UPS, one of the world’s largest shipping and logistics companies, has decided to fire 250 workers who staged a 90-minute protest in February. The protest was organized after a long-time employee was fired over an hours dispute.
Twenty of the workers were notified of their dismissal on Monday. The remaining 230 were told they would be fired as soon as replacements are trained.
The workers, who are based in Queens, N.Y., walked off the job when Jairo Reyes, a 24-year company veteran and union activist, got in a dispute with the company over the number of hours senior staff could work, according to the New York Daily News.
Reyes was fired on February 14 — “that was my Valentine’s Day gift from UPS,” Reyes told the Queens Courier — and the ensuing protest occurred February 26.
A UPS spokesperson confirmed the firing to the Huffington Post, referring to the protest as “an unauthorized work stoppage.”
“We simply cannot allow employee misconduct that jeopardizes our ability to reliably serve our customers and maintain order in our delivery operations,” UPS spokesperson Steve Gaut wrote in an email to HuffPost. “For this reason, the company is releasing employees involved in the work stoppage.”
The Queens workers are represented by the local branch of the Teamsters union. In a statement on their website, they describe the firings as “arbitrary discipline.”
“UPS’s actions this week were a heartless attack on drivers and their families,” the Teamsters Local 804 wrote.
Local officials and union representatives have demanded that UPS rehire the workers and that the city revoke the millions in New York government contracts currently awarded to the company.
UPS also “receives millions of dollars every year in reduced fine and fees for parking tickets,” according to NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, who will protest alongside the Teamsters at New York City Hall Thursday.
Update 4/3: Thursday, a UPS spokesperson informed The Huffington Post that the contract between UPS and the Teamsters includes a no-strike clause. Management at the Maspeth facility, where employees worked, warned the employees as they were leaving that their jobs were at risk, the spokesperson said. The Teamsters did not immediately respond to a request for comment.