UPS Struggle: Strike While the Iron is Hot!

The recent situation of the working class has been treacherous, to say the least. Inflation, war, and instability prevail, while wages stay down and things only get worse.

Naturally, benefits and wages are at the top of workers’ priorities, whereas UPS is only interested in profits. UPS makes this clear via PVDs, threats to drivers, and the tempo of work inside the warehouse, along the belts that become "cardboard mines". Hub workers struggle to grab a bathroom break, and are more and more exposed to extreme weather. This is not unknown in other firms and industries, and is not unfamiliar to workers in rail, at FedEx, in grocery warehouses, and at Amazon. Like other employers, UPS makes it clear: their plans for the future are starvation and poverty for the workers, and filet mignons for the higher-ups.

The union bluffs, or else engages in “militancy” that is a mirage. Its strategy, its tactics, its priorities: they reflect the interests of IBT functionaries, and of the union administration they inhabit; an elephantine bureaucracy where wages are the last point to be really discussed, and workers in one position are divided from workers in another. In the past, the union has shown its true colors. It has revealed itself to be the guarantor of peace on the shop floor, perfectly happy to impose a shitty contract and play at being cops. The new regime of the “reformer” Sean O’Brien will exhibit these traits too.

The union lies, and says the tentative agreement contains no concessions. The union avoids a strike, and says it is for the workers’ benefit. In reality, union officials fret over union treasures, union dues, and their own salaries. They are concerned about the water cooler breaking in their office. The masses of workers cannot relate to this. They fight to keep their head above the proverbial waves, and struggle to stave off the currents (price of food, rent, low wages, etc…) that threaten to submerge them; thereby paying the price of existence in capitalist society.

It is assured: without a struggle, what is already a crisis situation will only get worse. How long until a war with Chinese capitalism breaks out, workers’ productivity is deemed critical to the war effort, and more economic sacrifices are imposed on the workers? And all for the sake of our exploiters, whose overriding concern is profit.

A happy future is a thing of the past. We cannot wait passively, for the union to throw crumbs at us. We cannot wait to be sacrificed as lambs to the slaughter, while UPS and capitalist enterprises around the world squeeze every nickel and dime from the pores of the workers. We can only depend on our strength in numbers, and on our creativity as an international class. As our main weapon, strikes need to be transformed. They need to cease being an affair whose pace is set by union functionaries. They need to be transformed into an affair directed by the mass of workers, whose access to the megaphone isn’t barred by their lack of official credentials.

Workers need to take the initiative, and organize their own struggle. Considering the forces arrayed against the workers, it is clear this struggle is a political struggle. The bosses, the state, the unions: all agree that workers must die for profits if it comes down to it. But we don’t want to die for this rotten system!

Resume the Class Struggle! No War but the Class War!

Internationalist Workers’ Group
Section of the ICT in the USA
Monday, July 31, 2023