Another tale from the ever-expanding wonderland of corporate abuse.
UPS is firing 250 Queens, N.Y., drivers for walking off the job during a 90-minute protest in February.Of course, there is more going on here than a simple case of corporate retaliation. The workers are unionized. The Teamsters Union is purportedly barred in their contract with UPS from going on strike, although the terms of that contract are not publicly available. Whether a 90-minute work stoppage to protest a co-workers' firing actually constitutes a "strike" is another question.
The company dismissed 20 of the workers after their shifts Monday and issued notices of termination to another 230 employees, notifying them that they will be fired once the company has trained their replacements, UPS spokesman Steve Gaut told Business Insider.
The workers were protesting the dismissal of longtime employee and union activist Jairo Reyes, who was fired over an hours dispute, according to Gaut.
Reyes, a UPS employee for 24 years, had been fired by the company for alleged "dishonesty" when he admitted to starting a shift early with the verbal approval of a manager. He had previously brought a grievance against two co-workers asserting that junior co-workers were barred by seniority from beginning their shifts before more senior drivers. It appears indisputable that his firing was the impetus behind the 90-minute work stoppage, which occurred on February 26.
The retaliatory action against what amounts to half of the Queens, N.Y. UPS fleet of drivers has sparked considerable anger among local politicians, who have threatened to eliminate UPS' sweet deal with New York City through a Department of Finance program which essentially allows UPS to park its vehicles freely while making deliveries, without fear of ticketing. That deal saved the corporation sixteen million dollars in fines last year alone.
UPS confirmed that it participates in the city program that expedites ticket payment and in some cases halves or wipes out penalties. But a spokesman refused to say how much the stipulated fine program saved the company.But the company evidently feels that breaking the union is worth the risk. Even if 250 people are left without means to support their families.
However, city data from 2006 shows UPS paid nearly $20 million in parking fines that year. That amount fell to $1 million a quarter for parking fines in 2013, after Mayor Bloomberg created the stipulated-fine program, according to published reports.
Responding to the point that it currently enjoys 43 million dollars worth of government contracts with the City, UPS' spokesman suggested that any attempt to cut those contracts would simply result in more firings:
"UPS appreciates its business with the New York public offices," Gaut said. "Ultimately if that business is reduced or eliminated, the result will be reduced need for UPS employees to serve the pick-up and delivery requirements of City offices, potentially impacting the livelihoods of the many local UPS employees that did not join in the illegal work stoppage."Think Progress points out:
While the details of the contract between the Teamsters and UPS are not known, all workers, both unionized and non-unionized, are supposed to be able to strike without being fired. Late last year, in fact, the National Labor Relations Board decided to prosecute Walmart for violating that law.Under the National Labor Relations Act:
Effect of no-strike contract. A strike that violates a no-strike provision of a contract is not protected by the Act, and the striking employees can be discharged or otherwise disciplined, unless the strike is called to protest certain kinds of unfair labor practices committed by the employer.Whether the 90-minute work stoppage was "legal" or not, the response by UPS in firing 250 drivers for standing up for one co-worker suggests a motivation geared to punishing the union itself rather than redressing any proportionate harm suffered by the company.
One of the workers facing dismissal had just returned to his job after a serious accident, according to the Daily News.
"Domenick DeDomenico, 40, was in a coma for 10 days after getting hit by a car last year while delivering packages for UPS," the Daily News' Ginger Adams Otis reported. "He fought back from serious brain injuries and needed a year of speech and physical therapy."