named Jose Cruz. He was 23 years outdated.

Truthout’s assessment of knowledge from OSHA has revealed many disturbing incidents at UPS, making clear that staff are finishing up harmful jobs. Truthout checked out 219 circumstances in the US, open or closed, with violations, previously 5 years. A minimum of 24 of those incidents have been associated to working within the warmth. In a minimum of six of those circumstances, the employee was taken to the hospital.

Viviana Gonzalez, a driver and store steward for Teamsters Native 396 in Palmdale, California, works within the desert and mentioned she doesn’t have any warmth aid. She mentioned a few of her coworkers have kidney issues, which she attributes to dehydration from working within the desert. Air-conditioning, Gonzalez advised Truthout, is “an enormous win.” She added, “That’s the ability of getting a union: That after so a few years we’ve develop into so robust in our unity, … these are the outcomes of really having a union versus not having a union.”

UPS advised Truthout the corporate cares “deeply about our folks, and their security stays our high precedence. Warmth security isn’t any exception. We now have reached an settlement on warmth security with the Teamsters, which incorporates new measures that construct on essential actions rolled out to UPS workers within the spring, together with new cooling gear and enhanced coaching developed in partnership with the sports activities science consultants from the Korey Stringer Institute on the College of Connecticut, the Gatorade Sports activities Science Institute, and MISSION, a efficiency attire firm.”

UPS apparently has no plans to place air-conditioning in warehouses, although. These warehouses solely have air-conditioning in administration places of work, Teamsters Native 623’s Hooker mentioned. “Air-conditioning is an effective step in the precise route, however we additionally must be sure that our warehouse staff even have some sort of aid from the warmth,” he mentioned.

UPS didn’t touch upon air-conditioning in warehouses.

In one case from June 2019, in line with OSHA, a employee in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was delivering packages within the warmth and commenced experiencing cramps. Slightly than permit the employee to get medical consideration or go dwelling, his supervisor joined him on the truck and helped him ship packages. When the worker was completed together with his shift, he was in an excessive amount of ache to get to his private automobile. He was hospitalized for warmth exhaustion and was identified with rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle tissues that may be deadly or lead to everlasting incapacity. UPS was penalized $9,282.

Truthout additionally recognized six OSHA circumstances associated to COVID security rules. Whereas these incidents are usually not detailed, they present necessities for firms to ascertain a written COVID prevention process. UPS staff needed to continue working in person whereas many individuals stayed dwelling throughout COVID lockdown.

“We’ve given the corporate billions of {dollars} and we work tons of hours,” Teamsters Native 396’s Gonzalez mentioned. “We put ourselves in danger for COVID, our households in danger for COVID. And I simply suppose it’s fairly unhappy that the corporate desires to hoard all of the earnings, and that’s an enormous downside as a result of if you happen to have been to handle your workers, we might be grateful.”

Teamsters President O’Brien told Breaking Factors that union members transported vaccines when “they weren’t even eligible for them.”

OSHA knowledge additionally reveal a number of incidents of amputations of fingers and toes ensuing from working at UPS. In a case from February 2022, an worker’s toe was surgically amputated after the seal on the underside of a field gave w and a heavy merchandise fell on the worker’s foot. UPS was given an $18,646 penalty.

Truthout recognized six incidents the place a employee has died previously 5 years. In 2018, an worker in Kentucky died when he was sucked right into a conveyor system, according to OSHA. UPS was given a $14,000 penalty.

Hooker mentioned there was a case the place a employee, Cynfiah Burnell, fell from a ladder and broke her wrist. UPS allegedly had her “sit there for hours on finish and waited till the packages have been out earlier than they took her to get medical therapy.” He mentioned she acquired cash for the incident, however that didn’t repair the basis subject of indignity within the office.

In April 2021, Robert Cowie, former director of labor relations for the Chesapeake District of UPS, wrote Hooker a letter concerning the incident and a subsequent rally. “I need to be clear that UPS agrees with you that it might have been dealt with higher,” he wrote. “We personal that. We don’t consider that our administration crew acted with malice. Nevertheless, once more, it might have been dealt with higher, and we commit that we are going to do our greatest to ensure future conditions are dealt with in a manner that matches up extra totally with UPS’s values.”

Hooker wasn’t happy with this response. “UPS has made a lot cash,” he mentioned, “and has made a lot cash, they will simply pay these violations…. They’ll simply throw cash on the subject as an alternative of fixing the problems as a result of they’ve a lot cash.”

Gonzalez likewise mentioned the corporate doesn’t handle its staff. “This firm is not going to contact their coronary heart and say, ‘Let’s handle our folks. Let’s handle them as a result of they simply gave us billions of {dollars}. They’ll simply proceed to hoard the earnings,” she mentioned.

In an announcement, UPS countered that the corporate has “invested greater than $343 million within the U.S. in 2022 on security coaching,” and entails its “front-line workers within the course of.” “We adjust to all relevant OSHA requirements. We recognize any alternative to assessment and enhance the security insurance policies and requirements that defend our workforce.”

Gonzalez, in the meantime, spoke at an OSHA occasion in San Diego not too long ago. “I had voiced it that these firms will do the naked minimal of what the legal guidelines require,” she mentioned. “I advised them: It’s crucial for you guys to ascertain legal guidelines as a result of these firms will do the naked minimal to supply us with what you guys say.”

UPS and the Teamsters nonetheless have a while to succeed in an settlement. “Refusing to barter, particularly when the end line is in sight, creates vital unease amongst workers and clients and threatens to disrupt the U.S. financial system,” UPS mentioned in a statement.

The strike might place staff at different firms reminiscent of Amazon to demand higher working situations as effectively. The Teamsters have been organizing on the e-commerce big, which works with UPS. Staff in four states have gone on strike, together with in Palmdale, the place Gonzalez works.

“On this second of heightened labor solidarity,” the Teamsters posted on Facebook, “UPS Teamsters are combating for all working households — and battling to reclaim what it means to be a employee in America. We’re combating for a future wherein all staff share within the earnings they create, with dignified working situations in steady, middle-class jobs that assist their households. No extra gigs, no extra combating for crumbs.”

“The [strike] chance, as of proper now, could be very, very robust,” Hooker mentioned. “As of proper now as we speak, I don’t see another manner [but] for us to go on strike.”

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