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For Women At UPS, Fighting The Bosses Means Fighting The Patriarchy

UPS is a male-dominated corporation, both on the corporate side and on the union/worker side. And like across all institutions of our society, there are structural obstacles, challenges, prejudices, issues that women uniquely face at UPS. You could say the same thing about non-white and particularly Black UPSers, as well as LGBTQ+ UPSers. There is a long history of women organizing at UPS that we can’t fully cover here. I’ll throw some links in the show notes that you should definitely check out. That includes the group UPSurge. Yes, UPSurge, which was a largely women-led militant group in 1970s pushing for a fair contract at UPS, members of which eventually merged into the movement we all know Teamsters for a Democratic Union.

UPS And The Logistics Revolution

The word “logistics” has somewhat of an impersonal ring to it. When you hear it, you think: massive container ships, cranes, eighteen wheelers, aircrafts, conveyor belts, spreadsheets, contracts, and of course, boxes. It’s almost as if all of this infrastructure that moves our goods around the world, around the clock, is running by itself. But undergirding “logistics” is one indispensable element: Workers. Millions of them, without whom the colossal flow of goods and services would come grinding to a halt. In this episode of The Upsurge, we ask how our modern logistics giants, like UPS – and the Teamsters that keep it running – came to wield so much power.

Why 340,000 UPS Workers Are Preparing To Strike In The US

United Parcel Service (UPS) workers are gearing up for a potential strike as they hold contract negotiations with the company. Talks between the company and the union representing UPS workers, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, opened on April 17. Teamsters President Sean O’Brien says that workers are ready to walk off the job if UPS fails to reach a deal on a strong contract before the current one expires on July 31. Workers are demanding better pay, more full-time work, better job security, and an end to the two-tier “22.4” job classification. The deeply unpopular “22.4” provision creates a lower-paid tier of workers who essentially performing the same work as senior drivers, but for lower pay

UPS Workers Might Revitalize Labor

Over 340,000 workers at United Parcel Service (UPS) could launch the largest strike against a single company in US history this August, when their collective bargaining agreement expires. The clock is ticking as the top package courier in the world, which has seen two straight years of record-breaking profits, considers whether it will hold much of the country’s logistics infrastructure hostage by refusing workers’ demands: raising the poverty pay of part-time warehouse workers, re-establishing “equal pay for equal work” among delivery drivers, and introducing extreme heat–related and other safety protections, among others. National negotiations between UPS and the Teamsters union, which represents the workers, begin on April 17.

‘Strike Force’: Building The UPS Contract Campaign

At Duke’s Hawaiian Coffee Shop and Deli in San Marcos, California, Friday mornings are abuzz with organizing talk—building unity among fellow Teamsters ahead of a potential strike at UPS. We began meeting in February, just a few of us. Soon enough, word spread about what we called “Unity Breakfast,” and the coffee shop filled up. At the first meeting, my co-worker Tim Peppers defined the main purpose: to educate members about the contract campaign and potential strike. We talked about how we are part of a movement much bigger than our own building, and why it’s important to build unity across our differences in seniority and classification.

Getting The Members Into Motion At UPS

Rank-and-file activists at UPS have a huge task: getting our 340,000 co-workers ready to mount a credible strike threat by August 1. Luckily we don’t have to do it alone, like we did in 2013 and 2018. This time we have the support of Teamsters President Sean O’Brien, Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman, and the rest of our international leadership. We have a contract campaign coordinator, internal organizers, and a whole team of staff from the international union to engage members and coordinate all our efforts toward one big fight. But we need to show UPS that the whole membership is ready to fight, not just the leaders. Rank-and-file Teamsters need to be active and ready to walk if our demands aren’t met.

Teamsters President Sean O’Brien Vows To ‘Pulverize’ UPS

Chicago — Spelling out union strategy for an all-important contract with UPS, Sean O’Brien worked his way up to a fiery pitch. ​“We gotta strategize, we gotta organize, and then we gotta pulverize UPS,” he declared. The room erupted into cheers, applause and fists clenched upward. The presentation by the short, muscular, bald-headed, fourth-generation Teamster from Boston, a union member since his teenage years, felt like a shop steward’s typical nitty-gritty warm-up speech.  Listening near the back of the conference, Dan Campbell, 69, a retired Teamster from Wisconsin, felt lifted by what he heard. He liked O’Brien’s ​“hard-nosed” tone and especially liked his call ​“for everyone to get on board and row with all hands.” O’Brien is president of the one-million-plus Teamsters Union.

Workers Speak Out As UPS Continues Retaliation Against Union Activists

New York city, New York - Starting at 8:00 a.m. on September 1, workers and allies began to congregate at the steps of the Metro Queens UPS facility. The rally built on two-days of tabling, where dozens of coworkers posed for solidarity photos and encouraged coworkers to sign a petition defending “all fired activists.” Veterans of the 2014 ‘Maspeth 250’ wildcat strike, a struggle against the unjust firing of union militant Jairo Reyes, were quick to show their solidarity. So far, approximately 150 workers from the two Maspeth UPS buildings signed the petition, with plans in place to get many more signatures.

UPS Is Firing Union Activists In The Middle Of Contract Negotiations

During the first week of August, UPS Teamsters organized rallies across the country with thousands of workers to kick off their 2023 contract campaign. From now to July of next year when the current contract is set to expire, UPS workers will be fighting for their demands and preparing to strike if they are not met. Among those demands are: air-conditioned trucks, no more excessive overtime, an end to the two-tier system of “22.4s,” higher part-time pay, more full-time jobs, an end to harassment, and an end to outsourcing. If UPS Teamsters don’t reach a suitable agreement with the company, over 340,000 workers could go on strike, bringing UPS — which moves 6% of the U.S. GDP — to a grinding halt. It is no surprise that the bosses are afraid.

UPS Says No To Air Conditioning, But Here’s A Surveillance Camera

On June 25, 24-year-old UPS driver Esteban Chavez Jr. collapsed in the back of his truck while working, and died. Temperatures in the Los Angeles area that day were in the high 90s. Hundreds of other UPS workers around the country suffer from heatstroke every summer, as UPS refuses to install air conditioning in its trucks or warehouses. In our own Teamsters Local 804 in New York City, a supervisor even told a driver who was suffering heatstroke while working not to call an ambulance, and tried to keep him from filing a workers comp claim. Later that day the driver was hospitalized for heatstroke. And, though we have a contractual right to have at least fans in our trucks, in New York City UPS refused to install fans for months.

With Nationwide Rallies, UPS Teamsters Kick Off Their 2023 Contract Campaign

Last week, 25 years after UPS workers last went on strike in 1997, the UPS Teamsters kicked off their contract negotiation campaign with rallies around the country. Their current contract expires in July 2023 and negotiations for a new contract have begun. In New York City alone, rallies and actions took place across 14 UPS facilities. Workers are demanding an end to excessive overtime, an end to the two-tier system, higher pay for part-time warehouse workers, more full-time jobs, job security for feeders and package drivers, ending the surveillance and harassment from the bosses, and a heat exhaustion and injury prevention plan to combat against the extreme weather we have been experiencing. For UPS Teamsters, this contract struggle is an opportunity to roll back the defeats of the current contract, including the two-tier system, which was undemocratically imposed by the Hoffa leadership onto members, the majority of whom had voted no of the tentative agreement.

UPS Teamsters Fight Against Wage Cuts

Lansing, MI - As UPS moves out from its peak season, the company is ending market rate adjustments (MRAs) and bonus programs designed to attract workers and boost part-time employees’ pay. The negotiated part-time pay rate for workers hired since August 1, 2018 is $15.33 per hour, with a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) included. Teamsters Local 623 reports that UPS paid its members $19 an hour as part of an MRA and the workers are taking a 27% pay cut as the adjustments expire. While higher pay is a good thing, these MRAs and similar weekly attendance bonus programs have had a divisive effect on workers and have pitted new hires and higher seniority workers against each other. The wage scale in the contract represents a minimum amount a worker can be paid.

It’s Been A Long Nightmare Before Christmas For UPS And Postal Workers

Every year, workers at the Postal Service and UPS expect to work long hours between Thanksgiving and Christmas. “This is like our Super Bowl,” said Kimberly Karol, president of the Iowa Postal Workers (APWU). “Employees really do rally together.” But this year has been like no other. Workers were still catching their breath from last year’s holiday peak when the pandemic struck and online ordering ratcheted up. It was like Christmas all over again—and it never stopped. Package volumes at the Postal Service are up 40 percent compared to this time last year, and understaffing is intensified by Covid—more than 50,000 of the 600,000 postal workers have had to take pandemic-related leave.

The Rebirth Of A Logistic Workers’ Movement?

UPS is now the largest private-sector unionized employer in the country. In this manner, it represents not only the changing nature of the industrial economy, but also the changing make-up of the union movement, specifically of industrial unions, in this country. The book came out of my personal experience [working at UPS for almost a decade], being a union activist, and a union steward in the Teamsters, Local 705. Much of the political education that you got in the Teamsters was largely focused on things like grievance procedures. When it came to actually explaining the development and changing nature of the logistics industry, understanding where the union and the workers had power, and how that related to UPS, way too much of the knowledge was anecdotal.

UPS Worker Challenged Powerful Union Leaders And Won

When the meeting was called to order, some UPS workers who had been with the company for decades could barely believe their eyes. Membership meetings like these are mostly empty. But on this snowy Saturday morning in Bridesburg, a sea of black-and-yellow satin Teamsters Local 623 jackets buzzed around a packed hall. For the first time in more than two decades, there’s a new crew running the shop. And at the top of the elected slate is an African American man — the first to lead the 101-year-old local — and one who’s spent his entire adult life doing the backbreaking work of a package handler at UPS’s massive East Coast facility by the Philadelphia airport. The rise of Richard Hooker Jr., 40, and his slate, dubbed #623livesmatter, marks the culmination of a grassroots effort to revitalize a 4,500-member shop at a major corporation during a time when legacy unions have languished.
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