UPS workers in the United States have a big year ahead of them. The 350,000 workers who are part of the Teamsters union have the biggest private sector union contract in the country. That contract is up for renegotiation this year, and if an agreement isn’t reached in the next few months, these U.S. workers will go on strike on August 1.
A strike at UPS would have huge implications. UPS transports around six percent of the U.S. GDP every day, and two percent of the world’s GDP. Globally, they handle nearly 25 million packages per day across all kinds of sectors.
UPS is highly profitable: it made over $11 billion in profits in 2022, and its revenues exploded during the pandemic in particular. This wealth was created by workers who labor in grueling conditions in the warehouses, drive the vans, and work in the stores. But while UPS executives like CEO Carol Tomé receive upwards of $20 million per year in compensation, warehouse workers scrape by on minimum wage. In New York, warehouse workers earn as little as $15.50 an hour.
A lot is at stake for UPS workers, but this struggle is also important for the labor movement more generally. This contract fight comes amid a wave of labor organizing — and union-busting — across the country, from Starbucks and Amazon to higher education. It also comes just months after President Biden crushed the railroad workers’ strike, showing that neither Democrats nor Republicans are on the side of the working class. A victory for the Teamsters at UPS could thus set an inspiring example for workers across the country.
In this episode, Oden speaks to Luigi, a Left Voice member and UPS worker in New York City who works in the warehouse in Foster, Brooklyn. Luigi describes the conditions for workers at the company, what’s at stake for the Teamsters and UPS, and why we should be paying attention to this important fight.
Workers make the world run, and the strike is their most powerful weapon. At UPS, their strategic role in the economy could hit capitalists where it hurts: their profits.
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