October 18, 2006. UPS learned a major lesson in 1997: that working Teamsters can unify and use their power. Then, like now, UPS did everything possible to divide members and keep our union on the defensive. Despite management’s best efforts, members took a strong and clear stand that got the attention of the entire world.
We have that same potential—and more even—today to take on and win a contract fight at UPS. Here are five reasons why.
1. The legacy of 1997 continues to pay benefits today. The strike is still fresh in the memories of management, the media, shippers and investors. UPS management’s eagerness to bargain early is a sign of how anxious they are to avoid coming close to a strike deadline.
2. The pension cuts are a threat to our members and union, but also an opportunity. Membership anger and expectations are high. That frustration needs to be shaped into a positive force for Teamster unity and power.
3. The 100-year anniversary takes place in 2007. The possibility of actions, leafleting and media outreach during the anniversary period is leverage that can be used.
4. Change at the top. Right now we have the chance to elect new leadership to the top of our union and put aggressive bargainers at the table with UPS.
5. UPS is still at the top of the heap. FedEx and DHL have expanded in recent years, giving UPS some cause for concern. But UPS is still and will continue to be in the lead. Their investments in Overnite and Menlo and their central position in China and other emerging markets put them in a strong position. They will want to capitalize on their position and not jeopardize it with a fight with the Teamsters Union.
We have power—if we are determined and have a leadership that knows how to use it.