New York, NY – Teamsters Local 804, the union that represents UPS workers in the Big Apple, rallied on Thursday morning, April 22, outside the business’ Customer Center in Springfield Gardens to support 10 of its members, part-time workers who were unceremoniously fired last week.
Additional workers were told that they were suspended. One of them, a pregnant woman who’s worked the last two years for UPS and preferred to remain anonymous, told LaborPress that she and her sister, also pregnant, found out about their suspensions on April 14, when they tried to check their digital timecards.
“[Me and my sister] were supposedly not let go, but suspended,” the pregnant worker said. “We do not know what is going on. It’s upsetting. We looked on our time cards and it just said, ‘suspended.'”
According to Vincent Perrone, president of Teamsters Local 804, part-time workers are only obligated to work five-hours. Those let go chose not to work overtime because of mitigating circumstances.
“Two of them are pregnant,” said Perrone. “One of them is a father; he has a special needs child. Others had other jobs to go to because they can’t live on the $15 an hour that UPS pays them. They get up at one or two-in-the-morning to load packages. They are essential workers and UPS is treating them as expendable workers.”
The suspended worker who spoke to LaborPress is seven-and-a-half months pregnant, and worked as a pre-loader at Small Sort, the UPS division where workers organize small packages.
“We are assuming it’s because of leaving after our fifth-hour,” she continued. “It makes no sense. We have been doing the same thing for months. So, this makes no sense.”
Queens resident Jamiya Sinclair, 27, is also pregnant and works at Small Sort. Previously, she worked loading trucks, but was assigned a less taxing position at Small Sort after proving her pregnancy. Sinclair believes that had she not lost her other job — and only worked her regular hours without overtime at UPS — she, too, would have been fired.
According to Sinclair, after getting the new position, UPS started asking workers to take on additional hours because it is short staffed.
“Next week I’ll be five-months,” said Sinclair. “I used to love it here. They are making it difficult because of the short staff, but I’m getting more and more tired since I’m pregnant. It’s not the same. They have let go a few people and then they threatened a few of us with being fired if we leave after our five-hours, which is in our right.”
The workers get overtime pay automatically, but do not receive pay for time-and-a-half or for coming early to work when asked, according to Sinclair.
“That could have been me,” Sinclair added, referring to her pregnant colleagues. “I have to stay a little longer, not the full-time, but up until my limit…we are being overworked since the pandemic.”
NYC Comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer blasted UPS at this week’s rally.
“How dare you threaten 10 workers,” said Stringer. “This is a union town and this is a union city. We want justice right now for those workers. I don’t give a damn about your packages.”
Neither does Linda Guillebeaux, who chanted “people over packages.”
“I was the first woman to work on the line at UPS,” said Guillebeaux, who worked at the business in the 1970s and 1980s as a package handler. “They were dirty then, and they are dirty now.”
Guillebeaux earned just $10 an hour working part-time for UPS back then — a time when the company initially didn’t even have proper bathroom facilities for women.
“They kept me as a test case,” said Guillebeaux, who spent a decade working for UPS.
According to Perrone, UPS failed to extend due process or a hearing to the workers who were let go.
“We are still awaiting a hearing for the second five and the company won’t budge,” Perrone said. “They hide behind their gold and brown shield. They have been making billions during the pandemic. Their stock went up during a global pandemic and these essential workers that were here every day were fired. They delivered packages to people working from home. They are treated unfairly. They are our local brothers and sisters in Teamsters 804. We are going to do whatever it takes to get them back to work.”