Teamsters conduct practice pickets in Michigan
Lansing, MI – Teamsters in Lansing and Detroit conducted practice pickets at UPS centers on Friday, June 30. Members marched, held signs and chanted, putting pressure on the company to present a last, best and final offer. These pickets come days after the National Negotiating Committee issued a 48-hour deadline for UPS to issue such an offer. In a June 28 press release, General President Sean O’Brien said, “The largest single-employer strike in American history now appears inevitable.” Later that day, the company softened its bargaining stance and the deadline was extended to July 5.
At the Lansing location, picketing workers marched in the lawn in front of the building, waving signs and soliciting honks from passing vehicles. Among the demands on the signs were better part-time wages, improved pensions, an end to harassment and excessive overtime, and recognizing MLK Day and Juneteenth in the contract. Lori Yancey, a participant and member of Teamsters Local 243, said she wanted to convey to the company that “we are all human, and want to be treated with human respect.”
Meanwhile, at the Cicotte location, workers were carrying signs reading “Just practicing for a just contract” and practiced chanting. Around 50 people participated in the picketing. Thomas Moran, a rank-and-file member of Local 243 who organized the picket, said, “I wanted to organize the practice picket because it seemed like it wouldn't happen otherwise. We ended up having a really good turnout thanks to my steward getting the word out, and it was a galvanizing experience for people,” adding, “People told me they had a really good feeling walking into work afterward.”
With regard to the importance of these pickets, Moran added, “After just a few days of practice picketing around the country, the company has already softened their stance on wanting a 'cost neutral' contract. I think they are starting to take our strike threat a bit more seriously.”
The current UPS contract expires on July 31. Sean O'Brien has stated that the current agreement will not be extended, and unless an agreement is in place on August 1 the Teamsters will go out on strike.