Thursday morning Teamsters Local 623 members and allies came together, in the cold, to remind UPS that we won't stop fighting for fair wages and an end to pay cuts.
Around a hundred people attended the rally beginning at 7:30 AM at the Oregon Avenue UPS building. "UPS you're on notice!" shouted Teamsters Local 623 President Clarence Bagby through the megaphone. The Union was standing to demand that UPS stop pay cuts and restore the pay of hundreds of part-time workers whose pay was cut without prior notice earlier this month.
In May of last year the package and shipping giant raised starting wages well above the contractual minimum. Notably, these wage increases were not meant as bonus compensation or hazard pay for working through the pandemic. Instead, the raises were a business necessity: UPS entry level wages were too low to keep part-time workers from leaving. Through what the company called a Market Rate Adjustment (MRA) UPS raised wages for part-time workers to $19.00 an hour in order to compete with other employers in the region. But earlier this month UPS cut those same workers down to contract minimum wages. For some it meant a 21% pay cut.
Worse, UPS never notified employees of the cuts. Teamster workers discovered the pay cuts when they noticed their reduced paychecks a week after the cuts were made. On Thursday Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer Richard Hooker Jr. rallied the crowd, telling UPS management that "without these workers you can't make a profit!" He also reminded corporate leaders that the current UPS contract is set to expire in 2023.
The Teamsters weren't alone on the picket line. Representatives from other area unions were also in attendance, including communications workers from CWA, sanitation and city workers from AFSCME DC 33, and even the president of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO Pat Eiding. In addition, many elected officials came out to show their support for the union including State Representatives Elizabeth Fiedler and Rick Krajewski, City Council-member Helen Gym, and political candidates like Paul Prescod and Malcolm Kenyatta (both endorsed by Local 623).
As more people gathered Richard Hooker Jr. announced that the union plans to deliver a petition that gathered over 2,000 signatures from UPS workers demanding an end to the pay cuts and to make the pay rate of $19.00 an hour permanent.
Hooker and the union do not plan on letting up the pressure either, he announced plans to continue the campaign until the company fixes the issue. He shouted "One union!" the crowd responded "One Family!"