Ten Queens UPS employees have been reinstated after being wrongfully terminated. Now Teamsters Local 804 is demanding weeks of back pay for these workers.
“People over packages” has been the message of Teamsters Local 804 as they fight for the rights of their members. In April, the ten workers — two of whom are pregnant — were fired for not working overtime, despite finishing their part-time shift. According to Teamsters Local 804, these employees were not informed that they had to work past their shift. It’s the union’s position that the walkout allegation was only after the fact, and they did not refused to work. The workers were fired for walking out of the job without first informing their supervisors despite fulfilling their part-time schedule.
For weeks, Teamsters Local 804 let out a rallying cry stating, “Part-time workers are essential not disposable.” They demanded that UPS management treat their employees like the essential workers they are, whether they be part-time or full-time.
The matter was under arbitration with UPS stating that the workers could come back at any time, while the union shared the condition of their reinstatement meant that they would have to enforce overtime for over 3,000 part-time workers.
For the Teamsters, the crux of the argument was that a part-time employee should not work extra hours if they are not being paid full-time benefits.
On April 28, Vinny Perrone, president of Teamsters Local 804 led a protest outside of the Queens UPS warehouse at 136-40 Springfield Blvd pushing for their reinstatement, and less than two weeks later they have their jobs back.
“This past Friday, my vice president and a couple of my business agents went down there to that building in Laurelton to meet with the company and the company relented and said that they could come back to work and they will arbitrate their back pay,” Perrone told amNewYork Metro.
Perrone shared that UPS management sought to forgo the back pay for these workers, removing the discharge in favor of a time served suspension. However, Teamsters Local 804 say they did not agree to this, since they feel that the workers did not do anything wrong.
As of 3 a.m. on May 8, a number of the workers have already started their first shift back. Their fellow workers will also return on Monday. Although one of the soon to be mothers will not return since she is due to give birth in the near future (she will be on disability).
“I feel like it is a victory. It wasn’t necessary that it got this far to begin with, but I am certainly glad that everybody, and Local 804 is glad, that these members are able to return to work,” Perrone said, adding that he greatly appreciates the support from local elected officials, candidates, and other unions.
Perrone believes that although the workers have been reinstated successfully, UPS will continue to treat all of the workers with the same bullying tactics but Teamsters Local 804 will be there to have their members’ backs.
“This whole thing started, I believe because these men and women were doing this every day because this is just their routine—their norm. On that particular day on Wednesday, April 13, the building couldn’t project how much volume came in, and maybe it was way too much volume or people called out sick and they felt they could just hold these people as indentured servants,” Perrone said.
Perrone is hoping the arbitration for back pay will be resolved by the end of May or early June.
A representative from UPS responded to the situation that caused the firing stating, “UPS is pleased that our employees have returned to work, and we will fully resolve the situation through our agreed-upon process with Local 804. By walking out, these employees created delays for our customers, and under our collective bargaining agreement with Local 804 a walkout is grounds for termination of employment. Our employees can ask to leave early for personal reasons during their scheduled shift, but in this situation some part-time hourly employees walked out without asking to leave early.”
The representative also added: “UPS believes that employees should be respected and protected in the workplace, and does not tolerate harassment. We offer our employees multiple ways to share their concerns with us, and we promptly take action when an issue is brought to our attention.”