The Boston Globe has a story about Sean O'Brien, a Massachusetts native and president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, in which he makes clear that even as he negotiates with UPS for a new contract, he has his eye on a bigger fish - Amazon.
O’Brien has made it clear, the Globe writes: "A strong UPS contract should be the springboard for the Teamsters to go after Amazon."
“If we’re going to be successful in organizing Amazon,” O’Brien says, “we need the best contract in the industry [at UPS].”
Some context from the Globe story:
"The union and the Atlanta-based shipping company have come to terms on dozens of work rules during their talks in Washington, D.C., including a deal that provides for air conditioning in many vehicles. Now comes the hard part: reaching an accord on pay and benefits before the current contract expires on July 31. If that doesn’t happen, O’Brien said, the roughly 340,000 Teamsters members who drive or work in warehouses for UPS will walk off the job. It would be tough for them, tough for the company, and tough for all of us who rely on them to get our packages delivered.
"Presumably, no one wants that to happen. But O’Brien said he’d support pulling the trigger — putting the International’s $300 million-plus “strike defense fund” to use — if he doesn’t see adequate financial gains for his membership.
"For him, this battle over the largest private-sector union contract in the United States isn’t only about righting the wrongs baked into the union’s current agreement with UPS. It’s meant to show how organized labor can flex its muscle against giant companies. And it’s a prelude for a long-awaited showdown with decidedly anti-union Amazon, where the Teamsters hope to organize the online retail giant’s massive logistics workforce."
- KC's View:
Sure, Amazon has been pretty much successful at putting down unionization movements around the country. But a battle with the Teamsters could be something different, especially if it walks away with a UPS contract that makes it feel empowered.