FAA Measure Benefits UPS, Biggest Giver to Lawmakers (Update1)

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By Jonathan D. Salant and John Hughes

May 21 (Bloomberg) — United Parcel Service Inc., whose political action committee has given more money to federal lawmakers than any other company over two decades, is a major beneficiary of legislation approved by the U.S. today House that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration.

The measure includes a provision making it easier for rival FedEx Corp. workers to unionize. Under the measure, drivers for The Balancing of the Playing FieldMemphis, Tennessee-based FedEx could form unions locally rather than hold a national election. UPS’s truck drivers are members of the Teamsters Union.

UPS says the legislation would level the playing field, as unionizing would likely bring changes in pay and work rules that would raise FedEx’s costs.

From 1989 to 2008, the political action committee of Atlanta-based UPS contributed $19.8 million to federal candidates, more than any other company. UPS was the biggest corporate PAC giver in every election from 1992 to 2006, before Dallas-based AT&T Inc. contributed more money for the 2008 elections.

“Clearly, this is further evidence of why we have to get rid of private financing of campaigns,” said :Craig Holman, who handles campaign finance issues for Public Citizen, a Washington-based advocacy group.

UPS spokesman :Norman Black said he wasn’t able to immediately verify the numbers on giving.

“We are very proud of the participation of employees of this company in our political action committee,” Black said. “It is a point of pride that our management and employees understand the importance of our voice being heard in Washington. We play by the rules.”

Oberstar’s Role

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar, who inserted the UPS-sought provision, received $77,900 from UPS employees between 1989 and 2008, more than any other company, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group.

The Teamsters Union, which is trying to organize FedEx workers, gave Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat, $86,500.

“As committee chair, Representative Oberstar is in the catbird seat,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. “So it’s no surprise that a transport company like UPS tops his list of corporate donors.”

Oberstar spokesman Jim Berard said, “Mr. Oberstar’s vote is not for sale for $77,000 or any other amount of money.” He added that Oberstar is seeking the labor provision because it is the “proper thing to do” and any implication that he is seeking it due to political donations is “absolutely wrong.”

FedEx spokesman Maury Lane said UPS lobbyists “inserted the bailout language that threatens FedEx’s ability to provide competitively priced shipping options.” He added, “UPS’s focus is holding back competition.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at John Hughes in Washington at

National Health Plan to Contain $2 Trillion Deductible

Hopes for a quick fix for the nation’s health insurance woes were dampened somewhat today when the medical industry released its draft proposal for a plan that would include a $2 trillion deductible.

“We know that some critics will regard this number as a little on the high side,” said Carol Foyler, a spokesperson for the American Medical Association, who had a hand in drafting the plan. “But bear in mind, once America reaches that $2 trillion number, everything is covered at fifty percent.”

The AMA proposal includes other details certain to raise eyebrows, such as a mandatory full-body CAT Scan for all Americans over the age of 12.

“Some people may regard this as unnecessary testing, but it’s going to take a lot of CAT Scans if America’s ever going to reach the deductible,” Ms. Foyler said.

The AMA spokesperson said that the health industry was looking to cut costs in other ways, such as creating a 50,000 square-foot “national waiting room” on the site of an abandoned Chrysler plant in Flint, Michigan.

The proposal has it share of other controversial features, including a pharmaceutical plan that consists of a plane ticket to Canada.

the Borowitz Report

UPS Production Push: Working Safe, Working Smart

May 22, 2009: In a tough economy, UPS management is getting leaner and meaner. New technology helps management push drivers for more.

Following UPS’s methods is the best way to protect yourself.

UPS management is laying off drivers, adding stops to routes, and pushing package car drivers to increase production more than ever.

“In my building, five drivers are laid off. That means more work for the rest of us,” reports Matt Higdon, a steward in Georgia Local 728. “Some of us have stop counts at peak season levels.”

The heat is on drivers to work faster and faster. And UPS is rolling out new technology that will only make the problem worse.

With new technology like telematics, management can monitor drivers more than ever. Every day is a potential electronic OJS.

The best way to protect yourself is to follow UPS’s methods.

Why We Run, Why We Shouldn’t

There are plenty of reasons why some package car drivers take shortcuts. Getting in early to see their family. Keeping customers happy. Avoiding hassles with management.

But running can get you into trouble:

  • Management will always come back for more. They’ll add stops to your route and expect you to work faster and faster.
  • If you have an injury, you won’t be able to keep up your old pace. But management will still expect the same production from you.
  • If you don’t follow the methods, management can discipline you for not working as instructed.

Work Safe, Work Smart

Matt Higdon, Local 728 UPS management is giving conflicting messages on an hourly basis: Go faster. Be safe. Build the business. “Do what the methods say to do and focus on keeping a safe, even pace,” recommends Higdon. “Don’t take shortcuts.”

Take your breaks at the appropriate times. Obey the posted speed limits, including those in your own building. Do your stretches before your first stop and after all rest periods—and do them every day, not just on an OJS.

Follow the methods every day—whether or not management is breathing down your neck.

“The best way to become good at something is to practice every day,” Higdon says.

That Special Day

Some drivers get nervous and speed-up when the supervisor comes on the truck. Don’t do it.

Management is disciplining drivers who have a higher Stops Per On Road Hour during an OJS for not working at a “demonstrated level of performance” when the sup is not on the truck.

What should you do to be ready for an OJS?

  • Follow the methods just like you would on an ordinary day.
  • Make a note of your load every day and keep track of misloads so that you can show the difference when your load is perfect for the OJS.
  • Get to know your pre-loader. They can be your eyes and ears and let you know how your load was changed on the day of your OJS.
  • Is the sup trying to do your work? “Make a note if you see the supervisor handling packages or opening doors,” advises Craig Karnia, a steward in Chicago Local 705. “You can use that to explain later why your numbers were higher on the OJS.”

Called into the Office

Following UPS’s methods is the best way to protect your job and your safety. But management may not be happy with your numbers.

Craig Karnia, Local 705 If management calls you into the office to talk about your work performance, be sure to bring a steward. “Answer management’s questions with clear simple answers,” recommends Karnia. “If they start asking you about something that happened days ago and you don’t know or don’t remember the answer to a question, just say so. Never make up an answer.”

“Management’s main purpose in these meetings is to intimidate you, and put pressure on you to push yourself too fast,” Karnia said. “Keep your cool, listen to what management has to say and don’t let them get under your skin. Follow the methods every day.”

If you get a warning, grieve it right away. If you get in more trouble later, a Teamster panel or an arbitrator will definitely take notice if you haven’t challenged previous warnings.

If management asks you to sign a letter committing to a certain level of performance, you can refuse to sign it. If management orders you to sign it, sign it under protest and file a grievance.

Strength in Numbers

Drivers are safer when more drivers are following the methods.

That starts when experienced Teamsters who know the methods take the time to share their knowledge with other drivers.

You can help by sharing this article and other tips with drivers in your building. Some members order TDU’s Daily Log Book in bulk to give to other drivers.

TDU is sponsoring a special workshop for package car drivers at the TDU Convention, Nov. 6-8 in Cleveland.

And we’ll continue our coverage of package car driver issues in the next issue of Convoy, with a special report on UPS’ new telematics program: “Safety, Service and Performance” (SSP).

What is management doing in your building to push production? Click here to let us know or to get in touch with TDU’s UPS Committee.


Is Your Boss a Psychopath?

      I don’t know why when I think of UPS management, I think of mental illness. I guess 30 years of getting beat up will do that to you.
      When I try to tell someone on the outside what UPS is like everyday, they think I’m the one that’s nuts. So I looked up what defines being classified as a psychopath. The glory of the Internet made my search easy and fast. In fact, it was a site called Fast Company that provided this 8 step test. Test your boss and see how they rate.

      “The standard clinical test for psychopathy, Robert Hare’s PCL-R, evaluates 20 personality traits overall, but a subset of eight traits defines what he calls the “corporate psychopath” — the nonviolent person prone to the “selfish, callous, and remorseless use of others.” Does your boss fit the profile? Here’s our do-it-yourself quiz drawing on the test manual and Hare’s book Without Conscience. (Disclaimer: If you’re not a psychologist or psychiatrist, this will be a strictly amateur exercise.) We’ve used the pronoun “he,” but research suggests psychologists have underestimated the psychopathic propensity of women.”

For each question, score two points for “yes,” one point for “somewhat” or “maybe,” and zero points for “no.”

[1] Is he glib and superficially charming?

Is he a likable personality and a terrific talker — entertaining, persuasive, but maybe a bit too smooth and slick? Can he pass himself off as a supposed expert in a business meeting even though he really doesn’t know much about the topic? Is he a flatterer? Seductive, but insincere? Does he tell amusing but unlikely anecdotes celebrating his own past? Can he persuade his colleagues to support a certain position this week — and then argue with equal conviction and persuasiveness for the opposite position next week?

[2] Does he have a grandiose sense of self-worth?

Does he brag? Is he arrogant? Superior? Domineering? Does he feel he’s above the rules that apply to “little people”? Does he act as though everything revolves around him?

[3] Is he a pathological liar?

Has he reinvented his own past in a more positive light — for example, claiming that he rose from a tough, poor background even though he really grew up middle class? Does he lie habitually even though he can easily be found out? When he’s exposed, does he still act unconcerned because he thinks he can weasel out of it? Does he enjoy lying? Is he proud of his knack for deceit? Is it hard to tell whether he knows he’s a liar or whether he deceives himself and believes his own bull?

[4] Is he a con artist or master manipulator?

Does he use his skill at lying to cheat or manipulate other people in his quest for money, power, status, and sex? Does he “use” people brilliantly? Does he engage in dishonest schemes such as cooking the books?

[5] When he harms other people, does he feel a lack of remorse or guilt?

Is he concerned about himself rather than the wreckage he inflicts on others or society at large? Does he say he feels bad but act as though he really doesn’t? Does he blame others for the trouble he causes?

[6] Does he have a shallow affect?

Is he cold and detached, even when someone near him dies, suffers, or falls seriously ill — for example, does he visit the hospital or attend the funeral? Does he make brief, dramatic displays of emotion that are nothing more than putting on a theatrical mask and playacting for effect? Does he claim to be your friend but rarely or never ask about the details of your life or your emotional state? Is he one of those tough-guy executives who brag about how emotions are for whiners and losers?

[7] Is he callous and lacking in empathy?

Does he not give a damn about the feelings or well-being of other people? Is he profoundly selfish? Does he cruelly mock others? Is he emotionally or verbally abusive toward employees, “friends,” and family members? Can he fire employees without concern for how they’ll get by without the job?

[8] Does he fail to accept responsibility for his own actions?

Does he always cook up some excuse? Does he blame others for what he’s done?

If your boss scores:

1-4 | Be frustrated
5-7 | Be cautious
8-12 | Be afraid
13-16 | Be very afraid

FedEx Opposing Union Option in House Legislation

FedEx Corp. truck drivers would be able to join unions more easily under legislation that the U.S. House began debating May 21.

Drivers in FedEx’s Express unit could vote locally to join unions under the plan rather than having to hold a national election to gain representation. The House approved similar legislation in 2007 that wasn’t taken up by the Senate.

The planned vote sets up a clash in the Senate between FedEx and larger competitor United Parcel Service Inc., which says the legislation would even the playing field with UPS’ union work force. UPS workers organize under the National Labor Relations Act, which allows local organizing. FedEx operates under the national organizing standard used for airlines.

”We expect the House will do the right thing by closing this unfair loophole,” Teamsters President Jim Hoffa said in a statement. ”FedEx Express workers have been deprived their right to form unions like workers at other package-delivery companies.”

The labor provision was included by Representative James Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat, in broader $70 billion legislation to finance the Federal Aviation Administration through fiscal 2012. The Senate hasn’t yet crafted its version of the bill.

”Americans shouldn’t tolerate more bailouts for companies that can’t compete,” FedEx spokesman Maury Lane said in an e-mail statement. ”Hopefully the Senate will understand the unintended consequences of these actions.”

The Teamsters have been trying to organize FedEx drivers for years. Atlanta-based UPS is the biggest employer of Teamsters, with about 240,000 workers. Pilots are the only major worker group represented by a union among FedEx’s 290,000 employees and contractors.

John Hughes
Bloomberg News

UPS Looking at Bailout Impact

Transportation giant UPS said it’s studying the issue of federal bailouts for financially ailing trucking companies but wouldn’t comment directly on competitor YRC Worldwide’s request for $1 billion in federal aid.

“The bottom line is, we don’t comment on the financial difficulties of our competitors,” said UPS spokesman Norman Black. On whether the treasury department program which has so far has sent money to the banking, automobile and insurance industries should be extended to the trucking industry, “we’re still looking at that,” Black said.

UPS paid $6.1 billion to pay off its pension liability in the Central States multi-employer pension fund in 2007 that covered approximately 40,000 of the company’s 240,000 employees. UPS continues to pay into a new plan set up between the company and the Teamsters union and 20 other Teamster union pension plans.

One Wall Street analyst wondered, “If YRC is allowed to get $1 billion from TARP, is UPS allowed to get a $5.1 billion refund?”

You Can Call Me Ray, or You Can Call Me Jay

  Here is a bit of an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. It talks about the trust that comes with encouraging employees to be on a first name basis with management and it uses UPS as an example. I thought it was kind of interesting. Here is what it said.

        The casual atmosphere“A relaxed, open work atmosphere can encourage collaboration and a free flow of ideas, and some companies promote the use of first names and nicknames to help employees bond, as well as feel comfortable enough with their superiors to give honest feedback. Some companies have a written policy that all employees must be on a first-name basis.
        United Parcel Service Inc., Atlanta, has had such a rule since its first policy book, written by founder Jim Casey in 1929. Spokeswoman Diana Hatcher says the policy reinforces the democratic nature of the company, which often finds senior management in-house.
        “Our former CEO [Michael Eskew] began his job as an industrial engineer 34 years ago,” she says. “And he’s Mike. I wouldn’t dream of calling him anything else. It’s a reminder that a person who starts out as a seasonal employee could be our next CEO.”
        But the policy has ruffled some employees overseas. UPS has 400,000 employees in 200 countries, with more than 58,000 operating outside the U.S.
        Nonetheless, John Flick, director of international public relations at UPS, believes the guideline helps new workers feel confident making suggestions to management. “At first it’s a cultural coup,” Mr. Flick says. “But once they get over the initial shock, everyone I’ve dealt with has embraced it.”
        In some regions with strict social strata — such as India, China, Latin America and even Britain — he says the rule is a motivator for employees, enforcing the idea of work being rewarded with promotion. Mr. Flick says it also leads to innovation, as people aren’t afraid to speak up to management.”

        Doesn’t that sound great? I didn’t know that UPS had a written policy that all employees must be on a first name basis. I used to have a manager that would call me by my first name when in a good mood and by my last name when in a bad mood. I always knew what to expect just by hearing my name called.
        I also liked that part about how the casual approach leads to innovation because workers aren’t afraid to speak up to management. Wow, what planet do these people live on? It sure isn’t Planet UPS. In the trenches, where I lived and worked for 30 years, UPS didn’t want our input. They lived behind a big fence and written on that fence were the words: If workers were smart enough to have good ideas, they’d be in management.

Could this Work at UPS?

Lay one driver off and work the others 11 hoursOne of the more intriguing chapters in labor history involves a decision by the Kellogg Company in 1930 to cut workers’ hours from a 40- to a 30-hour week. We could learn a thing or two from this example.

At the outset of the Depression, the company figured this would create 300 more jobs. Company President Lewis Brown also hoped it would give workers more time to spend with their families and to participate in their communities, and that it would lead to “higher standards” in school and civic life.

Workers did use their extra time off for gardening, visiting libraries, and family activities, according to reporters’ accounts, a 1996 book titled “Kellogg’s Six-Hour Day,” and a study by the US Department of Labor.  Most of the workers seemed to embrace the trade-off.

We have since come to accept a different idea, one that puts us in the role of consumers who aim to maximize our working hours and income. To what gain?

When the Kellogg experiment was launched, the country was already headed in a direction that one business leader of the time described as “the gospel of consumption.” Slowed by the Depression, the direction came into full flower after World War II, nurtured by an increasingly pervasive and sophisticated advertising industry. Now most of us have been thoroughly indoctrinated in that gospel.

What if, in this shrinking economy, we learned from the Kellogg example and instead of laying people off, US businesses first cut back hours?

Tim Holt

They’re Playing Our Song

Whether or not you like country music, you have to admit they do have the best song titles. 

        At The Gas Station Of Love, I Got The Self Service Pump
        Get Your Biscuits In The Oven And Your Buns In The Bed
        How Come Your Dog Don’t Bite Nobody But Me?
        I Gave Her My Heart And A Diamond And She Clubbed Me With A Spade
        If I Can’t Be Number One In Your Life, Then Number Two On You
        If You Can’t Live Without Me, Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?   
        Why is The UPS Man Knocking On My Baby’s Backdoor?
        They Can Put Me In Prison, But They Can’t Stop My Face From Breakin’ Out
        You Stuck My Heart In An Old Tin Can And Shot It Off A Log
        You’re The Reason Our Kids Are So Ugly
        You’re A Hard Dog To Keep Under The Porch
        I’m So Miserable Without You, It’s Like Having You Here.
        I Gave Her The Ring, And She Gave Me The Finger
        Get Your Tongue Outta My Mouth ‘Cause I’m Kissing You Goodbye

Management Rant

I’ve been in mangt with UPS for over twenty years and it has been a terrible time. The relentless conf calls and berating that mangt takes is not right. The demands on one’s time is ridiculous, the average Full time supervisor works 11-13 hours per day ? The last five years have been worst then ever because we have had such a brain drain of our solid leaders and now with battlefield promotions of people who have little or no success, we are being managed by a cast of idiots. Talk with a UPS mangt person and they will tell you their retirement date, why? because they can’t wait to leave. Most of us cannot afford to leave due to a pension at the end of our term. But there is hope, UPS paid out over 80 million in a major lawsuit with our part time supervisors. The lawsuit was about abusing this groups hours, (making them work 6-7 hours per day) but only paying them 5.5. This lawsuit has caused a fault line thru the higher ranks from Atlanta right down to us lowly Full time supervisor’s. We are threatened at least once a week about this lawsuit and to monitor our people’s hours. When in fact it was upper mangt who looked the other way on this practice. Although we are salaried employees I believe that there is a very strong under current brewing across the company that we should not be mistreated, berated or overworked to the degree that we have been and this lawsuit was the first opening for us. Want proof of this nasty enviroment? Ask the next UPS driver you run into about him or her joining the mangt ranks and be ready for their response of complete anger or a loud laugh. In the past we would have a bench of 2-3 employees per operating center waiting to become mangt. now there is hardly one per operating district? FYI, I am still employed at UPS, and I am not one of those “dirtbag” mangt people that upper mangt has looked down upon. I am fortunately still in good graces with upper mangt and I am looked upon as a leader for my operating center, so I do not post this material as a scorned, irrational revengeful person. I post this information because I want the other mangt people at UPS to stand up and help change our company back to the way it was before. As many of us say to each other everyday, “What was once a career, is now a job”. By the way it is peak delivery season and evryone is being e-mailed daily not to have their drivers go over the DOT rules of 60 hours, but how many mangt people are on the road more then 60 hours?