The International Brotherhood of Teamsters launched its campaign in August 1for his next big deal with United Parcel Service in 2023 – but the Teamsters have other UPS fights along the way.
The Teamsters Tell In these times as workers are pushed to the brink as temperatures across the country hit 100degrees and more, and myriad stories of heatstroke abound. According to some UPS employees, management has so far turned a blind eye to the danger and even urged workers not to be tough enough to handle the heat.
But as profits soar at UPS, workers are getting sick and even dying. In June 25, 24-Esteban Chavez Jr., a UPS driver outside Los Angeles, passed out in his truck as temperatures soared 90s; he could not be revived.
Workers say their trucks need air conditioning to do their jobs safely, but UPS is instead focusing on installing truck surveillance cameras. Driver-facing cameras can record audio and video, making some workers feel like they’re under constant surveillance for supposed security reasons, while their real security needs are ignored.
According to the Teamsters who spoke with In these times, unless something changes, more workers will face the negative health consequences of heat waves.
The problems also lie inside the warehouses, workers say, as Teamster package handlers lift heavy boxes at a breakneck pace. Many older UPS facilities across the country have no air conditioning and poor ventilation, employees report. To make matters worse, industry leader UPS offers some of the lowest wages for part-time warehouse workers, and warehouse workers say the company can afford a raise.
Lindsey, who did not want her last name used for fear of reprisal, is a UPS shipper in Chicago and a member of Teamsters Local 705 . She has been with UPS for 9months and claims, “ We are sorely understaffed. We are paid less than Amazon, $15 one o’clock.”
Teamsters Local 804 in Brooklyn held a rally in July 28call for “security, not surveillance. Matt Leichenger, UPS employee and local member, recounts In these times, “Several pilots [in my local] were hospitalized for heatstroke. He says he is “ had colleagues working 14 hours last week, when it was almost 100 degrees.” But when workers asked for ventilators in their trucks, he said, area UPS management said no, calling it a “business decision” and acting as if their hands were tied.
Local 804President Vincent Perrone, a Teamsters administrator as well as its package manager for the Eastern Region, says he sent a message to every member of the local, writing, “They want to make us work like machines and otherwise threaten our job security… [we] require the company to remove all cameras already installed, negotiate in good faith with the union before any future technology changes (as required by law), and commit to installing air conditioning in every truck. If they don’t listen now, we’ll make them listen when we come to the contract table in 2023.”
The Teamsters’ current UPS contract expires in July 31, 2023 and the national launch of the Teamsters contract campaign in August 1mark it 25e anniversary of the last union strike at UPS. With UPS being the nation’s largest unionized private employer, the Teamsters’ upcoming contract is a huge litmus test not just for the strength of one of the nation’s largest unions, but for the entire working class.
Asked about the dangers posed by the heat and a host of worker complaints about the conditions, Matthew O’Connor, director of media relations for UPS, said In these times, “ These, and many more, are important topics that we will discuss as part of our negotiations. UPS and the Teamsters have worked together for nearly 100 years to meet the needs of UPS employees, customers and the communities where we live and work. Together, we have made UPS the world leader in package delivery, which has also strengthened the Teamsters’ membership over the years. We believe we will continue to find common ground with the Teamsters and reach an agreement that is good for everyone involved.
UPS earned more than $ten billions in profits during the pandemic, which helped spur a more militant Teamsters roster — Teamsters United — to take the lead in March. Led by Sean O’Brien and Fred Zuckerman, Teamsters United is affiliated with Teamsters for a Democratic Union, which led the fight against the 2018 UPS contract imposed on membership.
Teamster locals across the country are mobilizing in late July and early August to kick off the one-year contract campaign – and pledging to strike in the summer 2023if their problems are ignored. Organizers not only point to the lack of fans and air conditioning, but point to other allegedly abusive conditions at UPS. “ Nobody wants a strike, but if the company is unwilling to address these issues, we will be forced to put them out on the street,” says Richard Hooker Jr., senior leader of Teamsters Local. 623 in Philadelphia. Local 623organized a rally for the month of August 1 “to protest the new cameras in UPS cars and to oppose any concessions.
Teamsters President Sean O’Brien hinted at a potential UPS strike during his leadership campaign, promising workers, “We are going to be a more dynamic, more militant organization. We will face the fights.
With nearly 350 ,000 Teamsters at UPS, a strike could shut down the delivery juggernaut. The 1997 the strike lasted just over two weeks and cost the company more than $600million. And some of the problems the Teamsters faced then are still problems today, namely so-called part-timers working full-time – just at a lower rate and with fewer job protections.
The UPS substation known as “22.4” — from the item name and section number referenced in the contract — was intended as a flexible position, combining part-time work as a parcel driver with part-time work as a storekeeper, paying a salary between the two full-time positions. In practice, however, 22 .4The job tends to be often full-time drivers, just paid less and without unlimited forced overtime protection.
It amounts to a two-tier system — similar to the kind unionized workers at General Motors have fought against in recent years — and the Teamsters say they’ve had enough.
Totenger, a 22 .4which began amid the pandemic hiring rush (due to huge package volume) in October 2020, says he worked in a warehouse for just a few weeks before essentially becoming a full-time driver – and has since driven only a package transport vehicle. He says he has the same duties as regular parcel drivers, but just gets paid at a lower rate. He says he currently earns $21 .25per hour as 22.4.
As Totenger says In these times, “We talk a lot about ending the 22 .4position with a potential strike in progress. If it is a vote, he says he will vote yes to the strike.
Other issues include forced overtime and excessive hours. UPS Teamsters Report Working 12-hours a day, sometimes five days a week. Then, at the end of an exhausting work week, they say they are sometimes told they are “by force” on Saturday. The existing contract offers some protections against excessive labor, but today’s Teamsters say they need better language to defend all members against such forced labor. “sixth punch” on Saturday.
According to Mark Miranda, Philadelphia contract car driver and local chapter member 623 “[Management] threatens to write to you if you don’t want to come on your day off. Once I worked 52hours in five days and they threatened to write to me. It’s only federal law that prevents them from doing more.
Miranda tells In these times that a big problem is UPS’s refusal to hire enough workers, instead forcing current workers to work overtime. “The lives of all UPS workers would be exponentially better if there were more of us at all levels, and UPS would pay far less overtime on top of that. But God forbid more working people have health care for their families, which is why we don’t have more Teamsters — and instead we have fewer with ungodly overtime.
Like Leichenger, Miranda votes for the strike –“no matter what.”