Butch Traylor, UPS Driver

Butch Traylor, UPS Driver

A weeklong electronic journal.
Aug. 30 1997 3:30 AM

Butch Traylor, UPS Driver

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       Bart Johnston was my predecessor as the shop steward at UPS. We have worked beside each other for the past 20 years, and he has been both my mentor and my friend. During the strike Bart's dad passed away. Normally I am as involved in the personal lives of the drivers as I am in their professional lives. Being a shop steward is a lot like being a priest, without the celibacy. I have spent as much time in hospital rooms and funeral homes as I have in grievance hearings. But when Bart's dad was buried, I was unable to attend the funeral because of a crisis on the picket line. I have felt guilty for missing the funeral, and today I apologized for not having been there. Bart reassured me that he understood.
       Today was filled with several ironic twists. At the prework meeting I received my 20-year service award from the managers. My 20th anniversary was actually on the first of the month. I was, however, on the picket line at the time, and I assume management thought it might be better to put off the ceremony until after the strike. Today is also the 90th anniversary of the founding of UPS. The company provided a cake and orange juice, and the atmosphere was lightened for a short time.
       We are late getting started again today, and I have to run for the first hour in order to make service on the next-day-air packages. By midday things begin to go more smoothly. I stop and make a call to Ken Paff. Ken is an organizer with Teamsters for a Democratic Union. TDU, as it is better known, is an organization of rank-and-file Teamsters that was largely responsible for the democratic reforms that swept the union in the 1990s. They were also primarily responsible for Ron Carey's 1991 and 1996 election victories. They provided an army of member activists who phone-banked, leafleted, and campaigned on behalf of the Carey slate. Without TDU there would never have been any Ron Carey. I rely on Ken and TDU for accurate information on both the union and UPS. Ken says that the contract appears as good as we first thought. He tells me that UPS is trying to discipline drivers around the country because of incidents that took place on the picket line during the strike. TDU publishes a newspaper called ConvoyDispatch. It is due out soon, and Ken tells me to expect it before the contract vote.
       I hope to have time tonight to catch a movie after work, but first I have to finish writing thank you letters to all the churches, businesses, labor unions, and individuals who supported us during the strike. The public support we received is why this strike was successful. I hope that what we saw happen at UPS will not become a unique event but a model for future trade unionism.

Butch Traylor is a driver for United Parcel Service, and shop steward for the Teamsters Local 728 in Valdosta, Ga. He went back to work last Wednesday, Aug. 13, after a 15-day strike.