PROVIDENCE – UPS has laid off workers at its Warwick facility, the local Teamsters union said Friday.
Because of seniority rules in union contracts, the number of people who have actually lost their jobs or were shifted to different ones is unclear, but the union estimated about 100 to 150 jobs out of around 1,500 at the facility have been affected in some way through cuts, moves to other roles, and unrelated changes in Warwick due to a new UPS facility in Franklin, Massachusetts.
“While the company may claim a drop in volume has led to the layoffs, the Union feels this is directly related to the collective bargaining agreement being set to expire after July 31st,” Teamsters Local 251 Secretary-Treasurer Matthew Taibi said in an email. “While posting record profits the last few years, particularly the last two, this aims to divide our members while contract negotiations are ongoing at the regional level.”
UPS denied that the layoffs were connected to union negotiations.
“Similar to how our network flexes throughout the year to meet seasonal customer demand, we are reassigning some of our employees to meet the needs of our business,” UPS spokesman Matthew O’Connor said in an email. “This is not nationwide, but only in select parts of the country, in response to uneven demand. We are hopeful that our people will be able to return to their previous positions later this year. Taking these steps now helps us to be a stronger company for our employees and our customers.”
In an earnings call in January, UPS CFO Brian Newman said the company expected a “mild recession in the first half of the year, with a moderate recovery in the second half of the year.” On the Teamsters contract, CEO Carol Tomé said on that same call that “we are not far apart on the issues.” The Teamsters’ national contract with UPS expires July 31.
Around the country, drivers in the so-called 22.4 category, a lower-paid position created through previous contract negotiations in 2018, have been affected by job cuts in recent weeks.
An exact breakdown of what roles were affected in Warwick, and how many people have actually separated from the company versus taking a different job, wasn’t available. With seniority rules, a worker who was, for example, a driver and whose position was affected could shift into a lower-ranking position, or could separate from the company. That lower-paying person would then be affected, going down to jobs in the facility processing packages, which are often part-time roles.