United Parcel Service Teamsters, Teamster Local 804 President Vincent Perrone, UPS workers and local leaders rallied Friday outside of the Brooklyn Foster Avenue UPS center for stronger union contracts.
The union’s master agreement with UPS is the single largest private sector collective bargaining agreement in the country, however, union officials as well as UPS workers say that the working conditions they are forced to endure are unfair and that their union contract needs to be renegotiated to ensure worker safety and rights.
At the rally, UPS Teamster leaders said they supported the UPS workers and their appeals for safer and fairer working conditions, saying if the contract negotiations were not met by the July 31 deadline, they would strike.
“The goal at this rally was to show the company [UPS] that the [union] membership, the drivers, the part-timers and everyone there are totally united and we stood [sic] together in solidarity to show the company that we’re willing to do what we have to do to get a good contract,” said Dave Cintron, an elected member of Local 804, to Brooklyn Paper on Friday.
According to the UPS Teamsters, over 340,000 Teamster delivery and warehouse workers across the country are currently being forced to fight unfair and sometimes dangerous working conditions that aren’t currently protected in their union contracts with UPS.
Among some of the workers’ chief complaints were the excessive overtime hours, poor pay, poor working security, concerns about heat-related illness and poor protections regarding company harassment.
However, the most commonly-addressed issue was that of UPS’s current policy of “displacing” workers, or forcing workers to work two-tier 22.4 jobs. These jobs mean that “junior UPS workers” are forced to split their eight-hour work day into two tiers; the first four-hour shift occurs in the morning before a gap in the day, followed by the second four-hour shift at night.
“We’d be doing like 4:30 to 8:30 in the morning, go home and then come back 4:30 to 8:30 in the evening,” UPS worker and Local 804 member, Fabrizio Matrascia said. “We’ll be getting like a lot of guys who are getting four or five hours of sleep.”
In addition to the scheduling, workers are required to complete tasks that could potentially be dangerous.
“It’s very grueling work,” said Matrascia. “You’re in the back of this truck and half of the boxes are 50 pounds or more and they want you to stack it all the way to the ceiling and there’s no stopping. They want you to work the full four hours. Our bodies are beat up, there’s pain everywhere, but you know, obviously I keep going because I need money.”
However, with the support of the union, many UPS Teamster workers are feeling uplifted, especially knowing that they will be supported if they decide to strike.
“It feels good to have someone fighting for us, because there’s only so much myself or people like me can do,” Matrascia said. “To have [the union] day in and day out working hard for us is definitely something I appreciate.”
To learn more about the UPS Teamsters and their contract negotiations, visit their website here.