What Comes Next

   The New Corporatist  Life at Brown has been interesting over the last couple of years. Given the economic downturn, a number of things have happened due to the financial stresses the company has been under.
     Management promotions have essentially been stopped. The usual movement of management has also been stopped. Everyone basically has been told they will be successful where they are or they will be gone. The question would be, what has happened to the drivers? The most noticeable would be the lack of new hires, but everyone continues to work, and through attrition, no one has suffered an extended layoff.
     Management has had to pay more for their benefit package. Their “out of pocket” cost has increased in order for the company to offset some of their costs of providing benefits. What have the drivers faced? No change in the benefit package and it’s cost to the drivers. It’s a very good thing at a bad time. Of course it raised the eyebrows of management.
     Management has taken a decrease in wage levels. No raises were given, and rumor was that most management actually took a pay cut. The drivers on the other hand not only kept their wage levels intact, but were awarded all contractual wage increases provided for under the contract. It wasn’t for the lack of the company asking.
     Given these changes that have occurred in the last couple of years, what would you think will come next?
     Let me again remind you of a very special year. 2013. That is the year of the expiration of the Teamster/UPS contract. July 31st to be exact. Would any self respecting driver expect that management will take all of these cuts, then turn around and give the hourlys wage and benefit increases? Also with the competitive climate the way it is, would any driver expect the company to maintain wage levels when the nearest competition is taking wage cuts, and benefit cuts across the board?
     There is such a thing as pricing one’s self out of the market. While you would never hear the Teamsters make such a forecast, (it would be political suicide), the worries have been expressed behind closed doors.
     So back to that “self respecting driver”. Without involvement both politically, and within the Union, the s.r. driver is going to take a hit in those contract negotiations. The support can’t suddenly come on the 30th of July, 2013, it has to happen in the years preceding the expiration of the contract. The more formidable front the Teamsters present, the less demanding the company will be upon negotiation time.
     That includes an increase in Union membership outside the company. One of the biggest fears of large corporation is the “boots on the ground” mentality of the Unions. If the corporations are successful in reducing the membership of the Unions to a meaningless number of people, they will win. Your wages go down, your benefits disappear, and you get to do the job of being a driver with the same amount of hassle, for less, and less benefit.

     We all need to wake up to the “Ogre in the den”. The corporations want you to believe the “Ogre” is the government. 
                             The “Ogres” are the Corporations. Wake up!