Telematics What is it? What it means to you!

Many of you have heard of the possibility of the company wiring your package cars. The plan is to put sensors on your seat belts, your bulkhead doors, your e-brake, and your reverse gear. It’s happening now. Our shop has piles of the wiring harnesses to do all of the trucks, (except for some of the old stuff), in our building. I’m sure every shop across the country is gearing up for this major install. I’m sure the extended centers will end up with it soon as well. If your cars suddenly disappear for awhile you can figure you’ve got it. So what does it do? It’s simple. When you put your car in gear it senses if you have your seat belt on, and whether your bulkhead door is closed or not. Additionally it will tell if you put the car in reverse first and for how long. The other sensor on the e-brake will tell if you applied the e-brake when you turned the key off. The nuances of the system are yet to be Time for Actiondiscovered. When you return to the building at night it supposedly downloads all of the information, including the time you first hit the building. Again if you go to the air dock, or unload internationals, that may affect the real time, but they will know when you got there. HELLO BIG-BROWN BROTHER. “WE ARE WATCHING YOUR EVERY MOVE. PRETTY SOON WE’RE GOING TO PUT A SENSOR UP YOUR ASS SO WE KNOW IF YOUR REALLY TAKING ONE, OR TALKING TO THAT PRETTY GIRL AT THE COUNTER!!” How’s that for paranoia. Really for those of you that do your job as trained, (we have harped at you about that on these pages), it won’t change anything. Who it will affect are the balls to the wall, kiss ass that throws everything like it was a newspaper route. Those guys have big trouble ahead. I say Right On. All it will do is make a lot more good Union Members. What does it mean to you discipline-wise? You can be fired for not wearing your seatbelt. Get that straight today. That will be the major issue to come out of telematics. You can be disciplined for not closing your bulkhead door. You better get in the habit or you are going to have big trouble ahead, “up to and including discharge”. Close it every time without fail. They will know if its open when you are moving. The other stuff will aid in any accident investigation. No more lying about the e-brake in a roll-away. No more lying about whether you pulled into a space or driveway, then backed out. They will know. The big thing you need to realize is the more technical this job becomes, the more valuable you become. You guys that master this stuff are gold to them. All this system does is raise your value to the company. The major goal of the new system is to eliminate management. One guy will have more information than ten. The company continues to treat it’s management as overhead, and do everything in their power to reduce their ranks. If you read these pages you know about my “Lord and Master” theory. The company hopes to manage us all from one office in Atlanta, Georgia. That theory will remain until they create robots to deliver like in the movie Hitch. My point here is not to scare you, but to keep you informed. If you are on of those haul ass, kiss asses, you better get a clue. If you are one of those, get the job done right, and go home guys, you have nothing to worry about. The other little point is to remember there is such a thing as “too much information”. While this information is readily available, there won’t be anyone to look at it unless you rise to the top of the sh-t list for some reason. Do your job everyday, go home to your family, and have a nice day. Big Brown is Watching!

One last thing to remember is that the system will download any vehicle codes the on-board computer sets much like On-Star. Most of the time it won’t matter to you, but it will give an indication of vehicle abuse. Just a fact to keep in mind.

10 Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some of the more frequently asked questions of the stewards with some general recommendations how to deal with the situation. As always consult your steward before taking any action to be sure of your rights.

  1. Can the company discipline me without a steward present, if no steward is available? The answer is a flat no. The company must provide a steward in any discussion with a union member if the possibility of discipline even remotely exists. Even if timeliness is an issue, the company cannot bring discipline without the presence of a steward.
  2. What does automatic protest mean on warning letters? Automatic protest means that the union and the company have agreed to place the warning letter under protest, and unless the issue comes up again, the letter will be withdrawn in 90 days, (unless some other time frame is agreed to). If the same issue comes up again, the union and the company have agreed to hear the warning letter issue before any more severe discipline can be implemented. I have expressed my displeasure with Automatic Protest in the past, but that is the system we live under today.
  3. What is the attendance policy for the company? My assumption is that the policy is consistent throughout the company, but here in the Rocky Mountain area you are allowed three attendance discrepancies in a running thirteen week period before you can be issued any discipline. The company must review each and every discrepancy in a timely manner with the steward present.
  4. Does the company have the right to dictate my appearance? The appearance issue has come up many times over the years. The company has the right to set appearance standards, and you have an obligation to abide by them. The only exceptions are if you are being singled out for a different standard than the other drivers, or the standard is discriminatory.
  5. Is it ever O.K. for Supervisors to do Union Work? Basically the answer is no. The only real situation is when management exhausts all possible hourly means to make service then the Supervisors can do the work. The problem arises when they get lazy and just resort to the Sups. as the first remedy. My recommendation is if you see them work, file, then sort it out later.
  6. Is it true I can be paid Double Time for excessive 9.5 hour days? Being paid Double Time for excessive 9.5 hour days is true, sort of.  You must inform the company of your desire to have your hours reduced, and give them the opportunity to correct the problem. If they don’t, you file under Article 12 Section 1. The first grievance will be resolved as “the company agrees to abide by Article 12 Section 1”. If you continue to be dispatched with excessive OT you will file again, and usually after the grievance goes through the entire process, you may be awarded double time. 
  7. I don’t like something the Union is doing, how do I make a change? Well most of you would first seek out the steward. If the steward does not satisfy you, don’t be afraid to go straight to the Business Agent at your Local union. If you still feel the need to go up the ladder, contact the Principle officer for your Local Union. Usually you will get results somewhere along this line. You still can go straight to the International Union, but that process is an article all of it’s own.
  8. I am being singled out for more severe discipline/harassment than the drivers around me. What do I do? Of course your first line of defense is your steward. Do not let management badger you without your steward present. Be very clear you want representation. That in itself is your most powerful tool, as the company will be much more careful what they say to you with the steward present. When all else fails resort to the grievance procedure.
  9. I have a good reason to be off work, but my manager is telling me no. What do I do? If you have a legitimate reason you need to be gone, and you’ve informed the company, and they are telling you no, then you need to take your lumps under the attendance policy above. If it’s a legitimate reason, (illness, doctor, dentist, family issue) simply call an hour or more before your start time. Of course you must fall within the 3 in a 13 week discrepancy or you may still be subject to discipline. It’s simple. The company needs you at work everyday. Try to be there, but in all of our lives things come up. You need to take care of things outside of the company as well.
  10. My steward is not taking care of my issues. What do I do? My first question to you is “are you simply expecting the steward to know you are having an issue, or have you taken the time to seek them out and let them know of your problem.” The steward can’t possibly know every driver’s problems in a big center. You must seek them out and verbalize your troubles to them. You can always go up the ladder to the business agent, but my bet is that if you simply communicate with the steward you will get results
These are simple answers to some complicated questions. Your union is in place to help you be treated fairly and to see to it that you are provided with a decent, safe, workplace. Educate yourself to your rights, and you will have a good career with the company. *