A MESSAGE FROM UPS WORKERS
Sisters and Brothers:
We are a group of workers at the UPS distribution center in Northeast Minneapolis. Like many such jobs, the pay is low and the conditions terrible. The workers at our facility are a diverse group of young people, many of whom are attempting to pay our ways through community or tech colleges. Each day, we sort through and load through thousands of packages into trucks so they can get to their destinations across the country and UPS can make its billions. On last Friday, some of us made an exception… Early last week, we looked into one of the companies which ships through our facility, a company called Law Enforcement Targets, Inc. This company ships shooting range targets to police departments and federal agencies nationwide, and we discovered it was shipping to cops all around Ferguson. They sell product lines like “Urban Street Violence” and “No More Hesitation”. They have photos of sterotypical “thugs,” as well as pictures of gun-wielding children, pregnant women, mothers, and elderly people, all as if to say that you should consider everyone you see as a threat to be gunned down. So, last Friday, a small group of about a dozen workers, both workers of color and white workers, started to stand up to our work contributing to the ongoing violence against the people of Ferguson and the police murder of young black people like Michael Brown. When Law Enforcement Targets packages came into trailers, loaders would remove them and place them outside. When they came across our conveyor belts, sorters would refuse to correctly sort them. When managers asked workers to put the packages into the right truck, they would conveniently find more important tasks to take care of first. We posed outside our building with signs reading “Hands Up Don’t Ship.”
This was simply a start, and most of the packages were placed by supervisors int
o the trucks later. But it is growing. Right now, as this statement is being read, we are at work, continuing with this, and each day more people at work are learning of the action and deciding to join us. We want to put forward a simple idea: we shouldn’t be forced to contribute to racism, brutality, or murder in order to pay our rent.
What if every time the cops brutalized black and brown communities, no one would send them ammo? What if no one would fix their patrol cars? What if their laundry service refused to wash the stench off their uniforms? What if every time they tried to close down a school in a poor neighborhood, janitors at city hall refused to show up to work? What if we stopped having to check our conscience at the door when we clock in?
We’re a far way away from that, and we know it. But we want you to know that you have more power than you think. It’s not just us, people working all sorts of jobs can take on these awful systems if we get organized. For us, we’ve done this through the Industrial Workers of the World, and we know that some of our comrades from the IWW are here today and would be happy to put anyone in touch with us. For you, it may be something different. Whatever it is, we urge you to find ways that we can all stand up to oppression as working people and stop the systems that keep people down. We’ll be there to support you so we can all stand taller together against the violence and brutality.