Article 43


Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Will The Teamsters Sell Out Its Members

image: union workers

1) Organized all LNS (AT&T Local Network Services/formerly TCG) switch techs, consipring with AT&T to unionize only a portion of them. Some techs with signed union cards were LAYED OFF from AT&T with no representation and only silence as replies from CWA officials when confronted with the issue. 2) Made an AGREEMENT with Tucker Technologies to have Tucker hire former CWA members layed off from AT&T - at around $17/hr with no benefits and questionable union representation.
- Why I Think The CWA Stinks, 2005
Meanwhile, at General Motors Orion Township, Mich., plant about 45 minutes away from where Rattner spoke, there are three tiers of hourly workers. Roughly 900 workers at the top tier, the most senior UAW workers, make $29 an hour, a rate unchanged since 2008. Another 500 or so UAW workers are paid about $16 an hour a rate, adjusted for inflation, equal to the famed $5 a day Henry Ford started paying his workers in 1914… And at the bottom scale are 200-odd workers technically employed by an outside supplier but who work in the plant moving parts to the assembly line, jobs once done by GM workers paid $29 an hour. The contractors’ pay: $9 an hour with no health care, a rate which over a years work would leave them below the poverty level for a family of four.
- GM’s Post Bailout Race To The Bottom, 2012
Going into bargaining, the biggest demand from the overwhelmingly part-time inside workers who sort, load, and unload parcels was for a $15 starting wage, with catch-up raises for people whove been underpaid for years… What they got instead was a $13 minimum, with no catch-up raises. UPS is forecasting $6 billion in profit this year... For the drivers who deliver packages, the biggest sticking point is that this deal will create a second tier of “hybrid drivers” who will deliver packages at a much lower wage.
- Teamsters Brass Overrule Member ‘No’ Vote at UPS, 2018

UPS Teamsters Start Strike Authorization Vote

By Sean Orr and Elliot Lewis
Labor Notes
June 7, 2023

With the largest private sector labor contract in the United States set to expire on July 31 at midnight, the eyes of the American labor movement are on United Parcel Service (UPS) and the nearly 350,000 Teamsters who work there.

The Teamsters announced a UPS strike authorization VOTE starting this week, with results to be announced June 16. Union leaders are strongly urging a yes vote. “This is how we win,” said Teamsters General President Sean OBrien.

Our contract fight matters for the entire working class. We want workers everywhere - and especially at Amazon and FedExto see that organizing a union leads to better pay and working conditions and greater control over their working lives, and opens the door to a better world.

There’s no better opportunity to show what we mean than a strike victory against UPS and Wall Street this summer.


The roots of this fight go back decades. UPS jobs were once considered a yardstick of secure union jobs. Now 60 percent of the workforce is part-time, making around the minimum wage in many regions.

Drivers in many locations are forced to work six days a week and up to 14 hours a day with forced overtime. Managers follow drivers in personal vehicles and relentlessly harass workers to scare us into working faster.

In 2018, former Teamsters President James P. Hoffa FORCED A CONTRACT UPON MEMBERS despite a majority no vote. It kept part-time wages low and established a second-tier driver position, named “22.4” for the contract section that created it. Now new drivers make less money and get fewer overtime protections than existing drivers doing the same work.

The rank and file, organizing through the reform caucus Teamsters for a Democratic Union, fought these concessions the whole way. TDU activists organized a “vote no” campaign in 2013 and again in 2018 against concessionary contracts. Then in 2021, TDU led the charge to ELECT A COALITION SLATE OF REFORMERS to the union’s top leadership, on a platform of fighting more aggressively to reverse these concessions.

Now UPS Teamsters are demanding a significant pay increase for part-timers to $25 an hour, the elimination of 22.4s two-tier wages for package car drivers, an end to forced sixth days of work, increased PENSION payouts for 60,000 workers so they’re more equal across the country, no driver-facing cameras, more holidays, and an end to subcontracting and the use of gig workers.

In the rank and file, expectations are high. If the two-tier wage structure for drivers is not eliminated on day one of this contract, it is a strike issue. If part-time workers do not get a significant pay increase, it is a strike issue. If all work days beyond the five-day work week are not totally voluntary, it is a strike issue.

Some of these demands are about regaining ground lost by past union administrations. But for many workers, especially those hired since the last contract, this is about fighting for more. UPSers kept the economy running throughout the Covid-19 pandemic without a penny of hazard pay, and we watched UPS make record profits off our backs while working forced overtime. Of course we now want our fair share.

There’s widespread support for these demands, and people are ready to fight for them. The rank and file will not accept a half deal, trade-offs, or sharing the burdenӔ with UPS.


Seventy-two percent of UPS stocks are owned by Wall Street firms; the two largest shareholders are Vanguard Capital and BlackRock. These firms and others own big chunks of our economy, including not just UPS but also its main private competitors, including FedEx and the railroads.

What does Wall Street want out of the UPS contract? Steady and massive profits. From their perspective, UPS is one of the great success stories of the pandemic.

From 2012 to 2019, UPS yearly profits ranged from $7.1 billion to $8.2 billion. In 2020, when the rest of the economy was suffering, UPS still made over $8.7 billion. Then the company reported the largest profits in its history: $13.1 billion in 2021 and $13.9 billion in 2022.

UPS will try to further increase these profits in the 2023 contract by asking for flexibilityӔ to schedule employees to work any of the seven days in a week, the installation of driver-facing cameras to further harass workers, and the continued use of gig workers to deliver packages.

The biggest impediment to Wall Street dictating terms for the entire logistics industry is the Teamsters’ UPS contract. Simply look to the competitors to see what corporations would do without a unionized counter-force: Amazon drivers are paid nearly minimum wage and get their hours cut next week if they do not meet inhumane production standards this week; FedEx is moving to eliminate all direct hires and switching to a 100 percent subcontractor model.

A two-week strike could cost UPS about $3.2 billion. But more important, a strike at UPS would be the largest demonstration of working-class power seen yet in the post-Covid economy. Every worker could see that they have the power to win better conditions by collectively withholding their labor.

That result is what Wall Street fears the most.


Our contract fight started nearly a year ago. Last August, we had contract kick-off rallies around the country. In the fall, we filled out contract surveys, affirming the popularity of ambitious demands. Over the winter, thousands of us stood at gates and in break rooms handing out Contract Unity Pledge Cards to build support for the major contract demands were willing to strike over.

In the spring, we held Contract Action Team trainings around the country to map our workplaces, select picket captains, and develop organizing plans to engage our co-workers. And in the last month, rank-and-file TDU activists began petitioning at dozens of UPS “barns” to demand the company accept a higher national pension plan and raise part-time pay to $25 an hour.

We’re firm in our high expectations. We want to win the best contract in Teamster history - and if we have to, we’ll be willing to hit the streets on August 1 to do it.

About the author: Sean Orr is a UPS package car driver and elected shop steward in Teamsters Local 705 in Chicago. Elliot Lewis is a UPS package car driver and alternate shop steward in Teamsters Local 804 in New York City.


Posted by Elvis on 06/14/23 •
Section American Solidarity • Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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