This July, six fleet workers at Zipcar, including Socialist Alternative member Chris Manschreck, voted unanimously to join Teamsters Local 25. Zipcar is a car-sharing service operating in Boston and seven other cities. The six-person bargaining unit is responsible for evaluating and maintaining Zipcar’s 700+ cars in Boston. Justice’s Patrick Ayers interviewed his newest Teamster brothers.

Why did you decide to join the union?
Tim: We’re underpaid, undervalued, we don’t have a say, and we have nothing in writing. There’s no respect for seniority.

Chris: They’re trying to make sure there’s turnover, so they can push people out after 18 months and start someone new at a base wage.

Tim: We used to get perks, but it wasn’t like those stopped when we started to form a union. The loss of perks started way before. We were like, “Wait a minute, they can take anything away.”

Jon: They are trying to maximize profits by paying the lowest wages as possible. They need to stop expanding if they aren’t going to hire more people.

Reed: We were stretched over the winter, doing overtime everyday because we were two workers short, working in the cold and snow.

Chris: We don’t want to work forced overtime. If we win that, they’ll have to hire more workers.

How did you achieve a unanimous vote to unionize?
Chris: We kept our mouths shut. They didn’t know who supported it, so they couldn’t crack down on us. And we got through the minimal union busting they tried.

Why do you think young people aren’t joining unions?
Jon: I heard the UAW was trying to buy Chrysler. That seems like a conflict of interest. People see these stories, but not the victories. That’s the problem.

Chris: A union buying a company seems like a conflict of interest and it probably would be, but if we were able to take over Zipcar and run it democratically, Zipcar would take off. We could cut out unnecessary management expenses and run it efficiently. The negative image comes from the idea that unions are a business, but the labor movement should be run like a movement and not just focused on paying the salaries of the officials.

Justice will keep readers updated on the struggle for a good contract at Zipcar.

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