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AOC Condemns UPS for Refusing to Pay Workers Fairly in Rally With Teamsters

“This shouldn’t even be a fight,” she said while pointing out UPS’s record profits.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to United Parcel Services (UPS) workers during a 'practice picket line' on July 7, 2023, in the Queens borough of New York City, ahead of a possible UPS strike.

As 340,000 United Parcel Service workers prepare to wage a historic strike, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) on Saturday joined Teamsters union members and leaders at a rally in New York condemning the company for refusing to pay workers a fair wage.

“What we are about to step into requires solidarity from everybody,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Your fight right here is about being the tip of the spear for dignity for every worker in this country.”

The rally was held at a Teamsters local office in Long Island with United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain and Teamsters President Sean O’Brien in attendance. The event came ahead of a likely strike that would start after UPS workers’ current labor contract expires on July 31, with no agreement for a replacement contract on the horizon.

If the workers go on strike, it would be the largest single-employer strike in history. Workers would also be joining more than 100,000 other union members on strike in Hollywood amid a historic wave of union activity and labor strikes.

“This is about making sure that we not just demand better wages, equal wages for our part-timers, making sure that we’re getting dignified conditions, A/C in trucks. But this is also about demanding respect,” Ocasio-Cortez told rally-goers. “That’s what this is about, demanding respect for our labor and for our workers.”

Earlier this month, the Teamsters announced that they secured the end to a two-tiered wage system that allowed the company to offer worse pay and benefits to newer workers, a major demand of the union. Last month, union negotiators were able to have air-conditioning added to the company’s delivery trucks, another key demand as drivers have reported temperatures within their cabs reaching over 120 degrees.

Ocasio-Cortez went on to criticize UPS for refusing to comply with the union’s wage demands in a time of record profits for the company. “This shouldn’t even be a fight. UPS raked in $16 billion in profit last year, and they’re trying to say that ‘we can’t afford part timers to pay them a living wage.’ I don’t think so,” the lawmaker said. “You all standing up — that is always the nexus. If we don’t stand up for ourselves, no one will stand up for us.”

This is the second time that Ocasio-Cortez has rallied with UPS workers ahead of their strike. Earlier this month, she joined workers at a practice picket in Queens, New York, telling picketers that UPS can afford to pay its workers higher wages but is choosing not to.

Wages, especially for part-time workers, are a major issue for the union, with part-time workers often making less than half the rate of full-time workers. Amid worsening extreme heat due to the climate crisis, workers have also reported having to work in grueling conditions while being surveilled by management.

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