Supporters of 250 recently fired UPS workers rallied on the steps of New York City’s City Hall to demand the workers’ reinstatement.
“At a time when good jobs are becoming more and more difficult to come by, it is unconscionable that UPS workers are being fired for standing up for basic workplace rights,” said Vincent Alvarez, president of New York City’s Central Labor Council at the rally. “We stand behind our union brothers and sisters as they continue the fight to keep their jobs.”
UPS fired drivers at its Queens Maspeth depot who protested the firing of Jairo Reyes, a 24-year UPS driver and Teamster Local 804 member.
Reyes had been a long-time irritant to UPS management because he stood up to the company’s harassment and speed up tactics.
In February, UPS fired Reyes without following procedures in the collective bargaining agreement.
Shortly after the firing, 250 Maspeth drivers walked off the job to protest Reyes’ firing and the company’s wilful disregard for due process.
An underlying cause of the walkout was the company’s poor treatment of its workers.
“We’re sick of the company’s harassment,” said a striking worker who wished to protect his identity to Fight Back News during the February walkout. “They fire people with families and kids for no reason. It’s just wrong.”
After the workers’ action, UPS informed them that they could be facing termination.
On Monday, March 31, UPS fired 20 of the drivers and told the other 230 that they would be fired as soon as their replacements were trained.
UPS’ action seemed to be aimed at heightening fear among its workers.
Vincent Perrone, a local 804 steward speaking at the rally said that the company picked the 20 who were fired at random.
How do you do this to someone? How do you do this to our families?” said Perrone. “We walk (into work) every day waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
At the rally, Domenick Dedomenico told the crowd how UPS treats its workers.
Dedomenico was struck by a car while working during Christmas 2012. He was in a coma for ten days. After more than a year of rehabilitation, he was finally able to return to work earlier this year.
After being on the job a short time after returning from a life threatening injury, he received a one-day suspension because his delivery rate had fallen two deliveries shy of what it was before he was injured.
Dedomenico said that he is one of the 250 drivers who walked off the job and that he did so to support other drivers who were being treated as badly as he was.
A number of public officials attended the City Hall rally and expressed their support for the fired workers.
Letitia James, the New York City Public Advocate, said that UPS’ unfair treatment of its workers could jeopardize public subsidies that UPS receives, including a $43 million contract with the state and “a sweetheart deal” with the City of New York, which has reduced UPS parking fines totaling $20 million a year to $4 million a year.
Scott Stringer, NYC’s Comptroller, questioned the wisdom of executives at UPS who put a risk “a generation of goodwill between the city and UPS.”
Stringer also alluded to the millions of dollars in parking fine discounts that UPS receives and told the crowd that UPS’ decision to fire 250 hard working UPS drivers puts these and other public benefits that the company enjoys at risk.
In addition to support from public officials, the fired workers have received strong support from the community. More than 100,000 people have signed petitions urging UPS to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a settlement that will return the workers to their jobs.
At the rally, Tim Sylvester, president of Local 804 emphasized the stark reality facing the fired drivers and the union’s determination to protect them.
“We’re here today because UPS has threatened to bankrupt 250 families in New York City,” said Sylvester. . . “This will not stand.”