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How to End the UPS Strike - August 12, 1997

Richard Brian McCarty

Dues paying striking members of the Teamsters Union are not being allowed to vote on the offer being made by UPS. For whatever reason, Teamster leadership is denying their members an opportunity to decide their own fate. By all accounts, both the Teamsters and the UPS are down in how they are handling this strike.

The non-action seems to be a political blunder for the Teamsters. If the vote was allowed, and the on strike workers voted no overwhelmingly, then the Teamsters would have greater bargaining power at the table. By continuing to not allow the vote to take place, the Teamsters come across as afraid of their own membership.

Forget the issues and egos of the strike for the moment. The real losers, even if the strike ended today, are the people who work for UPS. They now enter the second week of the strike, and they will have to try to make their lives run on small strike pay. While they are struggling, the leadership of the Teamsters continue to draw their rather large salaries and stay in the headlines.

UPS management are not all that different. They too get to duke out an ego war while drawing their full salaries. The Teamster leadership and UPS leadership will make their mortgage payments. They will be able to pay their children's tuition.

But, the average man on strike does not enjoy the same luxury. Bills are coming due, and pay is not coming in. Those are real people out there not working. They pay rent, utility bills, and tuition for their children. It's going to be hard for them to understand why it matters that UPS has three members on the pension fund board when they get an eviction notice or have to tell their children to sit out college a semester.

A duty is owed those people by the union and by UPS managment to set their television loving egos aside. As such, I propose the Teamster leadership do this. Since they will not allow the union members to vote on the UPS proposal, they should donate their salaries to help those families they are keeping on strike. UPS management will have to do the same. Let them both feel the pinch they are creating.

Further, both UPS and Teamster leadership should not be allowed on television. Their egos need to be checked. Let's not feed them any further. They should then be locked in a room together with bare essentials of food and drink until they are prepared to come up with something to vote on. Their last television appearance before going into room should be to plead for no violence or hard feelings from any of those on or off strike. After all, these folks have to work together when this is all over. ( Such a statement is curiously absent for the union leadership.)

And, for us, the American public, what can we do? Let's not go back to UPS after this is over. That will be a hard lesson learned for the company that the American consumer won't tolerate such ego clashes. The Teamsters and UPS have left businesses around the country in a bind, and they should pay for that with a permanent loss of business. How can a business that depends upon UPS feel that either side has the customer in mind as they both claim?

In addition, if I were a UPS employee on strike, I would spend my time looking for another job. Because, both the Teamsters and the UPS leadership seem to not care how their little ego war effects real people. I guess you don't have to if you don't feel the reality of what you are doing.

Richard Brian McCarty has worked on several political campaigns of conservatives. He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina and a BS degree from Lander University. An experienced writer, McCarty's columns are written from a distinctly Southern point of view. He is sometimes Southern, sometimes conservative, sometimes humorous, and sometimes all three.


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