Why Be Prepared??

Every driver should carry a little sales lead packet in his package car. It could be something as simple as a sales lead card and a couple of shipping forms tucked into a overnight envelope. You never know when the opportunity to make a sale might arise.
        Be ready for anythingStewards sometimes have a hard time selling this idea to drivers because the drivers chafe at the thought of setting up a new account, after all, who do you think is going to have to service it?  And what driver these days wants to increase the work load on a route that is probably already running nine and a half hours a day. But growing the business is what makes our jobs secure and that benefits all of us and our families. 
       But here is an even better reason to carry a sales lead packet.
       Be prepared for an unexpected production ride. One of the things everyone shoud do on a production ride is a sales lead. Take the time to grow the business when management is on car. They aren’t going to stop you from spending a little time selling. AND…it will reduce your demonstrated stops per on road hour.
        So, be prepared, carry a sales lead packet in your car at all times.
You never know when you might need it.

Believing the Company

   He's a Liar and a Cheat!  Driver Joe Humperdumper just committed the cardinal sin. He left a package on a doorstep of an apartment. Of course the package disappeared and instead of making him pay for it, we’re going to fire him for making bad driver release deliveries. Just look at this picture. Who in their right mind would leave a package out in the open like this? Driver Joe Humperdumper is the worst at driver release of any driver in this center.
     That was the story the center manager greeted me with upon my arrival to work one Tuesday morning instead of hello. I can’t tell you how many times management has approached me, as the steward, when I got to work telling me of some horror story or another. Telling me how Jane Doe, or John Smith driver was absolutely the biggest criminal on earth for stealing everything from time, to toilet paper from the company, and how they were going to send them to the moon. I know this sounds like exaggeration, but that’s the way it seemed.
     Ironically I spent a short time as a part time supervisor prior to going driving. During that time as a supervisor, they sent me to a Management Labor relations class. Part of the class was a movie showing how a story changes depending on who’s telling it, and what perspective they are coming from. The final part of the training was teaching me not to make a decision till I hear the whole story. Man was that an important lesson when I became a steward.
    The good part about them being in a hurry to get me on their side, was that it gave me time to approach the offending driver, and get his side of the story going into the meeting. Of course the driver usually had an “I didn’t do anything” attitude, and it was usually tough to get the whole picture from them.
     We’d go into the meeting, and very often the company’s case was a whole lot less dramatic than they initially let on. Usually the picture didn’t show the surrounding area, or the tire tracks were not necessarily from our vehicle, or the item hit had been hit a hundred times before, and the driver just happened to be there that day, so he must have done it, and management continued with their usual, “all of our driver’s are cheats and liars” attitude.
     The steward, of course, is left to sort out the details. What is fact. What is assumed. What actually happened. We all know that on occasion the driver did something. Other times it could not be proven that the driver was anywhere near the incident. Most of the time the center manager was taking discipline because the “Lord and Master” above ordered them to.
     Usually the driver was ordered to continue “Covering their ass”, and to be sure to talk to the steward if anything else happened. If discipline was taken, of course the steward filed a grievance, and the process moved on to the grievance procedure. It was the rare, more severe cases that went much further than that. Rarely did anyone pay for a package, and rarely did the driver suffer more than a written warning in their Pittsburgh for a minor infraction.
     Of course all of the drivers were assumed to be liars and cheats from the beginning, and they were guilty of anything anybody ever said they did. Fortunately the union saw to it, that the drivers would have their day in court, and that the stewards were trained to see through the company’s attempts to influence the system.
     The most important part of this scenario is to be sure you do not talk to management about any issue without a steward present. Anything you say will be used against you! Be sure to be open and honest about any incident with your steward when they approach you ahead of the meeting with the company. That steward will be the difference in whether the case will be settled quickly or escalate up the grievance ladder. Finally, never assume that anything is a minor issue. Cover your ass, and call whenever something happens out of the ordinary. They may scoff, and huff, that it’s just a minor deal, but when push comes to shove, it shows you were acting in good faith for the company, not trying to lie, cheat, or steal, like they think you will do.

Shut Up and Win

     What a Political Season this is. Do you notice how the latest strategy for the more radical candidates this year is to shut-up. IfWe Warlocks aint talkin'! they are not available to the public, they don’t have to put their foot in their respective mouths about destroying Social Security or Medicare. They don’t have to tell you that they are fringe candidates with radical ideas about abortion, and stem cells. They don’t have to tell you that they are opposed to government intervention, anti-union, and totally sold out to the corporations.
     These candidates are counting on the fact that, because you are pissed off at the economy, and disappointed with the results of the current set of politicians, you will vote for any candidate other than the incumbent. They therefore don’t have to tell you what they stand for.
     That attitude is creating a frightening future for our country. Instead of picking the best person for the job, we will be picking the “anybody else”, candidate. Picking the alternative is not a bad thing necessarily if you know what these people truly stand for. To pick them without any knowledge of their positions, and their backgrounds, is truly political suicide.
     Do you really want the “witches, and warlocks”, to run our country? Do you really want the anti-social security, and anti-medicare, and anti-union crowd to control your life. These are the “political nightmares from hell” that have created the disaster we live with today. They created the greatest corporate giveaway in the history of the United States. They have created the largest disaster to ever hit the middle class in the history of the middle class.
               Let them know. If they aint talkin’, you aint votin’!

Thorough Investigation Saves a Job

        The steward’s investigation can be the most important work a steward does. I once had a case where my investigation saved a man’s job.
Take notes         
The company came to me and announced that they had received a serious complaint on a driver and were considering termination. They showed me the written complaint. A lady was charging that the driver was hanging around her kids, asking the 10 year old boy to do stuff like play catch and tried to give the girl a hug. When the mom confronted him, he even had the audacity to make amorous advances toward her also. The company’s case looked pretty strong. I knew my investigation would have to be quick, yet thorough. So I set to work. 
        Here is how a good investigation is done.
The first thing you want to do is learn the facts. 
           Who is involved. 
           What was said or done? 
           When did it happen? 
           Where did it happen? 
           And Why did it happen — what ‘s the underlying cause?
        In conducting a thorough investigation, you should interview all witnesses, request all relevant information from management in regard to the case, review the contract to see what violations occurred, look to see if a past practice was violated, and examine to see if there are grievance settlements on similar situations. Additionally, it is crucial that you document your investigation (take notes), especially interviews with witnesses, because if a case goes to panels, the panel may make its decision based on the evidence that you are uncovering.
Investigate         After you’ve investigated a grievance that does not involve a termination, you would want to present the facts and circumstances that led to the grievance, listen to management’s response to see if there is any room to settle, and if not, end the meeting. We call this agreeing to disagree. You are under no obligation to agree with management at this meeting. If you cannot resolve the grievance at this step, take the necessary action to move the grievance to the next step.
        In my case where the woman was accusing the driver of inappropriate behavior, I knew my first goal was to save this driver’s job. I interviewed my driver and he was adamant that his actions were not out of line. He didn’t understand why the mother was so upset, he felt he hadn’t done anything wrong. As often happens in a situation like this, the company’s iron clad case began to unravel as the investigation revealed facts not in the original statement. In this case for instance, it turned out that while the driver was often in uniform, all of the interactions had occurred after work at the house of the mother and the two kids. Could the company terminate an employee for actions that occurred after work?
        I wanted to interview the mother and kids, but you have to be very careful when the other people involved do not work for UPS. Always ask your BA for advice before conducting offsite interviews. In this case, I was allowed to speak with the aggrieved party on the phone and this turned out to be the crucial interview.
        In this case the driver’s job was saved because a thorough investigation brought to light facts that the company case did not reveal. This driver was one of many drivers in our building this summer working unbelievable amounts of excessive overtime. He had not been home before dark on even the longest of summer days, he had violated 60 hours on several occasions. The family that had he was trying to ingratiate himself to turned out to be his own family. They didn’t recognize him anymore since he only ate and slept there when everyone else was in bed.
        Doing a thorough investigation is a important part of a steward’s job.

Your Vote= Success/Failure On the Next Contract

   Vote For Your Life  How you vote politically has a direct effect on the success, or failure of your National Negotiating Committee to win, or even maintain benefits you have come to expect, and rely on at UPS. Many of you give in to the rhetoric of the anti-union factions, and feel that voting for those candidates with those views is going to help you in the long run. The fact is, most of those candidates feel you should be paying 100% of your health care, and your family should be responsible for their own health care. They also believe that forcing the company to provide you with a pension, places an unreasonable burden on the company, and the company’s profit margin.
     They also believe that all services provided of any kind, should be payed for by you if you use them. Believing Social Security should be privatized only dumps the trillions of dollars within that system into the pockets of the big bankers, and allows them to put another notch in their handle for their profits, and the destruction of the middle class, (which is you by the way).
     Unfortunately, because so many of you continue to vote that way, the Pro-union factions are moving towards corporate support. Politicians are simply “vote whores”, and will follow what their constituency wants, during the election process. After the election, they become “corporate whores”.The banking legislation, and the health care reform laws are examples where Politicians feel more comfortable voting with the corporations, than voting with the people.
     Politicians simply continue to lie to the people during the election cycle, because the corporations continue to control the purse strings, and the media in our country. We, the people, continue to be stupid, and believe the T.V., and the radio talking heads, and vote our emotions, not our pocketbooks.
     Repeal of health care reform will take you down the same road. So far, the good things out of health care reform act have begun to be implemented. No more maximums when you are sick. Child coverage to age 26. No rejection for pre-existing conditions. The insurance companies have shown their true, (we’re in it for the money) spots by raising rates at a double digit figure, then blaming the new health care. Had there been a public option, they would have lost two thirds of their customers by now due to these rate increases. Even the Anti-healthcare types would be jumping ship into the public option. Of course our political “vote whores” know they can spin it, and end up making you believe that health care reform was either the greatest thing ever, or the worst thing ever. Depends on which fence you sit on. 
      To address the upcoming contract negotiations, if the company feels empowered politically through the negotiations, you will be giving up a number of benefits. The probability of losing some, or all of your pension is real. Within UPS you all ready have a 401 K, but if you haven’t been investing in there, you may find your retirement is out the window. 50 years as a driver, what a wonderful thought. Couple that with the destruction of Social Security, and Medicare, and buddy are you screwed. If the anti-union types have been placed into the Labor Board, and are in charge of the presidency, you will have effectively given up your right to strike. You can easily expect a reduction in wage levels. You may see them implemented as new progressions, or lower wages for the new hires. It all happened once in the part time ranks back in the 90’s. Ever hear of a “red circle employee”. Those were the guys that were paid at the higher rate, but the company has systematically eliminated them over the years. There will be no fixing it “tomorrow”.
     With the Supreme court allowing unlimited corporate money into the political system, what chance does the working person have. The simple belief surrounding “voting the bums out” will give us nightmarish politicians with even less ability to help the working person, and fight the corporate takeover of the country. 
        The average UPS driver, makes around 5 to 6 dollars and hour more than the average Fed Ex driver. Do you think UPS wil allow that kind of wage differential to go unnoticed? Of course not. They will scream bloody murder about competition in the workplace. Let us not forget that your whole monetary package, including pension cost, and health care cost are also included in your overall wage package, and again, you are the highest paid in the industry. A balance will be sought by UPS if they know they have all of the tools on their side.
   Please realize how important your vote is. Corporate America follows the plan, “eliminate people’s perception that their vote is important, and we control the country”. “Coerce them into voting our interests, and we will control them”.
     Support the candidates that have your personal interest at heart. Don’t be sold a bill of goods by the corporate media. (That does include 99% of all the media). Listen carefully to what each candidate has to say, and what they say about the other guy. There may be a little truth that can be gleaned through the lies. Mostly vote for the real issues in your life. Stay away from the fringe issues. We have allowed the corporations to steal our economy by selling us on fringe issues. 
                                                      Vote for your life! Your future depends on it!


Keep Your Hands by Your Side

   Ten Hut!  One of the very first rules I learned to live by when I went to work in the Denver Hub, was to keep my hands by my side. One of the favorite tricks there was to thrust some unwanted, troublesome package into your hands, then walk away. Once you had that package in your hands, it was yours to deal with.
     Of course the natural reaction for most people is to take the package, and see if it’s something you could help with, of course assuming that if you could not do anything with it, the person handing it to you would then take it away. Not at UPS. You touched it, it’s yours.
     When the end of the sort came, you could count on the Supervisor running the primary to kick all of the trash, open boxes, damages, etc. onto the belts, sending them to the outlying belts for those people to deal with. Happened every night. Probably still happens.
     That’s the wonderful thing about UPS. Pass off the problems to someone else. The hope is that, if you are slippery enough, you won’t get stuck with it. It happens in every aspect of the company. Drivers dump on the drivers next to them. Supervisors dump on the drivers. Managers dump on the supervisors. Division managers dump on the center managers. The “Lord and Master” dumps on everybody.
     To keep out of the fight, just remember one thing. Keep your hands by your side!

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