WASHINGTON — After heightened public pressure, UPS has agreed to rehire the 250 workers it fired for staging a brief strike in late February.
Workers at a Queens, N.Y, shipping facility walked off the job for 90 minutes in February to protest what they thought was the unjust firing of a co-worker. But UPS said that strike was "illegal," a term the union disputes, due to the no-strike clause in their contract, and ultimately decided to terminate the workers who participated.
The agreement between UPS and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters includes the union compensating UPS for damages over loss of time worked and the "negative impact on goodwill," received after the walk-out. The settlement will total "hundreds of thousands of dollars," according to UPS spokesman Steve Gaut.
Additionally, the 250 fired employees will have their terminations reduced to a two-week suspension. The suspension will result in the loss of about $2,560 for each worker, who are paid $32 an hour.
Gaut told BuzzFeed the workers at the Queens facility had walked out once before, in 2011. That case was brought before an arbitrator, and the union was told if they walked out again they might get fired.
"We're looking forward to turning the corner and getting on a new road with UPS," Teamsters Local 804 President Tim Sylvester said. "The drivers delivered they're message to UPS about unfair treatment. Now every one them will be back delivering packages."
Last week, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James told UPS it would face economic consequences if it didn't bargain with the workers. The company has a $43 million dollar contract with the state. Additionally, the Working Families Party got nearly 50,000 signatures on a petition calling for UPS to rehire the workers.
UPDATE 4/10/2014: This post was updated to include comment from the Teamsters and clarified the union does not agree that their strike was "illegal," as UPS said in its statement.
Jacob Fischler is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C.
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