The US faces the biggest strike ever as 350,000 UPS workers are set to protest over better conditions, even though delivery drivers already earn upwards of $95,000 a year.
UPS’ contract is set to expire on July 31, 2023, and 350,000 of its 534,000 employees are expected to go on strike to demand better conditions.
Those represented by the Teamsters labor union are demanding air conditioning in the back of trucks, after several workers have been injured or died due to extreme heat, as well as better pay packages and benefits.
If the workers go on strike, it will be the first time the company has since 1997, when employees demanded full-time positions and the union wanted to maintain control over the pension fund.
Labor experts suspect the unionized workers will go on strike sometime during the spring while the contract is being negotiated and it will it affect the whole country.
The 1997 strike lasted 15 days and affected 80 percent of shipments, losing UPS $780million, according to Parcel.
Now, UPS controls around six percent of the nation’s GDP, and with the pandemic exploding online retail business to a new level, the company added 72,000 unionized jobs since 2020.
UPS moves around 21.5milion packages a day, according to CNN Business, and its competing companies – FedEx and Amazon – do not have the same capacity to manage that many packages.
UPS’ contract is set to expire on July 31, 2023, and 350,000 of its 534,000 employees are expected to go on strike to demand better conditions (pictured: NYC workers)
Current Teamsters president Sean O’Brien (pictured), who won office by prioritizing the UPS contract, has also reminded workers that there’s a $300million strike fund to cover payroll while on strike and is planning to demand better pay and benefits and air conditioning in the back of trucks
FedEx Ground’s delivery system is at risk of complete collapse as the local contractors it relies upon face rising costs and without any sign that their compensation will go up any time soon.
The FedEx Ground network relies upon local delivery companies to make the package and parcel drop offs on behalf of the $54billion multinational conglomerate.
But now one of the largest delivery contractors is warning that the entire system is on the brink of falling apart with local workers unable to absorb any more rising costs.
‘The FedEx Ground network is in far more peril than what anyone realizes. If Wall Street analysts, if FedEx corporate, and FedEx ground understood the degree to which the network is in danger, there would be widespread panic,’ said Spencer Patton, President of Route Consultant.
UPS said in a statement that it wishes to come to a peaceful conclusion that ‘provides wins for our employees and that provides UPS the flexibility to stay competitive in a rapidly changing industry.’
‘UPS and the Teamsters have worked cooperatively for almost 100 years to meet the needs of UPS employees, customers, and the communities where we live and work. We believe we’ll continue to find common ground with the Teamsters and reach an agreement that’s good for everyone involved,’ the company said in a statement, according to CNN Business.
Tensions between UPS and its worker have been rising since 2018, after the last contract was ratified by former Teamster president James Hoffa. The vote was put in place because not enough workers ratified the vote to trigger a strike, according to CNN Business.
The current President Sean O’Brien – who won office by prioritizing the UPS contract – has also reminded workers that there’s a $300million strike fund to cover payroll while on strike.
‘Do our members wake up every day wanting a strike. I’d say no. But are they fed up? Yes they’re fed up,’ O’Brien told CNN Business. ‘Whether or not there is a strike, that’s totally up to the company. We’re going to utilize as much leverage as we can to get our members the contract they deserve.’
UPS drivers already make around $95,000 yearly on average and receive an additional $50,000 in benefits, according to CNN Business. Semi-truck drivers make even more than that.
UPS’ starting pay is between $2 and $5 higher than its competitors, according to Youtuber Laos House, who works as a driver for FedEx Ground in New Jersey.
The average delivery driver makes around $95,000 at the company and the average salary is reportedly around $44,452. UPS pays much higher than its competitors
If the workers go on strike, it will be the first time the company has since 1997 (pictured in Chicago), when employees demanded full-time positions and the union wanted to maintain control over the pension fund. More than 185,000 Teamsters were involved in the first nationwide strike in the 90-year history of UPS
UPS reportedly starts drivers at $22 an hour in New Jersey, compared to FedEx Ground, which only pays $17 an hour to new employees. After UPS, the next highest is Amazon and the US Postal Service at $18 an hour, and the second highest is FedEx Express at $20 an hour.
UPS’ max pay reportedly outweighs other carriers between $6 and $14 an hour, maxing out at $38 in New Jersey where Laos drives.
The median salary at UPS is $44,254, according to Business Insider, whereas Amazon is $29,007 and FedEx is $49,059.
In addition, workers want air conditioning the back of trucks, which can hit triple-digit temperatures in some parts of the country during the summer – especially after several have suffered injuries or even death due to overheating.
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In early July, a 24-year-old worker Esteban Chavez Jr, known as Stevie, was delivering packages when he suddenly collapsed during his shift in California.
Chavez’s family believes he died due to high temperatures.
‘Everyone knows, it is pretty hot out there, those trucks are a hot box,’ Chavez Sr. said. ‘They have all these guys running around, delivering packages and trying to meet their quotas and do their jobs.’
The UPS driver had just turned 24 the day before his death and returned to work after time off to heal from a shoulder injury.
‘It’s not a heavy lift for the company to install air conditioning. There’s a lot of heat stroke going on,’ O’Brien told CNN.
President of the Teamster 804, in Brooklyn, Vinnie Perrone, told News 12 that ‘nothing was done’ about the heat related incidents the team faced.
‘They are just turning a deaf ear to it – a blind eye, Perrone said. ‘We still have concerns about our member’s safety both inside the buildings and outside the buildings.’
UPS CEO Carol Tome said the contracts the company has are competitive for worker shortages and that the company wants a ‘win-win’ situation.
UPS also said it is preparing contingency plans in case workers do go on strike, according to CNN Business.
Other companies – Starbucks and Amazon – are also moving to unionize in recent months as workers are demanding representation, better pay, and better working conditions.
Starbucks workers have accused CEO Howard Schultz of lying after he shuttered 16 stores, citing rampant crime in Democratic-run cities.
Employees claim he’s closing several profitable locations in retaliation for union activity.
The brew boss said that ‘America has become unsafe’ in several left-leaning cities across the country and as a result will close cafes in Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and D.C – where crime rates have soared due to woke policies including police cuts.
The 1997 strike lasted 15 days and affected 80 percent of shipments, losing UPS $780million, according to Parcel. Striking UPS employees are pictured picketing in 1997 as a truck leaves the downtown Chicago UPS shipping center
UPS drivers already make around $95,000 yearly, which is still significantly higher than its competitors, like Amazon and FedEx. UPS Driver Gilbert Lopez works in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 1, 2020
Schultz warned that this is ‘just the beginning’ of store closures and said there ‘would be many more’ as staff fear for their own safety amid a rise in crime, homelessness and people with mental health issues.
Union organizers with Starbucks Workers United said that the coffee chief has another motivation entirely – to break the union.
‘Every decision Starbucks makes must be viewed through the lens of the company’s unprecedented and virulent union-busting campaign,’ the union said in a statement. ‘It is simply not credible for the company to argue that this was not a response to the growing union movement spreading across the country.’
Starbucks workers in Buffalo, New York became the first shop in the company’s 50-year history to unionize in the country.
A New York City Amazon became the first to unionize in April, but the company claimed the national labor board tainted the results.
The e-commerce giant listed 25 objections to the historic vote in the filing obtained by The Associated Press, accusing organizers with the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) of intimidating workers to vote for the union, a claim an attorney representing the union has called ‘patently absurd.’
‘Based on the evidence we’ve seen so far, as set out in our objections, we believe that the actions of the NLRB and the ALU improperly suppressed and influenced the vote, and we think the election should be conducted again so that a fair and broadly representative vote can be had,’ Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, said in a statement on Friday.
The company claims that the Congress-backed National Labor Relations Board used an ‘artificial reduced number’ of employees to calculate the ALU’s vote, after the agency failed to properly staff the polls, causing hours-long lines and ‘produced chaos,’ which Amazon argued discouraged some employees from voting, according to CNN Business.