Monday May 23, 2022
| Last update: Sunday at 10:13 PM

UPS, ALEC behind anti-worker laws like Right to Work

Teamster workers demand UPS withdraw from ALEC
By Dave Schneider and Richard Blake |
July 11, 2015
Read more articles in

Jacksonville, FL - The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is targeting United Parcel Service (UPS) for their leadership role in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate policy organization that drafts and pushes anti-worker legislation in state governments.

On July 1, the Teamsters’ Package Division announced a public pressure campaign to force UPS to withdraw from ALEC. Many local unions around the country distributed flyers to UPS workers at the warehouse gates detailing ALEC’s support for anti-union, anti-worker laws and drawing the connection to UPS.

UPS is one of 18 corporations and individuals that sit on the Private Enterprise Advisory Council of ALEC. Other members of the council include Exxon Mobil, AT&T, Koch Companies Public Sector, State Farm Insurance, and the American Bail Coalition.

ALEC was originally founded in 1973 as a right-wing political organization for giant corporations to push their agenda in state governments. They achieved national notoriety under President Ronald Reagan, who placed many ALEC members on task forces to draft policy and laws.

ALEC does not directly finance political campaigns. Instead, it allows corporations who pay tens of thousands of dollars to sit on task forces that write “model legislation” that legislators take back to Washington D.C. or their respective state legislatures. On the other hand, politicians pay a measly annual fee of $50 to routinely receive all-expenses-paid vacations to ALEC conferences and a chance rub shoulders with hundreds of potential corporate donors for their campaigns.

UPS chairs anti-union ALEC task force

In addition to its membership on the Private Enterprise Advisory Council, UPS also sits as the Private Chair of ALEC’s Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force. This task force writes model legislation pushing deregulation of the financial and transportation industries, but is most notorious for its ‘labor reform’ efforts.

On ALEC’s website, this task force admits to promoting legislation emphasizing “employee choice regarding union involvement,” also known as ‘Right to Work for Less’ laws. These laws forbid unions from negotiating contracts with ‘union shop’ clauses, meaning that workers at union companies can choose to enjoy the benefits of union representation but refuse to pay their fair share.

States with these laws have weaker safety regulations, and the Bureau of Labor statistics estimates that workers in ‘Right to Work’ states make about $6000 less a year on average. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described it as “a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.”

While UPS is contractually forced to encourage union involvement among their own workforce, they turn around and use the profit taken from their exploited workforce - 70% of which is part-time - to push the Right to Work laws passed in states like Wisconsin and Michigan. This means that UPS, the company with the largest union contract in North America, has been at the forefront of the national assault on union rights. Walker Ellison, a rank-and-file Teamster at UPS, says, “This should provoke a critical investigation into the real motives of UPS management.”

Big business pushes racist laws through ALEC

While the organization has traditionally focused on anti-union, anti-worker laws, ALEC also pushes racist, sexist and homophobic legislation at the state level. For instance, throughout the 1980s, ALEC sought to counter the growing movement to divest from apartheid South Africa.

More recently, ALEC pushed model legislation for Voter ID at the polls in states like Florida and Pennsylvania, which was designed to suppress the African American and Latino vote. A 2012 study conducted by News21 found that legislators connected to ALEC sponsored more than half of the 62 voter suppression bills proposed in state legislatures.

ALEC came under additional fire after the murder of 17-year-old African American youth Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, a racist vigilante, in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman was not arrested by police after killing Martin, and the shooting area was not investigated as a crime scene by police, which critics say happened because of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. ALEC proposed Stand Your Ground in the Florida legislature and it was adopted in 2005.

In the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin, some activists led a campaign to force large companies to withdraw from ALEC. Many corporations dropped their membership in the face of such pressure, including Amazon, Coca-Cola, McDonalds and the Apple Corporation.

UPS workers can fight back against ALEC

UPS management’s involvement in ALEC highlights how giant corporations and the 1% dominate the U.S. political system on the federal and state level. Politicians who propose laws like Right to Work do so on behalf of their masters, namely corporations like UPS, who want to make higher profits on the backs of workers.

Chief Steward Jacque Griffin asks, “Does UPS have a hidden agenda? Why do they support a faction that wants to implement policies that take away the rights of the American worker to unionize? These are some of the tough questions that each and every UPS employee should be asking their management team. We are pushing back to protect the rights of the working class, but we need your support so take a stand for what's right.”

Teamsters at UPS have a unique opportunity to strike a blow against ALEC and its anti-worker, anti-people legislation. The parcel delivery giant plays a critical leadership role in ALEC’s nationwide assault on unions, including their efforts to push Right to Work laws in state legislatures. Possible opportunities for further struggle include a nationwide petition among UPS workers or confronting the UPS representative at ALEC's upcoming annual meeting in San Diego, July 22-24. By advancing the demand for UPS to pull out of ALEC, Teamsters at UPS can score a victory both for themselves and the working class as a whole.

Dave Schneider and Richard Blake are both union workers at UPS.