UPS Teamsters rev up for possible strike next month

UPS Teamsters at a practice picket in Tampa. By:Josh Holton (07/13/2023)

More than 340,000 UPS workers are gearing up for a potential strike on August 1st after contract negotiations fell through earlier this month. Labor organizers practiced picketing in Tampa and in other cities in Florida on Thursday.

“If we don’t get it, ‘Shut it down!’ When I say ‘UPS,’ you say ‘Pay up,’ ‘UPS,’ ‘Pay up!’”

Dozens of delivery drivers held signs and shouted chants for improved wages and working conditions. Derek Brunney has been a UPS feeder driver for 20 years.

“Given what the company has been putting out there, that’s $90 to $93,000. That’s not completely accurate. There’s a lot of people in the company that make a lot less than that, especially the part timers. And that’s one of the main purposes of trying to get them a better pay for the part timers. And that’s why we’re all standing together in solidarity, to get those part-timers that better pay and better benefits for all of us.”

Earlier this month Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien said in a press conference that UPS should accept their union’s demands, or…

“…we will put 340,000 strong Teamsters on the streets until we get what we want. And then UPS will be responsible for stopping supply chain solutions through this company.”

Ken Williams is a recording secretary for the Teamsters. He quoted Jim Casey, the founder of UPS, who said that employees are the most important asset for the company.

“The founder of UPS went to the Teamsters and said, I want you to put all my people under a contract that way management and hourly know our rules to build the business. And that’s how we have been going forward, working together to service customers, because we’re value added, right? We’re not the cheapest in the industry. But we are the best in the industry.”

But Williams said part-time employees are also a critical element in the equation. Teamsters officials say the pay rate for full-time drivers reflects overtime. But there are 100,000 part-timers who make less than $20 per hour at UPS. No additional negotiations are scheduled. The union will hold another practice picket on July 26th to recruit more workers, practice picketing, and to show solidarity in hopes they can show UPS they are prepared to strike by August 1st if they can’t reach a deal.

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