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Queens Chronicle

UPS will keep 250 ‘fired’ employees

Delivery company and labor union strike a deal after six-week fight

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Posted: Thursday, April 17, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:00 am, Thu Apr 24, 2014.

The labor war between United Parcel Service and its 250 fired employees is finally over.

UPS and Teamsters Local 804 agreed to a compromise on April 9, and the delivery company announced it will retain the 250 employees it had begun firing from its Maspeth facility in response to a walkout the workers organized in protest of a colleague’s termination on Feb. 26.

In the deal, the union acknowledged the 90-minute walkout was unauthorized, per its labor contract, and the 250 workers will be suspended without pay for two weeks instead of being terminated, according to UPS.

The agreement concluded a 10-hour negotiating session, according to the union.

“We are grateful for the enormous outpouring of support from UPS customers, progressive elected officials and the public,” the union announced on its website. “It was that support that saved the jobs of the 250 drivers.”

Over the last two weeks, rallies held outside the Maspeth facility and at City Hall were attended by elected officials such as Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and City Council members Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), who all called on UPS to rehire the workers.

“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 Feb. 26 unauthorized walkout and related actions,” UPS said in a statement. “UPS has chosen to settle the matter in order to return to normal operations at the site.”

Thirty-six of the 250 workers were officially removed from payroll over the last two weeks, as UPS was letting employees go in increments in order to train new drivers and limit interruptions in service.

The dispute began when longtime driver Jairo Reyes was fired on Feb. 26 after a dispute over hours.

“We congratulate [the employees] on standing together through this ordeal and winning their return to work with respect and dignity,” the union said. “We all look forward to turning the page and getting back to serving our customers.”

The elected officials that rallied alongside the terminated workers also expressed their excitement over the drivers being rehired.

“Today marks a huge victory, not just for the 250 UPS workers who now have their jobs back, but for the entire organized labor movement and working families across New York City,” Crowley said in a statement. “I am incredibly proud of the powerful precedents for working-class people this administration is already setting.”

“UPS threatened to ship 250 workers off to the unemployment line,” Lancman added, “but we hand-delivered the message that these middle-class jobs have to stay.”

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