“By nature, I like to help people.” That’s what Renee Wilson says both about why she enjoys working at UPS and why she’s gotten involved in her union, Teamsters Local 431 in Fresno.
Wilson has worked as a UPS package car driver in Fresno for 20 years and has had the same route — a mix of residential and business stops — for the past 15 years. She makes about 135 stops a day. During COVID, she says, the routes were more condensed but there were many more stops. “We were tremendously busy during COVID and are still busy. People have figured out that it’s easier to get stuff at home than to go out and get it. Job security is a good thing!”
Mostly, Wilson says, she just loves her customers. “They’re always happy to see you because you have something they want, or you’re livening up the mundane.” She also enjoys the dogs on her route… ”at least the ones that don’t try to eat me.”
Wilson has served as a shop steward for about seven years and was recently appointed to be Recording Secretary of the Local. “I’ll be the first woman to sit on Local 431’s Executive Board,” she notes. “It’s crazy — but I guess we’ve got to start somewhere!”
In the short time that Wilson has been on the Executive Board, she’s seen another side to the union that makes her feel like she can help. “I’m learning about the power you have as recording secretary, not only in what you say in the minutes.”
Wilson is appreciative that she’s part of a strong union. “It provides the security and protects our rights as a union member—especially in a company like UPS where they would literally run you over if they could.”
Thinking about what might happen if she didn’t have a union, Wilson says, “I think we’d be working for very low wages. If you didn’t meet their standards, you wouldn’t be here. Look at Amazon – they essentially do the same job we do for less than half the pay.”
When talking to other members about why they too should be involved in the union, Wilson says she explains that it’s more than just about the paycheck. “There’s the health and welfare and pension, too. But mostly, it’s very important that we stand together as one…we can get a lot of things done when we stick together.”