The contract between the Teamsters and UPS is set to expire on July 31 and could possibly lead to one of the largest strikes in recent US history. Workers in Lancaster County held a practice picket to let UPS know they are ready to strike.
UPS employees from Teamsters Local 771 held a practice picket outside the East Petersburg facility in Lancaster County on Thursday. Workers were joined throughout the day by State Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El (D-Lancaster) and members from Lancaster Stands Up, a progressive organization that is a part of Pennsylvania Stands Up.
“It’s called practice picketing because they want to put the company on notice that we’re ready to go on strike. That we’re bringing this right to their front door, and it puts pressure on the company so we can argue at the negotiating table,” explained Adam Crossen, the Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 771.
The current contract is set to expire on July 31 and could lead to one of the largest strikes in recent US history. The Teamsters represent 340,000 UPS full and part-time employees and last month, 97% of members voted to authorize a strike.
Contract negotiations between the shipping company and the Teamsters collapsed on Wednesday with both sides blaming each other for walking away from the negotiating table.
This past Saturday, UPS and the union reached agreements on three main issues. The Teamsters announced on Twitter that an agreement was made to tear down the two-tier wage system, which separates workers into different wage and benefits categories, establishing Martin Luther King Day as a full holiday and ending forced overtime on drivers’ days off.
The union took to Twitter following Wednesday’s breakdown in talks to defend part-time workers.
“Part-time workers get screwed over, taken advantage of, and forgotten about. The Teamsters Union must put an end to this once-and-for-all at UPS. If the company’s pattern of exploitation doesn’t end now, it never will,” said Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman.
Outside of the East Petersburg facility, Crossen explained that the two biggest issues were better wages for the part-time workers and better working conditions.
“The hourly wages when it comes to the part-timers, that’s a big sticking point on the national level. They need to bring them up to competitive wages so they can hire more people and have less of a burden on all of the people working in there. Some of the part timers who are working up to 40 hours a week for the past two years. I don’t consider that a part-time job. Make them full time or raise their wages and hire more people,” Crossen said.
Another major issue UPS workers are facing are the working conditions inside the facilities and vehicles. Temperatures inside the delivery trucks can reach 130 to 150 degrees on a hot summer day.
Hung Vuong, who has been working for UPS since 1997, explained “it’s more so with the back of the trucks being super hot. However hot it is outside, just imagine how hot it is in the back of a UPS truck. It’s pretty brutal.”
When talking about the contract negotiations, Vuong went on to say, “It’s what’s fair. The company has made record profits, and during the pandemic it’s just shot up through the roof. During the pandemic they tell us that we’re essential. During the first few years of the pandemic, we missed timeout on our family. People don’t see that. Now, it’s time for them to reward us.”
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