The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

UPS Tentative Agreement

Aug 7, 2023

As late as Saturday, July 22nd, Teamster president Sean O’Brien was holding out the possibility of a strike at the largest private sector employer in the U.S.—what might have been the biggest fight by workers here in a generation. He had set out the necessary goal of ending "part-time poverty" for workers at the company.

The tentative agreement to be voted on by 340,000 union members ended the “22.4 combo driver” positions—jobs that had workers driving package routes at much lower pay rates than the other drivers. But it goes without saying that this contract does NOT end the two-tier scheme that has existed at UPS since the early ‘80s, with senior drivers only able to make money while working lots of overtime. Meanwhile, most of the package handling is done by part-timers languishing at low pay. $26 may sound like a lot of money, but how much of that will be eaten up by inflation by 2027? And the $21 an hour this year is just in the ballpark of what many workers were getting with their pandemic bonuses.

Jose Francisco Negrete, a UPS part-timer in Anaheim, told CBS: "$21 is still poverty pay—it’s $1.50 more than the In-N-Out, which is a two-minute drive away … Are you still going to be working two or three jobs? Are you still going to be on government assistance? You have to fight big, and I don’t think we fought big."

UPS workers themselves will have the final word: voting continues through August 22nd.