UPS drivers left work for 90 minutes to protest the firing of a colleague—and found themselves in hot water not long afterward, the company tells the New York Daily News. Twenty were fired Monday, while 230 were told they had their jobs only until replacements were trained. A rep for UPS says the Queens, NY, drivers knew the protest put their jobs at risk. The drivers were demonstrating following the dismissal of union activist Jairo Reyes, who'd worked for the company for 24 years, local union head Tim Sylvester tells the paper. They believed he hadn't been treated as "innocent until proven guilty," the Queens Chronicle reports.
"UPS takes millions from the city and yet it’s going to bankrupt 250 families just because our guys stood up for a fellow worker," Sylvester says. He's referring to a $43 million contract with government agencies as well as a government program that cuts parking ticket penalties for UPS. In 2006, UPS paid $20 million in parking fees; that figure fell to $1 million last year under the program, the Daily News notes. A public advocate has called on UPS to change its mind on the firings, and local politicians are hoping to launch talks. The company, for its part, has said that a collective bargaining agreement "states that if any employee participates in an unauthorized work stoppage, they can be terminated."