Washington (PAI) — With negotiations over a new master contract about to begin, the Teamsters are warning members to prepare for a potential forced strike at United Parcel Service.
The union’s new president, Sean O’Brien, has been touring the country ever since his inauguration, vowing to UPS Teamsters the union would go to the mat for them on key workers’ demands, especially abolition of the two-tier wage scale — and the company would staunchly resist.
The union has 340,000 Teamster members at UPS, one of every four Teamster members overall. It’s the largest current private-sector contract in the U.S.
The Teamsters-UPS contract is important for several reasons:
- With the hated two-tier system — one tier for part-time drivers and a higher one for full-timers — as centerpiece of the current contract, its abolition strikes a chord not just among Teamsters but among unionists nationwide.
Ending two tiers is also a goal of the Auto Workers in their coming contract talks with the Detroit 3, for example. Other bosses have imposed it on other workers, often under the guise of “merit pay,” as a divide-and-conquer tactic, for two decades.
- An aggressive stance towards UPS was a key O’Brien campaign plank when he decisively beat former President Jim Hoffa’s endorsed candidate in the 2020 one Teamster-one vote presidential race. His running mate, and now Secretary-Treasurer, Fred Zuckerman, toils in a UPS warehouse in Louisville, Ky., and heads the local there.
Preparing for the opening of the talks on April 17, Teamsters UPS unionists held a large rally April 2 in Boston, headquarters of O’Brien’s home Local 25. The current contract expires July 31.
“We will set the tone for Organized Labor and the entire country with this contract. There is no better organization to set that bar high than the International Brotherhood of Teamsters,” O’Brien told the crowd. “We are not going to accept and take what UPS gives us. UPS Teamsters have fire in their eyes and the intestinal fortitude to take on this company.”