UPS is firing 250 Queens, N.Y., drivers for walking off the job during a 90-minute protest in February.
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. The New York Daily News first reported on the firings.
Local politicians are threatening to cancel city contracts that give UPS millions of dollars in breaks on parking fines.
“They took a grievance with one employee and turned it into notices of termination with 250 workers,” New York City Councilman Jimmy van Bramer told the Queens Courier. “That’s outrageous. These are good, hardworking employees who have a contract for UPS. To try and break this contract, break this union, is something that is unacceptable and we can’t tolerate.”
UPS fired back that it might need to terminate additional employees if the city alters its contract.
“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.”
UPS employs 1,400 workers at the Maspeth distribution center where the strike took place on Feb. 26.
“When a group of 250 employees walk out for 90 minutes it is a significant disruption in the delivery of parcels or packages to customers on that day,” Gaut said. “We get penalties if we don’t deliver on time.”
For that reason, strikes are not an approved method of conflict resolution in UPS’ contract with the union, he said.
The local branch of the Teamsters union that represents the dismissed workers has described the firings as “a heartless attack on drivers and their families.”
“The company fired a group of drivers to try to divide us, create panic, or try to get Local 804 to cave in and sell out. That is not going to happen,” the union wrote on its website.
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.”