Select Page

It is easy to assume the assimilation of Latinos, Caribbean, and African Americans has led to deconstruction of teamsters local 804.  This broad statement can have many meanings on many levels. The first reaction would one of racism. If critical thinking were applied then the statement is one that could be credibly researched.  Those who understand history, understand the earliest union members shared one thing in common, They were white. This issue is a sore spot when discussing unions. After World War II, unions faced the dilemma of integrating African Americans, Latinos, and Women into their ranks.  The bigoted attitudes existed. Unions never truly accepted these individuals into their ranks other than for union dues. The process of the minority groups and women gaining power within this groups took decades as the demographic changes enabled those individuals to seize power by the sheer number of individuals that assimilated into their ranks.  

This is not a history lesson as one that society is set up in a manner in which unions will fail as the demographics change.  The education level of the average Latino and African American is low. When gaining employment at UPS, these individuals are not challenged to employ critical thinking in completing task.  Critical thinking is something one on the other hand is needed in maintaining a union or understanding one’s rights. To critically think, one has to read. The education level of the United States within the world is declining.  The education level in low income areas have always been an issue in regards to whether minorities are receiving the same level of education as their white counterparts. Schools do not teach any classes that on any level explain all the rights individuals enjoy, because of unions.  The two factors are a bad recipe in hoping that these new union members will invigorate unions. Particularly Teamsters Local 804.

The reality confronting Teamsters Local 804, is it’s membership, comprised mostly of minorities.  These individuals do not read, although they are able to. The educational level varies, but mostly consist of those with high school diplomas.   The suggestion that the membership is illiterate would be incorrect. The assumption that these minorities do not take the time to read, would be correct.  The average member would prefer to view a form of media than spend time reading. The unfortunate aspect of this point of view is that the average member would prefer engaging in watching some for of media or engaging in other activities than taking the time to improve their situation at work.  

The average “white” individual, does read and engage in union activities.  Their education level tends to be higher, and if only at a high school, still engages and reads the materials to better understand their working conditions.   The biases these individuals may have towards the minorities being a detriment to the union would be justified if based on the fact the monitiries are resistant to reading and learning.  Eastern Europeans enter UPS with the the basic knowledge of government and socialism. The engage in the politics of the union and have a good understanding of the contract and their rights.  Their background already laid the foundation necessary for them the thrive within a union, the problem is the union is dying.

     A significant number of Latinos, Caribbean and African Americans do engage in union activities at the highest level, the problem is the percentage compared to the number of individuals actually employed within UPS is small.  In order to engage a membership, they first must understand that the members do not read. The members might watch a form of media geared towards unionism, but more than likely they will not. If they do not read or show any interest in bettering their environments, then rallying these members towards a common goal is difficult.