UPSPAC and Your Rights

June 20, 2008: UPS recently sent a mailing to Teamster members to try to get us to donate to UPSPAC, the political arm of the corporation.

Before you give any of your hard-earned cash, you should know that UPSPAC will use that money to undermine your pension security, health and safety rights, and other worker protections.

Here are just a few lowlights from UPS’s recent political action priorities.

Attacking Our Pensions

UPS was one of the main forces behind the misnamed Pension Protection Act. UPS failed in its effort to win the right to cut the pensions of employees who have already retired!

But the company did succeed in passing the law as a whole. The result has been pension freezes and benefit cuts for Teamsters across the country. (See Pension Protection Act: Delivered by UPS on page 7.)

Undermining Worker Safety

Experts credit UPS and its PAC money with killing the most important new worker safety regulations in decades.

UPS led the charge against an initiative by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that would have required companies to reduce back, shoulder and knee injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders.

OSHA’s ergonomics standard would have required companies like UPS to reduce hazards that cause injuries.

UPS complained that reducing injuries would be too costly. In a filing with the SEC, UPS admitted that, “Our competitor would have incurred proportionately comparable costs.” But the company opposed the rule anyway, saying that to reduce injuries UPS would have to “hire additional full-time and part-time employees.”

President Bush subsequently repealed the ergonomics standard.

Buying the Right to Not Pay Teamsters

In the summer of 2006, UPS tried to change California wage and hour laws to avoid a lawsuit over the company’s practice of forcing employees to work off the clock.

The company successfully got the legislature to pass a bill—specifically designed for UPS— that gave unionized transportation companies an exemption from the state’s pro-worker laws governing breaks.

Fortunately, UPS’s bill was vetoed by the Governor. California drivers subsequently won an $87 million wage and hour settlement against UPS for violations committed under the law the company was trying to gut.

All Evil All the Time?

UPSPAC does support a few legislative changes that working Teamsters can get behind—and of course those are the ones the company highlights in its propaganda aimed at members.

For example, UPS is working in Congress to stop FedEx’s abuses of independent contractors and to strip FedEx of its special status under the Railway Act—which, among other things, makes FedEx more difficult for the Teamsters to organize.

But UPS Teamsters who want to help take on FedEx don’t have to give money to UPSPAC. The Teamster political action committee, DRIVE, is active on these same issues.

A recent study reported in the New York Times found that UPS donates PAC money to more Congressional candidates than any other corporation. The same study found that corporations that spread their money around to many Congressional candidates get the most benefit.

That’s good news for UPS’s corporate agenda and bad news for our pensions and workplace rights.

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