Part-Time UPS Worker Hopes to Raise Wages, Runs for Teamster Trustee

By Ginger Adams Otis, New York Daily News


A part-time UPS worker from Brooklyn is hoping to send his Teamsters union leadership a message on Nov. 15: “You’re out!”

Trinidadian-born Dave Loobie, 40, is the first part-time worker to ever run for a union position at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters — one of the largest and most well-known labor organizations in the world.

Loobie, running for union trustee, is part of insurgent presidential candidate Fred Zuckerman’s Teamsters United slate. Zuckerman’s hoping to unseat long-running Teamsters’ president Jimmy Hoffa — a 17-year-incumbent with sentimental name recognition — when the union’s 1.3 million mail-in ballots are counted Nov. 14.

While the International Brotherhood is still a powerful union, Loobie says more and more of its workers are like him — part-timers, who earn little pay and get overlooked during big contract deals, while attention is paid to the full-time employees.

UPS, where Loobie works, is the biggest employer in the Teamsters Union and the largest private sector union employer in the U.S. with 240,000 workers.

But about half, roughly 120,000 of them, are part-timers who earn just $10 an hour. Full-time UPS drivers make triple that amount — thanks to their Teamster-negotiated contracts.

"We can have a part timer work for 7 years to get to $15 an hour and a driver can walk in off the street and start at $17.50,” Loobie said. “After four years, they’re making $34.”

And while full-time workers’ salaries have gone up in most of the five-year contracts, part-timers starting wage has been stagnant — just $2 more than the $8 an hour UPS paid in 1982, Loobie noted.

Only about 250,000 of the union’s 1.3 million members nationwide are part-time employees. Aside from UPS, the union includes some part-time school bus drivers and hospital workers, union figures show.

But the number of part-time workers at UPS has crept up over the past 20 years, according to Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a New York-based reform group within the union.

The Teamsters used to demand UPS create 10,000 full-time jobs during the lifespan of each contract negotiated — but under Hoffa, that’s dropped to 2,500, said a TDU spokesman.

The last contract was negotiated in 2013 — and when Hoffa’s team agreed to a $10 an hour wage, Loobie and others launched the End Part-Time Poverty at UPS campaign.

It mobilized part-timers to demand higher pay and more full-time jobs at UPS, which makes over $4 billion a year.

Loobie’s campaign also joined forces with the Fight for $15 movement to organize to win $15-an-hour minimum wage and a raise for part timers in New York — but those reforms won’t take effect until 2018.

That experience helped persuade Loobie, who has a 5-year-old daughter, Davanna Loobie, to make a run for union office.

“The response has been really great. Everyone’s like, finally we have someone to speak for us,” he said of his campaigning across New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“When you have 120,000 part-time workers, it’s really unheard of to negotiate a contract without anybody at the table who speaks for the interests of those union members,” he added.

Still, it’s a tough road to beat an incumbent like Hoffa, whose father, labor leader Jimmy Hoffa, played an indelible role in American and labor history.

“We’re using every avenue we have, lots of social media,” said Loobie.

It also doesn’t hurt that Zuckerman, at the top of his campaign slate, is president of Teamsters Local 89 in Louisville, Ky., a powerhouse of UPS workers who are eager to vote and have a history of going rogue.

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