By Sheri Williams
Teamsters members and allies gathered at the state Capitol in March to protest a cut in wages for part-time workers by United Parcel Service.
“We are standing together today, and we will be standing together next week, and next month and next year as Teamsters because they can’t run the company without us,” said Jason Rabinowitz, principal officer of Teamsters Local 2010, and Public Services Director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. “Without our work, they don’t have UPS. With-out our work, they don’t have those profits and those billions.”
The event was part of a national campaign to protect workers at the delivery giant, which is making record profits as it tries to slash workers’ pay.
UPS reported a huge leap in profits in 2021, according to media, jumping nearly tenfold from about $1.3 billion in 2020 to nearly $13 billion in 2021. The company is projecting increasing growth again this year. But at the same time, thou-sands of UPS workers across the country were recently told their hourly wages, which were raised during the pandemic, would be cut by as much as $6 an hour.
“They want to cut your pay? No way!” said Fabrizio Sasso, head of the Sacramento Central Labor Council. “We’ve got to say no, we have to stand up to this. On behalf of the SCLC and the unions in this area, we’ve got your back. We stand with you.”
Crystal Padilla, a UPS worker, also spoke at the rally. She told the crowd that her supervisor announced the wage de-crease and “said we should be happy we still have our benefits. But our benefits don’t pay our bills, that’s what I told him,” Padilla said. “It’s ridiculous. We deserve more, we work so hard.”
Peter Nuñez, a UPS NorCal committee chairman and president of Teamsters Local 431 in Fresno, California, told The Guardian newspaper that the company had raised pay during the tight labor market of the pandemic, but then stripped those wages away without warning as the labor market rebounded.
Nuñez told media that eight out of 15 locals in northern California were hit by the cuts in wages, leaving about 4,000 workers with smaller paychecks for the same job.
“For them to eliminate that market rate adjustment, with no warning and no care for those employees who have been used to making that $21 an hour, it’s a pretty heavy hit to take if you’re a part-time employee now,” Nuñez told media. “We don’t believe it’s just nor do we believe it’s fair and we’re looking to call the company out.”
Sean O’Brien, the new leader of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, has said that he will be holding both UPS and Amazon to tougher expectations as negotiations with those companies approach.
“We’ll put them on the street,” O’Brien, a fourth-generation Teamster, told media. O’Brien is fighting for a minimum of $20 an hour for part-time workers.
“It’s got to be $20 an hour. No one can survive on $15 an hour,” O’Brien told media. “If we don’t get close to $20 an hour for a starting rate of pay for part-timers, it’s not going to help us organize Amazon where they’re paying their part timers $18 an hour.”