The UPS teamsters are pissed off today, and for good reason—their company has proposed a new contract provision that would allow them to mandate a 70-hour work week. The language the company uses is almost comical:
“The Company shall not change the DOT sixty (60) hours in seven (7) days to the seventy (70) hours in eight (8) days rule for package drivers except to avoid service disruptions.”
In other words, they’re definitely not going to do it, unless they have to, in which case they absolutely will. Talk about taking the power out of workers’ hands. The demand for 70 hours would work from the bottom up—first UPS would ask for volunteers, then force it on seasonal and non-seniority drivers, and then come, at last, for the most senior workers.
The union is countering with a proposal that lets them outright refuse to work beyond 60 hours. They’re calling on Teamster union leadership to reject the UPS proposal, but confidence does not seem high:
The question is will Denis Taylor and the Hoffa administration hold their ground or will they let UPS get its way again.
When UPS unilaterally announced during peak last year that drivers in some areas would have to work up to 70 hours a week, Hoffa and the Package Division rolled over and let it happen.
At the bargaining table, Taylor agreed to weak language on the signature issues of 9.5 and harassment.
Obviously this is an important issue to UPS workers specifically, and looked at more broadly, it’s another instance of the slow encroachment on workers’ rights by mega-corporations looking to milk every last ounce of output from its human resources without concern for compensation or quality of life. In that sense, UPS workers are lucky to have a union at all—at least, unlike workers in many other industries around the country, they have a chance to fight back.