April 9, 2014: UPS and members of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 804 will meet Wednesday to talk about the fate of 250 fired drivers, the Daily News has learned.
The two sides have been at loggerheads since Feb. 26. when a 90-minute walkout prompted the Atlanta-based shipping company to issue termination notices to 250 Queens drivers.
The company and union haven’t spoken since late March. As of this month, 36 drivers have been removed from payroll. The rest will follow as new drivers are trained, a UPS spokesman said.
The company said it has the right to fire employees who engage in illegal walkouts.
The union contends it has the right to walkout when the company doesn’t adhere to proper grievance procedures.
Some UPS customers have come to their drivers’ defense, including Lois Toscano, from Little Neck.
She put in a call to the company’s CEO on Tuesday to tell him about the time her driver, Armin Kaeser, saved her family’s life.
According to Toscano, the UPS driver pulled up to her house on a bitter cold day, when she and her newborn and two toddlers were snuggled inside.
“The house was closed up tight. We were watching TV, and all of us were drowsy, feeling sleepy. He rang the bell, and when I opened the door the first thing he said was, ‘Mrs. Toscano, I smell gas.’”
Turns out her old home was filled with fumes from a leaky pipe, but they crept in so gradually the tired mom didn’t notice.
Now, she’s forever grateful to Kaeser, who like 214 other UPS drivers, is on the chopping block.
“He loves his neighborhood, he always waves when he sees us, he helps the older neighbors get their packages, at Christmas, when presents are being delivered, he rings the doorbell first to make sure the kids aren’t around before he hauls everything up to the door,” she said.
UPS, which employs 6,000 union workers in the city and 16,000 statewide, said the illegal walkout hurt its bottom line.
“UPS takes our service commitments to our customers very seriously. We deliver important packages that include everything from business critical goods to live-saving medicines. We simply cannot allow employee misconduct that jeopardizes our ability to reliably serve our customers and maintain order in our delivery operations,” spokesman Steve Gaut said in a statement.
But for Toscano, at least, UPS is handling the situation all wrong.
“The company should not be firing (Armin) — he’s a poster boy for UPS,” she said.