Extreme Action: UPS Fires 250 in New York After 90-Minute Protest

UPS truckIn a demonstration of the power of corporations over workers, unionized or not, UPS began firing 250 Teamster drivers in Queens, N.Y. last week after they dared to stage a 90-minute protest of the firing of long-time employee and union activist Jairo Reeves.

According to news reports from Business Insider and the New York Daily News, which broke the story, the unionized drivers at UPS’s Maspeth facility got their walking papers because they walked off the job briefly on Feb. 26.

Twenty employees were terminated on March 31 after their shifts — and the remaining 230 were notified that they’ll be fired as soon as replacements are trained, company spokesman Steve Gaut said. He added that the drivers knew their jobs were on the line when they chose to walk out. UPS employs 1,400 workers at the Maspeth distribution center where the protest occurred.

Steve Curcio, 41, a 20-year employee earning $32 an hour was quoted saying: “They just called me in … (and) said, ‘Effective immediately, you are no longer on the payroll.’”

The mass firing has enraged the head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 804, Tim Sylvester, who said: “UPS takes millions from the city and yet it’s going to bankrupt 250 families just because our guys stood up for a fellow worker.” Reeves apparently was fired due a dispute over hours.

Sylvester was referring to a UPS contract worth $43 million to provide delivery services to city and state agencies, according to documentation from city officials. The company is also enrolled in a Department of Finance program that saves it millions annually on fines and fees for parking tickets. The program expedites ticket payment and in some cases halves or wipes out penalties.

“They took a grievance with one employee and turned it into notices of termination with 250 workers,” New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told The Queens Courier. “That’s outrageous.”

“These are middle class jobs that sustain families, and we can ill afford to have (so many) adversely affected by a rash decision,” said Public Advocate Letitia James, in the news report. She’s written UPS, asking the company to abandon its hardline approach. “We’ve given UPS breaks, particularly as it relates to this (parking) program,” James said. “They should not treat workers in this manner.”

“The company fired a group of drivers to try to divide us, create panic, or try to get Local 804 to cave in and sell out. That is not going to happen,” the union wrote on its website.

Local politicos are gearing up to try to defuse a potentially volatile continuing situation, so stay tuned. This could be a good test of wills between a powerful company and one of the more powerful unions still standing. Did UPS think no one would notice?

Image credit: United Parcel Service (UPS) Delivery Truck by Navymailman via Flickr

writer, editor, reader and general good (ok mostly good, well sometimes good) guy trying to get by

8 responses

  1. 250 lose their jobs but 250 people will gain a good job.
    These news stories only tell us a partial story. ie was Reeves fired legitimately? Did he go through the union process to protest his firing? did these 250 walk off the job the next day after Reeves was let go?
    Sometimes companies mistreat their employees and unions are their for their safety.
    Sometimes unions bully companies right into bankruptcy.
    What’s the whole story?

    1. Being a union activist is NOT grounds for dismissal ! Speaking of unions, all these guys have paid union dues for years.. where is the union now, both the local and the national to fight for them. I bet if the national authorized a nationwide strike against UPS the company would cave. Then, and only then, can UPS dismiss anyone, thru the right channels with union reps present to defend them.

  2. As a former employee I was fired because I stood up for my rights in the work place at UPS. The Center Manger forged signatures and changed the paperwork that held up in my dishonest (Article #52). This is the same manager that one of his employees was struck in the head with a crow bar by another employee because of the way the manger was instructing his employees. And this manager still is employed with UPS. What is the real real reason why they did this? Unfair work ethics, UPS was the #1 with complaints filed at the at the EEOC. Even during the period of 2006-2010 when job loss was inevitable. This company will put a red dot on employee that writes grievances on the company inhumane work ethics and rights.

  3. And yes I did file and EEOC and a federal lawsuit in 2007 complaint because I was tired. And all that was stated before was proven that I wasn’t dishonest but the manager that I was working under was. He still is employed with UPS. I even pointed out that the company is able to fall under the guide lines of the Labor Board because of the numbers that are provided to them are inaccurate when you have managers paying out grievance pay to the employees under the payroll adjustment, so that numbers are low when UPS has to report to numbers to the Labor Board in Washington, DC. I will never forget the facial expression on UPS lawyer as he sat across from me as I had to describe the work environment of a black UPS driver as he bullies a younger white UPS driver and it leads to the black driver striking the white driver in the head with a crow bar down the street from UPS. If he could have spit in his clients face (UPS MANAGER he would have. Of course we had to take a break after that. I am proud of these workers taken a stance against unethical work place practices.

    It is agreed that in all cases of unauthorized strikes, slowdown,

    walkout, or any unauthorized cessation of work in violation of this

    Agreement, the Union shall not be liable for damages resulting from

    any unauthorized action of its members. While the Union shall

    promptly undertake every reasonable means to induce said employees

    to return to their jobs during such period of unauthorized stoppage

    of work mentioned above, it is specifically understood and

    agreed that the Employer shall have the sole and complete right of

    discipline, including the sole and complete right to discharge any

    employee participating in any unauthorized strike, slowdown, walkout

    or any other cessation of work and such employee shall not be

    entitled to have any recourse to any other provision of this


  5. If you complain about making $32 an hr or walk off the job while making that wage, then you SHOULD be fired. I know a family of 4, making ends meet with two $9 an hr wages. They dont have the nerve to stop working, they are greatful for what they have.

  6. Reminds me of the auto industry before it was brought to its knees begging for government bailouts…. There was a long period of warfare between management and staff/unions, which drew away resources from initiatives such as quality and competitiveness.

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