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UPS cancels termination notices for 250 Maspeth employees

City Public Advocate Letitia James supported Teamsters Local 804 in its standoff with UPS. Photo by Sarina Trangle
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UPS rescinded the pink slips given to 250 Maspeth employees Wednesday after several city and state lawmakers urged the company to negotiate with the drivers’ union or face the prospect of canceled contracts.

Teamsters Local 804 announced on its website that UPS agreed to abandon plans to fire all 250 drivers who walked off the job in late February in support of an employee the union said was terminated without a hearing he was contractually entitled to.

Instead, UPS opted to suspend the employees for 10 days without pay and recoup monetary damages stemming from the walkout from Local 804, the company said.

“Local 804 officials acknowledged that the February 26 walkout was illegal and unauthorized and will undertake other actions within the bargaining unit to correct the situation,” UPS spokesman Steve Gaut said in an e-mail. “UPS has chosen to settle the matter in order to return to normal operations at the site.”

The dispute arose when UPS fired union activist Jairo Reyes without a hearing, Local 804 said. Reyes’ colleagues responded by leaving the Maspeth business at 46-05 56th Road for 90 minutes on Feb. 26. United Parcel Service of North America, the parent company, is headquartered in Atlanta.

UPS then issued notices of termination, warning all protest participants that they would be terminated because the work stoppage was not authorized and violated their bargaining agreement. Prior to Wednesday’s agreement, UPS fired 35 people and said it planned to terminate the rest of the 250 as it hired and trained replacements.

The showdown escalated when Public Advocate Letitia James, city Comptroller Scott Stringer and several city and state legislators gathered beside Local 804 at City Hall April 3 and called for government agencies to review the city and state’s business with UPS. James said the company had a $2 million contract with the city, which stems from a larger $43.2 million agreement with the state.

The public advocate also said she was “shown the door” when she stopped by the Maspeth location unannounced.

Local 804 credited its allies with reversing UPS’ decision.

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

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@cnglocal.com.

Updated 5:27 pm, April 10, 2014
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