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New Summary Plan Descriptions Mailed to Retirees

After being reassured that the Retirees Health plan remained unchanged, all of the retirees are being sent a new summary plan description which drastically alters coverages and costs to retirees.
Just an example of those changes is the prescription coverages. Where many of our prescriptions were covered at 100%, now we will pay 20% of the cost. Additionally, where many of us were on a 90%-10% plan, we are now being reduced to an 80%-20% plan. Another huge increase in costs.
The biggest, most devastating cost though is the inclusion of a $200 per person, $400 family deductible. Many of the current plans did not include a deductible.
These are the most glaring changes in the Summary Plan Description. The worst part is that most of the retirees I know, that retired before the contract negotiations, were led to believe that our healthcare package would remain unchanged.
The consistent story in these negotiations seems to be the Internationals secrecy in negotiating on our behalf.
Here’s another example!

His Passport Took a Two-Year Vacation (Without Him)

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It’s been a little over two years since the Haggler’s passport vanished. Longtime readers may recall the particulars: While visiting Stanford University, the Haggler had his passport shipped from Manhattan overnight via United Parcel Service, for a quick and unscheduled trip to Canada. Days passed, and no passport arrived. Calls were made. Facilities were searched. More calls were made. More facilities were searched.

The document was never seen again. Poof. It had vanished

“Wait just a minute,” the Haggler can hear readers exclaim incredulously. “What about the law of conservation of mass, as stated by the 18th-century French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, which holds that mass can neither be created nor destroyed?”

Well played, readers! Here’s the thing: That law was discovered long before U.P.S. was founded. Seriously, if U.P.S. had been around in the age of Lavoisier, the guy would never have called it “the law of conservation of mass.” It would be more like “a suggestion” or “a guiding principle with a glaring exception.” Because U.P.S. has the ability to make mass evaporate.

Or so it seemed. A few weeks ago, a woman at Stanford called with some remarkable news.

“Your passport just arrived here,” she said.

Well, well. The Haggler speculated about what this document had been up to, lo these many months. Perhaps it had been flying around the world, getting stamped in exotic countries. But the truth was mundane.

“We traced it to a pickup point of a U.P.S. letter drop box by an office building in Westbury on Long Island,” wrote Susan Rosenberg, a U.P.S. spokeswoman.

That’s right: The package was placed in a U.P.S. drop box on Long Island. And apparently it looked precisely the way it did when it was initially mailed. Nothing out of the ordinary, except for its two-year absence from the U.P.S. system.

So what happened here? How did this package wind up in Westbury, and where had it been languishing? U.P.S. could offer only theories.

The first, Ms. Rosenberg said, was that a U.P.S. driver had somehow mixed up that package with shipping supplies that were then dropped off at some company on Long Island.

“Our drivers deliver a lot of supplies,” she explained in a phone interview, “and the conjecture is that somehow, your express envelope got put together with supplies and delivered to another building, in a bundle of supplies. Somebody who works in Westbury must have eventually looked at the envelope and realized, ‘Oh, this has a label on it.’ ”

And into the drop box it went, then off to Stanford.

Ms. Rosenberg emphasized that this was just a theory. It appeared to be the best that a U.P.S. brain trust of wayward-package theorizers could conceive.

But one wonders: Wouldn’t a package that had been out of the U.P.S. system for more than two years raise a red flag as it re-entered the system? Wouldn’t a scanning device bleep and deliver a “Huh?” kind of noise?

Not necessarily, Ms. Rosenberg said. The package was lost so long that it had effectively aged out of the system. Which apparently means that it was treated like a brand new package.

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As the Haggler was trying to fathom all this, “Planet Money” — the consistently outstanding NPR podcast about all things economic — did a show called “The Future of Work Looks Like a U.P.S. Truck.” It was about the almost alarming number of ways that U.P.S. tracks its drivers and their trucks. The vehicles are studded with sensors so that the company can keep track of just about everything — when a driver opens and closes the truck’s door, starts the truck, turns off the truck, puts on a seatbelt. The company even keeps tabs on when a driver puts a truck in reverse, and for how long.

All of this data is sent to Paramus, N.J., where it is sifted by engineers on an endless quest to shave seconds off of delivery and pickup times.

This focus on time has yielded results. A driver told “Planet Money” that years ago he could handle 90 deliveries a day. Now he can handle 120.

The Haggler listened in a state of bemused stupefaction. This company can tell how much time a truck spent, each day, going backward, but it can lose a package? And when that package reappears, it can offer only educated guesses about its journey?

When the Haggler emailed these sentiments to Ms. Rosenberg, she thanked the Haggler for his kind words about U.P.S.’s technological achievements, which are truly impressive. Then she said the company had a new theory about that lost-and-found passport.

“We now believe that it didn’t go beyond its initial pickup,” she wrote, “possibly being mishandled by the driver before he or she ever made it back to the delivery center to move through other scanning and transit.”

Hmm. Then how did it get to Long Island? As the Haggler pondered that one, he realized that the “Planet Money” podcast was all about streamlining the routes of drivers. Maybe when the company is done with that effort, it can fail-safe the system of package-tracking, so that passports don’t disappear.

That work may not save the company millions of dollars a year, and it probably won’t reduce the amount of time that U.P.S. trucks spend in reverse. But it would be progress.

EMAIL: haggler@nytimes.com. Keep it brief and family-friendly, include your hometown and go easy on the caps-lock key. Letters may be edited for clarity and length.

Stewards Do the Math

I wrote this back when I was making $25 an hour. When you plug in your current wage rate, your argument becomes even stronger. Try it.

Have you ever gone into the office to represent a driver and had your manager whip out the calculator and start pounding in numbers. He’ll say this poor slob of a driver is not using the methods and he’s not keeping his nose to the grindstone and he’s costing the center money instead of making the center money. The manager will have a stack of reports to back up his claim: the WOR showing the driver is over allowed; Sparky, showing which stops the driver wastes time at; previous OJS rides showing demonstrated levels of performance and so on. But the ultimate hammer is the calculator. If the guy is 2 hours over and that’s at the OT rate of $38.02, then he’s literally stealing $76.04 from the company every day. That’s $380.20 per week. Or almost $2000 a year. If 50,000 drivers did this, that’s……oh my God, all the profit the company makes!! We can’t afford to have you around, you’re going to bring down the whole company! This justifies a 3 day ride and all future harassment…just look at these numbers!
But there is some math that managers never do. How about these numbers. Let’s say this poor slob of a driver comes in every day and spends just 15 minutes in his car before his start time looking for misloads and checking out his Next Day Air. That’s 15 minutes he doesn’t have on the end of his day where it would be paid at the OT rate. That’s one and a quarter hours per week at $38.02 or $47.53. Or almost $250 a year. If the guy works 25 years, he has given the company $6178 in free labor by looking over his load every morning for just 15 minutes.
Let’s say he also skips his lunch. That’s 5 hours a week at $38.02, or $190.10 a week. That’s $10,000 a year that the company gets in free labor. Let’s say 20,000 drivers are skipping their lunch everyday. That’s $200,000,000 a year in free labor that UPS is getting. Then there is the tax saving for them because they don’t have to pay Federal or State tax on that amount. The savings to UPS are huge.
But managers never do that math in the office. Stewards need to do that math and have it written in the back of their contract book so they can quote it. We can crunch numbers just as well as they can. Fight fire with fire.