Surviving the Holidays

This was my report after the peak of 2007. You are so lucky it’s not like this anymore.      

      OMG !!  We survived another Peak Season. It was touch and go there at times, but we all pulled through. There was so much work to be done that I would think UPS would just stand back and let the workers go at it. But they can’t do that. They’ve got to be in there mucking things up. Here are a few examples of things that happened this Peak that I’m still scratching my head about and wondering……..why?….

        Early in December, IE was cutting routes like mad and there were days off to be had for some lucky drivers. That’s nice, but at the same time other drivers were pushing 11 hours a day and anyone who went over 11 was called on the carpet. If you didn’t have express permission from your manager, then you got a warning letter. Maybe that would not have been a problem if they hadn’t cut so many routes.
        Sheeting mistakes got to be a big issue, like sheeting a business as closed between noon and 1 o’clock. If you had been talked to about it before, then that became a warning letter too. If a driver had a bad day, he could easily get 2 warning letters the next morning. That gets you off on the right foot !
        The dress code became the pet peeve of some managers with nothing better to do. Shoes and hats were favorite targets. T-shirts of the wrong color were hot items too. We hoped they would send us home if we had on the wrong color t-shirt but they just told you to change it. Or leave your hat in the manager’s office for the day. Or don’t wear those shoes tomorrow.
        In our center, the manager stooped to posting the WOR as a shame list on the bulletin board for all to see. At first he listed the top 5 production drivers and then the last 6 or 7 according to the over/under numbers. Someone tore down the worst list the first day. The next day he posted the whole center report showing how everyone ran. As the steward, I raised Cain that it was low-ball management. He countered that everyone was looking at it. I said the interest was morbid and for some, embarassing. People stare at a car wreck too, they watch Jerry Springer. It’s vulgar. It’s dirty. It’s not how management should be operating.
        As our cars got more full every morning, you would think that IE would have SPA’d the Next Day Airs all up on the 1000 shelf. But they continued to SPA Next Days deep into the load and every day I had some in the 2800 or 2900 sections. That put them in about the middle of a packed car on the lower shelf. There is no way to dig those out and get them delivered before 10:30. Anyone who has ever driven would know that.
        Another way to shame drivers was dreamed up this Christmas and it was used on any driver who ran 3 or more hours over allowed. Management would pick a city that’s 3 hours or 4 hours away, like Grand Junction and feigning righteous indignation, they would exclaim. “How could you be 4 hours over, Hell, I could drive to Grand Junction in 4 hours!!!”
        We were working Peak Week under a 12 hour curfew and a lot drivers were bringing stops back every night. One driver forgot to punch out his board, went home and an OMS punched out his board and he was over 12 hours. They wanted to fire him the next morning, but decided against it. A bunch of us were hoping they would send him home because that’s the kind of termination you can easily get reduced to a suspension and we were all going to “forget” to punch out that night too. I’d take a 3 day suspension during Peak Week anytime.
        With the 12 hour curfew of course came missed pieces every night. Some drivers were bringing back 50 to 100 stops a night. Soon management was browned up and running routes, working as helpers, etc. You can’t have it both ways, you can’t restrict driver hours and have management working. Management would meet drivers at 8 o’clock at night and take everything they had left and send the driver in to get off the clock under 12 hours and management would stay out and do the stops themselves. Gee, I wonder if that will generate a girevance?
        I arrived at work one day just as an ambulance pulled away from the building. Unfortunately, someone had slipped and ruptured 2 discs in his back. They rushed him into surgery that very morning and he’ll be out for quite some time. That’s a heck of a way to get out of Peak. The rumors flying around the building were that a driver had looked in the back of his truck and had a heart attack. It wasn’t that hard to believe.
        I would think that UPS would focus a little more on getting our pickups covered during Peak because having to do pickups in the afternoon just kills us. Not only does it take valuable time away from delivery, but it fills much needed space inside the truck. Then when we stay out till 8 or 9 o’clock, the pickups don’t get unloaded and sorted in a timely mannner and the twilight goes down late, then the midnight sort runs late, and then the preload is not done when the drivers come back to work the next morning. Then we leave late and the cycle repeats itself. 
      UPS never seems to be able to take a good plan for Peak and save it and build on it the next year. They have to reinvent the wheel every December.
      Why is that???