The B.R. Theory of Contract Negotiation

    The Senior Driver on Strike The theory of negotiation has been named for the guy I keep hearing it from. I won’t mention his real name, but his silly idea permeates the Rank and File at UPS. The theory begins with the assumption that the company hates it’s senior employees. The assumption is these employees cost the company money because they balk at hauling ass, and balk at long days, and raise hell for various reasons with management. Why would a company have any reason to keep such malcontents around?
     The fact is, while the company raises complaints about these drivers, the reality is they love them, and understand that their profitability is based on the steady, day to day, performance of these drivers. These drivers show up everyday. The company knows they have families, and financial obligations that will keep them at work, and interested in keeping their jobs.
     The B.R. theory assumes that since the company wants to get rid of the senior driver, they will give concessions to them, up to and including buy outs to get them to retire. Yeah Right!
     First of all, new drivers are very expensive to teach all of the nuances of delivery. Many simply can’t deal with the need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. In this day and age of the DIAD, and PAS, and Telematics, learning this job is difficult, and costly to the company.
      Newbies are responsible for at least 80% of the claims that are paid by the company. Most senior drivers know the ropes for driver release methods, and know it’s not worth the risk making bad driver release deliveries.
     Newbies are involved in most of the accidents reported, (and many unreported), to the company, and also are involved in the most serious accidents. Most senior drivers know that accidents are one of the quickest ways to lose their jobs, and have learned most of the safe driving techniques used by the safest of drivers. They have watched the Ball Haulers come and go over the years, gleaning the company’s praise for production, only to wipe out a Grand, or crush some old lady in a car, hurrying through a yellow light to keep their stops per hour up.
     So the assumption that the company will buy out it’s dependability, and it’s reputation, and turn the company over to the Spit fire, crash and burn, package tossers is not only ridiculous, but down right stupid.
     The negotiations will surround the company’s cost of doing business. One of the major considerations to that cost, will be the competition, and their costs. Remaining competitive is a key to improving the bottom line. Training new drivers is one of the most expensive costs to the company. They therefore will do everything they can to keep the “already trained” people there.
     That sounds great until you remember that the average wage at Fed-Ex is $5 to $8 per hour less than at UPS. They also pay a portion for their health care, and retirement plans.
     While the company appreciated the dependability of it’s work force, the desire to get that dependability at a cheaper cost is huge.
     So the contention that the company will “buy out”, “coerce”, or “negotiate”, the older workforce out of existence is crazy. Everyone inside knows that most drivers would love to move on to greener pastures, but 
                                   It ain’t gonna happen!
     Every driver should get closely involved with the negotiating process. Attend any meetings held by the Local to express the wants and desires of the hourly workforce. Let management know that you will support your National Negotiating Committee right down to striking if the need arises. Stay informed of the negotiating process through your stewards, and Business Agents. Be sure to attend any meeting the Local puts on when they bring back the potential New Contract. Be prepared to encourage the drivers around you to vote on that contract. 
                 A strong, united, workforce will win a strong contract. Be a part of it.
                                                    Your family is depending on you.

Are the Unions finished?

Someone asked  me  the other day what I thought the country will be like when the unions are all gone. While I shuddered at the thought of a whole country of WalMart workers, it bothered me that he assumed that the unions were finished. He said that it worried him that big banks and multinational companies were buying Washington and he thought big money will take what’s left from the middle class. He felt the unions were doomed.
I couldn’t agree more that corporations and billionaires have gotten to nearly every politician in Washington. Every one. But I did disagree that the unions were finished. In fact, I think unionism is on the verge of a comeback. There is a great article in The NATION  about Unions getting their groove back.
Here’s a little sample:

Making Unions Matter Again

“…. unions should plan direct actions with workers that respond to the issues facing them. How about taking over the offices of big credit-rating agencies and occupying them 24/7 by the thousands until they agree to erase all the bad credit heaped on anyone who has made a late mortgage payment because they lost their job or their hours were cut back?”