UPS has fired 250 workers following a 90-minute walkout protest. The walkout was organized in support of Jairo Reyes, who was terminated on February 14. Reyes was a union activist, who was employed by the parcel delivery company for 24 years.
Reyes’ termination was reportedly sparked by dispute over work hours. According to Reyes, employee start times are determined by seniority. However, several co-workers with less seniority were allowed to clock-in earlier than the veteran employee.
As reported by Queens Courier, Reyes was eventually terminated for “admitted dishonesty.” Although he admits he clocked-in early on numerous occasions, Reyes said his manager verbally approved the extra hours.
On February 26, 250 UPS workers staged a walkout to protest Reyes’ termination. On Monday, 20 of the protestors were fired. The remaining 230 received notification that they will be terminated at a later date.
Huffington Post reports that UPS is currently training replacements for the remaining 230 protestors. According to Monday’s notice, the veteran drivers will be terminated as soon as the training is complete.
Company spokesman Steve Gaut confirmed UPS fired 250 workers for “unauthorized work stoppage.” Gaut explained that the 90-minute protest negatively impacted the company’s delivery schedule:
“We simply cannot allow employee misconduct that jeopardizes our ability to reliably serve our customers and maintain order in our delivery operations… For this reason, the company is releasing employees involved in the work stoppage.”
Prior to the protest, the workers were reportedly informed that they were risking termination. A UPS spokesman said the company’s contract with Teamsters includes a clear and specific no-strike clause.
Local 804 President Tim Sylvester said “UPS should take back the terminations and resolve this through dialog and negotiations.” AFL-CIO President Vincent Alvarez echoed Sylvester’s opinion. Union officials have called the terminations “a heartless attack on drivers and their families.”
In addition to union leaders, numerous public officials have spoken out against the terminations. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has publicly stated that he disagrees with the company’s decision.
As Stringer is in charge of all NYC contracts, the terminations could prove to be a costly mistake. UPS currently has a $43 million contract with the city of New York. UPS has also taken advantage of the city’s “stipulated fine” program, which decreases parking ticket fines. The program saves UPS an estimated $15 million per year.
A majority of the 250 fired UPS workers will have time to secure employment elsewhere. However, many employees are concerned that they will have a hard time finding full-time work with benefits.
[Image via Flickr]