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.