NY Daily News: UPS dismisses 250 Queens drivers after they protested against long-time employee's dismissal

Ginger Adams Otis
New York Daily News
April 02, 2014

The unionized drivers at the Maspeth facility walked off the job for 90 minutes Feb. 26 to protest the firing of long-time employee and union activist Jairo Reyes. Public Advocate Letitia James has contacted UPS to ask them to change their tactics.

UPS has delivered a special message to 250 of its Queens drivers: You’re fired!

The Atlanta-based company is booting 250 of its unionized drivers from its Maspeth facility because they walked off the job for 90 minutes Feb. 26 to protest the dismissal of a long-time employee, UPS told the Daily News.

Twenty employees were terminated Monday after their shifts — and the remaining 230 notified that they’ll be canned as soon as replacements are trained, a company spokesman said.

“They just called me in ... (and) said, ‘Effective immediately, you are no longer on the payroll,’” said Steve Curcio, 41, a 20-year employee earning $32 an hour.

The mass firing has enraged Tim Sylvester, head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 804, especially since the company gets some lucrative perks from the city.

United Parcel Service has a contract worth $43 million to provide delivery services to city and state agencies, according to documentation from city officials.

It’s also enrolled in a Department of Finance program that saves it millions annually on fines and fees for parking tickets.

UPS confirmed that it participates in the city program that expedites ticket payment and in some cases halves or wipes out penalties. But a spokesman refused to say how much the stipulated fine program saved the company.

However, city data from 2006 shows UPS paid nearly $20 million in parking fines that year. That amount fell to $1 million a quarter for parking fines in 2013, after Mayor Bloomberg created the stipulated-fine program, according to published reports.

“UPS takes millions from the city and yet it’s going to bankrupt 250 families just because our guys stood up for a fellow worker,” said Sylvester.

A UPS spokesman said the drivers knew their jobs were on the line when they chose to walk out.

The workers were protesting the firing of Jairo Reyes, a 24-year-employee and union activist, said Sylvester.

Several city politicians hope to bring both sides to the table for talks.

“These are middle class jobs that sustain families, and we can ill afford to have (so many) adversely affected by a rash decision,” said Public Advocate Letitia James, who’s written

UPS a letter asking the company to abandon its hard-line approach. “We’ve given UPS breaks, particularly as it relates to this (parking) program,” James said. “They should not treat workers in this manner.”

One of the workers who faces dismissal just got back on the job following a near-fatal accident.

Domenick DeDomenico, 40, was in a coma for 10 days after getting hit by a car last year while delivering packages for UPS. He fought back from serious brain injuries and needed a year of speech and physical therapy.

Cleared to resume work on Jan. 17 , DeDomenico was threatened with dismissal by UPS even before he joined the Feb. 26 walkout.

“I wasn’t delivering as many packages as before I got hurt,” said the married dad. He used to clock in at 13 an hour, but now averages between 10 and 11.

“I said I was doing my best and they said I had been better before,” he said. “I said ‘Okay, this is my new best,’ and they said ‘It’s not good enough.’ ”

gotis [at] nydailynews.com

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