(en) UPS strike -- who won?

Lyn Gerry (redlyn@loop.com)
Wed, 20 Aug 1997 07:32:49 +0000

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The UPS Strike -- Who Won? an IWW Member 's Report and Analysis

by : Richard Gibson <rgibson@pipeline.com>


So who won the Teamsters strike? For the time being, capital did. Capital won five years of labor peace, an unheard of long time promise from labor--setting a new low for future contracts. Capital won a marginally rejuvenated bogus labor movement--enough to prop up the sections of capital that want it, yet sufficiently hung out to dry to discourage others from flocking to it (10,000 jobs created over five years---big deal---2,000 jobs a year in a company with nearly 200,000 workers---and what enforces that?; 4$ wage increase over five years, laughable; continued control of Teamsters pensions by the usual Teamster suspects, capital does not care who invests or personifies it's interests, just as long as the surplus value pump remains primed).

Will the Teamsters be any more democratic? Not likely. With the ruling class media clapping for Carey, and the TDU perseverating about people in motion, what is more likely is that Carey gets iconicized, along with the gangster Sweeney, as a real labor leader. He ain't.

While it is one thing to support Boulwarism, an illegal end run on the union leadership via direct appeals to the rank and file (wonder why this is against the law?); it is another to support secret negotiations. Rank and file workers gain nothing from secret bargaining, except the chance to pay for a forum to get sold out. Who cares if the Labor Secretary and Carey and the UPS bosses want to bargain in the best hotels in DC, as they did. Let them bargain in auditoriums. More difficult to get sold out then.

What must be the benchmark of victroy is the level of mobilization and consciousneess of the rank and file during and after an action. Contracts mean nothing, In Detroit, we learned that the hard way. When the auto boses didn't like the contracts we had, in mid-term, they just tore them up. What matters is whether or not the rank and file learned lessons that will make them able to broaden their solidarity and militancy in the future. That would include recognizing differences like the competing interests of labor and capital, or the use of divisions within the work force, like racism, sexism, and union-bossism, to defeat the needs of the workers. Is the rank and file more powerful, in consciousness or in fact--are they more organizationally prepared to take on capita? Not much, if at all...not that I can see. But I would like to hear from others who had more experience in bringing the IWW to the picket lines.. At issue to me is..Did the IWW grow and how?

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