Package King shows how massive concessions by these and other union mis-leaders — especially the one-two punch of allowing a lower pay tier for part-time workers in 1982 and then establishing in 1987 that the growing air delivery business would be handled mostly by part-timers — helped facilitate UPS’s growth into a global behemoth.
But the Teamsters are also a union with immense potential power that has been built by class struggle fighters, from the socialists whose 1934 general strike in Minneapolis laid the basis for Hoffa’s legendary father to organize the trucking industry, to former Queens UPS driver Ron Carey, who led multiple strikes against UPS — first in New York City’s Local 804 and then the historic national strike of 1997.
Carey was subsequently driven out of the union by an unholy alliance of employers like UPS, anti-labor Republicans, and old guard Teamster leaders, but the fight for militancy and democracy is still carried on by Teamsters for a Democratic Union, the longest-running union reform movement in the country. Through the narrative lens of one company and one union, Package King tells an effective story about the rise, fall and hopeful return of the organized working class in the United States.
In the introduction, Allen explains that the book is written in the tradition of The Flivver King, Upton Sinclair’s 1937 exposure of Ford Motor Company that the United Auto Workers sold for a quarter as part of its successful organizing drive at the company. There will be no similar campaign under the current IBT leadership, so get a copy of Allen’s book for yourself and then pass it on to a UPS driver the next time you get a delivery. She is part of the most organized section of what is possibly the most important industry in 21st-century capitalism, and the outcome of her story will have a lot to do with what our world looks like on the other side of this pandemic.
This review was originally published in The Indypendent.