The Big Brown Future

I’m not generally one to try to predict the future, but I can speculate based on what I see today. Obviously each of you reading our blog has the right to speculate as well and I invite your comments on the future at UPS and with the Teamsters Union. My speculation is based on today, tomorrow the economy may crash, Hoffa may leave the union, UPS may close it’s doors, the savior may return. Not being psychic I just can’t make those kind of predictions. Today we have the implementation of Telematics. The refining of PAS. The lay-offs of employees. The drop in package volume. The election of Barack Obama. The republican ability to filibuster anything that comes before the senate. A weak senate majority leader. The company’s desire to take advantage of the current economic climate to weaken the union. The attack of the right wing blow hards that hate the middle class. All of these things, and many more, present themselves to create what may happen tomorrow. My expectation is that the company will be cracking the whip on drivers for production. What I See About YouThey will sit in their little cubicle, with their computers on, watching your every move. You will recall in articles I have written in the past about the Lord and Master running the show from his throne on high. All of the new technology fits right into that theory. Telematics is designed to allow fewer management people to control and affect more people. They do look at management as overhead, not an asset. We have made the move in our building to one sup. for every 30 drivers. That would be impossible except they can pick any driver, and watch their performance on any given day, with the click of a mouse. Their favorite management tool has always been intimidation with a large dose of harassment. Fortunately the Teamsters have kept them from directly disciplining you using the new technologies, but it is still easy for them to harass you, and ultimately catch you in other ways if you are screwing around. The managers do not realize that the Teamsters have also saved some of their jobs indirectly, because they have required direct observation, which means more supervisors. When they can discipline off of the computer screen, you will see a direct reduction in management, (along with a large outcry from the usually silent Teamster member). My prediction is the company will continue to attack contractual language that prevents them from directly using information from all technological sources for discipline. My expectation from a Teamster standpoint is that the Union will be slow to respond, and will not be overly concerned until many of you have been harassed and/or terminated. The union presence has already diminished from my viewpoint in the interest of the card check legislation, and other political desires, (a very good thing but!?), meanwhile you and I are watching the company come in the back door of the vehicle with the power to beat us up from afar. Many of our Union officials are so far detached from what it’s like to do our job in this day of technology, that we should be very afraid of what they will negotiate on our behalf. In their support, I feel their desire will be to bring us the help we need, but we will have to rise up and let them know what is happening to us out here every day. That brings me to rising up. I feel that anyone trying to rise up will be targeted by the new technologies. They now have the ability to go after you simply because you open your mouth. My feeling is that they will attack the stewards, and any of the more radical types directly. The Teamster officials will have to get militant about protecting their workhorses within the rank and file. I have watched the end results of the JAC’s in recent years, and I feel that those people have little or no connection to the rank and file steward. It has appeared to become another throne like position to hold within the Teamsters. I don’t believe it’s due to evil intentions, it’s just the way the system is, and if the Teamsters do not do something to change it, they will fall by the wayside with the rank and file. No driver in his right mind will subject himself to the intense scrutiny the company will be able to bring forth, with no backing from the Union. So here is what my prediction would be based on today. I see the Union strengthening in numbers throughout the country because of the ability to organize. I see the strength of the Union being weakened inside the workplace because of a sense of detachment and a “slow as molasses” ability to deal with changing technologies. I see the company being able to target people simply for raising their hand as a Union member. As usual I see the membership being complacent and getting their news from fat, blow hards, and having no clue what is happening to them. All of this is based on today.
                                       Who knows what tomorrow will bring!

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