Better Than Coffee

       I was in my center one time, in the check-in area. It was about 7:50 am and, although I didn’t start until 8:45, I had come in early for a local hearing that we had scheduled for 8am on the other side of the building. Most of my group was crowded around, talking and waiting to go to work.
       I was holding 2 grievances I had just written for a driver who asked me if I could help him out before going to my meeting. That’s when the Division Mgr  walked up and asked, “What have you got?”
       I said, “A couple of grievances, this one is a supervisor working grievance ( I laid it aside) and this one charges harassment, over-supervision and requests that management stay off car until a local hearing can be held.”
       Mgr – Are you on the clock? Who authorized you to go on the clock and do Union work this morning?
       Me – I have a local hearing on boxline 6 at 8am.Nothing wakes me up in the morning like a good argument
       Mgr — Who did you tell, because I’m gonna ask them?
       Me – My manager.
       Mgr – I’m gonna ask him.
       Me – Go ahead and ask him.
       Mgr – I have the right to go out on car and train my people.
       Me – He’s been trained for 3 days and when he files an over-supervision grievance then you have to get off car until a local hearing is held.
       Mgr –I have the right to train my people and I can tell you right now we are coming out again today.
       Driver – I know the methods, I had a 2 day methods ride just 2 weeks ago, management is harassing me.
       Mgr – How are we harassing you?
       Driver – Saying things like, after I go the bathroom, can you go faster now that you dumped that big load? He’s harassing me about my in-car routine when I had a different car all three days.
       Mgr – I have guys out there jerking me around, taking bathroom breaks every half hour.
       Me – This driver knows the methods, let him go out and do his job.
       Mgr – He does? Look at these numbers, he’s a buck seventy-eight over and has 65 methods violations.
       Me – Nobody’s perfect, we all have methods violations, give the guy chance.
       Mgr – I’ll give him a chance, I’ll ride with him myself and if I tell him 3 times to honk his horn at a residential stop and he doesn’t do it a fourth time, I’ll fire him. How’s that? And here is something else–you think about how you are going fight it – Production rides.
       Me – I’m sure we will find a way to fight it.
       Mgr – The guy is an hour sevent-eight over, how am I supposed to dispatch him and keep him under nine-five? I have to pay him for 8 hours, don’t I? That’s in the contract.
       Me – Yes you do, but that only applies if he works under 8 hours, that has nothing to do with a planned day.
       Mgr – So how do I dispatch him to get him under nine-five is he doesn’t plan?
       Me – You send him out with what you show is seven and a half. Nothing wakes me up in the morning like a good argument
       Mgr – I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll send him out with a planned day, tell him not to miss even one package and be under nine-five, and if he doesn’t do it, I’ll fire him.
       Me – I need to get to my meeting, it’s almost 8 o’clock.
       Mgr – I’m gonna ask who authorized that.
       Me – I was hoping to get these grievances signed before I went over there, do you want to sign them? 
       Mgr – No, you’re not on the clock.

       The whole group got to witness this exchange. Afterwards, several drivers told me it was a real eye-opener.
One guy said it was better than coffee.

      An argument in front of the group is worth ten behind closed doors.

UPS….through the glass door

     It’s always fun and interesting to see what other UPS employees think of the company. Are you the only one who thinks management is trying to kill the goose that laid the golden egg? Or is that driver next to you the only one who complains everyday about his load? Or is UPS really a great place to work for everyone except you?
     There is a website called  that may be able to answer these questions. The site posts employee reviews of the company, both good and bad. The opinions fall into three catagories; pro, con and advice to senior management. What would you say if you were writing about UPS?
     Here are a few of the 477 entries they have posted so far.

     “Steady company not likely to go under.”
     “Work security, suitable for those without motivation but need a safe place to work”
     “There are none, and if you found some let me know, who you paid off. The only thing I liked about the job is some of the friendships I gained.”
     “Pay, Benefits, time off, pension”
     “very easy to coast if you are not self-motivated”
     “Excited to start – more excited to leave”

     “Hostile enviroment, No trust,long hours,heat no a/c in the summer,Mgmt does not care about you, too busy watching there backs.”
     “It’s tough. It’s really tough. I have back pains everyday, I get yelled at by drivers, I get yelled at by supervisors. If you don’t have seniority, it sucks. It really sucks. You have to have been working there for at least 6 or 7 years to actually get the better jobs and still stick to the union, and if you’re in management, well, you’re screwed.”
     “Many of your co-workers don’t understand the importance of the union. Managers are only interested in production. Very adversarial environment between union and management”
     “The work can be monotonous and lacks creativity. I think the company has a lot of potential to improve the workplace by encouraging a little more ingenuity.”
Advice to Senior Management:
     “Ups expects that your job comes before your family. It was and still is an old boys runned company”
     “Less focus on numbers because happy employees will bring you the results you keep on striving for. Use more open communication.”
     “Stop making it a us VS them situation. It’s as if they are pissed off knowing that they could be fired at any moment and it’s gonna take an act of god for the employees to lose their job because of the protection that the Union brings.”
     “Get back to People skills.”
     “Since Scott Davis took over its been a nose dive. UPS just finished a transformation which it changed the landscape of how the company is structured. 1800 people lost their jobs as a result. All because of caring about the bottom line not the employees.”
     “compassion, find some”

How would you rate UPS?

Privacy….who needs it?

Your right to personal privacy is shrinking even as Corporate America’s is growing.    
     Once upon a time, you had to be a person to assert a right to personal privacy. But more and more it seems that the demand for personal privacy flows from large blurry advocacy groups and even larger, blurrier corporations. This trend would be alarming under any circumstances. As it happens, individual privacy rights for real humans seem to be shrinking at the same time corporate privacy rights are expanding.
     Disclosure of contributors to political campaigns, and campaign advertisements, used to be an unobjectionable proposition. Now, resisting it is a matter of highest principle. Bruce Josten, executive vice president for government affairs for the United States Chamber of Commerce, told Jake Tapper, “We’re under no obligation, as any organization or association in the United States is, to divulge who its members are, who its contributors are.” Why? Explained Josten: “We’re not going to subject our contributors to harassment, to intimidation, and to threats and to invasions of privacy at their houses and at their places of business, which is what has happened every time there’s been disclosure here.”
     Then there is the National Organization for Marriage, an anti-gay marriage group that regularly sues state governments for the right to run election ads (most recently in Rhode Island) without having to abide by the state’s disclosure laws. NOM also claims that disclosure would lead to harassment of donors. NOM will not be heartened to hear about what happened to Human Life of Washington, which had challenged Washington state’s public disclosure law using a similar argument. They lost.
     But it’s not just advocacy groups claiming that they need to protect their members’ privacy rights from leagues of nameless nosy bullies. The Supreme Court has now agreed to hear a case in which AT&T prevailed in its efforts to evade a Freedom of Information Act request because Exemption 7(C) of FOIA, protecting “personal privacy,” also now protects the privacy of corporate entities. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals held that FOIA “unambiguously indicates that a corporation may have a “personal privacy” interest within the meaning of Exemption 7 (C)” and noted in a footnote that “corporations, like human beings, face public embarrassment, harassment, and stigma.”
     It used to be the case that embarrassment, harassment, and stigma were the best check against corporate wrongdoing. But that was before corporations had feelings. Of course the 3rd Circuit’s solicitude for the tender feelings of corporations might well eviscerate one of the core purposes of FOIA, but given the Supreme Court’s solicitude for the First Amendment rights of corporations in Citizens United, perhaps it’s time to recognize that for purposes of privacy rights, corporations are now people, too.
     This growing deference to trembling corporate sensitivity would be merely amusing were it not for the fact that, as the idea of corporate privacy and dignity catches hold in the American judiciary, basic notions of privacy and dignity for actual human beings seem to be on the wane. I am thinking here, just for instance, of an Oklahoma statute that would make available on the Internet identifying information about women who have obtained an abortion. (An earlier version of the bill was struck down, but it was hastily enacted again.) The purpose of the Oklahoma law is to embarrass, harass, and stigmatize women seeking abortions—the precise argument now being used to bar the disclosure of the names of campaign contributors. How can it possibly be the case that campaign contributions are entitled to a greater measure of privacy and protection from alleged opponents than the personal information of women seeking to make the most difficult and intimate decision of their lives?
     Or consider the meteoric rise of whole-body imaging—machines that produce virtual strip searches of air travelers. Or the Supreme Court’s deeply weird and inconclusive holding in last year’s big electronic-privacy case, finding that state employees don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the text messages sent on government-issued pagers. Or the recent Inspector General report that found the FBI had spied on American citizens who engaged in protests, demonstrations, or other activities protected by the First Amendment. Or North Carolina’s efforts to force Amazon to disclose its customers’ purchasing habits. I could go on.
     Look. Nation. You can go ahead and anthropomorphize big corporations all you want. Pretend that AT&T has delicate feelings and that Wal-Mart has a just-barely-manageable phobia of spiders. But before we extend each and every protection granted in the Bill of Rights to the good folks at ExxonMobil, I have one small suggestion: Might we contemplate what’s happened to our own individual privacy in this country in recent years? That the government should have more and more access to our personal information, while we have less and less access to corporate information defies all logic. It’s one thing to ask us to give up personal liberty for greater safety or security. It’s another matter entirely to slowly take away privacy and dignity from living, breathing humans, while giving more and more of it to faceless interest groups and corporations.
Dahlia Lithwick, Slate

Teaching Kids the Work Ethic

     Here’s a great little story about the bond formed between a little 5-year-old girl and some construction workers that will make you believe that we all can make a difference when we give a child the gift of our time.
     A young family moved into a house, next to a vacant lot. One day, a construction crew began to build a house on the empty lot. The young family’s 5-year-old daughter naturally took an interest in the goings-on and spent much of each day observing the workers.
     Eventually the construction crew, all of them ‘gems-in-the-rough,’ more or less, adopted her as a kind of project mascot. They chatted with her during coffee and lunch breaks and gave her little jobs to do here and there to make her feel important.     
     At the end of the first week, they even presented her with a pay envelope containing ten dollars. The little girl took this home to her mother who suggested that she take her ten dollars ‘pay’ she’d received to the bank the next day to start a savings account.
     When the girl and her mom got to the bank, the teller was equally impressed and asked the little girl how she had come by her very own pay check at such a young age. The little girl proudly replied, ‘I worked last week with a real construction crew building the new house next door to us.’
     ‘Oh my goodness gracious,’ said the teller, ‘and will you be working on the house again this week, too?’ The little girl replied
, ‘I will, if those assholes at Home Depot ever deliver the fuckin’ sheet rock.’

Why Be Prepared??

Every driver should carry a little sales lead packet in his package car. It could be something as simple as a sales lead card and a couple of shipping forms tucked into a overnight envelope. You never know when the opportunity to make a sale might arise.
        Be ready for anythingStewards sometimes have a hard time selling this idea to drivers because the drivers chafe at the thought of setting up a new account, after all, who do you think is going to have to service it?  And what driver these days wants to increase the work load on a route that is probably already running nine and a half hours a day. But growing the business is what makes our jobs secure and that benefits all of us and our families. 
       But here is an even better reason to carry a sales lead packet.
       Be prepared for an unexpected production ride. One of the things everyone shoud do on a production ride is a sales lead. Take the time to grow the business when management is on car. They aren’t going to stop you from spending a little time selling. AND…it will reduce your demonstrated stops per on road hour.
        So, be prepared, carry a sales lead packet in your car at all times.
You never know when you might need it.

Believing the Company

   He's a Liar and a Cheat!  Driver Joe Humperdumper just committed the cardinal sin. He left a package on a doorstep of an apartment. Of course the package disappeared and instead of making him pay for it, we’re going to fire him for making bad driver release deliveries. Just look at this picture. Who in their right mind would leave a package out in the open like this? Driver Joe Humperdumper is the worst at driver release of any driver in this center.
     That was the story the center manager greeted me with upon my arrival to work one Tuesday morning instead of hello. I can’t tell you how many times management has approached me, as the steward, when I got to work telling me of some horror story or another. Telling me how Jane Doe, or John Smith driver was absolutely the biggest criminal on earth for stealing everything from time, to toilet paper from the company, and how they were going to send them to the moon. I know this sounds like exaggeration, but that’s the way it seemed.
     Ironically I spent a short time as a part time supervisor prior to going driving. During that time as a supervisor, they sent me to a Management Labor relations class. Part of the class was a movie showing how a story changes depending on who’s telling it, and what perspective they are coming from. The final part of the training was teaching me not to make a decision till I hear the whole story. Man was that an important lesson when I became a steward.
    The good part about them being in a hurry to get me on their side, was that it gave me time to approach the offending driver, and get his side of the story going into the meeting. Of course the driver usually had an “I didn’t do anything” attitude, and it was usually tough to get the whole picture from them.
     We’d go into the meeting, and very often the company’s case was a whole lot less dramatic than they initially let on. Usually the picture didn’t show the surrounding area, or the tire tracks were not necessarily from our vehicle, or the item hit had been hit a hundred times before, and the driver just happened to be there that day, so he must have done it, and management continued with their usual, “all of our driver’s are cheats and liars” attitude.
     The steward, of course, is left to sort out the details. What is fact. What is assumed. What actually happened. We all know that on occasion the driver did something. Other times it could not be proven that the driver was anywhere near the incident. Most of the time the center manager was taking discipline because the “Lord and Master” above ordered them to.
     Usually the driver was ordered to continue “Covering their ass”, and to be sure to talk to the steward if anything else happened. If discipline was taken, of course the steward filed a grievance, and the process moved on to the grievance procedure. It was the rare, more severe cases that went much further than that. Rarely did anyone pay for a package, and rarely did the driver suffer more than a written warning in their Pittsburgh for a minor infraction.
     Of course all of the drivers were assumed to be liars and cheats from the beginning, and they were guilty of anything anybody ever said they did. Fortunately the union saw to it, that the drivers would have their day in court, and that the stewards were trained to see through the company’s attempts to influence the system.
     The most important part of this scenario is to be sure you do not talk to management about any issue without a steward present. Anything you say will be used against you! Be sure to be open and honest about any incident with your steward when they approach you ahead of the meeting with the company. That steward will be the difference in whether the case will be settled quickly or escalate up the grievance ladder. Finally, never assume that anything is a minor issue. Cover your ass, and call whenever something happens out of the ordinary. They may scoff, and huff, that it’s just a minor deal, but when push comes to shove, it shows you were acting in good faith for the company, not trying to lie, cheat, or steal, like they think you will do.