Letter: Working-class solidarity or union politics?

Share
Related Topics
John Carlin's account of the UPS Teamsters' strike in the US was limited and unrepresentative ("We're not going to take it any more", 17 August).

I am delighted that the strike has been resolved and operations are resuming as normal, but feel it appropriate to redress the balance. Mr Carlin applauds the strike ordered by the Teamsters as a measure of "working-class solidarity" against "rich corporations" getting richer at the expense of workers and a "long overdue backlash and possibly even a defining moment in American labour relations".

Yet, oddly, Mr Carlin does not say that UPS workers are the best paid in the industry (drivers earn $50,000 in pay, $20,000 in fringe benefits) and that UPS management's original offer ensured it would stay that way.

He fails to mention that the vast majority of part-timers don't want to be full-time employees: 45 per cent are students and many others work part-time so that they can raise children. He does not say that part-time workers in UPS in the US also get full-time benefits, such as holiday pay, pensions and health insurance, a rarity in the US.

He incorrectly claims that "more than 20 per cent of jobs in America are part-time ... and the trend is spreading". Currently, 15 per cent of US jobs are part-time; this has not increased since 1984.

Mr Carlin fails to discuss the real issues of the dispute: the Teamsters' opposition to the UPS proposal for a single pension plan, for instance, and why UPS workers were not allowed to vote by the Teamsters on the UPS package. UPS had proposed a single pension plan that will be created exclusively for the benefit of UPS employees and will increase the monthly pension benefit for full- and part-time employees by an average of 50 per cent. The fund would be managed 50-50 by the company and the Teamsters but the union rejected it because UPS's current contributions go to 31 multi-employer Teamster-controlled pension plans that benefit several thousand Teamster retirees who have never worked for UPS.

But perhaps the most extraordinary omission in this article concerns the leadership of the union. Ron Carey, the Teamster president, has federal investigators looking at his campaign funding irregularities; his recent election has not been certified and, with only a 4 per cent victory over James Hoffa Jnr, there is a real prospect of a near-term rerun. What better way to expand that 4 per cent than appearing on national TV in the States every day as the fearless leader of one of the biggest strikes in recent American history?

Burkhard Meyer

UPS UK, Feltham, Middlesex

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Norovirus the food poisoning bug that causes violent stomach flu  

A flu pandemic could decide next year’s election

Matthew Norman
J. Jayalalithaa gestures to her party supporters while standing on the balcony of her residence in Chennai. Former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians  

The jailing of former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is a drama even Bollywood couldn’t produce

Andrew Buncombe
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style