Brown delivered 250 of its workers a pink slip, and it's not accepting any returns. Despite politicians urging UPS to reinstate employees who were fired after walking off a job in protest of the firing of a former co-worker, the delivery company isn't backing down.
"Businesses and unions cannot successfully operate in an environment that allows public officials to arbitrarily choose when employees can break collective bargaining agreements or demand when employers must disregard the terms of agreements, irrespective of the officials’ motivation," said UPS spokesman Steve Gaut.
Several politicians have chimed in to show their support for the fired employees.
"My message today for UPS is simple: respect your workers," said New York City comptroller Scott Stringer, who oversees city contracts, including the one New York has with UPS. "Nobody should lose their job simply for standing up for their fellow employees, especially at a time when so many New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet. UPS must come to the table in good faith."
Gaut said the company terminated 20 of the employees at the distribution and sorting facility in Maspeth in the Queens borough of New York after their shifts on Monday, and 230 will be removed from the payrolls once their replacements have been trained.
During the February 26 stoppage, the employees left the job site for 90 minutes before returning to their posts.
"There was a meeting underway with a local union official and a member of management to discuss an employee terminated for infractions related to this time," said Gaut. "During that grievance meeting that union official left and organized an impromptu, illegal, and unauthorized work stoppage."
"We work on a very tight schedule," said Gaut. "This was a serious act of misconduct on the union leader's and the employees' part."
Gaut said the walkout breached its contract with the Teamsters Union Local 804, which has a clause outlining a system for taking care of disputes that doesn't involve stoppages.
Nationally, said Gaut, such walkouts among its workforce of 230,000 are "extremely rare" and when they've occurred in the past the company has either suspended or discharged the employees involved, per their union contract terms.
Representatives from Local 804 could not be reached for comment.