Can You Be Buried in Your UPS Uniform?

Making that last delivery     I have to admit that I’ve been enjoying the dickens out of my retirement. I’ve been retired long enough now (18 months) to get real accustomed to not having to go to work and just waiting for the check to come at the end of the month. I’ve gotten so out of the habit of having any sort of time structure in my life that I decided to get a part time job. 
     Although I drove for UPS for 30 years, I always looked back fondly on the job I had before I put on my first pair of browns. I was florist. Now a florist isn’t the greatest job, it has 5 peak seasons. Valentines Day and Mothers Day being the worst. But I loved my job there, I started out as a driver and worked my way up to designer and even shop manager. But the pay was not the best and I was starting a family, so I took a look at Big Brown and decided to make a career there.
     But now that my career is over at UPS, I’ve gone back to the flower shop as my first post retirement employment. And it’s as much fun today as it was 30 years ago. I’m back where I started, delivering bokays. I work maybe 10 hours a week, usually three 3 hour+ days. It’s a rough schedule. And I crank out maybe 4 stops an hour. I’m not hustling. I stop to smell the roses.
     One of the aspects about floral delivery that most folks don’t think about is that we do a lot of funeral work. I’ve got 6 or 8 mortuaries that I go to. There is always a flower door just for people like me. Most times I just drop off the arrangements in the flower room and sign the log  and I’m on my way. But once in a great while, I’ll be asked to place the flowers in the viewing room.
     Well, last week the inevitable happened. I was asked if I could put the casket spray on the casket. An open casket. Well, I mustered up my best delivery man face and I walked right in there and I did it. It was just me and the mortician and the other guy. When I looked down at the other guy, lo and behold, he was wearing a Teamster jacket. My Local. I had to stare for a second. I couldn’t look away. 
     The mortician finally said something, like can you move it a little closer to the body, and it snapped me out of my trance. I hurried on out of there, but it got me thinking. I wonder if I could be buried in my UPS uniform if I wanted to? I mean after all, I spent 30 years in browns. That’s how most people know me. Strangers could walk into my funeral and say, “Oh yeah, I know that guy!”
     But one thing that came to mind is that that other guy owned his Teamster jacket.  We don’t own tour UPS uniforms. In fact, we are supposed to turn them in when we retire.
     Could I wear a UPS coat after I had “punched out” for the last time? I don’t know, it may not be worth the risk. What if I got caught? Would I be disciplined? The Brown Police are everywhere.
      But then again like I always used to say, “what are they gonna do, fire me?” 

Article by Jim Hansen in Colorado Labor Blog

With some Dem friends, who need enemies?

            The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would have made it easier to organize workers who want to be union members, is fast becoming a dim memory, with little chance of even being considered this year.

            If it isn’t passed this year, odds are that EFCA will never become law, and major labor law revisions, which would add some balance to labor-management relations, will not be achieved in your lifetime.

            Our federal labor laws have been revised only twice since the Wagner Act, the first comprehensive federal labor law, was passed in 1935, as the Great Depression was winding down.  The two revisions since, the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947 and the Landrum-Griffin Act in 1957, gave huge advantages to employers

            Even when Democrats controlled either both the U.S. House and the Senate, or the White House and both houses of Congress, as they do now, they were unable to achieve passage of any major labor law revisions. Defeats always came when key Democrats voted against the best interests of working families.          

            During the administrations of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson in the 1960s, labor worked diligently to repeal Section 14b of the Taft-Hartley Law.  Section 14b allows states to pass right-to-work laws, onerous measures that prohibit labor and management from negotiating an all-union shop.  Such laws exert downward pressure on workers’ wages and benefits.  Wage earners in right-to-work states earn $5,333 less per year than workers in other states, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

            The U.S. House of Representatives finally passed a bill in 1965 by a vote of 283 to 221 to repeal 14b.  Unfortunately, supporters in the Senate couldn’t break a Republican-sponsored filibuster, which would not have succeeded without the votes of 22 Democratic senators, and the issue was lost.

            In 1976, President Jerry Ford vetoed a “common situs picketing bill” that would have lowered the barriers for unionization of construction workers. The bill was introduced again in 1977, but was voted down in the House 217 to 205 with many Democratic representatives voting against the proposal.

            Organized labor was KO’d again during the administration of Jimmy Carter when a labor law reform bill, which would have leveled the playing field between labor and management during union organizing campaigns, was defeated.  It failed to survive another Republican filibuster, which was bolstered when 17 Democrats vote with the Republican against cloture.

            During Bill Clinton’s first term, an “anti-scab bill” was introduced that would have made it illegal for strikebound employers to permanently replace striking workers.   It passed in the House but was blocked in the Senate by the usual Republican filibuster, in which six Democrats voted with the GOP to ensure defeat of the bill.

            So while Democrats, for the most part, have been passively supportive of labor’s issues, they have refused over the years to provide enough votes to pass legislation that would have been the most meaningful to working families. 

            Instead, they have provided Republicans with key votes to pass tax breaks for corporations and millionaires. They have helped the GOP give tax incentives and loopholes to all manner of businesses, even those, in some cases, that move manufacturing plants out of the country. Democrats have voted for  huge government contracts with corrupt military contractors, such as Blackwater and Haliburton.  Over the years they have cast many votes that have helped Republicans pass legislation that has hurt working men and women.

            Moreover, Democrats have often aided and abetted GOP union busters. Two Democratic votes recently prevented the confirmation of labor lawyer Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board.  When George Bush was president, he loaded up the NLRB with corporate types who seldom, if ever, sided with labor in disputes before the board.  In addition, political apathy has allowed employers to circumvent out-of-date federal labor laws for at least 30 years.


            Meanwhile, the wages and benefits of most workers have not kept pace with the growth of their productivity since 1980. For the first time on record, the real incomes of middle-class families actually declined from 2001 to 2007. More than one-third of all income growth since 1989 has gone to the top one-tenth of one percent of all earners, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

              Workers are not getting a fair share of the wealth they helped create.

            And, they’ll never get a fair share as long as Congress refuses to deal with issues like the Employee Free Choice Act, which would be the first revision ever of our nation’s labor laws to right a longstanding wrong.

You can

TeaBaggers Hope Your Pension Collapses

     I’ve been led by the media to believe that the teabaggers are just common folks like you and me. I thought they were regular joes, blue collar workers who were fed up with big government and big spending. If that’s true, then why wouldn’t they want me to have a pension? Why would they revel in the dream that the Union pensions could go bankrupt in this economy and leave us all without our hard earned retirement funds?
Our new leaders?     In a recent article entitled The Coming Union Pension Plan Collapse  on 73Wire, a teabagger website, the author has no sympathy for the struggles of Union members and their pension plans in the current economy. He blames a lazy Union membership for our own sad state of affairs. He even gives a list of pension plan that are in trouble. But don’t get the rope out yet, the list is skewered to make things look a lot worse than they really are. If you are in any of the listed pension funds, do a little research of your own, write them and ask them if the figures given for your plan are correct. 
     It’s interesting that the article doesn’t vilify corporate backed 401(k) retirement accounts (that also tanked in recent years) but only harpoons defined benefit Union plans. And if you check out the 73Wire teabagger site a little bit more, you will see that they attack Unions in every labor article that they write.        
     That’ s a real shame, because the teabaggers, the common folk , could really benefit from the rewards of strong Unions.  If they really want to grab back the power from the elitist class, be it government or corporations, they would rally behind Union involvement as an avenue to grassroots power. 
     But unfortunately, the teabaggers appear to spew the same rhetoric as the right-wing powermongers. They hate Unions, they don’t want any kind of universal healthcare and they want to see the President fail. These are the same people that could most benefit  from collective bargaining , cheaper healthcare and a strong America.  
     It’s sad, isn’t it.

Telematics, Unintended Consequences 101

    Here is another addition in the long list of unintended consequences of Telematics. Drivers are now bidding routes with the crappy, old vehicles The Most Desired Vehicle in the Fleetbecause they are not equipped with the Telematics transmitters. Any vehicle on the ADA list has not been retrofitted with the Telematics equipment, so the drivers are wanting routes to stay out of “Gods” eye.
     The P-32 is on the short list to be smashed, but the company has been slow to replace them. The company has had a problem finding a direct replacement vehicle the size of a P-32, and therefore has chosen to fix them rather than replace them.
     Of course the idea that the drivers will remain “out of sight” is ridiculous. The sooner a driver gets under Telematics, and trains themselves in the function of the system, the sooner the driver will be at peace with the “Brown World”.
     The days of the “Lord and Master” are here. The dispatch functions are being systematically centralized. Soon the only function of the management people will be “bed check”. In other words, management’s function will be simply to make sure the drivers show up, and deal with the day to day issues of the drivers. One or two sups. can certainly handle those issues in a 60 driver center. That goal is why we are seeing the layoff of management in the current economic times. The overhead of so much management just isn’t needed any longer.
     The driver simply cannot be “replaced” by technology yet!  The driver can be controlled, and managed by technology. Management, on the other hand, can be replaced by technology.
     Over the years I have watched the technological changes, from pen and paper, to the Diad, PAS, and now Telematics. With each change the driver’s fear of company reprisal has increased. Yet the value of a good, solid, day to day driver has quintupled within the company. Until robotics, or virtual delivery can be achieved, that value will continue to rise.
      Keep those ideas in the back of your mind as you go through the day. Listen to your fellow drivers, and do not let the company “fear mongers” scare you. They need you more everyday.
                 By the way, have you put in your management letter yet?
                                                             That’s the quickest way to promote yourself out of a job.

                                   You’re not “just a truckdriver” anymore!
            The Teamsters are more important in your life today, than ever before. Get involved, or get fired.

Why Do Conseratives Hate UPS?

Exports heading overseas      The right-wing think tank, the Heritage Foundation, has found a way to criticize government efforts to increase US exports. Now I would think that exporting more manufactured goods could only be a move in the right direction to get our economy back on track and put people back to work.
     More exports, more manufacturing, more jobs. Sounds good to me and it sounds good for UPS because we fly those goods to other countries. So what could be so bad about increasing exports?

Well, the brainiacs at the Heritage Foundation think it’s too much government. “President Obama’s “Export Cabinet” wants to hire more U.S. Government (USG) bureaucrats “to advocate for U.S. business” and channel more taxpayer dollars into “export promotion activities” at the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Agriculture.” Man, that sounds nasty!

     And they go on to complain that ““improved access to credit” through increasing U.S. Export-Import Bank lending to small- and medium-size businesses from $4 billion to $6 billion through FY 2011 budget increases” would only hurt everyone in the long run, because….the lenders could play favorites with the loans.

     The bottom line they say is, “The National Export Initiative (NEI) relies on too much government interference and too many USG bureaucrats shilling for politically well-connected companies.” And to prove their point, they attack that liberal, socialist Commie company, UPS. “Another little sign—a pro-NEI press release from the United Parcel Service (UPS) was distributed at the luncheon.  Non-unionized FedEx has alleged in full-page advertisements in the Washington Post and elsewhere in recent months that the Obama Administration has
tilted USG policy in favor of UPS and their 35,000 Teamster Union drivers.”  

     So the right-wing Heritage Foundation has found a reason to hate UPS. And I thought UPS was pretty far to the right. How far to the right of UPS must The Heritage Foundation be? Apparantly they are too far out there to see that this country isn’t going to last much longer if we don’t start creating some jobs. 

Will Your Manager Get a Raise?

United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) said the total compensation paid to Chief Executive Scott Davis fell about 0.6% last year, to $6.24 million.

Davis’s 2009 base salary was flat at $1 million, in keeping with the package delivery giant’s move to freeze management salaries amid the economic downturn.

In addition, the value of stock awards included in the calculation of his total compensation slipped to $3.89 million, from about $3.97 million in 2008, according to the company’s proxy statement filed late Monday.

UPS pegged Davis’s 2008 total compensation at $5.6 million in its proxy statement last year. But Norman Black, a UPS spokesman, said a subsequent change in accounting standards for stock awards resulted in a restatement of his 2008 total compensation to $6.28 million.

Last month, UPS announced a thaw in its policy on management salary freezes for this year, citing signs of a nascent economic recovery. Black said managers will have to achieve various performance benchmarks to get them.

The company will hold its annual meeting May 6 in Wilmington, Del. No proposals from shareholders are up for consideration.

- By Bob Sechler; Dow Jones Newswires
Will your manager make his “benchmarks” and get his raise?
I wonder what that benchmark will be?
Could it be improved performance numbers for his group?
Does that mean you need to do a little more and do it faster??

Injured Postal Employees Taken Off The Job

     UPS has a long history of targeting injured workers for special treatment.  They rank problem workers by number of injuries. They give these workers special treatment, they follow them around and watch them. They look for ways to get rid of injured workers who they feel aren’t working safely. 
     UPS even makes workers earn their comp. money for the first month with its TAW (Temporary Alternate Work) program. While UPS regards TAW as a benefit, most workers think of it as punishment. They have even gone so far as to try to reduce or eliminate workers comp. payments to workers they felt had caused their own injuries by not following proper work methods. (That idea took advantage of a little known Colorado law, but fortunately didn’t work out for them.)
     The Post Office has a similar problem but has come up with a program that they hope will get rid of their injured workers. They are taking them off the job and sending them home. They used to try to accomodate injured workers, but now they are not  trying so hard. The new approach works like this:

DENVER (CBS4) ―People are sending less mail and that’s left the U.S Postal Service with a huge deficit and now employees are losing their jobs. Some workers injured on the job say they’ve become targets.

It’s the first-ever layoff at the Postal Service. Although they’re technically not calling it a layoff, it’s a work force reduction that specifically targets workers with work-related injuries.

Postal workers say the layoffs will result in longer lines and reduced services.

Bonnie Holloman started as an automation clerk, but after four years of repetitive motion, she got hurt.

“I got tendonitis, I got a sprained back and sprained knee, and this put me into limited duty,” Holloman asid.

So Holloman moved to the manual unit.

“You take the tray of mail, and each tray holds about 600 pieces of mail, you take each letter and you manually throw it,” she said.

She’s done the job nearly seven years and the repetitive motion caused four ruptured disks in her neck. But she still worked up until Feb. 3.

“They called me into the office and they said, ‘Due to your restrictions we have no work available, so get off the clock and go home.'”

Holloman is one of nearly a 100 postal workers in metro Denver being sent home.

“The Postal Service contends they are running out of money, and in 2006 they rolled out this national reassessment program designed to attack permanently injured employees,” said Gary Scott, Denver metro area local American Postal Workers Union President.

The national reassessment program involves limited duty and permanently injured Postal Service workers hurt on the job. Phase 1 of the program started in 2008. It consisted of reviewing medical records of those employees. Phase 2 rolled out this year. The Postal Service identified what jobs were available at each facility. It then attempted to match the employee with the necessary work, and if there was none, the employee was notified that no work was available.

“It’s not a dismissal, you’re basically sent home until your medical restrictions improve,” Scott said. “The Postal Service hopes you go into disability, retirement, or are permanently assigned to the Department of Labor’s workman’s comp program.”

“I was healthy when I got the job. You can’t break me and then show me the door,” Holloman said.

Holloman wants her job back.

“The work is there, even though it’s not an actual job they say, the work is available because they had to pull me out of a job to tell me there’s no work,” she said.

The postal workers union hopes to get the case in front of an arbitrator within the next year or two. Meanwhile an attorney in Texas is working on putting together a class action lawsuit against the post office.


What Is That Stuff That Trickles Down?

Organizing labor has never been easy, And FedEx knows that if it ever gets easy they will be well equal to UPS.  Here is the way the regulations are, UPS is regulated by the National Labor Relations board, and FedEx is regulated under the Railway Labor Act.  The difference is this, Air Lines and Railroads have a de facto protection against union labor,  collective bargaining contracts have to cover all workers nation wide to help prevent paralysis in the industries because of local strikes.   There are more details HERE from National Public Radio.

Congress is considering changing the status of FedEx, putting them in the same regulatory mix with UPS and other trucking and delivery companies, and making it much easier to organize workers in local terminals.  FedEx does not like this idea at all.  They have launched a multimillion dollar ad campaign to get the change in status out of the FAA renewal bill now in the Senate.  It has already passed the house.

Public Relations Week, says, “Earlier this week, FedEx launched a multimillion-dollar campaign, Brown Bailout, directly attacking its competitor United Parcel Service (UPS) for supporting legislation that could make it easier for some of FedEx’s workers to unionize. FedEx argues that the bill, currently making its way through Congress, is tantamount to a government bailout for UPS, because it would stifle competition.”  You can read that story, if you register, HERE.  UPS on the other hand says that FedEx has an unfair competitive advantage.  It seems clear they do, since UPS employees have very widespread collective bargaining agreements, along with the resultant Higher Wages, Better Working Conditions, Better Health Care Coverage, Better, fully funded, Retirement Plans, and all the other benefits that go with Union Representation.

An Article in Business Week echos that, and shows the difference in the profitability of Each company.  FedEx earned 182 million dollars on revenues of 8.14 billion.  UPS earned  718 million on revenues of 10.9 billion.  This is NOT a mistake.  FedEx had a profit of 182 million dollars on 8.14 billion dollars in revenue with a labor force that is non union, earns less than UPS workers, and UPS made 718 Million on 10.9 billion with almost full unionization.  For every 49 dollars FedEx earned on their revenue, UPS earned 59.  And, the Union Company did more business.

I am having a REALLY TOUGH TIME BELIEVING THIS. But it was published in Business Week, and they have a better reputation these days than the Wall Street Journal.  The Business Week article is HERE.  It is hard to believe for a very simple reason, I have been told, since I was old enough to read the newspapers, that unions are bad for business.

But that is not the issue here.

The issue here is should FedEx Continue to enjoy a special status designed to avoid disruptions in rail and air travel or should they play on the same field as their competitors, including UPS and other regional, national and international package delivery companies.

The FedEx Ad Campaign is going to tell you NO…they should be treated the same way the airlines are.
Karl Leuba

Does UPS Have a Moral Obligation??

     UPS has a long history of not revealing to future employers the reasons that caused them to terminate an employee. That works to your advantage if you get fired, because all potential employers are in the dark as to why or under what circumstances you left UPS.    
     It’s interesting to note here that when UPS is threatening to fire you they will tell you that they will “tell all” and prevent you from ever getting another good job if you don’t just sign off and quit. But that’s not true. In reality, they only give the dates that you were employed and nothing else. NOTHING.
     While that works to your advantage if you get canned, it works to the disadvantage of the general public, as seen in this case of Johnson VS United Parcel Service. Read the brief analysis of the case and you be the judge.
     Is UPS’s silence a wise policy or are they simply passing their problems on to others?

                                         JOHNSON v. UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC

Larry Demond Johnson was employed by Kroger Limited Partnership I at a Kroger Distribution Center. In June of 2005, Kroger hired Raymal Rivers. Rivers and Johnson worked together at the Distribution Center. On May 27, 2006, Rivers and Johnson, accompanied by several other employees, left the Distribution Center during their lunch break to eat at a nearby McDonalds. During the lunch, an argument broke out between Johnson and Rivers. At some point, Rivers left the parking lot of the McDonalds to retrieve a firearm from his vehicle, after which point he returned, shot, and fatally wounded Johnson.

Before working for Kroger, Rivers had been employed by UPS from June 2000 until 2004. While employed by UPS, Rivers displayed aggressive behavior on numerous occasions. On February 27, 2004, Rivers threatened a coworker, James Beasley, who then reported the incident to management. Rivers also engaged in other aggressive behavior, such as making threats to co-workers in the parking lot and waiting in the parking lot for employees to leave. He also reportedly followed female co-workers to their cars. The co-workers reported these incidents to members of management and security at UPS. On March 10, 2004, UPS held a disciplinary hearing regarding these allegations against Rivers. Rivers was reassigned to a new work area and ordered to attend anger management classes. He was later terminated from UPS.

Some time after being fired by UPS, Rivers applied for employment with Kroger. On his application for employment, he listed UPS as a previous employer. Kroger called UPS to obtain verification and for a reference check. The Estate alleges that UPS verified only the dates of employment and the title of the position Rivers held.

Kroger thereafter hired Rivers to work at the Distribution Center where Johnson worked. After Johnson was killed, his Estate brought the present action in Jefferson Circuit Court, claiming, among other things, that UPS was negligent in its referral and failure to warn Kroger and that UPS was negligent in its performance of the duty it undertook and in its misrepresentation of Rivers.

What do you think?
Does UPS have a responsibility to warn a future employer of a potentially violent ex-employee?

UPS Faces Class Action on Fuel Charges

     DENVER (CN) – A federal RICO class action claims that United Parcel Service for years has charged customers a premium to ship packages by air while actually shipping them by truck to save money on fuel and add to its bottom line. The class claims the “Air-In-Ground program” has earned UPS “hundreds of millions of dollars” in ill-gotten gains since 1995. 
Getting loaded     The class claims that UPS charges fuel surcharges for air shipping even if it ships the packages by truck.
     UPS denied the allegations and said the lawsuit is “baseless.”
     “Every package we send is transported in some part by ground,” said Susan Rosenberg, a UPS spokeswoman in Atlanta.
     Rosenberg said the company’s standard service contract states that UPS “reserves the right to use any mode of transportation,” and that pricing for package delivery is based not on mode of delivery but on the “service level.”
     But Arapahoe Hyundai’s complaint states that, compared to air shipment, shipping by ground “constitutes a materially different level of service.” Shipping by air costs two to three times more than shipping by ground, according to the complaint.
     “When a customer selects the level of service (air or ground) for his package, he does not know that UPS has already pre-determined whether his air package will actually be shipped by air or ground,” the complaint states. “UPS does not tell the customer his air package will be shipped by ground or that he will be paying a higher price for a level of service he will not receive.”
     Rosenberg says that the company has been “very openly talking about shifting some packages from air to ground” to minimize its carbon footprint. She said on Thursday that the company had not yet been served with the lawsuit but contests the charges.
     Arapahoe Hyundai seeks damages for breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, fraudulent nondisclosure, intentional misrepresentation and other charges.
     It seeks treble damages, an injunction and restitution.
     It is represented by Kirk Tresemer with Irwin & Boesen in Denver. 
Courthouse News Service

UPS driver information