Surveillance Cameras in Your Truck

Management is installing new cameras in our trucks—pointing right at the driver’s seat. Is there anything we can do?

— They’re Watching Me

You’re probably stuck with the cameras. But you can take steps to protect drivers from unfair discipline.

That’s because the law says that when your employer makes changes to your working conditions, they have to give your union the chance to bargain over how those changes will affect you, like discipline.

The first thing your union should do is to request to bargain over the impact of the new technology, and ask the company, in writing, why they installed the cameras, and what they’re going to be used for.

You should also ask to see a demo of the technology in action, so that you can learn what it can and can’t do.

(You’d be surprised at the limitations of some of these cameras—some only record for a few seconds at a time, and can only keep a certain amount of recording. Knowing those limits can help make drivers feel more secure.)

Talk to TDU about what kind of information you should request.

If the company says they could be used for discipline, then the union should demand to bargain over it.

What kind of protection should you ask for? A good place to start is to propose that NO footage from the cameras be used as evidence to discipline a driver. Here’s a sample clause:

No employee shall be disciplined based on data received via surveillance cameras or any other monitoring technology.

If the company won’t agree to that, then you should ask for language that requires an eyewitness to verify the footage from the camera.

You know how low-quality some of these videos can be—a driver’s job shouldn’t be hanging on video that’s grainy, poorly lit, or unclear. That’s something to bring up in a grievance hearing even if you can’t win specific language protecting members from the surveillance.

All that said, there are two things I should warn you about:

Warning #1: Check out the management’s rights clause in your contract. If it’s too broad, it’s going to be hard to get the protections you need mid-contract.

But you should still ask the union to bargain—and prepare to propose better language when your contract is up for bargaining. Start documenting instances when camera footage is used to discipline drivers.

Warning #2: Your best protection is a strong grievance procedure and stewards and union reps who know how to use it.

That’s a much longer article—TDU is the best place to go for advice.

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  • Thomas Nacey
    commented 2019-04-12 09:20:59 -0400
    In the 21st Century, a reasonable expectation of privacy is being subverted by a corporate need for alleviation of liability in the event of an accident. Nothing to do with driver safety.
    The fact that companies are willing to invest in technology to record the driver’s actions in an accident,…yet driver’s airbag technology,…which may actually save a driver’s life, still is not mandatory, speaks volumes as to whom is more important in the corporate world….The driver, or the Legal department?
    Companies are reluctant to buy airbag technology, yet surveillance of drivers is greeted…and paid for,.. gladly .
    Companies are claiming that constant surveillance will not be used for “discipline”,….yet anecdotal evidence from non-Union LTL drivers say that being called into the office and berated for a so-called “bad” driving technique, is fairly common.
    At any rate, once driver-facing cameras are accepted, it is but a short downhill slide into disciplinary actions against any driver they wish to target. A Union steward would be a prime one.
    Imagine if your Terminal manager had to have a camera on him every time he talked to an employee. Imagine if you are a female truck driver,………Wouldn’t you feel a little…squeamish…knowing potentially your every move could be on film?
    Imagine the salesperson in a company car having to accept a driver-facing camera as a condition of employment. Why are the truck drivers alone being singled out?

    All these factors are going to exacerbate a deepening driver shortage. There are many jobs that pay as much,…or more, than truck driving, and do not require surveillance as a condition of employment.

    Driver-facing cameras were not a “condition of employment” when most all of working truck drivers were hired. I would recommend signing a paper stating that the company does NOT have the right to release any video of you, to ANYONE,…including Law Enforcement ,….without your permission. I would request that the paper be placed in your file , and I would file a copy with the Local Union’s legal retainers. Your job could potentially be on the line,……..and in the hands of your employer who MAY have a vested interest in …..eliminating…an older driver,….or a driver who is very active as a Union member.

    Let us not forget that, in the 21st Century,….Photoshopped and “doctored” videos are a valid concern,….and are easily accomplished with readily-available technology. I would not want to be at a judicial hearing for a fatal accident,……and see an incriminating driver video for the first time. Those of us in a Union have contractual protections,…..if we know how to use them,…….but many drivers in the non-Union sector are going to regret the day that driver-facing cameras were forced on them.
  • Tom Booher
    commented 2017-06-07 13:18:06 -0400
    This Came From TDU—-No Date
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