Sometimes we win.
Some of you may recall this Diary from last week regarding UPS' decision to fire 250 of its Queens, NY drivers for conducting a 90-minute walkout to protest the questionable firing of a longtime union member. UPS' heavy-handed response to the protest provoked considerable local anger and the story went national.
The drivers belong to the Teamsters Union, which went to bat on their behalf, supported by a public campaign and many on social media who expressed outrage at UPS and threatened boycotts.
The parties settled late last night, and UPS has now reversed itself.
The reversal comes following a public uproar over the mass firing, which we reported on last week. UPS officials decided to rehire the workers as part of an agreement reached Wednesday in a meeting with union officials.
"The 250 UPS employees involved in the walkout who were terminated for their actions will have their terminations reduced to a two week suspension without pay for each participant," UPS spokesman Steve Gaut told Business Insider in an email. "UPS has chosen to settle the matter in order to return to normal operations at the site."
The company still contends that the walkout was illegal, a claim which the union disputes:
"Under the agreement reached with UPS, Local 804 acknowledges that the union’s internal procedures for authorizing a strike were not properly followed on Feb. 26 and we have agreed to communicate the proper procedure to all union members."While a two week suspension without pay may not seem like a total victory, the interplay between UPS and the union suggests that the character of the walkout may fall within a legal "gray area" in the Teamsters' contract with the company. The Union also agreed to compensate UPS for monetary damages occasioned by the walkout. However, for the workers and their families the resolution seems satisfactory. Additionally, the agreement reinstates the worker whose firing instigated the dispute in the first place. The discharge of Jairo Reyes, a senior UPS driver, was converted to a suspension without pay until he returns to work.
It seems that UPS has some packages that need delivering.
A group advocating for the fired workers called the resolution a victory.
"After several weeks of sustained worker and community pressure, UPS has reversed the firing, and all 250 workers, including Jairo, are getting their jobs back," Joe Dinkin of The Working Families Party told Business Insider in an email. " This is huge news. And it proves that even in an economy where the power of employers over workers is stronger than ever, when workers stand together, they can still win."