One of Those Days

     Today is one of those days.
     It’s one of those days when retirement is sweeter than a sticky bun and hot cup of coffee. This is the kind of day I used to only be able to dream about.
     It snowed today. It snowed big time. One of my driver friends called me about 1 o’clock from the parking lot formerly known as I-70. UPS had sent the trucks out on a mission of failure and now they had called them all back in. But of course, by this time, driving back in was nearly impossible.
     I remember days like this when I was a driver. The TV  stations had been talking about a blizzard for the last 3 days. They were predicting anywhere from 8 to 15 inches of snow in Denver and more on the west side near the foothills. It’s the kind of forecast that can give a UPS driver insomnia. I remember that feeling of impending doom.
     When we woke up this morning it was already snowing hard. We had about 6″ on the ground out west here in Lakewood, they had a little less in town, but the forecast was unchanged. Driving into work was Demand your rightslike walking up the steps to the gallow, you knew this was not going to be a good day.
     True to form, UPS is loading the trucks and getting ready to dispatch everybody into the teeth of the storm. They were giving advice on what to do if your businesses were closed. DUH. Do you think anybody is really going to be open today. Not anybody with any common sense. But UPS is not able to see the futility of sending out 400 routes on a day when the forecast calls for heavy morning snow intensifying in the afternoon.
     So out the trucks go. You know that if your first 20 stops aren’t open for business, then you’re screwed because you can’t empty the truck enough to get organized. And sure enough, your worst nightmare unfolds. Parking lots are not shoveled, businesses are closed, traffic is impossible to work around. And the snow keeps on falling. Now it’s 9″ and the wind is picking up. You begin to curse the fools that sent you out here.
     By noon you’ve got about 30 stops attempted and half of them were closed. The truck is still packed. You can’t get to the boxes you need to scan and service cross. You are getting messages on the DIAD that various highways are closed. How much longer will they keep this fiasco on the street?
     By 12:30 you get the message to come in. You head for the highway and see it’s at a standstill. Great. Now what?? You go over the options in your mind. The side streets might have less traffic but they aren’t plowed. There is always a bottleneck intersection or hill that will be tough to get around. The traffic moves a bit on the highway and you decide to get on.
     Now you are sitting on I-70 and wondering why management would send out 400 drivers on a day like this. It can’t be cost effective. The risk must be unbelievable. How many accidents have they had already? During the 2006 blizzard, the only reason they called us in when they did was because they had 10 accidents in one hour. Didn’t they learn anything from that? Who could possibly be dumb enough to send us out into a growing storm? God, I wish I was retired……
     And that brings me back to the reason I’m writing this. I AM retired. And I’m watching it snow and wondering if I ought to go out and do a little preemptive shoveling. Maybe if I shovel off every 5 inches tas it falls, then I won’t have to shovel all 15 inches at once. Sounds like a good idea. Maybe I should call UPS and ask their advice, they’re got the brilliant minds. They know what to do in a blizzard.

STEWARD’S RIGHTS

         Don’t let the boss con you! As a Teamster Steward, it’s your job to represent your members — a job that most bosses would like to keep you from doing. Here’s a brief list of some of your rights and obligations.

        You have the RIGHT to grieve about unfair treatment — whether you saw it happen or someone calls it to your attention. Bosses may accuse you of “soliciting grievances,” but don’t be fooled! It’s your duty to encourage workers to grieve about legitimate issues — or file them yourself.
        You have the RIGHT to carry out investigations of grievances, including interviews of grievants and witnesses. Most Teamster contracts provide for investigation on “company time.” For those that don’t, there is often a clear past practice that allows this. But, if not, every grievance must be investigated as thoroughly as necessary, even if it’s on your own time.
        You have the RIGHT to organize and encourage your fellow workers to take action in support of an issue or grievance, so long as it doesn’t take place on work time and interfere with production. The boss can’t stop you from getting people to wear stickers, sign petitions, carry signs, or take similar actions on break or lunch time. (Of course, stickers, buttons and caps can be worn all the time, unless there’s a special reason for a dress code.)
        Demand your rightsYou have the RIGHT to request the information you need to process a grievance from management. You should put these requests in writing. Management is obligated to respond.
        You have the RIGHT to be present every time a grievance is being “adjusted” or settled. Even if a worker has taken up the grievance on their own, the boss can’t bypass the union when responding.
        You have the RIGHT to stand toe-to-toe with your boss when you’re conducting union business. You can get loud, angry, forceful, and speak your mind during grievance meetings. This is the “Equality Principle” that says you and the boss are equals in grievance discussions.

        All of these rights are legally guaranteed, but they depend on how well you use them. When you do, your members will find their rights are protected, too.

A Lifetime of Fear

I’ve been having some interesting conversations with drivers about the new Telematics system. It turns out that the Denver Metro Scared of Telematics?South building is the first building in the Rocky Mountains to get the new system. What I find most interesting when I talk to these people is the level of fear I hear in their voices and see in their eyes. Many of these drivers have really never experienced the severe harassment the company is capable of, because they kept that, all magical production over/under number, in line. They have been able to rob, cheat , and steal, (and some just actually had a decent time study), in order to make that number. Now they live in great fear, because the boss has taken away their bag of tricks. The interesting thing is the way the company is going to implement the system. The regular center managers are not even looking at the system. It’s I.E. that goes over all of the information, then sends a packet down to the managers and says “hey, look at what your dirt bag driver is doing, clean it up!” The manager is then forced to deal with what ordinarily would not be a problem. Most drivers do their job. When they get held up by a customer, or a traffic delay, or any of the myriad of things that can happen through they day, they just automatically hurry up to get back on track for the day. Most drivers know what is expected of them, and they simply care, and do their job. Now they’ll get beat up no matter what. Not only is the company taking all of the incentive away to make up time, they intend to discipline drivers even though they maintain an acceptable level of production. They will discipline for excessive speed. They will discipline for improper backing. They will discipline for bulkhead doors being open. They will then go back and discipline for any excessive, (in their eyes), lost time that shows up on the report. Their attitude being that any lost time is a theft from the company. I have decided to adjust my Lord and Master Theory in name only. The stupidvisor, (who could never have done this job in the first place), that sits behind the computer, is now the Tyrant and Master. He or she is the guy with the whip. Back to the fear I see. I have no prediction how the new technology will play out on a day to day basis. My feeling is that it’s a new toy, that will be totally abused by the zealot management of this company to justify the cost and expense of the system, and to make a name for themselves. Eventually I feel that new people coming in will be trained in beating the system, but for now the existing driver is left to wonder what the hell the Tyrant and Master will nail them for today. I feel it is going to be the first major cause of turnover in the driver ranks I’ve seen in thirty years. People are not going to deal with the stress daily and quit. I also feel that the turnover will come from the company using the system to kill off the people that simply can’t change years of habit. Of course the most interesting thing to watch is what will happen to the already fearful, jump and run, hotdogger, who are the reason and cause of the system being implemented. The problem I see is that the union has no teeth. The system can simply be used, and the discipline given, without much intervention. What am I, (as a steward), supposed to say? It’s all right there on the paper. The new system weakens our union within UPS more than any other technology. It makes the Union obsolete. There will be nothing to discuss. My feeling is that our contract has just been reduced to a useless book. Nothing in there applies to life at UPS under Telematics. The only usable language will be the hours languages. The company has established that anyone can be disciplined under “other serious offenses”, for anything, and that is where they will go. That is where the drivers will be marched out the door. You will see the company attempt to create a 2 tiered system of pay in the next contract with their idea being that they can properly train the new driver to function under the system better than they can adjust the behavior of the current crop of drivers. That, along with a reduction in pay and benefits, will give them the incentive to clean house on the old drivers using the system. We will have Red Circle drivers, (the guys that survived somehow). Again all of this is based on todays situation. My hope is that someone smarter than me within the Union will see the writing on the wall, and be planning for the possibility of the future. My doubts come because I have continued to watch our reactionary union system, move slow as molasses, to respond to the changing technology within our industry. The corporatist that run our company are way ahead of our union with their plans for the future. Ok enough gloom and doom. My feeling about what may change all of the above is the rank and file, that will be forced into becoming solid Union people. Hopefully they will turn to the Union as their only means of protection, and that is their only hope for the future. The Union loses touch with its rank and file members unless the rank and file have an occasion to rise up, usually to counteract abuse of some form or another. Our Union (in my opinion), should be down there several times a week to let the people know where to turn. It will also educate our Union officers to the issues involved with the new Technologies. That will help when Counting On the Teamsters for Help!the day comes to negotiate our contracts. Their being around will also give our members a sense of safety, and will show our members who they can turn to. Whom they can count on when they are afraid. It can be one of the most important Union strengthening techniques available to our officers. It will strengthen the officers Politically within the Union, as well as strengthening the Union in the negotiating process. If the officers don’t jump on the bandwagon that is presented before them, the Union will become a footnote in history. I’ve seen them rise to the occasion before. Let us hope we see it again. 
                                                                                    It’s time.                                                
  

             South Building Drivers Contact Local 455

                      
                Everyone Else Contact your local Union and ask them for help

Thou Shalt Not Be Stupid

       It’s never too early to start thinking about what you would like to see in the next contract. Too often we focus on the money and the benefits and ignore the opportunity to make some changes in the language. We’ve done well with this strategy, the money is good and that goes a long way toward smoothing over some obvious problems with the language. One glaring mistake that we’ve made for too many years though is that we have not added a clause that says the company does not have the right to be stupid. 
      When I was a Steward, every day I had people come up to me and say things like:
     “They are sending me out today on a route blind. Somebody else who knows the route is doing the route I know. How can they be that stupid?”
     Or, “I’ve got an 8-hour today and more stops then I had yesterday. Do they really think that’s going to work?”
     Or, “They wrote me up for a mis-delivery and I was on vacation that week. Are they stupid or what?” 
     My response was always the same. “There is nothing in the contract that says they can’t be stupid!” 
     Article 11 of the Master Agreement is not being used right now. It’s listed now as “Reserved”. I think this may be what they reserved it for. I think the language would be simple enough to write. “The company agrees to pay one hour at the overtime rate to anyone to whom they do something that is deemed to be really stupid.” Then the monetary penalties would increase if the stupidity continues. 
     It’s never to early start making a list of what you want to see in the next contract.
Let’s start with Article 11.

u-Robot

Our stewards received the Telematics training yesterday. There were no real surprises in what the system shows. For those of you that don’t know, the system has a series of pages, each with a specific event flagged. Say they want to check seatbelt use, they can pull up the seatbelt page, and every time you moved without putting on the seatbelt a flag goes up at the stop. Each flag shows not only the fact that you didn’t put on the seatbelt, but also shows how far you went before you put the seatbelt on, and what address you were at when you failed to use the seatbelt. The map will also show a red line along the route you took for as far as the seatbelt was not on. For the backing screen the flag shows where you backed first, and how far. You're Supervisor Controlling Your LifeThey also number the order of the violations. On the side it will give the total distance backed, the total number of violations, etc. The most interesting screen was the lunch hour screen. The lunch hour screen shows the last stop you made, how far you traveled, and how long you sat there. Telematics combines with the DIAD to also keep track of when you record packages while moving. The example we saw had and incredible amount of stops sheeted while driving. I couldn’t even do that and keep the truck on the road. Of course that is a very dangerous practice.
Gettin'Down With Big Brown!So in case any of you had any doubts, u-Robot. You have definitely entered a new era in delivering for UPS. My predictions for the future are as follows. First the system is going to cost the company a fortune in production. The good part of that will be, if you are a guy that is getting beat up because of a bad time study, or some other fiasco on your area, we simply will redirect them to Telematics. The bad part is, if you are a sit on your ass kind of driver, then run, jump, and fly to get it done, you have a problem. They will see you sitting on your ass, and they will see you exceeding the speed limit, having your bulkhead door open, not wearing your seatbelt, etc., in order to get done on time. There will be no reason to try to make up time. If you get behind, too bad. Remember one thing as they implement this system across the country. It falls into the category of too much information. If you are a 2 hour over driver, you will hear about what you are doing on your area, but if it’s the time study’s fault, they will have no excuses, and will have to stop harassing you. The rest of you will simply have to conform to their safety expectations. That’s really not a bad thing when you think about it. Most of you have those good habits anyway. Those of you that do not will end up fired if you don’t learn them, and eventually you will go away. You all can understand what a cost injuries, and accidents are for the company. So you can see the justification in their expenditure. For the company to sell out production in the name of safety, spend the millions it cost to install, implement, train the hourlys, and management people to use the system, you can see how important these issues are to them. For all of us it’s simple, we-Robot. It’s just going to become the way of life at UPS. You can imagine the changes I’ve seen in 30 years. What does the next 30 hold? Guess we’ll see.
                                                          u-Robot!

Corporatists=Chinese Patriots

Here is more information on how we are systematically being sold to China. In the current recession/depression China continues to strengthen their hold on the financial and manufacturing markets of the world. 

                                                 Read it for Yourself

UPS vs FedEx

         FedEx and UPS recently competed head to head in a rowing race on the Missouri River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race. On the big day the FedEx team won by a mile.
        FedEx wins Afterward, the UPS team became very discouraged and depressed. UPS management decided the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found. A Management Team made up of senior executives was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was the FedEx team had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the UPS team had 8 people steering and one person rowing.
        So UPS management hired a consulting company and paid them vast amounts of money. After six months of hard work, they advised that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing. So the UPS Team acted: To prevent losing to the FedEx team again, the rowing team’s management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering managers, 2 area steering division managers and 1 operations manager.
        The UPS Team also implemented a new performance system that would give the one person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the Demonstrated Rowing Performance Program, with meetings, write-ups and free pens for the rower. Even up front parking and a coffee cup were promised for a winner.
        At the next race, FedEx won by two miles. Humiliated, UPS management fired the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new boat, sold the oars and canceled all capital investments for new equipment.
        The money saved was distributed to the senior executives as bonuses for a job well done.

The UPS Marching Song

 
     Sing outDid you know that UPS had a marching song? Well..they do. It was written by a couple of UPSers and introduced at a Breakfast Club meeting in May of 1929. It is sung to the tune of the “Caisson Song” (often called “Over Hill, Over Dale”).

  Sing along: 

        “Over hill, over dale, as they hit the concrete trail, our brown wagons go rolling along.
    Shout it out, without doubt, service rides on every route as our wagons go rolling along.
        Then it’s hi hi he in the brown shirt cavalry, shout out our message loud and strong!
    Where’re you go you will always know our brown wagons go rolling along.”

UPS driver information