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Teamsters call out UPS over ALEC politics

ATLANTA: The U.S. Teamsters Union has joined a broad-based coalition of 84 investor, public interest and civil rights groups to persuade the United Parcel Service (UPS) to cut its ties with the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Launched in 1973, ALEC says it is a think-tank that provides a "constructive forum for state legislators and private sector leaders to discuss and exchange practical, state-level public policy issues. It also develops model policies and resolutions on economic issues".

However according to public interest non-profit SourceWatch, ALEC is a corporate "bill mill" dominated by Republican politicians that enables corporations to provide state legislators wishlists that benefit their bottom line: "Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations and pay for a seat on [its] task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve 'model' bills," claims SourceWatch.

Teamsters AlecAs of August 2015, at least 106 corporations have now either cut ties with ALEC or will do so says the non-profit. Shell became the latest departure when, on August 07, it declared: "Alec [sic] advocates for specific economic growth initiatives, but its stance on climate change is clearly inconsistent with our own...We have long recognized both the importance of the climate challenge and the critical role energy has in determining quality of life for people across the world. As part of an ongoing review of memberships and affiliations, we will be letting our association with Alec lapse when the current contracted term ends early next year."

Google, a former member of the ALEC Communications and Technology Task Force, said last year it would not renew its membership. Chairman Eric Schmidt, declared in November 2014: "The company has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts - what a shock. And the facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people -- they're just, they're just literally lying."

Now the Teamsters want UPS to join a corporate list that also includes Union Pacific, Facebook, Microsoft, Yelp, Yahoo, eBay, AOL, SAP, International Paper, Occidental Petroleum, Northrop Grumman, BP, T-Mobile and Canadian National Railway.

The union says many of these companies have left over concerns that "ALEC's harmful views conflicted with their corporate social responsibility policies. These extreme views, which include defunding public services, worker misclassification, and denying the science of climate change, also conflict with UPS's corporate values," it adds.

Currently, the Teamsters have 250,000 members employed at UPS's package and freight divisions and the company remains its largest corporate employer in America.

"Global corporations like Coca Cola, Apple, McDonald's and even Walmart have decided that continuing a relationship with this toxic organization is too damaging to their brand," said Ken Hall, Teamsters general secretary-treasurer and Package Division director. "It begs the question of why UPS, the largest unionized company in America, continues to associate with ALEC. It's time for UPS to do the right thing for its workers and cut ties with ALEC."

To date, UPS has not responded to the request from its largest single employee group.

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