UPS says it will no longer terminate the 250 drivers who were set to be fired after staging a protest walkout at the company's Maspeth facility in February. The company, which was criticized by local elected officials for the mass firing, has reached an agreement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The union will be required to pay any damages incurred by the protest in exchange for the workers' jobs.
Earlier this month, 20 drivers were terminated for participating in the February 26th walkout, which protested the allegedly unjust firing of fellow driver Jairo Reyes. An additional 230 drivers were told they'd be fired as soon as replacements could be found for them since, as UPS argued, the walkout breached a contract they made with the Local 804 union.
"These employees were warned about the consequences of the walkout as they left their jobs," Steve Gaut, a UPS spokesperson, told us in a statement last week. "We are releasing the employees because of the seriousness of the misconduct and because we believe there must be adherence to the bargaining agreement by both parties."
Local elected officials, including Public Advocate Letitia James, blasted UPS for the termination, particularly in light of the fact that the company receives significant financial incentives from the city. Yesterday, the company agreed to rehire all 250 workers—including Reyes, who was fired due to a dispute over his work hours, according to Gaut—in exchange for compensation from the Union for the 90 minutes lost during the walkout. The employees who participated in the protest will also serve a short suspension. Gaut sent us the following statement from UPS this morning:
On April 9, UPS agreed to a settlement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and IBT Local 804 in the ongoing dispute over an unauthorized work stoppage on February 26, 2014. The settlement includes the following actions: IBT Local 804 agrees to compensate UPS for damages associated with the loss of productive employee time, other company costs and the negative impact on goodwill relating to the February 26 unauthorized walkout and related actions. Local 804 officials acknowledged that the February 26 walkout was illegal and unauthorized and will undertake other actions within the bargaining unit to correct the situation.
The 250 UPS employees involved in the walkout who were terminated for their actions will have their terminations reduced to a two week suspension without pay for each participant. UPS has chosen to settle the matter in order to return to normal operations at the site.
Though UPS claims the union agreed that the work stoppage was illegal, Local 804 tells us the protest was legal and permitted under the union contract with UPS. The workers have returned to the Maspeth facility. "We're looking forward to turning the corner and getting on a new road with UPS," President Tim Sylvester said in a statement. "The drivers delivered their message to UPS about unfair treatment. Now every one [of] them will be back delivering packages."
James called the agreement a "victory for working-class New Yorkers," noting last night, "We have sent a clear message to corporate America that firing workers en masse for minor workplace disagreements is unacceptable.” According to NY1, the firings have spurred a National Labor Relations Board investigation into UPS's labor practices.