Ups At 12:01 a.m. August 04,1997, 185,000 members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, one of the largest and historically most powerful unions in the U.S., struck against the United Parcel Service, the company which ships 80 percent of all packages in the country. It was the first nationwide strike in the 90-year history of UPS, and involves more workers than any strike in this decade. It’s Our Contract, We’ll Fight for It said Teamster signs. It’s more than just a contract dispute, and what’s needed is a fight to win this key labor battle.
We’re striking for every worker in America, said a picketing UPS driver in Atlanta. He’s right, and then some. All working people, minorities, immigrants and every other oppressed sector in this country have a stake in this struggle. We must prepare now to come out and defend the UPS strikers against the blows that the bosses and their government are already preparing. A 21-year UPS driver picketing outside the UPS Metro facility at 43rd Street in Manhattan told The Internationalist: this is a standoff between labor and management–here it’s UPS, but it’s almost everywhere. The management at UPS looks at us with contempt.
Deep-seated resentment against the highhanded UPS bosses and the sheer power of the unionized work force make this a chance to turn the tide of the more than two decades of defeats that the unions have suffered. UPS was founded in 1907 by a 19-year-old Seattle teenager who employed a team of boys to deliver luggage, parcels, and store purchases, UPS matched company growth with innovation. The company pioneered the idea of consolidated delivery, which streamlines performance by combining packages addressed to the same neighborhoods. UPS introduced its service to the general public after World War II, and had its national network in place by 1975. Its international network was set up soon after.
In 1988, UPS received approval to operate as an independent airline, and it is currently the nation’s ninth-largest, even offering weekend charter flights. Package delivery for retail stores became the company’s focus, and in 1913 Jim merged with a competitor, Evert (Mac) McCabe, and the American Messenger Company changed its name to Merchants Parcel Delivery. Charles W. (Charlie) Soderstrom joined the firm and helped manage the company’s growing fleet of delivery vehicles. During this period, the company also pioneered the concept of consolidated delivery, combining packages addressed to a certain neighborhood onto one delivery vehicle. The company extended operations to Oakland, California, and later to Los Angeles.
In 1919, the name United Parcel Service was adopted. United because shipments were consolidated, and Service because, as Charlie Soderstrom observed, Service is all we have to offer. In 1929, the company opened United Air Express, offering package delivery via airplane to major West Coast cities and as far inland as El Paso, Texas. All UPS vehicles were painted the now-familiar Pullman railroad brown color. By the 1930s, UPS provided delivery services in all major West Coast cities, with a consolidated delivery service in the New York City area.
The first mechanical system for package sorting was developed, and a 180-foot-long conveyor belt was installed in Los Angeles. By the early 1950s it was clear that contract service to retail stores was limited and UPS managers began looking for new opportunities. They decided to expand their services by acquiring common carrier rights to deliver packages between all addresses, for any customer, private or commercial. This decision placed UPS in direct competition with the U.S. Postal Service. In 1953, UPS resumed air service, offering two-day service to major cities on the East and West coasts.
The service, called UPS Blue Label Air, grew and in 1978 the service was available in every state, including Alaska and Hawaii. To ensure dependability during the time of federal deregulation of airlines, UPS began to assemble its own jet cargo fleet, the largest in the industry. With growing demand for faster service, UPS entered the overnight air delivery business, and, by 1985, UPS Next Day Air service was available in 48 states and Puerto Rico. Alaska and Hawaii were added later. UPS entered a new era with international air package and document service, linking the U.S.
and six European nations. In 1988 UPS received authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate its own aircraft, thus officially becoming an airline. UPS Airlines was the fastest-growing airline in FAA history, formed in little more than one year with all the necessary technology and support systems. In 1990, UPS introduced scheduled service to Asia and Mexico with expanded air express service by jet, feeder or contract airlift to more than 200 countries and territories. In 1997, UPS Airlines embarked on a unique program to reconfigure five 727-100 cargo aircraft passenger planes and charter them to cruise lines and travel groups.
During the week, these planes fly packages throughout the U.S., but on the weekends when they aren’t in use, the aircraft are converted to comfortably accommodate 113 passengers with spacious seating, complete with overhead storage bins, fully equipped galleys for hot meals and three lavatories. Today, UPS Airlines is the ninth largest airline in North America. In the 1980s UPS entered the international shipping market. Today, UPS operates an international small package and document network in more than 200 countries and territories, spanning both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. With its international service, UPS can reach over four billion people.
In the mid-1980s, UPS shifted its emphasis from an operations focus to a customer needs focus. Today, UPS provides many customer solutions. One such example is UPS OnLine Tools. UPS OnLine Tools are free Internet-based applications that allow companies to embed UPS shipping functionality directly into their own Web site. This offering allows UPS to achieve its goal of helping customers to enable global service.
UPS continues to expand its services by developing new categories of business. UPS Logistics, developed in 1993, provides global supply chain management solutions and UPS Worldwide Logistics provides consulting services based on the customer’s individual needs. In 1995, UPS acquired a company called SonicAir, making UPS the first company to offer same-day/ next flight-out service and guaranteed 8 a.m. overnight delivery. In 1998, UPS Capital was founded and its mission is to provide a comprehensive menu of integrated financial products and services that enable companies to grow their business.
In February 2000, UPS formed UPS e-Ventures which is the research, development and incubation arm of UPS e-commerce. The first company this new group is developing is UPS e-Logistics. UPS e-Logistics plans to provide complete, end-to-end business solutions for the rapid, low-cost launch of e-commerce startups UPS believes its most valuable asset is loyal and capable people. The dedication of UPS people is achieved through two long-standing company policies: employee ownership and training. A commitment to life learning means being prepared for continuous …