April 12, 2007: More than 20,000 Teamsters in California have won an $87 million victory versus UPS.
On April 9, a California State judge officially approved a settlement of a class action lawsuit filed against UPS for forcing employees to work off the clock. One result is that package car drivers are seeing less forced, excessive overtime.
“For me this was never about the money. This is about the change. I wanted UPS to start abiding by the law and respect the contract.” said Local 70 Teamster Kim Marchant, a 21-year driver and class rep in the lawsuit.
“I have drivers coming up to me now and saying I love that I can go home at a reasonable hour and not be harassed to work through my lunch,” Marchant said.
Under California law, employees have to be given a meal break within their first five hours of work. Employees who work more than 10 hours a day are entitled to a second meal period and three paid 10-minute breaks.
UPS package car drivers covered by the lawsuit who worked more than ten hours a day routinely worked through their lunch and “paid” breaks. Drivers also had to wait more than five hours for their first meal break.
Drivers turned to the courts after being told by Teamster officials that nothing could be done about the company’s wage and hour violations. As a result, 23,000 drivers are millions richer—with the bulk of that money going to 10,000 who were the most effected by the company’s violations. Some drivers were awarded as much as $20,000.
An additional $4 million in unclaimed money is going to food banks in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Last summer, UPS management tried to undermine the members’ lawsuit by getting the California Legislature to pass a bill that would give unionized transportation companies (like UPS) an exemption from laws requiring lunch breaks during specified times in work shifts.
In an effort to get the governor to sign the bill, management instructed Teamsters to sign letters in support of the legislation and give them back to supervisors in unsealed envelopes. UPS management’s lobbying effort failed and Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill last September, helping to pave the way to this week’s $87 million victory.
The same law firm York Law Corp. is currently representing Teamster members in a lawsuit against Waste Management for similar violations of California wage and hour laws.