Maspeth Union Rally To Save Drivers’ Jobs
Union leaders and elected officials personally delivered petitions to United Parcel Service’s (UPS) Maspeth shipping center last Friday, Mar. 21, calling for the company to retain 248 drivers it intends to terminate.
The drivers—all of whom are members of Long Island City-based Teamsters Local 804—were recently given the pink slip by UPS for holding a February wildcat strike protesting what the union considered to be the unjust termination of a union driver less than a year from retirement.
Reasons why UPS cut ties with that particular driver were not disclosed.
Weeks after the protest, according to union delegates, the participants received from UPS “notices of termination,” meaning the company could fire them at any time regardless of restrictions outlined in the collective bargaining agreement.
According to a union source, the fired workers amounts to nearly the entire driving staff assigned to UPS’ Maspeth facility, which delivers packages to residents and businesses across northern Queens and parts of Brooklyn.
In response to the mass layoffs, Teamsters Local 804 and supporters collected over 100,000 signatures on an online petition demanding UPS reverse its decision. Company representatives received the petition following last Friday’s rally in front of the 56th Road facility.
Leading the protest was Teamsters Local 804 President Tim Sylvester; Public Advocate Letitia James; Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz; City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer; City Council Members Elizabeth Crowley, Rory Lancman and Daneek Miller; and hundreds of Teamsters.
“We are here to say [to UPS]: You deliver the packages but we’re here to deliver a message that you will not treat these workers with disrespect,” James said. “We stand with these workers today. We urge you to get back to the table. We urge you to hire these individuals. And we urge you to respect workers with dignity.”
Van Bramer stated the entire City Council supports the Teamsters and its fired drivers, while Crowley added in a statement, “We cannot allow the basic rights of hardworking New Yorkers to be so blatantly violated right here in our own backyard.”
“The 248 UPS drivers who stood in solidarity with their unjustly terminated co-worker deserve our respect and support,” she added.
On its website, Teamsters Local 804 posted messages of support for the terminated drivers from other local lawmakers unable to attend— including Rep. Grace Meng and State Sen. Michael Gianaris—and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.
The Times Newsweekly contacted Sylvester and the UPS for further comment on the situation. No responses were received as of press time Wednesday, Mar. 26.