Is it Time to Resign?

       Are you worried about Peak? Are you stressing about the combination of bad weather, high stop counts, a worthless helper and running in the dark? 
       Well….. maybe it’s time to resign. I know it’s crossed your mind. It always does at this time of year. Go ahead, do it.
It’s time to resign yourself to doing it their way.
       It’s time to resign yourself to doing the job exactly the way UPS wants it done. It’s time to stop working off the clock and start taking your full lunch between the third and sixth hours. resign yourself
       It’s time to resign yourself to cut out this crap of parking on the wrong side of the street and sheeting in the car and leaving your DIAD in the holder and running up to the house and back.
       It’s time to realize that by not using the methods you are risking your job. The company doesn’t feel they have an understaffing problem. They believe they have a lot of drivers who are doing their own thing and not using the methods and wasting a lot of time in the process. Then these drivers complain about over dispatching and long hours.
       It’s time to realize that the company is going to come after you to get you to run better numbers and they are going to attack your methods. If your methods are sloppy and they improve your stops per hour with a simple ride along, then you are going to have a lot more problems in the future than you have now. You are going to have the same dispatch but increased pressure to go faster because you demostrated that you could do more using the methods. 
        Use the methods.
The methods will set you free.

Quote of the Day

     Quote of the day from Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

A Letter to Denverbrown

Dear Denverbrown:
        My name is H…. W……… I am looking for a little help. I have been a driver for eight years. I had fallen into a comfortable routine delivering my route. I never had an absentee problem, and I got along with my supervisors OK. That is until we got this new guy.
        He started out riding me pretty hard. He upped my dispatch and when I complained he told me to blow it out my you-know-what. I felt that he was very disrespectful to me. I let the whole thing blow over, but now he treats me badly on a regular basis. One day I finally had enough and I yelled back at him in front of everybody. I used the same language to him that he regularly used to me, but the company fired me for creating a hostile work environment. I don’t think this is fair.
        Their policy is supposed to be for everyone yet that supervisor is still here, and I’m not. My feeling is that the company and their policies are hypocritical. My union steward told me I should have filed a grievance under (I think) Article 37 for harassment the very first time I felt threatened by this supervisor. Now I’m the man out and I hear he is still treating people like this.
        The thing I don’t get is why the company just lets him go on the way he is. I guess he gets them good numbers because they just let him treat everyone with an iron fist. I always assumed we were in this battle together to make the company successful. Now I find out that the management is only there to make themselves successful at my expense. They just don’t really care about my family, my health, my safety, my future, or me.
        After eight years I now see that I should have been more aware of the Union’s function. Unfortunately I had to be terminated to see it. I could have saved myself a bunch of trouble if I had not been afraid to raise this issue with my steward, but he always seemed like a troublemaker and I didn’t want to get that reputation myself. I thought the company liked me.
        Now the company has thrown me to the wolves. I’m still hopeful I will get my job back, but I am suffering financially while the decision is made. I see how people become the Union badasses that they become. They are always covering their rear, leaving no stone for the company to turn. Never allowing the company to get anything on them. I always thought these people were just trying to cost the company money, and just had a bad attitude. Now I find out they are truly trying to protect themselves from a monster.
        Thanks for listening. I will continue to read Denver Brown so I can stay ahead of the monster.
         H… W………

Job Standards…1943

The July 1943 issue of Transportation Magazine offered these Tips on Getting More Efficiency Out of Women Employees:

       General experience indicates that “husky” girls – those who are just a little on the heavy side – are more even tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters.
       Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters, they’re less likely to be flirtatious.
       Get enough size variety in operator’s uniforms so that each girl can have a proper fit. This point can’t be stressed too much in keeping women happy.
       Be tactful when issuing instructions or in making criticisms. Women are often sensitive.
        Give the female employee a definite day-long schedule of duties so that they’ll keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes.
       Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowances for feminine psychology.

       I’m sure that if a woman had written similar standards for dealing with men, she would have had some equally interesting points to make. Unions played a major role in trying to eliminate this kind of prejudice from the workplace.

UPS Drivers May Have Been Biggest Losers in Election

When FedEx wins, UPS loses. That’s you.

     High wages and benefits that out distance the competition cannot go on forever. There will have to be parity for UPS to continue to compete. If FedEx wages do not go up, UPS wages must come down. If we have high unemployment going into the 2013 negotiations, will UPS take on the Teamsters again? We had low unemployment and high prosperity in 1997 when the Teamsters enjoyed vast public support for the strike and took UPS to the mat. That may not be the case in 2013. Negotiations begin almost a year before the contract expires. That’s 2012, not that far away.  Could you stay out this time for a month? Two months?
     I hope eveyone is putting some money aside.  

                                           FedEx Among Big Winners in Midterm Elections
WASHINGTON — One of the biggest corporate winners after Tuesday night’s watershed Republican House victories will be Memphis-based FedEx Corp., which can abandon fears that pending legislation will upset its existing labor relations.

“I think they dodged a bullet,” said David Schaffer, a Vienna, Va.-based aviation consultant and former counsel to the House aviation subcommittee.

Schaffer said it’s still possible the lame-duck Congress could pass a new, multiyear Federal Aviation Administration bill, but “I don’t think it could pass with the FedEx provision in it.”

FedEx has deployed an army of lobbyists in recent years and established a public relations campaign to defeat the provision that would have reclassified some FedEx employees under the National Labor Relations Act, allowing them to form local bargaining units that could strike and upset the company’s reputation for reliability.

The author of that provision, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn., lost his re-election Tuesday night.

The committee will be chaired by U.S. Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican, come January.

Oberstar was FedEx CEO Frederick W. Smith’s nemesis during the height of the public relations struggle last summer.

He accused Smith of “misleading the public” with a campaign accusing rival UPS of seeking a “bailout” with the labor provision.

FedEx spokesman Maury Lane said Wednesday that Smith would have no comment on Oberstar’s loss.

Lane said, “Yesterday’s election results clearly showed that the American people will no longer tolerate special-interest legislative bailouts. FedEx Express will continue to oppose legislative initiatives that do not support marketplace competition and promote reliability in the overnight package delivery industry.”

Both UPS and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters sought the labor language to make it easier for FedEx’s truck drivers and other employees that don’t require FAA certification to organize.

Teamsters spokeswoman Leigh Strope said the union was “very saddened” by Oberstar’s defeat.

“Jim Oberstar recognized that FedEx Express, hiding under the guise of an airline, was wrong and unfair to its work force and the rest of package delivery industry,” Strope said. “The work that he started will be carried on by others who support fair competition and giving workers the right to organize.”

Both sides of the fight spent heavily, but U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., who defied his Transportation Committee chairman in voting against the provision, agreed FedEx is now better off.

“I’m sure FedEx is a big winner because, with Republicans in control of the House, that provision would never get through,” Cohen said.
Bartholomew Sullivan
, The Commercial Appeal

Peak Punishment

     It’s almost Peak Punishment time. It’s time for the company to use and abuse the people that have been their “humper dumpers”, The 400 Cluband “balls of fire” throughout the year.  The days are over for 8-hour requests, and option days. Beyond Thanksgiving the company can pretty much throw the Contract in the toilet, and let the drivers have it with both barrels.
     The sound of squealing “humpers” can be heard throughout the building, as the company heaps on the stops. Silliness like the “400 club”, and the “Production Club” rears it’s ugly head. Unfortunately many of the “lesser knowledgable” drivers get sucked into the lunacy. Many will be injured, and many will have accidents trying to produce up to the insane levels of expectation.
    Any driver that’s been through a few Peaks will tell you, “continue to work at a safe pace”. “Get done what you can get done, and let management worry about their insane expectations”.
     Accidents and injuries will still cost you your job, even at Peak. Even the greatest Producers have been fired during Peak for major accidents. Being injured at Peak is the cardinal “no-no”. Once you are injured, management will cop a, “you just couldn’t do it” attitude.  You will “forever after” have the reputation of being a wimp, and falling down on the job when the company needed you the most.
     It will just be another attack by the “abusive daddy”.
     Given the economic, and political climate, the push will be even greater, so prepare yourself. 
                                         Do not get sucked in!

Expecting Representation

   I Can See in Your Mind  Most drivers go through their professional life expecting the Union to represent them. The obvious thought is that, “I pay my dues, the Union should be there for me”. Every one of these drivers is absolutely right in that assumption. The problem is, the Teamsters are not mind readers. Many drivers just talk under their breath, and when they have issues, they keep the issues to themselves, never communicating with the Steward or the Business Agent assigned by their Local to represent them.
     Most of the time a simple question, or statement, can trigger the system to work in the favor of the driver. The contract provides for the rights of the driver, and sets up a formal procedure to be followed to address the driver’s issues with the company. Many drivers simply do not avail themselves of their rights. OF course when the issues build to overflowing, the drivers will often attack the Teamsters for not being there to represent them when they have problems. They will often bad mouth the Union to their fellow drivers, sending the message that the Teamsters are useless, and they are paying dues for nothing.
     All they had to do was open their mouths and ask!
Many of the drivers just think they can live a passive life, where anyone, and everyone, will simply jump forth and take care of them, without the driver having to put forth any effort at all. The driver sees everything vividly in their own mind, and they assume that the guy next to them, or the steward, or the Business Agent, sees things the same way. They project their laziness, and lack of effort onto everyone else, not taking responsibility for their actions, or lack thereof.
      When you hear another driver bad-mouthing the Union, ask them a simple question, “Who did you tell about your problems?”. Very often the answer will be management, not the Steward. Very often it will be the Supervisor that told the driver that no one could help him, and he was just out of luck. “Tough crap for having to pay his Union dues”.
     Of course they have all been listening to the pundits during the day, telling them how bad the Union is for them, and how the Union is just there to take their money. Another consequence of a lazy mind.
     The driver also knows that he or she is the most valuable person in the world, and even without the Union, they would be worth the pay and benefit package they receive. Yes, in fact, many of the drivers are just simply delusional. It goes on day after day. They are their own worst enemy.
     The Union is there for your benefit. Demand  the representation you deserve, and support the representation you get.
           Just remember, no one can read your mind, and you’re not the only person on earth!

Thinking Like a Steward

Free Speech for Whom?

        A most glaring example of the power imbalance on the job concerns the freedom of speech. Often celebrated as the most cherished right of a free citizen, most Americans are astonished to learn that freedom of speech does not extend to the workplace, or at least not to workers. It is literally true that free speech exists for bosses, but not workers.
        Free speechThe First Amendment of the Bill of Rights applies only to the encroachment by government on citizens’ speech. It does not protect workers’ speech, nor does it forbid the “private” denial of freedom of speech. Moreover, in a ruling that further tilted the balance of power (against workers) in the workplace, the Supreme Court held that corporations are “persons” and therefore must be afforded the protection of the Bill of Rights.
        So, any legislation (e.g. the National Labor Relations Act) or agency (e.g. the National Labor Relations Board) that seek to restrict a corporate “person’s” freedom of speech, is unacceptable. Employers’ First Amendment rights mean that they are entitled to hold “captive audience meetings” – compulsory sessions in which management lectures employees on the employers’ views of unions. Neither employees nor their unions have the right of response.
        It’s almost as if the worksite is not a part of the United States. Workers “voluntarily” relinquish their rights when they enter into an employment relationship. So, workers can be disciplined by management (with no presumption of innocence) and they can be denied freedom of speech by their employer. The First Amendment only protects persons (including transnational corporations designated as persons) against the infringement of their rights by government – but not the infringement of rights of real persons (workers) by the private concentration of power and wealth, known as corporations.
        Such limitations on workers’ rights are incompatible with the requirements of a genuine democracy. In comparison to European countries, the legal rights of workers in the US are remarkably limited. For a country that prides itself on individual rights, how can we permit the wholesale denial of those rights for tens of millions of American workers?
        Think about it.


Better Than Coffee

       I was in my center one time, in the check-in area. It was about 7:50 am and, although I didn’t start until 8:45, I had come in early for a local hearing that we had scheduled for 8am on the other side of the building. Most of my group was crowded around, talking and waiting to go to work.
       I was holding 2 grievances I had just written for a driver who asked me if I could help him out before going to my meeting. That’s when the Division Mgr  walked up and asked, “What have you got?”
       I said, “A couple of grievances, this one is a supervisor working grievance ( I laid it aside) and this one charges harassment, over-supervision and requests that management stay off car until a local hearing can be held.”
       Mgr – Are you on the clock? Who authorized you to go on the clock and do Union work this morning?
       Me – I have a local hearing on boxline 6 at 8am.Nothing wakes me up in the morning like a good argument
       Mgr — Who did you tell, because I’m gonna ask them?
       Me – My manager.
       Mgr – I’m gonna ask him.
       Me – Go ahead and ask him.
       Mgr – I have the right to go out on car and train my people.
       Me – He’s been trained for 3 days and when he files an over-supervision grievance then you have to get off car until a local hearing is held.
       Mgr –I have the right to train my people and I can tell you right now we are coming out again today.
       Driver – I know the methods, I had a 2 day methods ride just 2 weeks ago, management is harassing me.
       Mgr – How are we harassing you?
       Driver – Saying things like, after I go the bathroom, can you go faster now that you dumped that big load? He’s harassing me about my in-car routine when I had a different car all three days.
       Mgr – I have guys out there jerking me around, taking bathroom breaks every half hour.
       Me – This driver knows the methods, let him go out and do his job.
       Mgr – He does? Look at these numbers, he’s a buck seventy-eight over and has 65 methods violations.
       Me – Nobody’s perfect, we all have methods violations, give the guy chance.
       Mgr – I’ll give him a chance, I’ll ride with him myself and if I tell him 3 times to honk his horn at a residential stop and he doesn’t do it a fourth time, I’ll fire him. How’s that? And here is something else–you think about how you are going fight it – Production rides.
       Me – I’m sure we will find a way to fight it.
       Mgr – The guy is an hour sevent-eight over, how am I supposed to dispatch him and keep him under nine-five? I have to pay him for 8 hours, don’t I? That’s in the contract.
       Me – Yes you do, but that only applies if he works under 8 hours, that has nothing to do with a planned day.
       Mgr – So how do I dispatch him to get him under nine-five is he doesn’t plan?
       Me – You send him out with what you show is seven and a half. Nothing wakes me up in the morning like a good argument
       Mgr – I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll send him out with a planned day, tell him not to miss even one package and be under nine-five, and if he doesn’t do it, I’ll fire him.
       Me – I need to get to my meeting, it’s almost 8 o’clock.
       Mgr – I’m gonna ask who authorized that.
       Me – I was hoping to get these grievances signed before I went over there, do you want to sign them? 
       Mgr – No, you’re not on the clock.

       The whole group got to witness this exchange. Afterwards, several drivers told me it was a real eye-opener.
One guy said it was better than coffee.

      An argument in front of the group is worth ten behind closed doors.

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