Becoming a Steward?

     Are you thinking of becoming a Union Steward? Does the idea of making the company listen to you, and maybe some of your gripes about the way they treat people, appeal to you? Do you carry the ‘secret wish” to make them sorry they ever messed with you in the first place? Do you want to pay them back for the warning letter they tried to give you over production last year?
                            Maybe you’re a candidate to become a steward!Me! Me! Pick me!
     By the time most drivers reach their two year anniversary with the company, they suddenly decide they do not care for the treatment they get on a day to day basis. They get tired of the excessive hours. They get tired of the ridiculous splits. They get tired of busting their ass only to have management claim they didn’t do it fast enough, or they got a customer complaint, or whatever dozen reasons the company can give for badgering, and harassing them. What’s a good driver to do?
                                                        Become the steward, and pay them back!
     
Of course that idea is usually easier said, than done. Most drivers have little contact with the Local Union, (that’s a discussion for another day!). they also probably are relatively unknown to the Business Agent for the Local. Given all that, how does a potential steward get noticed enough to actually become the steward?
     The easiest way is to attend some of the Local general membership meetings. The dates, and times should be posted on the Union bulletin board somewhere in your center, or building. You will become familiar with the Local officers, and you will also learn a great deal about where your dues money goes. Of course the  officers will also become familiar with you, and so will your B.A. Don’t be shy about raising your hand, and asking questions. Many Union members do not realize that these officers work for the dues paying members of that Local Union. (Sometimes the officers forget that also.) 
     Once you have familiarized yourself with the Local Union, the next step would be to get involved with any steward training seminars offered by the Local, or Locals in your area. Even though you may not be a steward at the time, most Locals will allow you to attend in the hope that you will be easy to slip in as a trained steward should the occasion arise. 
The seminars will give you a basic knowledge of the Union contract, and the applicable supplement for your region. They will also discuss your rights as a steward in many situations that arise daily. That information is probably more important even than specific contractual language. You need to know what you have the right to do, and what you better not do.
     All of the contractual stuff can be fixed tomorrow, if you make a mistake. If you call for a walkout, or a sickout, etc. you can be terminated on the spot, so it’s important to know your rights as a steward.
     Often becoming a steward is just being in the right place, at the right time. At the risk of telling an “old guy” story I can tell you how I became a steward 30 years ago. I started as a loader part time when I was going to school. In my desire to move ahead I took a position as a part-time supervisor for a couple of years. In those days you could move from management back into driving, so I became a driver at the first opportunity. The company gives management “labor relations” training, so that management knows how to get around the contract, and how to use and abuse their employees. I was well trained by the company. After learning that I needed to sell my soul to stay in management, I decided that staying a driver was the place for me.
     After hitting the proverbial two years, an opening came for an alternate steward. My having a good background on the contract already made me an instant candidate. I thought being an alternate steward was no big deal, so I said OK. Little did I know that the current steward of the time, was closely involved with the Local politics, and when the “wrong people” were elected into power, he up and quit. Suddenly I was the heir apparent, and was thrust into being the steward after only 2 months as alternate. I finally had to retire 31 years later to stop being the steward. (The one thing I hated to leave).
     My point to you is to pay attention to the situation in your center. If there is an alternate position empty and available, fill it. There is no better way to learn than by doing. Do not fear doing anything wrong. You will gain huge respect from your cohorts for trying.  My first rule of being a steward is, “do something, even if it’s wrong”. 
     C
oming forward as a steward can be one of the most rewarding things you will do. It also gives you a sense of purpose in what can otherwise be a demeaning, degrading job situation. Other people’s future can come to be placed in your hands. You will be able to take pride in helping your fellow drivers get through their careers, even if no one ever says thank you.
     I was nuts, and did it for 30 years, and enjoyed every minute, (OK every other minute), of it. I encourage you to do the same.

Two Questions

      First this from Tips-Q:  Today, President Obama nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court. Since she happens to be an unmarried woman who has not publicly commented on her sexuality and supports LGBT rights, many on the right are making assumptions about her personal life — and therefore her fitness to serve as a justice. Last month, CBS News published an online column by GOP operative Ben Domenech, which called Kagan the “first openly gay justice.”

     My first question is: Does the above statement make a fair assumption?

     My second question involves UPS founder Jim Casey. We all know he never married. I cannot say unequivocally that he ever had a girlfriend. He happened to be an unmarried man who did not publicly comment on his sexuality and he supported LGBT workers by hiring them into his company. So the question is:

     Was Jim Casey gay?

     Using good old Republican logic, I would have to say he was.

Illegal Immigrant Issue Inside the Company

     The risThe Corporate Judgee in interest over illegal immigration brings to mind an experience I had while attending the panels. While there, I was able to observe a case where an employee had provided the company with false I.D., and a false Social Security number. The employee worked a number of years for the company under the cover of the false information provided. He also was a college student, and was married during his time with the company. 
     The issue arose when he was able to go through the citizenship process and obtain a valid Social Security number, and documents giving him real citizenship. He then had to reveal to the company that he had provided false information on his initial application.
     The story that never gets told is the personal side. The employee had proven himself a hard worker, and also was a union steward. He had a new baby, and was very dependant on his job.
     Telling this story is not about defending illegal immigration. Employers would love to bring illegals into the workforce to reduce wages and the cost of benefits. The right wings attack on the left is that they gain voters. The reality is, the real citizens, of this country, are under attack by the multi-national corporations. The problem is not about illegal imigrants, it’s about illegal employers. Until the people take back the government from the corporations, the danger of being replaced by slave labor is ever present. 
     The end of the story was, “claim of the union upheld”.
      Due to a technicality, and the company’s reluctance to take out a decent employee, the worker was put back to work. The compassion on the company’s side was very obvious, and thanks to a loophole, they were able to save face without relenting from their “we control our world”, mentality. Sometimes there is still just a little of James E. Casey’s compassion for the workers left in the company. It is quickly disappearing sadly.
     The story shows even illegals need the Teamsters.

FedEx Drivers Aren’t Pilots

     Ever had a FedEx package delivered to your door by airplane? 
Of course not!
     Check out this video showing the absurdity of the claim by FedEx CEO Fred Smith that FedEx Express is an airline. The video is part of the Teamsters campaign launch in support of leveling the playing field in the package delivery industry.
     For more information, visit FedExDriversArentPilots.com. 

Is UPS “Too Big To Fail”?

    With all this talk these days about banks being too big to fail and most of us agreeing that that’s probably a bad thing, we have to ask ourselves, “Is UPS too big to fail?”
      Too big to fail at one time meant that a company was so large and so diversified, that if one branch or another went south on them, the whole operation would not go under because the rest of the company could shoulder the losses of one division. That was thought to be a good thing. A secure thing.
      But these days being too big to fail means that if bad management puts a mega-corporation in the ditch, the US Government will pull it out before the crash turns into a multi-car pile up and lots of people get hurt. And a Government bailout means taxpayer money going to save an irresponsible private enterprise. Now “too big to fail” is viewed as a bad thing and the idea is circulating that maybe corporations that large should be broken up. 
      Where does UPS fit into all this? 
Pres Obama dwarfed by a UPS plane       The strike of ’97 gave us a little glimpse into just how big UPS is. Newspapers reported that 8% of the Gross National Product was circulating through our system at any given moment and that’s a lot of product. And when shippers large and small looked around for another way to ship and receive their goods, they found there really was no other good way. The Post Office is just not up to the job and FedEx is too expensive. DHL made a run at getting into the business, but couldn’t stand up to UPS’s omnipresence.
      Now with UPS heavily involved in transporting goods worldwide, who knows how much of the world GNP is in our system. Not only would the US economy crash and burn if UPS folded its tent, but other nations would suffer too. Could the bankruptcy of UPS cause a world wide depression?  That could not be allowed to happen.
      Is UPS so big that it should be broken up like Standard Oil was at the beginning of the last century?
      Whether you think UPS is fine like it is or should be taken apart to facilitate competition in the free market economy, I think we can agree on one thing. It ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. We have the best government in Washington that money can buy and UPS has a lot of money to spend.

What is White Privilege?

Enjoying White Privilege    

       Imagine if Tea Partiers were black, or Arab-American, and showed up in the hundreds or thousands, angry and well-armed, talking revolution. 

      “Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it….White privilege is the ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic no matter what you do, and never to be feared as people of color would be if they tried to get away with half the shit we do on a daily basis.”

Common Dreams

Division Managers I Have Known

     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.
   I have no respect for you!   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!

Working at United Parcel Service — Reviews by Employees

I love my job..I love my job..I love my jobFrom Austin TX — 02/15/2010
    At one time ups used to be a decent place to work. I have been there 13 years and even with a college degree have still not been able to get a promotion. Part of it is because I have refused to suck up (a requirement). One constant is the ridiculously conservative policies. Men can not have beards. There are no casual dress days ever. Women can’t wear open toe or open heel shoes. Very few personal items are allowed on your desk aside from a calendar, a picture (frame required), and stapler or something. No screensavers or wallpaper are allowed. At first, I though maybe it was just my office, but after talking to other employees at other buildings, I found out it was that strict everywhere. For an hourly employee, pay is below average ( $35,000). Things really started to get worse in the last few years. Due to budget “cutbacks”, they have discontinued the 401k matching program. At the same time, it was also announced they our health insurance benefits would focus on a more “shared responsibility” meaning that I pay almost three times what I used and have less things covered. An ongoing prescription for my kid used to cost $5 per refill, now costs $35!

     The most frustrating thing is how we constantly have meetings saying how much profit we have per quarter, per year, etc. (Around 1 billion annually) Then they turn around and tell us benefits are being cut, we’ve laid people off, etc. UPS recently spent around 7 million dollars to lobby congress in hopes of passing a bill that would possibly cause Fedex to unionize. And who knows how much UPS spends for all the NASCAR stuff. They always tell us UPS’s people are it’s most valuable asset. Well how about taking some of that 1 billion profit and instead of paying congressman and the NASCAR spending and give it back to the people who keep the company profitable?

Jobvent.com

Saving America

     Bob’s formula for saving America.
                           Take Corporate money out of our political system!
                    Take Corporate control of the media out of our “News”!
     Until these two things happen, our Country will never be the power it once was. The people will continue to suffer, and the facsist’s will remain in power.  These principles are what a “people’s uprising” must be about.
                                            Think about it.

We Need to Become Better Liars

I’ve decided that the only way for us to fight the Right Wing Lie Machine is for us to become better liars ourselves.

So here is my first big lie:

Glenn Beck is a bottom feeding mercenary who will say anything to create controversary (ratings) and any UPS Teamster that believes what he says needs to be kicked hard in the brown shorts.

Oh no, wait, that’s not a lie at all.

                                                                              

And if Beck’s fabrications don’t make you laugh out loud, try this yarn from the drug addled brain of Rush Limbaugh.

“After an Icelandic volcano continued to spew ash into the sky Saturday, halting President Obama’s planned flight to Poland, conservative icon Limbaugh said the surprising strength and timing of the eruption suggests a God displeased with the passage of health care reform.”

OMG

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