February 19, 2021

Dignity Defense Alert: UPS Partners With Truckers Against Trafficking

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation is proud to honor UPS and Truckers Against Trafficking in our February 2021 Dignity Defense Alert. Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is an abolitionist NGO that trains members of the trucking, shipping, transportation, and energy industries to recognize and report signs of sex trafficking. Recently, they partnered with UPS, training 100,000 drivers between January and July 2020.  

“We recognize at TAT that drivers are the eyes and ears of our nation’s highways,” says Kendis Paris, Executive Director of Truckers Against Trafficking. Truck stops and rest stops are common places where traffickers force their victims into prostitution, thus the paths of drivers and victims will often intersect. Drivers are uniquely positioned to see and report instances of sex trafficking which would otherwise go unnoticed. 

Paris explains that the training with UPS was aimed at helping drivers identify the “red flag indicators” of sex trafficking. Such red flags may include seeing multiple girls or women being transported by one man, seeing tattoo brandings that claim ownership on girls or women,  hearing people reference making a quota for their “daddy,” and more. Upon identifying these clues, the drivers will then report what they observe to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. “As the hotline is tracking hotspots and routes traffickers use, these calls from professional drivers who are traversing our nation are really going to help flesh out that information,” says Paris. This system is generating impressive results. To date, 1 296  victims of human trafficking have been identified, as a result of calls made by TAT-trained drivers. 

Previously, UPS had already trained its freight drivers to identify and report signs of sex trafficking. Through the 2020 partnership with Truckers Against Trafficking, they proceeded to extend that training to delivery drivers. Danelle McCusker Rees, the Human Resources President for UPS’s domestic operations, states: “It puts a different layer on the relationship that we have with our drivers to understand it’s not just about the company. It’s not just about our employees, but it’s truly about our community. This issue impacts everyone.”  

Paris warmly expresses that UPS has truly stood out as “a star” amongst TAT’s corporate partners. In addition to having their drivers trained by TAT, UPS has demonstrated its commitment to combatting sex trafficking in numerous other ways. It currently has an Anti-Trafficking in Persons policy, which forbids UPS employees and partners to use company assets for any purpose that may enable the trafficking of persons. Paris notes that many UPS drivers have volunteered with TAT, helped run TAT’s Freedom Drivers Project, and even become certified TAT ambassadors to educate and train others. UPS has also been a generous funder of TAT and serves on TAT’s Board of Directors. Finally, UPS’ anti-trafficking initiatives go beyond their work with TAT: they also partner with organizations such as United Way, Wellspring, and Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking.  

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation enthusiastically applauds both UPS and Truckers Against Trafficking for being such phenomenal leaders in the fight against sexual exploitation. We hope that their example will lead many other corporations and industry members to step up and join this movement. As McCusker Rees highlighted, this is indeed an issue which impacts everyone, and thus everyone can have a role to play in working towards a solution.

Thank you @UPS, for working with @TYTKylla to train your drivers, and your commitment to fight sex trafficking and exploitation! Click To Tweet .@TYTKylla continues to work with @UPS to train drivers to recognize signs of trafficking. Thank you for your leadership in this movement! Click To Tweet

About the Dignity Defense Alert 

In today’s world, it is easy to focus on those who are doing wrong and spend the entirety of our capacity on those who are abusing, or facilitating exploitation, or failing to prevent harm. There is incredible value in raising awareness and taking action on those issues. We at NCOSE focus much of our time and resources on doing just that. But we believe there is also value in acknowledging and raising awareness regarding the countless individuals and entities who are doing the right thing and fighting the good fight. While not every entity we recognize in the course of this campaign is perfect in this regard, we want to thank those that are taking important steps forward.  

We want to celebrate heroes who do what is right, and we want to applaud every milestone that we can in the journey towards a world free from sexual abuse and exploitation. Doing so both recognizes progress and encourages progress by holding up leaders and examples for others to follow, whether that is in the realm of corporations, NGOs, or individual advocates. 

Do you have an individual, company, or nonprofit you would like to nominate to be recognized in a Dignity Defense Alert? Learn more and nominate entities here.

Lily Moric

International Advocacy Intern

Further Reading