Production Harassment News
October 17, 2013: UPS management has a new toy to harass preloaders and write them up for misloads.
In some buildings, preload supervisors have started wearing scanners, entering package cars, and scanning every package in the load.
The scanner flags packages that are not in the truck’s EDD. The management tries to blame the loader for the misload.
Part-time supervisors are being told to have a 1,000 scans by the end of each shift. This technology may catch misloads, but more write-ups and harassment won’t prevent them.
Misloads don’t happen because of under-supervision or a shortage of discipline.
Misloads happen because Teamsters are loading too many trucks and handling too much volume.
UPS needs to deal with the root cause of the problem instead of blaming workers.
The new contract is supposed to protect members from harassment.
Article 6, Section 4 gives the International Union the right to negotiate over the use of new technology. It’s time to invoke that clause.
October 17, 2013: Is management handing out excessive discipline for misloads or missorts? Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself and your fellow Teamsters.
UPS has the right to expect employees, in this case preloaders and loaders, to work accurately. This is just common sense. But management frequently goes overboard from common sense to nonsense.
In this article, we’ll review how members can defend themselves in the office and through the grievance procedure. Of course, the most powerful union response is a group response. So we’ll talk about that too.
Before accepting discipline for misloads or missorts, stewards have to consider several factors including:
- Was the preloader or loader the only person covering the assignment or did a supervisor continue loading when the employee used the bathroom or went on a break?
- Did the preloader or loader come late to work or leave early, leaving someone else working the assignment?
- Did the loader load the truck or sort the packages in question by themselves or did any other person, i.e. a driver, supervisor, or co-worker, do any of the work?
- What was the frequency of missorts or misloads and the overall accuracy percentage? Use a percentage when considering the amount of mistakes to total packages handled. For example: ten misloads out of 1,000 is still 99 percent accurate and does not warrant discipline.
Be careful when arguing frequency—and be wary of management data.
Management will try to use records to show that a member has a longstanding problem with accuracy. But those numbers, while reliable for tracking packages, are not reliable for tracking an individual employee’s performance for purposes of discipline.
Remember, management’s records on misloads do not go on a rolling nine months and they do not exclude the days when the employee’s assignment was partially worked by someone else.
Filing a Grievance
If management won’t back down from unreasonable discipline, a grievance should be filed always and without exception.
If a grievance is not filed in a timely manner the discipline stands and any future protest will probably not be allowed.
Article 37 of the national contract should be cited: dignity and respect, harassment and intimidation, over-supervision, and a fair day’s pay for a day’s work.
Remember, there is no accuracy standard in the contract except the general “fair days’ work for a fair days pay.” The company has the right to expect accuracy, but not a specific number and not different levels of accuracy from one employee to the other.
As a final defense, if it is clear the member has a problem with missorts or misloads, it may be appropriate for a steward to suggest training or, in the worst case, reassignment to a different job.
Taking Action Together
Management often makes contradictory demands. They demand maximum production with high numbers of packages loaded per hour in multiple cars—and at the same time they want no missorts or misloads, or near perfect accuracy.
Most people cannot satisfy both of these demands at the same time. If the preloader tries to load too fast, accuracy will suffer. If the preloader goes for 100 percent accuracy at all times then production will drop. What is a worker to do?
The most effective response is a group response. If management is giving out discipline for every misload, they are sending a clear message that accuracy is their top priority.
In such a case, each preloader is well advised to work at a pace where they can achieve zero or near zero misloads. Of course, the supervisors will scream that they want the preloaders to work faster.
Members should calmly point out that they are going as fast as they can to ensure accuracy because they do not want to be disciplined for errors.
Let the supervisor try to discipline workers for low production under these circumstances where they have already issued a pile of warning letters for missorts or misloads. Those very warning letters provide the perfect defense.
As a bonus, members should file a pile of harassment letters if the supervisor(s) cross the line and demand more production in the face of all the disciplinary warnings.
Going on Offense
The best defense is a good offense. Supervisors work, they harass, they violate seniority and the list goes on and on. Center management that churns out warning letters and discipline is sending the message that they like paperwork, so give them some more—in the form of grievances.
Wallpaper their offices with every violation possible: supervisors working, safety violations, harassment, seniority violations, over-70 violations, the list goes on and on. The supervisor might not get the message but the center manager will.
May 24, 2013: When it comes to technology harassment and dishonesty, the new contract offers more of the same.
The company’s ability to fire an employee for “dishonesty” solely based on information from technology is largely unchanged in the new contract.
The IBT claims UPS must now “confirm information from GPS by direct observation or other corroborating evidence.”
But the contract makes a clear exception if UPS accuses a Teamster of “dishonesty.”
The IBT also claims that, “No employee will be discharged based solely on information received from GPS unless the person intentionally defrauds the company.”
But the contract already says you cannot be fired based solely on information from technology unless you “intend to defraud the company.” The “intend to defraud” language is not new and it has not protected Teamsters from discharge.
UPS has fired drivers for “dishonesty” and “falsification of records” for recording an attempted delivery on a missed package, sheeting a residential delivery as a closed commercial stop, recording air when they’re not at the stop, and other practices that are commonplace and sometimes encouraged by management.
Such discharges have nothing to do with stealing but they have been repeatedly upheld under the “intent to defraud” language.
The new language would now state that you must commit an “intentional” act where you “intend to defraud the company.”
If a driver makes an isolated mistake, the language may help protect them from termination depending on enforcement. But the new language will not stop UPS from using technology to fire drivers on trumped up charges of dishonesty.
Click here to read more on this issue at TDU’s Complete UPS Contract Coverage page.
Working conditions at UPS are at an all-time low.
Will the new contract address the problems—or will they get swept under the rug?
UPS wants early contract negotiations.
But what will the company give up in return?
UPS predicts package volume in the U.S. will grow two to three percent in 2012.
Will growing volume mean more jobs—or just more production harassment? Read the rest …
Hoffa and Hall have promised UPS will curb production harassment, hire more package drivers and respect members’ 9.5 rights.
It’s up to Teamster members to hold Hoffa and Hall to their pledge and to Make UPS Deliver on these commitments.
Under fire for weak contract enforcement at UPS, Hoffa and Ken Hall convened a national conference call last summer to brief shop stewards and promise International Union action.
But more than six months later, Hoffa and Hall remain out of touch and missing in action. Read the rest …
Drivers are paying the cost for another Hoffa-Hall surrender in bargaining—this time over the language on technology and discipline.
Read the rest …
Daily Log Books Can Help Counter Harassment, Discipline
Keeping track of your day can give you back up if you’re facing production harassment or accused of stealing time—and it can help back off management too.
The UPS Committee of Teamsters for a Democratic Union has produced a Daily Log Book used by many UPS drivers.
“Management is less likely to pick on the drivers who pay attention and keep track of their days,” says Mark Day, a package car steward in Chicago Local 705. “When they know you’re prepared for them, they tend to leave you alone.” Read the rest …
TDU has produced a new tool to help package car drivers protect themselves.
Use the OJS Tracking Sheet to stop UPS from using your OJS to hold you to an inflated SPORH.
Read the rest …
With profits down, management is turning up the pressure on package drivers.
What to do if management comes after you for production. Read the rest …
New York Local 804 is giving on-car supervisors a taste of their own medicine.
Local 804 union reps tailed supervisors and videotaped them on OJS days. If UPS is really interested in “Failure to follow proper methods,” then they need to take a look at Local 804′s footage. Read the rest …