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A United Parcel Service truck makes a delivery in New York City in 2014. (File photo by Chris Sampson via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)
State Reps. Nick Pisciottano of West Mifflin and Elizabeth Fiedler of Philadelphia write:
Pennsylvania’s history is the history of organized labor. Our fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, and generations beyond literally risked their lives to stand up against the robber barons and their corrupt allies in government that put the rich above the people.
They shed their blood in dangerous mines and factories. They died in preventable accidents caused by greed and indifference toward the plight of working people. They led the fight for the things we take for granted today: 40-hour workweeks, paid holidays, health insurance, a chance to retire, and so much more.
The Mine Workers, the Steelworkers, the Autoworkers, the International Ladies Garment Workers — those organizations turned America’s economy into the most powerful economy in the world and did it by creating the strongest middle class on the planet, full of workers paid fairly with enough money and enough time to spend their dollars in the community.
House Democrats have always stood with workers, and we’re still standing with them today.
After countless attacks on working people by right-wing extremists backed by billionaires and big corporate money, this spring we finally passed legislation giving working people a vote on enshrining the right to organize and form a union into our state constitution.
Now, we are standing with the workers of yet another union standing up for safe workplaces and fair wages. There are few sights on our streets more welcome than the brown UPS truck staffed by hard-working people bringing everyone’s online treasures to the front doors of America — 5.2 billion packages last year alone.
What you don’t always see are the 340,000 full- and part-time workers working 65-plus hours a week being forced to work overtime on scheduled days off and roasting in trucks without any air conditioning.
We can only expect these conditions to get worse. These workers are not just riding in the front of the truck where they may be lucky to get a breeze with the doors open, but also the intensely hot metal storage area where packages are stored. On top of this, workers have to move heavy boxes all day long.
Of course, the company says they can’t afford to make workers’ circumstances better, even while earning more than $100 billion last year, growing their revenue by 5.5 percent, and delivering almost a quarter of all packages in the United States.
Like the steel and coal robber barons of yesteryear, UPS claims there’s nothing that can be done to ensure safe workplaces and workers have to deal with it. But UPS workers are fed up and they’re standing up for their rights during contract negotiations.
We stand with the workers.
Every American worker has the right to fair wages and a safe workplace — UPS workers are now fighting not only for themselves, but also for the wages and working conditions of other nonunion delivery drivers, like Amazon workers who have no protections at all and suffer some of the worst working conditions in the country. The fight — as it’s always been — is a collective one.
We are proud to stand with those workers and stand with all workers fighting for a better future for everyone – for an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy elite.
Any bills that come our way trying to make us a right-to-work-for-less state? Any bills that end the Prevailing Wage laws that make sure your tax dollars are spent on high-quality union work that saves money in the long run? Any bills that take away your power and give it to corporate boards or vulture capitalists or hedge fund raiders?
Democrats recognize these anti-worker bills are just more attempts to consolidate power and wealth into the hands of the elite and take away worker rights. We’ll put these bills in the trash, not bring them in the House.
The only way our economy truly grows is with a strong middle class powered by good jobs and safe workplaces, not tax breaks for billionaires or grueling conditions for working people. We’re sticking with the workers — and always will.
State Rep. Nick Pisciottano represents the 38th Legislative District, which includes Baldwin Borough, Dravosburg, Glassport, Pittsburgh’s 31st Ward, parts of West Mifflin and Whitehall. State Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler represents the 184th Legislative District, which includes the Pennsport and Whitman neighborhoods of Philadelphia.
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Originally published July 18, 2023.