Email Exchange on the Teamsters-UPS agreement #2

Dan La Botz

July 28, 2023

p>I thought this was our idea: We are in the socialist movement. The labor unions are the main muscle of the socialist movement. Muscles need to be exercised or they atrophy.

O’Brien might have called a national strike for a few days, a week, and then possibly even have settled for the same terms, and that would have been better because the workers would have had the experience of walking off the job, organizing the picket line, stopping scabs, building public support, etc. They would have had the basis to claim that the victory was theirs. Now they will not. Because it was not theirs.

O’Brien did it. He negotiated the agreement. It is his. It confirms his position as the Teamster leader from now on, perhaps for a couple of decades. His dominant role will make local leaders, TDU, rank-and-file activists more marginal. This is a five-year contract, so there will be no major national confrontation until it expires.

While there was some excitement and some mobilization around the contract, it will be hard to keep that alive and to build on it, for the reasons I’ve given. O”Brien did it. The contract lasts five year.

While they should not in any way be put at the center of this, the DSA activists who were enthused about a strike now have a bit let-down.

The industrial working class, it seems, is not going to play a leading role at this time. The railroad unions were stopped by the government with little protest. The ILWU settled without a strike. Now UPS too. The UAW, it seems to be, is in no position at this time under new and mostly inexperienced leadership to strike the big three if any of them.

The action a few years ago was with the white collar workers, the teachers and nurses. Now it is with the writers and actors. Those are the big exciting strikes of the moment and really on issues of new technologies, streaming, and especially AI.