UPS fires 250 workers: class struggle, NY-style (with video)

Did you know UPS fired 250 workers for standing up for a fellow worker? Unfortunately, the answer is probably no. I have not seen any news written about it in the mainstream press. What is going on here? My guess is that it is part of an orchestrated effort to keep these unfair labor practices away from a public that has grown more class conscious in recent years.

Witness the attack on New York City’s newly elected mayor. Mayor Bill de Blasio who was elected by a clear majority of New Yorkers. Using his mandate, he has tried to follow through on his campaign promises like enacting universal PreK and ending “Stop and Frisk,” the NY Police Department racial profiling policy. And then there is the attack on him from the hedge fund operators of charter schools.

So now the 1 percent is pulling out all the stops. Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot and major GOP donor said of populist appeals, “I hope it’s not working … because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.”

Langone claims that the mayor is dividing the city into classes; well, yes that’s exactly the case except it’s not de Blasio who gave voice – although his campaign talked about the tale of two cities – it was Occupy Wall Street that brought the class voice to the table.

I bring this into the UPS labor dispute because the firing of the entire work force in Maspeth, N.Y., is akin to when a one-time president who in 1981 fired some 11,000 Air Controllers. Remember that? President Ronald Reagan sent a message to the entire labor and people’s movement that he was the union-buster-in-chief with that move. It matters what side elected officials are on.

On Feb. 26, UPS fired a 24-year UPS worker and union activist who was protesting the grueling 12-hour days during a bitter winter, and the company’s unwillingness to reach an agreement addressing the issue; 250 UPS employees from Teamsters local 804 walked off the jobs in support. The company retaliated by firing all 250 union members.

Several local representatives have made statements including past Labor Secretary Robert Reich in support of the workers, “Support Growing for UPS Teamsters in NYC.” (Story continues after video.)

NYC Public Advocate Letitia James made her position known: “I stand in solidarity with UPS drivers who are being threatened with firings for protesting in support of a fellow employee. New York’s workingmen and women deserve respect. I urge UPS to work with the drivers’ labor representatives in good faith to address any underlying issues.”

Local 804 members are holding parking lot meetings and circulating petitions to support their brothers and sisters. These actions will continue throughout the week and will cover every building in the local. Local 804 has been in talks with UPS management to try to resolve the dispute and address the underlying problems that led to it. 

“Teamster members have joined our fight and are collecting signatures at UPS buildings across the nation, Chicago Local 705 Business Agents and members are busy building solidarity.”

At this time, all 250 drivers and loaders have returned to work, Local 804 is waiting on UPS representative(s) to determine the standing of their union brother who was initially fired without due representation.

Tell UPS that it’s not okay to retaliate against their workers. The drivers are committed to negotiating a fair resolution-why can’t UPS do the same? Click here to sign an online petition to support the drivers.

UPS is a billion dollar corporation; according to their 2013 Annual Report, UPS net income was 4.3 billion dollars.

UPDATE: The 250 employees are BACK to work but under the threat of suspension.–which means that they are being watched carefully for any infringements of their contract. The fellow who was fired originally, is Not BACK!

Photo: Screenshot from Teamsters Local 804 video of union members and supporters protesting the mass firings and delivering 100,000 signatures to UPS in support of the workers. (PW)



Gabe Falsetta
Gabe Falsetta

Long-time social justice activist Gabe Falsetta writes from New York City.