I am not a disinterested observer of the UPS strike: As a part-time teacher in the state university system for seven years, I was laid off three times, had classes canceled at the last minute and was regarded by the administration and some faculty as chattel to be used and discarded. I have now left teaching.
Perhaps the UPS strike will awaken workers in this country to the economic apartheid under which more and more of us labor, a system designed by business (which is what the university now is) to segregate, marginalize and ghettoize a large part of the work force in part-time work with lower pay and few, if any, benefits.
During the past 15 years, corporate golden parachutes, fringe benefits and sizable pension plans have been paid for by corresponding reductions in workers' salaries, benefits and jobs. Two-tier and three-tier systems have destabilized the fragile balance of power between management and unions.
In the entertainment industry, in which I work, there is a concerted effort by the major studios to eliminate unions completely. My own studio's corporate leadership has laid off some 200 workers during the past three months, while its highest paid executives and film stars receive multimillion-dollar contracts. In support of the striking Teamsters at UPS, I propose that a national workers' strike take place Tuesday, Sept. 2. Call it Labor Day 2. Let union and nonunion workers alike demonstrate that the Teamsters are fighting not just for better wages but for economic justice.
I find it difficult to believe that anyone who has dealt with UPS workers would refer to them as "risk-averse, lazy" and overpaid (letter, Aug. 7). I have yet to meet a UPS worker who wasn't fast, courteous, efficient and knowledgeable. I have never seen one of them avoid potentially risky lifting and carrying.
The issue in this strike will increasingly be brought forward as American workers demand a stop to being treated as a "disposable resource." Too many blue- and white-collar workers are being relegated to part-time and temporary employment. This practice doesn't just deprive them of financial security. It will eventually adversely impact the entire economy as a segment of workers faces the future without health insurance, disability insurance and pensions. And who will end up footing the bill? It will be the taxpayers once again.
MARY ELLEN HART