Teamsters Vote Themselves Out of Existence

         The last living member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters died today. Obviously it hasn’t been a Brotherhood for some time since Neil Downe was the only surviving Teamster for the last 6 years. In my estimation it takes at least 2 people to make a Brotherhood.
        The Teamsters were too successful at what they did, they created a group of people so independent, that the members didn’t feel they needed to support the Teamster cause. The Teamsters led their people to believe they were so powerful that no one could take them out. What the Teamster members didn’t see was the anti-union under current running within their government. The cheap goods created by the free trade/free market mentality wooed the Teamster members into believing that they were better off by voting the free trade/free market politics, and they voted themselves into oblivion.
        The last TeamsterThe powerbrokers in Washington used outside, secondary issues to suck the Teamsters into voting for them. Issues such as gun rights, and abortion, and welfare, and social security became the lure to Teamster members. These issues became the platform for the anti-union group to draw the union voters away from voting for their livelihood. The major corporations grew to astronomical size, while the Teamsters ranks diminished.
         Once the Teamsters became too small to be of any importance, their function and effectiveness ceased. The corporations that had been Teamster companies laughed all the way to the bank. They reduced wages down to barely livable wages and dropped any hint of benefits. It should be noted here that Mr. Downe was also the last surviving member of the once healthy middle class.
         It must be noted that the Teamsters were so successful in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s at building membership, and giving their members quality contracts, that the members of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, began to believe that they, and their children, would always have good union jobs. They were wrong.
        The last TeamsterWal-Mart has offered to place a plaque honoring Neil Downe in all their stores. A side note to the passing of Mr. Downe is Wal-Mart’s announcement that they will be creating company towns surrounding their stores. They will pay their employees with vouchers for goods and services available at their stores only. Additionally these vouchers will be good for company owned housing only available to Wal-Mart employees. All overtime will be compensated with time off at the company’s discretion. Former Teamsters need not apply, as Wal-Mart will not hire people Un-American enough to have belonged to a union.
         All Teamster and UPS retirees have lost their pensions. There is no longer anyone to pay into the pension plan, so there are no funds to be paid out. The Corporatists said that was OK, since the pension plans were just a form of welfare anyway.
        Neil Downe was often heard to say, “I always voted as a Teamster, I always voted for labor. I always voted for my job first, then I could take on the secondary issues with my Congressmen. Without a job, the secondary issues were moot. Union members who didn’t bother to vote were what killed us. By not voting at all or voting the secondary issues, they let the wealthy make the rules.”
Bob Newhouse

Working At UPS

I’ve been wanting to write about my experience at UPS for a while now.  I just haven’t gotten around to it.  Why?  Because I’m dog tired exhausted that’s why.

Seriously, UPS is the hardest physical job I’ve ever done.  It’s probably not as hard as many other jobs, or even as hard as some people in third world countries work, but for me, and many others I work with, UPS is very hard work.

I work as a sorter at UPS.  Basically, it’s a job where I have packages of all sizes, and up to 70 pounds, coming at me at a rate of 1200 or more packages an hour.  As such, I’m supposed to sort these packages at at least 1200 an hour.  The average weight of a package is probably somewhere around 25 lbs.  Now that probably doesn’t seem like much, but when you’re there for 4 or more hours a day, and you’re on your 4800th package, even the light packages can start to seem like they’re heavier than what they ought to be.

So the people in the unload, unload semi trailers – some long, some short – as fast as they possibly can (Because at UPS, it’s all about speed and money, not about the person or their safety as much as they’d like to claim it is.  One observation I made, was that what you learned in the “classroom” didn’t seem to apply all that much out on the floor, especially during peak season.  Also, the supervisors seem inconsistent in what rules and regulations they apply.).  These packages get placed on an “extendo,” which is just an extendable conveyor belt that goes the length of the trailer (most of the time), and then they travel to us sorters where we are waiting at a belt that is perpendicular to the extendo belt.  So as a sorter, things look like an upside down T.  These packages then hit a diverter so that they come to you and not to the next guy down the line, you pick up the packages, and place them on one of 6 belts with a total of 12 colors on them (meaning if you don’t get a certain package all the way up against the side of belt on the “side pan” it’s not going to go to the right place.  If this happens, it’s a mis-sort and it’ll most likely come back to your sort aisle making more work for everybody.  It’s not a big deal though, it happens so often because everything is so fast paced that if you have a mis-sort or 9, you just deal with it later).  These belts are perpendicular to you, so you always have to pivot to put the packages on the belts.  3 belts are about waist level with you and flat, and 3 belts are above those.  I’m about 5’7″ tall, and the three upper belts (called transverses) are at about eye level with me.  Those upper belts have a steep incline too.  If the belt is worn down, packages will slide off.  If you place a package on the belt a little bit the wrong way, it may roll, and roll fast, and roll hard.  People could get seriously injured by a “roller.”  Just last week I got conked in the head with about a 10 lb. box from the upper belt.  It made me dizzy and gave me a headache for the rest of the day.

Sort aisleThis picture, found on a google image search (belongs to Matt Crowell) is similar to what the aisle that I work on looks like.  We don’t have a big yellow bar on the left though, ours is all open and the belts that do run are higher up, and on the right, where the whitish-grayish bar is, that is about where our “upper transverses (belts)” are.  Someone must have snuck in a cell-phone to take this picture, because except for supervisors, hourly employees (for the most part) aren’t allowed cell phones in the building.

So anyway, there’s the description of the the work area, so why is it so bad to work there?  Mostly, because it is so fast paced, the labor can often be described as “brutal,” and it takes a toll on your body.  There are other reasons as well, but I’ll just mention some.  The sorters often have to handle the boxes two or three times, unlike the unloaders or the loaders.  Often times, our belts will shut off and we have to “stack down” our boxes, all the while trying to keep pace with the unloaders who quite often go way faster than the 1200 per hour.  At UPS, getting those trucks unloaded is the most important thing it seems.  Once the packages are in the building, we can deal with them how we need to, but they need to get off the truck first.  So the supervisors are constantly pushing the unloaders to unload as fast as they can (often without regard to the safe work methods we were taught in the classroom), and they hammer the sorters if we have to stop the unloaders because we can’t keep up.  Most of the time we can as long as we can see the labels on the boxes and the belts are running, but no matter how fast the unloaders unload, I can only sort as fast as the belts move.  So when we stack down, at some point, we have to pick those boxes back up (now from feet level instead of waist level) and put them on the belts.  When this gets really bad (and it does; everyday) we just say that we’re building our igloo (because quite literally, you place boxes all around you to the point that you box yourself in until the flow starts going again).

Sometimes, we get “straight shots.”  These are the same type of packages in a large quantity.  Boxes of paper are the worst.  Usually, they’re 35-40 lbs, they go the upper belts, and there are just enough of them right in a row to make your arms and shoulders feel like they’re going to fall off.  The repetitive nature of straight shots, really no matter how much they weigh, is rough on your body.

This brings me to another reason working at UPS stinks.  The wear and tear on your body.  I have never worked a job where I am this sore ALL the time.  With the up, down, pivot, lift, etc., the amount of calories you burn, the repetitive nature of the job, I am always sore.  My neck hurts, my shoulders hurt, my biceps hurt, my forearms and wrists hurts, my thighs ache, my hamstrings hurt, I got blisters on my toes (only in my first two weeks though), the joints of my fingers hurt (from grabbing boxes all day), I get headaches more often (from working like a dog and only getting a 10 minute break to try to cram down as much food as you can), my back is sore, and I’m simply exhausted after I’m done there.  Some of my co-workers say the same thing, so I’m just not whining because I’m a wimp.  There are people who have been working there for years and they still say that they’re sore.

Have I gotten used to the work?  Yes.  I am definitely stronger and have more muscular endurance than when I first started, but the work is still the same everyday, which means that it kicks your butt!  I’ve been working there for 3 months now, Monday-Friday, and I’m still sore and in pain every day, including the weekends that I’m not working.  UPS is a fast-paced, physical, hard work environment.  It’s hot in the summer, freezing in the winter, loud, dirty, and not fun.  It’s a paycheck.  Literally, that is all it is.  UPS will claim benefits will draw people in, but at least under our current union contract, those don’t start until you’ve been there for 1 year.  You don’t get any paid vacation time until after 1 year.  Basically, you have to be at UPS for at least a year before you can even begin to say that it’s a “good” job.  Problem is, most people don’t stay that long.  Why?  Because the work is brutal, and some of the supervisors are too.  Look, bottom line is, UPS cares about their reputation and their money, not you.  You are a working, expendable grunt to them.  They are hiring nearly every week because the turnover rate is so high.  Of course, UPS doesn’t mind.  They don’t have to pay benefits to people who don’t
stay.

I came to UPS for the paycheck.  I needed to make at least $100 a week to be able to pay for my seminary class.  I found out they have tuition assistance and that draws in a lot of students.  However, don’t plan on getting it right away.  Unless you go to a UPS partner school where they pay the money up front, you have to get reimbursed at the end of the semester and have all the associated paperwork.  But, this process can take 2-6 weeks, and you have to be an employee there to get reimbursed.  So, unless you plan on staying at UPS more than semester, don’t expect to get reimbursed.  I’m not getting reimbursed most likely.  Why is that Jeremy?  Well, because I have found another, better job.  I don’t start this job until January, but if the reimbursement process takes that long, then I won’t get the money anyway.  Now granted, I didn’t start working at UPS because tuition assistance was foremost in my mind; the paycheck was, but potentially getting back $1100 would be nice for sure.  I thought I’d be at UPS longer than what I am going to be when I started, but after about 3 weeks, I started looking for other jobs.  I didn’t look seriously, but one job came up that I just had to apply for.  I ended up getting it.  Overall, it will be a much better job for me than UPS ever was, but I just think it’s sad that I won’t be getting my tuition reimbursement when that is one thing that draws students to UPS.  I think that UPS knows this however.  They know that many students will only stay for one semester.  They draw them in with a tuition assistance program, and then, at the end of fall, they don’t process the paper work until the middle of January, and by that time, the student has left UPS for whatever reason, and oh, UPS doesn’t have to pay the tuition reimbursement because student is not a current employee anymore.

Seriously, on the outside, UPS may seem like a good company to work for, but having only been there 3 months, I’ve seen and heard how UPS cuts corners and deceives (especially its union employees).  They will protect their reputation and their dollar first and foremost, at almost any cost to their employees.  However, I suppose if you’re able to stay on for at least a year, get some seniority under your belt, and are able to get the benefits, it may not be that bad of a job, but it will still be brutally hard work.  The pay may be decent, but I just don’t think that it compensates for the wear and tear on your body.

So, I am not staying at UPS, and I am SO happy about it.  In my new job, the physical work won’t be as brutal, there are some different benefits that are more applicable to me (and I don’t have to wait a year to get them), my boss(es) actually care about me as a person, the environment is much better to work in (both people wise and building wise), and the hours better fit my schedule.

Is UPS really so horrible?  Well, yes, it is.  I could list some good things to say about UPS, as there are a few, but compared to other jobs that are out there, and especially compared to what dedicating 4 years of your life to a college degree can get you, there are much better life options out there than UPS.  UPS, like any other major company, has a great propaganda machine of how great it is to work for them, but the reality is, it is not great and unless you’d be one of the very fortunate few to be lucky enough to have a decent position within the company, UPS is not a great company to work for.

Oh, and one other note too.  Whether you’re shipping UPS or some other company, please, please, please pack your items very well.  Packages get kicked, thrown, stomped on, and somewhat abused at UPS (though I’d say 90% are just fine), and when UPS employees are working like dogs, it’s like one of my co-workers said, “People have to pack their stuff good because I work too hard with not enough pay to care.  Caring is above my pay grade.”  Yep, that about sums it up.  Another UPS employee put it this way, “UPS employees put 8 hours worth of work into a 4 hour day.”  Couldn’t have said it any better myself.

Jeremy Shunk

Democrats Excited to Bring Back the Republicans?

Vote for Hope?
Vote for Change?                                                         What our politicians see!
Vote for Healthcare Reform?
Vote for Employee Free Choice Act?
Vote for Cheaper Drug Prices?
Vote for Re-regulation of the Banking Industry?
Vote for Jobs?
Vote for the Economy?
Vote for the End of Gitmo?
Vote for the end of Iraq?
Vote for Improved Policy Decisions in Afghanistan?
Vote for Fairness in Media?
Vote for Supporting the American Worker?
Vote for the Support of the American People?
Looks like we’re batting zero so far!
The scariest part is it looks like there isn’t anybody on the people’s side.
The Democrats and Republicans all look the same.
 Corporatist=Corporatist be they Republican or Democrat!
When will our politicians be about the people? Not about the money?
   What do we do when there is no choice?
            The people woke up in the last election.
                                      Now the politicians need to open their eyes!


Governor Ritter, No Labor Support?, No Election

    Your last act of defiance What a surprise! Governor Bill Ritter has announced he won’t seek re-election in Colorado. He states family issues as his major reason for stepping down.
     I contend the lagging poll numbers, and the fact that he turned his back on the base, are the reasons he’s leaving. The base being the labor organizations that spent millions of dollars, and supplied boots on the ground, to get him elected. What did he do for labor? Vetoed any solid pro-labor legislation to be put on his desk. His days have been numbered ever since. He then turns around and puts Mr. Anti-Labor Senator Michael Bennet into Ken Salazar’s seat. Bennet is well known to oppose the Teachers Unions in the state of Colorado. He had a number of better possibilities such as Joan Fitzgerald, or Andrew Romanoff, but no, he went with an anti-labor guy.
     These guys live in a dream world. Who’s going to show up for them, when they turn into the very corporate jack-ass we voted out in the first place?
     The politicians on the National level are about to discover the same situation. We voted them in to represent the people, not the corporations, and who do they support? The corporations.
     As I’ve stated in the past, the last bastion of the people is the vote. Why do you think the corporations spend billions of dollars on the media outlets? To influence the less attentive ones of you that “you need to vote against your own best interest”. Media loves to influence the “low information” or “easily influenced voter”.
     Are you in either of those classifications? I doubt it if you are reading this site.
     Until we demand election reform, and/or take back our media outlets, we will continue to be a badly divided country. Our politicians are about the people that pay them, not the people that vote for them.
     Election reform or die!

First they steal Healthcare, Next Shot? Social Security

     Well the corporatists have successfully blocked the health care debate, and given us nothing. Now they are after the Golden Goose, Social Security. They want to reduce the American worker to the level of the Chinese cooly. Slave labor. The “haves”, and “have nots”. Most of you, regardless of your political persuasion, will be a “have not”. You will work till you die. Die young. Your children will work young and die young, with no light at the end of the tunnel.
                                           Better wake up soon.

Social Security theft through media control! Read it here!

United Parcel Service Holiday Helper Scam

Here is an interesting and entertaining first hand observation of what it’s like to be a Christmas Helper.

I applied and was hired as a Driver’s Helper and I will admit it was
told to me and all of us up front during an orientation meeting that
we might be working every single day. Be aware that there is not much
information as to the amount of hours one would be able to work and no
information I could find as to the rate of pay.

After the initial orientation you are notified that you have been
hired and are required to attend mandatory training. It is at this
time when we were told of all the great opportunities for working and
making some nice side money over the holidays. In fact we were told
that some new hires were actually taken from after the training and
put to work that very afternoon.

Now that United Parcel has you in training it is then and ONLY then
that you find out that you will be making a mere minimum wage. I work
out religiously in the gym five days a week, so the physical
requirements of the job did not hurt my feelings one bit. I get in a
work-out when I would be working. We then find out about the
appearance and clothing requirements. We have to have no-slip shoes in
black or brown and pants and certain color undershirts and a jacket
since it is obviously the winter season.

Upon completion of a nearly three hour training class we were all
informed that there were no pants and shirts available for the
“required” uniforms. The jacket was not thicker than a common wind-
breaker so since you were required to conform to the clothing
standards, you did not find out until the last minute that you would
have to go out with you own money and buy what amounted to about 80%
of the uniform with no reimbursement offered by United Parcel Service.

You were also told that if you wanted to work you had better be close
to a phone and available between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. each morning
Monday through Friday. We were told dispatch would contact us and tell
us where and when to meet the drivers.

Well friends, as it turns out the entire process turned out to be very
mis-leading and costly both in time and in money and here is why.

I had to buy thermal underclothes and pants as I had nothing in the
“required” colors and as stated before only a wind-breaker jacket was
furnished.

The first two days I stayed next to my telephone / cell for almost
eight hours waiting for a call for work. At about 9:25 a.m. on the
second day I was finally called and offered a measly four hours of
work in an area twelve miles from my requested area of work. All this
at minimum wage.

My theory is, is that UPS over-hires for Holiday Driver’s Helpers
thereby saturating the job pool. When it gets busy they have a bunch
of chumps like me to chose from and we all have to share in a smaller
piece of the pie as concerns hours available for work. When initially
we are told that we have the opportunity to work anywhere from eight
to twelve hours per day.

So in summary, it has been my unfortunate experience that:

If you want to spend your own money buying your own “required” uniform
clothing with no reimbursement and no actual uniform and:

If you want to spend your own “required” time without getting paid
sitting next to your telephone or cell phone waiting for a call that
may or may not come that day to report for work and:

If you want to find out that you are offered only a small number of
hours to work at minimum wage when it has been promoted to you that
you will be REALLY, REALLY, REALLY busy during the holiday rush then:

THIS PIECE-O-CRAP JOB IS FOR YOU!!!! ( If indeed you get to have much
of a job )

I calculated that even being fair to UPS and I was able to work even
six hours a day before Christmas Eve ( which you are “required” to
work ) that I would make a paltry four to five hundred dollars during
December 2009. What a joke. And UPS on their website advertises why
you should come to work for them rather than one of those boring
retail jobs. My son is working in retail part-time during the holidays
and gets steady hours and makes over a dollar more per hour than what
UPS pays.

I found the entire program to be extremely misleading and a borderline
scam. This is coming from someone who REALLY wanted to work. I turned
in the wind-breaker last Friday. To see what “Brown” can do for you, I
would advise you to FLUSH it as soon as possible as this really
stinks. Merry Christmas….NOT!!!

Playball – Placerville California