"Let's remind them who's actually the boss": AOC stands with Teamsters as historic UPS strike looms

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined other New York lawmakers at a rally with members of the Teamsters union

Published July 17, 2023 5:30AM (EDT)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

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With hundreds of thousands of UPS workers preparing to strike as soon as August 1, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined other New York lawmakers at a rally with members of the Teamsters union on Saturday to push the ultra-profitable shipping giant to agree to a just contract.

"This is about making sure that we not just demand better wages, equal wages for our part-timers, making sure that we're getting the dignified conditions, A/C in trucks. But this is also about demanding respect," Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said during the rally at Teamsters Local 282 union hall in New Hyde Park.

"This shouldn't even be a fight," Ocasio-Cortez added, noting that UPS raked in record profits last year and could easily afford to meet the union's demands.

UPS CEO Carol Tomé, a donor to anti-union Republicans, took home close to $19 million in total compensation in 2022.

"Let's remind them who's actually the boss in this, and that's the workers," said Ocasio-Cortez.

Saturday's rally came days after negotiations between UPS management and Teamsters leaders fell apart for the second time in recent weeks, with the Teamsters accusing the company of presenting an "unacceptable offer" that "did not address members' needs."

UPS has since announced that it will be training nonunion delivery drivers in preparation for a strike. If the work stoppage moves forward, it would mark the largest single-employer strike in U.S. history.

Last month, 97% of UPS workers represented by the Teamsters voted to authorize a strike if there's no acceptable deal with management by July 31, when the current contract expires.

The Teamsters have won significant tentative victories in recent negotiations, including an agreement from UPS to add in-cab air conditioning systems to newly purchased delivery vehicles and end the two-tiered wage system under which part-time workers earn significantly less per hour than full-time employees.

But the union said earlier this month that the company's contract offers haven't gone far enough to justly compensate employees, a message that Teamsters leaders echoed during Saturday's rally.

"Our members bust their ass every day for this greedy company, keeping supply chains moving and generating historic, multibillion-dollar profits for UPS," said Teamsters Local 804 President Vinnie Perrone. "Those record profits are unpaid wages. UPS Teamsters are done with the company's disrespect."

Sean O'Brien, general president of the Teamsters, said Saturday that the union "will take on this corporate bully for as long as it takes to get what we've earned."

"UPS has a choice," said O'Brien. "They can respect and do right by working people, they can pay the wages that part-time and full-time workers deserve, and they can agree to terms on a strong new contract. Or UPS can wait until August 1 and regret turning its back on the hardworking people who make it a success. We are not backing down."

By Jake Johnson

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Alexandria Ocasio-cortez Aoc Labor Strikes Teamsters Unions Ups