Submitted on Mon, 01/18/2016 - 9:31pm
By Coeur de Bord - The Organizer, January 17, 2016
Eleven months ago, the Package Handler’s Organizing Committee (PHOC) voted to begin a campaign demanding the starting wage at the three UPS hubs in the Twin Cities be raised to $15/hour (from the current $10), and a corresponding $5/hour raise for all hub employees. We had our sights set on building power towards some form of disruptive action during 2015’s Peak Season. Now that Peak has arrived, I would like to share some of my feelings on the progression, evolution, and execution of this campaign, as well as some ways it has influenced our organizing in general at UPS in Minneapolis.
I feel this document is useful as part of a future retrospective assessment of the Boxmart campaign and the PHOC committee itself. However, I hope it can also serve as a useful reference for other IWW organizing committees thinking about taking on labor-intensive, medium- to long-term campaigns such as this. Whether or not such a campaign would have a positive impact on your organizing is a decision that only your committee can make, but I hope that by offering my perspectives other Wobblies will be able to make a more informed decision.
The motion (original language):
What: $5 hourly raise across the board, which would bring starting wage up to $15. Also, end petty wage theft and other shop floor issues where possible.
When: Major direct action during peak season 2015 aimed at entire Twin Cities operation. Smaller DAs before them, at moments to be determined. Campaign to start within two months (petitions coming out along with Screw ups at MPLS, Eagan, Maple Grove and airport).
Who: Petition to be drafted by core committee, Mass meeting to be run by ——, other tasks delegated to —, —- and — wherever possible to gather support from rest of branch. New shop floor contacts will be expected to further trenchwork on shop floor, canvass for issues to be addressed by escalating Direct Actions, and inoculation. OTC to arrange an OT soon after mass meeting for new contacts. Core committee (eg —–) to fill in gaps where people cannot attend a full OT.
Where: Meetings at TC IWW office, actions in MPLS, Eagan, Maple Grove and airport. Actions to focus on Minnesota operation unless tempting opportunities arise.
- Use petition to gather contacts for mass meeting. Create Facebook, etc contact points.
- Use mass meeting to identify people willing and able to be organizers (and other roles) and set broad outlines of effort, changing as necessary to reflect workers’ concerns.
- Follow up with potential organizers, get to OT where possible and patch with one-on-ones where not. Create a campaign committee to broaden work, bring in smaller escalatable issues (eg petty wage theft, harassment etc), grow committee itself.
- Do direct actions on smaller issues, symbolic stuff where appropriate. Include off-shop-floor issues eg prison slave labour ala hands up don’t ship.
- Follow up on retaliation for the above.
- Bring smaller issues back in, build excitement and commitment and hold mass meetings in the months leading up to peak to organize peak action.
- Mess everything up during peak.
- Publicize concessions and workers’ eye view analysis of fight, follow up on retaliations.
- Set further goals.