New York, NY - Following a walkout by 250 UPS drivers in Maspeth, Queens, and the subsequent unjust retaliation by UPS, the fight for justice continues.
Workers walked out to defend a union activist and 24-year worker, Jairo Reyes, after UPS attempted to fire him through an abuse of the grievance procedure - a common practice to retaliate against workers enforcing their rights. UPS issued working terminations to the 250 brave drivers from Teamsters 804, claiming they could maintain the right to dismiss them at anytime. In response, the local union launched a national campaign of support with the aims of bringing UPS back to the table, and rescinding the terminations. The support included a national petition which garnered over 100,000 signatures in just two weeks.
Union leaders, stewards and rank-and-file activists from Local 804 hit the gates of every building in New York City educating members and gathering signatures from their 6000-person membership.
“We want to show UPS we’re united and won’t tolerate them retaliating against our brothers and sisters. UPS created this situation by violating the contract and refusing to respect the grievance procedure,” said 804 member Dustin Ponder. “The workers we talked to were eager to sign. They stand behind the drivers and our local.”
The groundswell of support spread nationwide as activists from groups like Teamsters for Democratic Union, the Vote No movement and Part Time Power at UPS circulated the petition outside gates across the country. Within days activists gathered petitions at hubs in Florida, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Philadelphia, Chicago, Rhode Island, Ohio, New Jersey and Arizona.
The union held a rally outside the distribution facility in Maspeth, Queens on March 21, where union leaders and local politicians such as New York City Public Advocate Letitia James were joined by hundreds of workers and community supporters. They demanded the company rescind the terminations and begin respecting the contract.
UPS attempted to raise the stakes on March 31 by terminating 20 workers after they completed their shifts, and stating more terminations of hard working drivers would follow. Outrage spread in a matter of days and the story quickly spread to national headlines.
The union and their allies now want to shine the spotlight on up to $60 million in subsidies New York City gives the company. “We’ve given UPS breaks, particularly as it relates to this [parking] program,” Public Advocate Letitia James said in quote given to the Daily News. “They should not treat workers in this manner.”
Local 804 issued a call for workers and community supporters to rally on April 3 at 10:00 a.m. outside city hall to continue the fight-back against UPS’ abuses of their workforce. The rally will demand that UPS reinstate all workers who walked off their jobs and rescind all outstanding terminations.