UPS Drops A Very Important Package

You or I see a UPS truck and think, “Great! A delivery!” (Or, “I can’t believe he parked his truck there!”)

Sharon Carpenter sees a UPS truck and probably thinks, “What that company did to my brother is despicable.”

Sharon is a longtime Westporter. Her brother — Brian O’Shea — got a job with UPS during college, and never left. He worked his way up the management ranks, doing important undercover theft work up and down the East Coast.

Sharon Carpenter and her brother, Brian O'Shea.

Sharon Carpenter and her brother, Brian O’Shea.

In late 2008 he was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. He kept working through brutal chemo. In fact, he used vacation days for treatment. When his supervisor encouraged him to take disability leave, he refused. His motto: “I live for my work.”

In December 2009 — after more than 36 years of service — Brian decided to retire. His oncologist told him his time was very limited. He’d lost over 50 pounds, weighing just 115.

He was 55, and fully vested in UPS retirement.

UPS Employee Services told him if he worked at all in January, he’d be entitled to his full yearly allotment of vacation days. A representative suggested a last day of actual work: January 8, 2010. Adding 6 weeks vacation and 5 personal days, his “retirement date” would be February 28.

Brian O'Shea with his 4 kids, when they were young.

Brian O’Shea with his 4 kids, when they were young.

“Brian was so proud when he signed the paperwork UPS sent in December,” Sharon recalls. “He was very happy, knowing UPS would take care of his 4 children after he died. They each would receive a monthly stipend for 10 years. That would be a life-changer for them. He had total belief in UPS, and was so dedicated to them.”

On February 12, Brian sat with his lawyer; Sharon; Sharon’s husband Sam (the trustee for his will), and his oldest child (the executor), to discuss his assets and obligations. He was so glad he had opted to take his pension as a “single life annuity with 10-year payment guarantee.” He emphasized the word “guarantee.”

Brian died February 21.

A thousand people attended Sharon’s brother’s wake. UPS was “great,” she says. They gave a lump sum payment, and kept in touch with the family. An HR rep told Sharon that monthly retirement payments would go to his family.

A month later, the same woman called. She told Sharon to expect a check for $100,000. It was Brian’s “death benefit.”

Sharon thought that was good news. Her voice cracking, the HR woman said, “It’s instead of retirement.” That retirement fund was about $500,000.

“Someone in Atlanta headquarters said that because he died 7 days before he officially retired, he was still an employee,” Sharon explains. “So he was not entitled to retirement pay.”

But, she says, when Brian was told to work 1 day in January, to be eligible for vacation and personal days, “everyone knew he was dying. He’d lost 65 pounds. He looked terrible. It was clear he wouldn’t make it all the way.”

No one, Sharon says, told Brian — and nowhere in the papers he reviewed was it mentioned — that he risked his pension by delaying retirement until February 28.

Brian O'Shea

Brian O’Shea

Sharon is a calm woman, but her voice grows steely. “Retirement is not a bonus. My brother put money into it for 37 years. This was something he earned. It’s all his family has.”

The family appealed through all the proper UPS steps. Each time, they were denied. “We’ve been at it for 4 years,” Sharon says. “They probably didn’t think we’d follow through.”

Finally, they hired a lawyer. It was not easy. “It took a month to find someone in Boston who was not already on retainer to UPS,” Sharon says.

The company has asked that the case be dismissed. A judge will rule soon.

“I can’t believe we’re the only people this happened to,” Sharon says.

“We’ve tried to do the right thing, step by step. We’ve dotted every ‘i,’ and crossed every ‘t.’ Now, we want people to know what’s going on.”

34 responses to “UPS Drops A Very Important Package

  1. Holly Wheeler

    WOW !!! Shame on UPS. I thought they were unionized, but perhaps that’s only drivers.

  2. Very BROWN !

  3. bobbi essagof

    So sorry for your loss, Sharon. Good for you to keep up the fight. Your brother would be proud.

  4. Julie Van Norden

    Absolutely disgraceful! This should become a national story. See how UPS likes this story in the public eye.

  5. Another example of corporations greedily putting hard working employees last. I hope you get enough public support to shame UPS.

  6. Susan Horwitz

    I will not be using UPS services again -anytime soon. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  7. According to the site shown below, the UPS pension plan was determined through a collective bargaining agreement. Isn’t there someone who negotiated the pension benefits on behalf of the employees available to help Sharon if her brother was covered by this agreement?

  8. Dear Sharon – Brian would be very proud of you. Keep fighting.

  9. So sorry for the loss of your brother. So sorry you have to fight this ridiculous fight. Greed tends to rule but it’s important for justice to prevail. I hope the peace your brother died with is restored for his children.

  10. Have you started a petition on Change.Org? This is certainly as or more worthy than many other causes that I’ve seen featured there – and it’s a great way to get attention and allow people to spread the word through social media. Good luck, Sharon! We are all rooting for you and Brian’s family – and for UPS to wake up and do the right thing.

  11. As I see it, Brian’s last day at work (Feb. 8, 2010) was his retirement date from UPS. At retirement, he should have been paid his salary through the last day at work, plus payment for any accrued vacation and earned but untaken personal days due him on that date. As of February 9, he was a retiree! All agreed-upon elements of his retirement pay should be in effect as of that date. Thus, he was a retiree, NOT an active employee, when he died on February 21st.

    • I was thinking the same thing as Wally Woods. He was salary. I didn’t think they had sick days per say. Somewhat along the same lines as, he didn’t get overtime. Management doesn’t just call in sick, the way hourly do. I really thought he would have continued to collect he’s salary, even while he was ill. I’m pretty sure, UPS has paid others their salary in certain circumstances, when certain management persons were ill. If that is so, I would think that could constitute some sort of discrimination.

  12. Mary Maynard

    Everyone us FedEx!

  13. Mary Maynard

    Everyone use FedEx. (Correction of typo.)

  14. Shame on UPS

  15. Colleen Groll

    I am all done with UPS, forever. Will send this to all my contacts. Keep up the fight.

  16. Mary Parmelee

    It’s not enough to simply stop using UPS. We need to tell them why we are not using them anymore. Also should include that we will return to using UPS when they restore Brian O’Shea’s pension. Here is the corporate address for UPS in the United States (Sharon may know a better address):
    UPS Americas and the Caribbean
    3401 NW 67th Avenue, Bld. 805
    Miami , FL 33122

  17. Another case of just one stupid cold hearted person ruining the lives of others through having no compassion…You would think the money was coming out of their pocket! I bet they were so proud of themselves for finding a way out of UPS paying out the $500,000! I hope they lose their job over this !


    Does anyone know who the CEO of the US company is?
    He should be getting the letters.
    I’m very sorry for the loss of Mr. O’Shea and disgusted by what UPS has done.

  19. I agree with Cindy – see if you can get a petition going on but I think perhaps you can get those folks on WPIX – Arnold Diaz ….

    Here is the link;

    or See if you can fill out the information for
    Problem Solvers – Hall of Shame …
    I am thinking Brown is going down soon!
    Also another person to contact is Brian Williams on NBC, maybe
    they can shed some light on this and if it gets’ enough Media Attention
    I am sure something will be done about it.
    Here is the link for submission or email your story from Dan Woog’s Blog directly to them.

  20. David S Chalker

    This is pathetic. UPS ought to be ashamed.

  21. United Parcel ServiceInc
    Glenlake parkway NE
    Atlanta Ga 30328

  22. Pathetic!

  23. Sickening. That’s our company! It’s no wonder how many people have taken on a different view or this company. Everybody is expendable, loyalty is not an issue. The leaders at the top are taking this company down, to a time when they’ll be gone. They are sucking all the equity out, that was built in by past UPSER leaders. I predict drivers will be working in thier own street clothes in the future. Watch!

  24. Scott Davis is the current CEO and he’s an accountant (go figure). Brian was in Management, and therefore his pension was provided by, and apparently at the whim, of UPS not the Teamsters. The Teamster pension plans have Death before Retirement benefits that are generally the same as spousal coverage if you die after retirement (66 1/3% of the normal benefit for life). Children receive payments until the youngest reaches age 18. They automatically calculate it for PEER coverage or age 55 depending on the CBA.

  25. Gabbie Zambelli


  26. I knew Brian at UPS. I helped him out occasionally at work during his investigations. He was a very nice guy. This is awful of what UPS did to his family. I hope the family wins in court.

  27. Holly Wheeler,

    Unfortunately he was in the management ranks at UPS. They are not unionized. And also, unfortunately, UPS has become some sort of cold, corporate giant-unlike what James Casey wanted it to be.

  28. why is no one in the media talking about this? all management personnel dont get automatic sick days. only vacations!!!!! corporate in GA is lying out of their teeth!!!

  29. Some people are asking: why isn’t the media talking about this? Ever notice how accidents the company is involved in, never make it to the news? The company appears to possess enough influence, that much of our dirty laundry never makes it to the media.

  30. Karen Harman

    I agree with those who said we should not only boycott but organize an effort to direct our comments regarding the mistreatment of Sharon’s brother’s passing. Please let us know when and where we should direct our comments.

  31. Margot Tutun

    So ashamed of UPS. Sharon, we wish you success in this morally right fight for justice and closure.

  32. Hi Sharon, So sorry for your family’s loss and the insult added to injury.
    I’ll pray things are successful for his children’s & family care.