Over the years, the personalities I have experienced in every aspect of “The Company” has been educational. As a steward for 30 of those 34 years, I had to deal with a number of “interesting” individuals. Most of the drivers deal daily with the Center Sup. or the Center Manager, but as the steward, (and an active one), we were always “going upstairs” to the Division Manager’s office. Unfortunately, as in most cases, a person remembers the worst of the bunch. I just thought I’d talk about some of the more memorable personalities I’ve seen.
The very first one that comes to mind is the screaming, yelling, walk up and down the belt with a “mad-on” attitude. While this guy came across somewhat “Coach Like”, he was too indiscriminate about who he chose to take on. He didn’t care anything about the employee he would scream at. It could be the hot dogger, hump and dumper of the year. The guy that just delivered 400 stops. If the driver’s shoes weren’t polished or his shirt wasn’t tucked in, he was all over them.
As a steward who grew up yelling, this guy was the most fun. It was a blast to bait him into an argument in front of everybody. You could hear the battle echoing throughout the building, usually with no resolution. Just the steward walking away with everyone’s respect for taking him on, and the Division Manager looking like an idiot. Of course his ego let him go on to scream another day.
The next memorable Division Manager was the “Sneaky, Conniving, Stab in the back, Hide out in the office type”. These are the guys that have “wet dreams” over Telematics. The Division Manager I remember would sit in his office pouring over yesterdays reports looking for time gaps, and indicators on all of the reports, looking for anyone that might be stealing from the company in any manner. He also would sit in his office and think of ways to screw the drivers over lunch breaks, paid breaks, or any other time as his attitude was, every driver was stealing every second from the company. The ironic thing about this guy is that he was a lying, sneaking driver, on his way up. He knew all of the tricks, because he had pulled all of those tricks, as a driver. He used to “Knob” packages with the best of them. He used to go “off area” with the best of them. He used to take “extra lunchbreak” with the best of them.
As a steward, dealing with this guy was fun also. While he could come up with some interesting twists and turns, reminding him of his past was the best defense for keeping him from terminating someone. Helping him remember the temptations that are out there on the street, was the best defense. He also had a knack for catching the “kiss asses” as they were the ones that usually cheat the system the most. That’s how he got where he was, he just never was caught. He really didn’t take people out, but he would put the fear of the “Lord and Master” in them.
The next memorable Division Manager was the, “I’m from Montana, and I’m an asshole” type of Division Manager. He came in with the flourish of “I’m going to get every one of you for anything I can get on you”. What the guy didn’t understand was that he had run into some of the most experienced, and awesome stewards at UPS. He had never seen such a tight group of stewards in Montana, where most of the centers were small, and very distant from each other, and pretty much out of touch with the real world. He found that taking on any of the drivers, took a great deal of effort, and time, and cost. The stewards showed him that they could rise to the occasion, and make his life just as miserable as he could make the driver’s.
Dealing with this guy was really pretty easy. He had never seen what the grievance process could entail when used properly. The stewards used the “pile on the paper” technique for getting him to leave people alone. The stewards also were ever watchful of this guy’s behavior, and a pattern of racism began to show, with his singling out black drivers for more severe discipline than the white drivers. When that issue was brought to the surface with upper management, the place suddenly got quiet. All due to the diligent work of the stewards.
Of course I would be remiss in not mentioning the decent, hard working Division Mangers that took care of people, and gave those driver’s the chance to straighten up their act before taking them out. The manager that cared about people in general, and was all about everyone’s success, including the employee’s, and the company’s. Of course most of those guys were usually soon out the door in this day of “cutthroat management”, and the “race to the bottom line”.
Talking about these guys, and the many more personalities, is more about showing the “behind closed doors” work the stewards do for the rank and file driver. They get to know the inner workings of these Division Manager’s heads, and they adjust how they deal with them in the many cases that “go upstairs”. A quality steward is not just about knowing the contract, and past practice, it’s also all about dealing with personalities, and negotiating on the behalf of the rank and file with the Division Manager. It takes toughness, it takes fairness, it takes a desire for the success of the company, as well as the success of the workers. One goes with the other, and many of the managers get too close to the success of the company, they forget about the success of their people, which directly affects their own succes.
It’s up to the steward to remind them!