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Should you stand up to your employer? UPS fires 250 over protest

Some 250 UPS employees walked out for 90 minutes -- in protest for the firing of fellow employee union activist Jairo Reyes. Twenty were fired immediately, with the other 230 being told that they will be terminated once their replacements have been trained, according to the New York Daily News.

It's an interesting situation. I've often given the advice to deal with a bad boss by getting all your coworkers together because it's unlikely that they'll fire all of you. But, clearly, this advice would have been the wrong advice for the UPS workers, because UPS did fire them -- even though they need to hire replacements.

So, what do you do when you're faced with a situation in the which you think your employer is in the wrong? Somehow I don't think the UPS workers thought they'd be out of job when they did their short walk out. Here are things to consider and ideas for dealing with a situation you think is unfair.

How much are you willing to sacrifice? Standing up for what you think is right comes at any cost? Right? In theory, sure, but in reality, how much are you willing to sacrifice for any particular cause? I don't know the details of the firing of Mr. Reyes, and I imagine some of the 250 people that lost their jobs didn't know either. Only the individuals involved can make the determination if this is something worth getting fired for. But, before you join in a protest, make sure you've evaluated if the consequences are worth it to you.

Don't stop working. UPS workers probably thought their union contract would protect them. I haven't read their contract so I can't say for sure whether the walk out violated the agreement, but, you can guarantee that the thing that will make your boss the angriest is when you stop working. The boss has to be concerned about the clients, not just the employee. Thousands of people angry about missed packages doesn't endear you to the boss. Instead, sign a petition or get everyone to email the big boss. If you really want to stage a protest, do it outside of working hours.

Consider the other side. Before you get angry over something, try to find out both sides. You may find out that the boss isn't as irrational and mean as you first thought.

Be rational and calm. If you're protesting a policy or action by your employer, present your side of it in a factual manner, and try to leave emotion out. This can be very difficult, as some things hit you emotionally. But, if you're crying, or yelling, you'll be taken less seriously than if you're speaking firmly and calmly.

Consider who you are dealing with. UPS clearly was not interested in making any concessions to the participants of this walkout. It's highly possible that people who had been there a while knew that management wouldn't respond well to this type of situation. If your boss has fired people for complaining before, assume he'll do the same to you, and make your choices with that knowledge. (Of course, sometimes responses are unexpected, but make your best guess.)

Figure out where you want to go from here. You always have options. In this case, most of the employees who were fired are being asked to stay on until their replacements are trained. They can, of course, simply quit before that, leaving the bosses in an even worse state. Or, they can stay on, be apologetic, and ask if they can reapply for the positions. Keep in mind that future employers don't want to hire people who have been deemed as problematic by their previous employers -- so you may want to take the latter route. But, if this is a cause that you feel is worth losing a job over, the former route can help drive that point home.
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