Last week, UPS made headlines when it axed 250 Queens, New York workers who participated in a walkout that protested the firing of a colleague. But now, after some tense exchanges with the local Teamsters union, it's agreed to give all 250 employees their jobs back.
While the workers will still serve a 10-day suspension, and the Local 804 union will pay UPS undisclosed damages for missed deliveries during the walkout, supporters are calling this a victory for unfairly fired employees.
"Today we are celebrating a victory for working-class New Yorkers," Public Advocate Letitia James said Wednesday. "We have sent a clear message to corporate America that firing workers en masse for minor workplace disagreements is unacceptable."
The 90-minute walkout, which took place last February in Queens, New York, was staged in response to the firing of Jairo Reyes, an employee and union activist with 24 years of experience.
After the firings, James wrote a letter to UPS reminding them that perks like special parking privileges have saved the Atlanta-based company millions.
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As the New York Daily News reported, customers also rallied around the fired workers, even as UPS claimed walkouts like the one in February jeopardized customer relations.
"You're firing 250 drivers/workers and guess what? I'm firing you!" one customer wrote on Facebook.
But even now that they've rehired the axed drivers (including Reyes), don't get the impression that UPS is saying they were wrong. In return for offering the workers their jobs back, the union has agreed to say that the walkout was "illegal and unauthorized," according to UPS media relations director Andy McGowan. Nevertheless, the Teamsters' contract with the UPS specifically authorizes work stoppages like the one in February.
"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," McGowan told the Daily News.
In other words: Sorry, we're not sorry.