By now most readers will have become acquainted with the basic issues in the UPS strike: a nearly 50% wage differential between full time workers and part time workers; the companies attempt to get their hands on the union pension fund; dragging their feet on giving part time employees the chance to become full time workers; sub-contracting delivery work to non-union carriers and fudging on safety and health protections.
In talking to the strikers on the Albuquerque, NM picket lines one finds out that these problems didn't just happen overnight. They were a long time in coming. Part time drivers get 50% less wages than full time drivers, and yet there are times when they rack up as much driving time as a full timer. While they get some fringe benefits. they get them pro-rated. Over the past year or so UPS has been steadily hiring more part time drivers at the expense of the full time crew. One part time driver related to me that he has been waiting eight years to get a full time position.
Another major grievance is the fact that the company wants to get their hands on the union pension fund. Rank and filers on the line know from the national experience of other strikes, that once the company gets their hands on the fund, their retirement security goes out the window.
In addition there has been a trend to time-study the drivers at the expense of safety and health protection. One rank and filer related how a time-study man would ride with the drivers and measure the time that it takes them to deliver a package to a door and how long it takes them to go to the john. Another factor has been the trend for UPS to increase their overland trucking loads.
The combination of all these issues has put the ABQ - UPS crew in strong fighting mood. While they are hoping for a short strike, they are prepared to stay out until they get a fair shake from the company.
When asked as to what the public could do to help win the strike, one picket captain replied, "Call the UPS 800 number and tell the company to agree to the workers demands".