A feud between UPS and over 250 of the company’s union employees in Queens, New York is attracting national attention. The Queens UPS branch plans to lay off 250 employees for their protest of the company’s firing of employee and union member Jairo Reyes.
Reyes was allegedly fired for repeatedly clocking in before his shift was scheduled to start. He claims his supervisor gave him permission to do so, but UPS management says otherwise. They say Reyes was docked several times for early clock-ins before the company felt they had no choice but to fire him.
After Reyes’ firing, his fellow unionized employees held a 90-minute labor stoppage to protest the company’s decision. According to UPS, the brief protest violates an explicit “no protest” clause in their contracts. Now, the company says they are laying off all 250 employees who took part in the demonstration.
“The reason that Mr. Reyes was terminated is not central to the discharge of 250 employees,” wrote UPS spokesperson Steve Gaut. “Their choice to walk out in protest irrespective of the clear ‘no strike’ language in the contract is the central point.”
The Teamsters Local 804 union representing the UPS employees disputes this claim. They say Reyes was not fired for clocking in early, but rather in retaliation for a labor grievance he filed in February.
According to Local 804 President Tim Sylvester, the actions of UPS amount to bullying.
“In America, you don’t get fired for standing up to a bully,” he said.
Meanwhile, UPS announced that the only thing preventing them from firing all 250 employees immediately is that their replacement drivers are still in training.
Here is the company’s statement on the issue:
“We simply cannot allow employee misconduct that jeopardizes our ability to reliably serve our customers and maintain order in our delivery operations. For this reason, the company is releasing employees involved in the work stoppage.”