UPS and Teamsters Reach “Most Historic” Labor Deal Ever, Likely Averting Strike

UPS and Teamsters Reach “Most Historic” Labor Deal Ever, Likely Averting Strike

The Teamsters union reached a “historic” tentative contract agreement on behalf of UPS on Tuesday, securing major wins for workers and likely averting a strike at the last minute that would have crippled shipping nationwide.

Negotiations for UPS workers broke down earlier this month, and a strike looked increasingly likely with every passing day. But Teamsters resumed talks Tuesday and managed to get “the most historic tentative agreement for workers in the history of UPS,” the union said in an announcement. The new benefits and protections will affect more than 340,000 UPS employees.

“In my more than 40 years in Louisville representing members … I have never seen a national contract that levels the playing field for workers so dramatically as this one,” said Fred Zuckerman, the Teamsters’ general secretary-treasurer,  in the statement.


— Teamsters for a Democratic Union (@TeamsterRnF) July 25, 2023

The new benefits include massive wage increases that will see full-time workers earn up to $49 per hour (the highest salary for delivery drivers in the country) and part-time workers earn up to $23 per hour. The contract also eliminates a two-tier wage system that caused anger over pay inequalities.

The agreement improves health and safety conditions, including improved air conditioning in the cabs and ventilation in the cargo hold. (Recall that just last month, a postal worker in Texas collapsed and died while working, due to the excessive heat.) Employees will get Martin Luther King Jr. Day off for the first time, and they can no longer be forced to work overtime on their days off. The contract will also create thousands of new jobs so part-time workers can transition to full-time.

The union will vote to ratify the deal, likely next week. Until they approve it, the threat of a strike still looms in the background. If UPS goes on strike, it will be the largest single-employer strike in U.S. history. Experts warn that a 10-day strike could cost the economy $7 billion, and the shifted flow of packages would be more than other carriers such as FedEx and the U.S. postal service can manage.

But leaders are confident that the deal delivers for their members.

“Rank-and-file UPS Teamsters sacrificed everything to get this country through a pandemic and enabled UPS to reap record-setting profits,” union president Sean O’Brien said in the statement. “The union went into this fight committed to winning for our members. We demanded the best contract in the history of UPS, and we got it.

“We’ve changed the game. This contract sets a new standard in the labor movement and raises the bar for all workers.”

Political divisions over vaccines may have caused “thousands” of unnecessary deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new study, which found that registered Republicans in Ohio and Florida had a significantly higher excess death rate than Democrats—after vaccines became widely available.

Yale University researchers examined 538,159 deaths in people aged 25 and up in Florida and Ohio from March 2020 to December 2021. The study, published in the JAMA International Medicine journal on Monday, found that there was no significant difference in excess death rates between Republicans and Democrats until April 2021.

But starting on May 1, 2021, after vaccines were available to all adults, the excess death rate for Republican voters spiked dramatically, becoming 43 percent higher than the excess death rate for Democrats. The study found that differences in excess death rate were concentrated in counties with lower vaccination rates, and particularly among Ohio voters. (“Excess death” refers to the increase in the number of deaths compared to the pre-pandemic death rate.)

The differences in excess mortality by political party affiliation after Covid-19 vaccines were available to all adults suggest that differences in vaccination attitudes and reported uptake between Republican and Democratic voters may have been a factor in the severity and trajectory of the pandemic in the U.S.,” the study said.

One of the researchers, Jacob Wallace, said the report shows a “very sad story.”

“It’s possible that thousands of deaths … could have been averted,” said Wallace, an assistant professor of public health at Yale.

The researchers warned that there could easily be other factors than political affiliation that contributed to the excess mortality rate, such as underlying medical conditions, socioeconomic status, or health insurance coverage. They noted that they had to use county vaccination status, not individual vaccination status, and they only had data from Florida and Ohio that did not include cause of death. “Hence, our results may not generalize to other states,” they said.

But their work is just the latest study to indicate that Republicans may have caused preventable deaths through their irresponsible messaging on the dangers of vaccines or the inefficacy of public health restrictions such as face masks and social distancing. A nationwide survey published in March by the University of South Florida found that only 49 percent of Republicans were confident that Covid vaccines are safe. In comparison, 88 percent of Democrats trusted the shots.

“It’s one of the most telling metrics I’ve seen in how the politicization of the pandemic has played out in the real world,” USF School of Public Affairs professor Stephen Neely, who conducted the March poll, told The Washington Post of the new study published Monday.

And the partisan vaccine skepticism isn’t going anywhere. Robert Kennedy Jr., a prominent anti-vaxxer, is running for president, and he’s fairly popular among Republicans. But what’s perhaps most troubling is that Covid vaccine divisions could affect vaccination rates for children, the people who need that protection the most.

“All of us in vaccine policy are very concerned that the controversy and contentious atmosphere that has surrounded Covid vaccines—much of it along party lines—is going to have negative consequences for pediatric vaccination … in the years ahead,” said Jason Schwartz, another researcher on the Yale study. “We’re already seeing indications to that effect.”

The death of former President Barack Obama’s personal chef has—as is now the usual—launched a wave of far-right conspiracy theories.

Tafari Campbell died while paddleboarding near the former president’s home in Martha’s Vineyard over the weekend, according to Massachusetts state police. Police received a call on Sunday evening about a male paddleboarder “who had gone into the water, appeared to briefly struggle to stay on the surface, and then submerged.” Campbell’s body was finally recovered on Monday.

But with little evidence on hand, several major right-wing accounts have ginned up some bizarre accounts of Campbell’s death, implying that something nefarious was actually at play.

Ian Miles Cheong, known for his role in GamerGate and for promoting truly deranged policy proposals (like capital punishment for all shoplifters), tweeted that Campbell’s death was “strange.”

“What do you think really happened?” he asked of his nearly 700,000 followers.

Liz Crokin, a Trump supporter and QAnon follower, implied that Campbell met an untimely end because he was “employed at the White House for Obama’s private party where they flew in $65K worth of hotdogs and pizza.”

Without getting too into conspiracy theory weeds, this argument, naturally, is not just about hot dogs and pizza—rather, it is yet another popular right-wing theory loosely rooted in the “Pizzagate” conspiracy of yesteryear. Many QAnon believers think that Obama actually spent $65,000 on child prostitution, based on an unsubstantiated and leaked email chain from 2009 between employees of a private company that provided food for an Obama-hosted Super Bowl party held at the White House in 2009. (You can read a full debunk here if you’re really interested in all of the complicated mental gymnastics involved.)

Turning Points USA’s Benny Johnson held an entire Twitter live session on Tuesday titled: “Obama Lied?! Democrat ‘Body Count’ Exposed.” Johnson’s unhinged views are far too voluminous to fully summarize here: He has called affirmative action “Nazi-level thinking,demonized trans people, and claimed Covid-19 was a “woke virus” meant to target Trump.

But more than anything else, Johnson loves a good Obama conspiracy theory. In 2017, the conservative news site The Independent Journal Review demoted Johnson after he claimed that Obama pressured a Hawaii federal judge to rule against Trump’s Muslim ban.

“No matter what the government or media reports about Obama’s chef who died on his property—I won’t believe a word of it,” said the right-wing internet troll Catturd to his nearly two million followers. “Why would they start telling the truth now?”

Again, these right-wing accounts have not actually surfaced any evidence to back up their odd claims about Campbell’s death.

Massachusetts state police noted that multiple agencies assisted in the search for Campbell, including “Edgartown Fire and all other island fire departments; local police; State Police patrols, Air Wing, and detectives, the Dukes County Sheriff’s Department and the Coast Guard.”

But the right is far too invested in its conspiracy theories about the country’s first Black president to accept that Campbell’s death might be more ordinary than their fevered imaginings.

Obama has been the subject of countless conspiracy theories, most prominently that his birth certificate was fake, he was really born in Kenya, and he’s actually a practicing Muslim. Donald Trump, the front-runner in the Republican Party, helped push this birther movement for years, including well into his presidency.

Elon Musk has tried to whip up excitement for his decision to rename Twitter, but it looks like he may only be whipping up legal challenges, as nearly 1,000 other companies have already trademarked the new name.

Musk announced Sunday afternoon that he was rebranding Twitter to “X,” and true to form, the rebrand has not gone well. The new website URL kept redirecting to a hosting platform instead of the homepage, and people are saying that they don’t intend to use the new name anyway. Musk also didn’t get permits for street equipment to remove the “Twitter” sign from the company’s San Francisco headquarters, so city police shut down the project before it was completed.

And now, it looks like Musk will have to prepare for a legal battle over the new name. There are hundreds of trademarks on the letter X for business logos.

“There’s a 100 percent chance that Twitter is going to get sued over this by somebody,” trademark attorney Josh Gerben told Reuters. Gerben said he counted 900 active U.S. trademark registrations for the letter X across multiple industries.

Two of those trademarks belong to Microsoft, related to its Xbox gaming system, and Meta, which owns Twitter rival Threads. Neither technology titan is likely to sue Twitter, according to Gerben, but there are still 898 other companies that could.

It will also be hard for Musk to defend any exclusive claims to the letter X as a logo, because the letter is so popular for branding. (The new X logo is also near impossible to differentiate from several porn sites.) So he’s actually diluted Twitter’s brand power by trying to change the name.

Musk seems to have a great affinity for the letter X, perhaps more so than other people. He had previously insisted on using the name “X” for what would become PayPal, a sticking point that led to internal disagreements and reportedly contributed to his ousting from the company in 2000.

He has included it in the name of his rocket design company, SpaceX, and even named one of his sons “X.” It seems that X is rapidly becoming Musk’s personal brand—and as it turns out, it’s not even that original.

The only business instinct Elon Musk’s ever had in 30 years is “what if we called it… (sly grin, crossing arms)… X.” He’s done it at his payments company and car company and rocket ship company and social media app and with his own human child. No one has ever liked it.

— ℳatt (@matttomic) July 24, 2023

The DeSantis team is facing blowback after reports that a campaign staffer over the weekend shared a video of the presidential candidate with a Nazi symbol.

The short clip, reportedly first posted by the Ron DeSantis Fancams Twitter account, shows a “doomer” looking unhappy as he reads news stories on things like Donald Trump’s inaction on immigration, his promotion of Covid-19 vaccines, and his support for the LGBTQ community.

Then DeSantis enters (through an eerily small doorway), and the doomer is happy.

Images of the Florida governor are spliced together with alligators, rockets, and women in bathing suits, in a bizarre compilation reminiscent of another very bad DeSantis campaign ad released earlier this month.

The @desantiscams account just deleted this video after at least one campaign staffer RT’d it. I wonder if this was also made in-house.

— Luke Thompson (@ltthompso) July 23, 2023

But one scene caught a lot of people’s attention: an image of DeSantis, a Nazi symbol interposed over the Florida flag, and soldiers marching toward it.


The far-right circular symbol is known as a “sonnenrad,” a symbol co-opted by Nazis in their attempt to claim an “Aryan heritage.” Today, it’s often found in white supremacist literature and the manifestos of far-right mass shooters.

And apparently, it’s also found in the 2024 presidential campaign.

Ron DeSantis Fancams Twitter deleted the video shortly after reports that a campaign staffer who regularly engages with the account reshared the video.

Florida Democrats pounced on the news, noting that DeSantis “has been given every chance to denounce neo-Nazis and what they stand for, and he refuses to do it. His administration has already attempted to rewrite the history books on slavery—is the Holocaust next?”

Florida Representative Maxwell Frost also attacked DeSantis. “When I first started calling [Ron DeSantis] a fascist, I got blowback from folks in both parties,” Frost tweeted. “Now, he’s being so overt about it that people are coming around.

“Calling DeSantis a fascist isn’t hyperbole, it’s defining what he is.”

Last week, Florida’s Board of Education approved new academic standards for African American history in public schools, requiring middle schools to teach students how enslaved people “developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” DeSantis has defended the move.

Also on Sunday, The New York Times reported that the DeSantis campaign had created that bizarre, homophobic video from earlier this month—but planted it in a fan account so it wouldn’t seem like the campaign was actually behind it. That report led people to wonder if the campaign did the same thing again, but this time with a video including a very large Nazi symbol.

The far right is constantly warning that if you go woke, you’ll go broke. But when it comes to the new Barbie movie, they couldn’t be more wrong.

Barbie, which follows Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling) as they leave Barbie Land to explore the real world, earned a whopping $162 million in its opening weekend, Variety reported Monday. This is the biggest opening weekend of the year, and the biggest opening weekend for a female director ever.

The film had already made $22.3 million at the domestic box office from Thursday previews, the biggest preview haul of the summer. It blew the previous record of $17.5 million (made by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in May) out of the water.

Barbie has consistently made double the take of Oppenheimer—which opened opposite it and spawned the “Barbenheimer” meme—which made $10.5 million in previews and $82.4 million over the whole weekend.

All of this success comes despite conservatives trying their absolute hardest to smear the film as propaganda, either woke or Chinese. Far-right activists Charlie Kirk and Ben Shapiro slammed the film for featuring a transgender actress and dismantling gender norms (Shapiro was roundly mocked online for his review).

— nikki mccann ramírez (@NikkiMcR) July 21, 2023

Representative Matt Gaetz and his wife went to the movie premiere, after which Ginger Gaetz declared the film highly skippable because it “neglects to address any notion of faith or family” and features “disappointingly low [testosterone] from Ken.” Some film critics have branded Barbie “anti-man.”

Other Republican lawmakers waded in, insisting the movie shows Hollywood is just a tool of the Chinese Communist Party. In one scene in Barbie Land, a rough, hand-drawn map of the world can be seen in the background. The map includes the so-called nine-dash line, a much-disputed division of territory in the South China Sea.

China has used the nine-dash line to mark its controversial territorial claims in the South China Sea. Over the years, Beijing has tried to claim sovereignty over 90 percent of the region. Even though The Hague ruled in 2016 that China has no legal basis for its claims, the country has pressed on, building military installations on otherwise uninhabited islands in the sea. Republicans insisted that the shot was a clear indication that Barbie is just Communist propaganda.

But given Barbie’s explosive success just on opening weekend, it would seem all these far-right efforts simply are not Kenough.

Elon Musk has rebranded Twitter to “”—but it seems a lot of people can’t actually make it to the new website.

Musk announced Sunday afternoon that “” would redirect to “” and unveiled a new logo for the rapidly tanking website. He had previously insisted on using the name “X” for what would become PayPal, a sticking point that led to internal disagreements and reportedly contributed to his ousting from the company in 2000.

Musk bought the domain back from PayPal in 2017, and apparently has been saving it for this momentous occasion (his site crashing and burning before our very eyes).

Much like everything else since Musk took Twitter’s reins, the rebrand rollout has not exactly gone smoothly. Ryan Mac and Brian Merchant, the tech reporters for The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times respectively, both tweeted that actually redirected them to GoDaddy, a domain-hosting platform.

Despite this, X dot com is still redirecting some people (including myself) to a GoDaddy site with ads for sectional sofas.

— Ryan Mac 🙃 (@RMac18) July 24, 2023

a story in 4 parts

— Brian Merchant (@bcmerchant) July 24, 2023

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey also experienced the website malfunction. When he tweeted about it, a current Twitter employee blamed the problem on the domain name system, or DNS. Supposedly,’s data storage system was showing old data to some users.

The only problem is, that was Sunday night. Users who type “” into the URL bar are still being directed to GoDaddy on Monday afternoon.

Not according to GoDaddy… I think it has been long enough for the DNS to propagate…

— Jeff_Shultz (@JeffShultz) July 24, 2023

If I go to X dot com it just takes me to the GoDaddy homepage.

I hope GoDaddy is paying Elon for all the advertising today.

— BowTiedThinker | eBook/KDP Design & Production (@BowTiedThinker) July 24, 2023

Musk has not commented further on the issues. He has said he wants X to be “the everything app,” but it’s pretty hard to be someone’s everything when nothing works.

As presidential hopeful Tim Scott slowly edges up in the polls, his 2024 opponents are gearing up to attack one of the only Black candidates for being soft on crime.

Republicans have increasingly insisted the United States is falling into a state of lawlessness, with violent crime on the rise and Democratic leaders unable or unwilling to do anything about it. (Violent crime has actually gone down in the past six months.) Many GOP candidates at all levels of governance are promising to be “tough on crime.”

Scott has actually been a big champion in Congress for police and criminal justice reform, making him a prime target for accusations of being soft on crime. He co-sponsored the First Step Act in 2018, which reduced some mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related charges and also allowed some people already incarcerated to request shorter sentences.

The South Carolina senator also pushed for police reform in 2020, after George Floyd was murdered by a police officer who was arresting him. Scott introduced the JUSTICE Act, which would withhold federal funding from local police departments until they changed their operating policies. (The bill went nowhere.)

Still, his little action on police reform seems like it will become fodder for his Republican rivals. Some Republican presidential candidates are already attacking the First Step Act. Ron DeSantis said in May he would want to repeal the law, while Mike Pence tried to be cute and said he wanted to “take a step back from the First Step Act.”

Except … DeSantis voted for an early version of the act in 2018, when he was still a Florida representative in Congress. Pence also championed the legislation while serving as vice president. And current Republican front-runner Donald Trump signed the act into law. So if this is the point they’re going to use to try to take down Scott, they all may want to look in the mirror.

Meanwhile, Scott may actually have sabotaged a bipartisan police reform measure so he could seem tough on crime during his presidential campaign. Excerpts released in June from Washington Post writer Ben Terris’s book The Big Break reveal that Scott worked with Democratic Senator Cory Booker to craft legislation in 2021. Shortly after Booker’s staff gave Scott a copy of the bill, it was leaked to the National Sheriffs’ Association.

“With the Sheriffs’ Association as a shield, Scott rejected the offer,” Terris wrote. “Even though the bill would have added millions of dollars to police department budgets, he accused Democrats of wanting to ‘defund the police,’ something that almost no one in Congress had been saying for months.”

As Donald Trump awaits his third and potentially fourth indictment, he seems to be making threats about what’ll happen if he actually faces legal repercussions.

Early Monday morning, the former president reshared a meme of himself on TruthSocial with the caption, “Nothing can stop what is coming. Nothing.”

Screenshot / Truth Social

“‘Nothing can stop what is coming’’ is a popular phrase linked to QAnon, the far-right conspiracy and movement, which Trump has often amplified and whose followers were a big part of the January 6 attack on the Capitol. This isn’t his first time endorsing this phrase. A couple months after the failed insurrection, and at the beginning stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, Trump shared a meme with the same caption over an image of him playing the fiddle.

The ominous threat—and callout to his followers—is a sign of how much pressure Trump is under.

Trump could be indicted for the third time any day now. Last week, special counsel Jack Smith informed Trump that he is a target in the investigation into the January 6 attack and efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Georgia prosecutors, meanwhile, are reportedly preparing racketeering charges against Trump for his role in attempting to overthrow the election.

Last week, a date was set for his trial on stealing and hoarding classified documents: May 20, 2024, smack in the middle of the Republican primary.

Ron DeSantis shocked everyone earlier this month when his campaign shared a deeply bigoted ad attacking LGBTQ people.

The video appeared to come from a conservative group made in support of the Florida governor. But it turns out that the video was actually made in-house and planted in the fan account.

The attack ad attempted to portray Donald Trump as pro-LGBTQ and cast DeSantis as a hypermasculine anti-LGBTQ crusader.  But instead, it came across as terrifyingly homophobic and oddly homoerotic.

The video (since taken down due to copyright issues) was originally posted on a pro-DeSantis Twitter account, which was then shared by DeSantis’s campaign. But in reality, a campaign aide made the video, The New York Times reported Sunday, and then sent it to an outside supporter to post first in order to make it look like the ad was made independently.

The ad features DeSantis shooting lasers out of his eyes, as well as clips from films and television shows such as American Psycho, Troy, and Peaky Blinders—all of which one would think are more of a lesson against the oppressive, militaristic approach to governance that DeSantis has been touting.

The poorly thought-out ad was part of a larger attempt to reinvigorate DeSantis’s struggling campaign. His bid for president has yet to take off, concerning both his team and his donors. In most polls, he is second to Trump, but the gap between them is large. DeSantis’s campaign has also been bleeding cash, to the tune of more than $212,000 per day on average, according to the Times.

Analysts say that there is still time for DeSantis to turn things around, but if the disastrous ad has shown anything, it’s that the Florida governor is struggling to find a message. DeSantis has focused on promising to fight “wokeness” but has failed to produce any actual policy ideas or a clear reason why people should vote for him over Trump. Attempts to portray himself as tougher or more ideologically right of Trump have backfired spectacularly.

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