Iowa UPS Teamsters are Ready to Fight

Jun 30, 2023

Peter Flynn

DES MOINES IOWA - The sky is gray, the rain is falling hard, and the barbeque grill is ripping hot. The Teamsters have been preparing for this moment for over a year, some bad weather isn't going to stop them. Despite the poor weather Teamsters Local 90 held a rousing rally in the parking lot of UPS at 1751 Hull Ave.

Teamsters bargaining committees have reached many tentative agreements over working conditions with UPS. But, so far the company has refused to negotiate in good faith on economic issues. The company has threatened wage decreases at a time when they are making massive profits. I was fortunate to get some perspective from Alano De La Rosa, the Secretary-Treasurer and principal officer of Local 90.

"Practice Picket" march in front of the UPS facility

Moments before we spoke, everyone in attendance did a "Practice Picket" march in front of the UPS facility chanting slogans and raising signs.

I asked Alano about why Local 90, and Teamsters across the country have been holding these parking lot rallies.

Our contract between the Teamsters and UPS expires in the next 30 days. And when that expires, we need to have a fair deal. If we don't get a fair deal, we're going to end up out on the streets out here. We've been fair with the company in our negotiations so far. We've made some progress on non-economic issues. We have 70 plus tentative agreements on those. But for economic proposals from the company, so far, they've fallen flat. They've delivered us proposals with pay cuts and cost of living decreases which is basically a nonstarter for us.

We are the ones who make this company very profitable. These companies make profit year over year. Every contract time they cry poor and pretend they don't make money, but shortly after they report record profits again. That comes off of our backs. So we just want a fair piece of that. If the cost of living has gone up and prices have increased, our wages need to increase proportionately so that we maintain our standard of living. That's all that we're asking for is to maintain the deal we have now, adjusted for inflation, so that our families aren't moving backwards and moving forward. The management and shareholders are making plenty of money. Their standard of living is going up. We need to go up right along with them. It's only fair. We work hard, and we just want to be compensated for that hard work.

Alano also told me what kind of work needed they needed to do in order for the Teamsters to be ready to fight.

We coordinated at the national level. So we have a team in Washington, D.C. at headquarters that sends out information about timelines on what we'd like to do. We started this contract campaign one year out on the anniversary of the 1997 strike, and we've been building on basically a month by month schedule. Greater and greater rallies, meetings, webinars just been building over the last year. It's gaining momentum, and we're peaking within the next month. That's part of what you're seeing out here today with "practice picketing". The only other peak beyond that will be if we don't get a deal from the company and the actual strike action takes place, but it's a slow burn.

You have to get the membership behind you. So we've been doing as much information blast as possible. We're texting people, we're updating our website, we're doing a lot of in-person shop visits and talking to the rank and file at the gates and getting them prepared for the inevitable if the company doesn't come around. It's just a constant communication effort on our part and there's a lot of logistics behind the scenes to make sure that everybody's strike pay is in order. If we go on strike, we have to make sure that our brothers and sisters are getting paid and supported out here on the picket line. We have to find out where the easements are, get porta potties, we have to get up logistics on food and operations, prepare to run the union hall 24 hours a day.

It's an immense effort and it consumes all of our time. All of the officers and staff have been working basically around the clock on this for the last few months. You see a little bit of it pop up in the media here and there, but it's a constant fight. It's a constant effort to make sure that we have the most credible strike threat humanly possible, because that's what gives us leverage at our national negotiation table.

Alano's message that this is a 'constant fight' is particularly important for us in the community to remember. The media tends to focus on struggles when they are at their highest peak. This can make it seem like collective action is a a moment in time. It can appear like a strike happens the moment a contract negotiation breaks down. That could not be further from the reality on the ground. Unity and collective action is difficult. It takes a long time, a lot of leg work from dedicated organizers, and buy in from a large majority of people. The Teamsters of Local 90 are ready to fight for their fair share of the UPS pie because they know that, and they put in the work.

If UPS forces the Teamsters to go out on strike they will need the support of everyone in the community. You can find out more by visiting Local 90's website and social media below:

Website: https://www.teamsterslocal90.org/

Twitter: @Teamsterslu90

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/teamsterslocal90/

UPS Teamsters Local 90 Crosses the railroad track during their practice picket

UPS Teamsters Local 90 Crosses the railroad track during their practice picket.

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