As UPS Workers Rally Against Contract, Teamsters Drag Out Ratification Process -Fort Knox Rocked by Strikes – Studios Exec May Return to Bargaining Table

A UPS workers in Griffin, Georgia signals that they intend to vote no against the proposed UPS contract (Twitter)


Greetings from Burgh, where I am wrapping up a few assignments and heading out on vacation next week. 

Help a Tired Labor Reporter Take Two Weeks Summer Vacation 

After a long summer covering strikes, I am exhausted and will take two weeks off. Earlier this summer, a reader offered to donate a ticket to Rio de Janeiro to do some reporting, and I will stay with my old host family in Rio. (Check out our reporting from the Presidential election there this fall)

After two weeks of vacation, I am going to go out to an illegal land occupation led by the MST, the Brazilian landless worker movement. I am also going to be meeting with some Brazilian labor publications to discuss ways that we can help more of their content into American audiences. 

Donate to help me take two weeks and cover the Brazilian landless workers’ movement. Please, sign up as one of our 753 recurring donors today. 

As UPS Workers Rally Against Contract, Teamsters Drag Out Ratification Process

Around the country, some UPS workers are beginning to rally against the proposed contract. There were rallies in Georgia, Texas, and elsewhere.

The Teamsters’ largest local at Louisville’s Worldport vote has over 12,000 members and has also voted no against the contract. The local is the home of the national Teamsters Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman. The defeat of the recommendation of the national contract by the home local of a national officer was considered a major embarrassment for Temasters leadership.

Teamsters President Sean O’Brien is now dragging out the ratification process in hopes of avoiding a close vote on the UPS tentative agreement. 

Typically, when unions ask their members to ratify a union contract, it is done within a week or two of the tentative agreement being reached. (The UAW took only a week to ratify a contract after a five-week strike at General Motors in 2019

However, the Teamsters are delaying their ratification process til August 22 as they seek to build support for the contract. 

When IATSE attempted to pass a controversial deal in the fall of 2021, they similarly dragged out the ratification process by nearly six weeks. By dragging out the ratification vote, IATSE was able to cool off-strike support while building support for a controversial contract. Eventually, the contract passed by a narrow margin of 50.3% to 49.7%.

The Teamsters hope to use the long ratification period to build support for the deal. Yesterday, at a meeting of 175 local union leaders from around the country, the leaders recommended that workers vote for the contract by a margin of 161-1. 

“The entire UPS Teamsters National Negotiating Committee stands behind this historic contract and our UPS local unions have resoundingly voted to endorse it,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien in a statement. 

However, workers around the country are organizing against it. The organizing has been most vigorous among the 180,000 “part-time” workers, who are often forced to work full-time schedules, but at lower wages. 

During the 1997 strike, when UPS’s “part-time” workforce was half its current size, it agreed to convert 10,000 part-timers to full-time. Now, with its part-time workforce nearly twice as large, UPS will only covert 7,500 part-timers to full-time status. 

“Throughout the contract and strike campaign, our union has emphasized the need for us UPS workers to push back against the divisions of our classifications and fight with one fist,” wrote a group of part-time UPS workers. “It’s time to make good on that promise, unite our ranks, and fight for a contract that delivers for all workers. In that spirit, we urge our Teamsters siblings to vote no on this tentative agreement and use this unprecedented momentum to fight for a contract that leaves no one behind”. 

For a deeper analysis of the movement against the UPS contract, check out Left Voice. 

Studios Move to Get Back to Bargaining Table 

Meanwhile, the strike of 171,000 Hollywood workers, SAG-AFTRA, and the Writers Guild members continues. With some studio executives concerned about not having enough content for fall TV schedules, some studios executives are pushing to get back to the table. From the Wrap: 

“This has never been a united group. It’s wrong to even think of them as a group,” said one top Hollywood executive who’s a veteran of other labor actions. “This is a very fractured group of people. The union is one. The studios are many and they are trying to delicately align agendas. But they have to be very careful with competitive information. What are you saying about coming trends, that you’re addressing in front of Max and Disney?” 

On top of that, there are not-insignificant personality clashes in a small group of big egos. 

Disney CEO Bob Iger made himself unwelcome in the room after giving  a CNBC interview  in which he dismissed the strikers as being out of touch with reality. Warner CEO David Zaslav has also not been considered a popular presence given his rough relations with talent, another insider told TheWrap.  

To wit, Iger sent his top executives Dana Walden and Alan Bergman on Friday, while Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos represented the streamer. The mandate was clear: Let’s get moving. 

For more, check out the Wrap. 

Strike Wreck Fort Knox Army Officer Training Program. 

Finally, at Fort Knox, thousands of Army ROTC Candidates gather each summer to undergo final training before they are commissioned as officers. However, their training this year has been wrecked by strikes and complaints of poor treatment. From the Army Times: 

“Cadets, cadre, and other CST support personnel — speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press — said the walkout occurred during the final week of June outside Sprocket 1, the cadre’s principal dining facility (DFAC).

The videos’ bold-texted captions claimed the protesting DFAC employees hadn’t been paid in over a month. Richard Patterson, a spokesperson for U.S. Army Cadet Command (USACC), acknowledged in a statement to Army Times that the command “terminated the food service contract that supported the Warrior Restaurants for CST on July 1 due to the contractor not fulfilling its obligations.” Patterson declined to say whether or not unpaid wages precipitated the termination, deflecting the matter to the contracting company. Army Times was unable to confirm whether the DFAC employees had gone without pay prior to the walkout.

The strike and subsequent contract debacle derailed the program’s mining operations. The cadre’s DFAC shut down until July 5, when base leadership hired a new temporary food service provider. USACC shifted Army cooks to the chow line to keep other cadet dining facilities up and running.

Base leadership relied on extra stockpiles of Meals, Ready-to-Eat to plug the gaps in the food supply. Adding to the displeasure of replacing hot meals with pre-packaged food, trainees found that some of the distributed MREs had expired.”

For more, check out the Army Times. 

Alright, folks, I gotta run to a date at a jazz concert. Keep sending story ideas, comments, and complaints to [email protected] 

Donate to help me take a couple weeks off summer. Please, if you can, sign up as one of our 754 recurring donors today. 

See yinz tomorrow. 


About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]