July 21, 2009: UPS is implementing new technology that allows management to monitor drivers like never before. Telematics amounts to a daily OJS without a manager ever getting in your truck.
Find out how the technology works—and how to protect yourself from harassment and unfair discipline.
UPS is implementing new technology that allows management to monitor drivers like never before.
The technology enables management to track drivers at all times through telematics, a system that combines data from the DIAD, GPS and more than 200 sensors mounted on the package car.
With telematics, management knows every time you drive with your seatbelt off or your bulkhead door open. Telematics tells management where you are when you process a package, how long you stopped at each location on your route and how many packages you processed there—and much more.
UPS calls the new system Safety, Service and Performance (SSP).
“What the ‘P’ really stands for is ‘Production’,” says Dan Scott, a package steward in Seattle Local 174. “When the system was first introduced, there was a lot of talk about safety. Now management pays lip service to that. But the focus is squarely on interrogating drivers about their production.”
How It Works
With telematics, management can produce a detailed report on every aspect of a driver’s day.
These reports track how many of the following safety “events” occur during a driver’s day: Seat Belt Off in Travel, Recording on DIAD While Traveling: Delivery While Idling, Bulk Head Open In Travel, Harsh Braking, Total Backing, and Backing First Exceptions.
Management can print up reports with the data superimposed on maps. For example, one map might show every backing event on a given day, its location, and speed. Another might show the same data for seat belt occurrences.
But these data maps are especially handy when management wants to question a driver about the company’s number one concern: production.
“Management will produce a map that shows every stop that took more than five minutes or each time your truck was stopped for more than ten minutes. Then they will ask you to account for your time,” Scott says.
From Safety Sell to Witch Hunt
UPS is still in the process of rolling out telematics and in the early stages management tends to take a light approach.
“We’ve only had telematics in my center for about six months. Every day, management posts a sheet of safety data from the previous day that lists the top ‘violators’ in each safety category. That’s as far as it’s gone so far,” says Ken Reiman, a package car driver in New York Local 804. “But we all know UPS.”
See a Sample Telematics Report
Click here to download an actual telematics report that UPS management put together on a package car driver—including maps and production data.
Reiman is right to be suspicious. Stewards in cities where telematics has been in place longer—including Atlanta, Denver, Orange County, Calif., Sacramento, and Seattle—report that management regularly uses “Telematics Reviews” to question drivers about a lot more than safety habits.
“When they first brought in telematics, they said it wasn’t going to be used for discipline. That’s changing over time,” said John Virgen, a shop steward in Sacramento Local 150. “They’ve had people in the office for these telematics reviews—questioning them about every stop over five minutes. They’re looking for stealing time.”
A telematics review can last from 30 to 45 minutes. Management will print up a report of 15 pages or more, the bulk of which are maps with data from a specific day on your route.
“Most of the maps—and most of the discussion—will focus on a small number of stops,” Scott says. “For example, they’ll say at 2:13 last Thursday, your truck was stopped at 15 Main Street for 17 minutes. You only delivered three packages. What happened? Or they’ll say, you have seven stops of more than ten minutes. Two are breaks. One is clearly a lunch. How do you account for the other four?”
Management’s first goal when they bring you into the office is to catch you in a lie or inconsistency.
Members can protect themselves in telematics reviews by following a few simple steps.
- Take a shop steward. Don’t answer any questions if you don’t have a shop steward present.
- Keep your answers simple. If you don’t remember, say so.
- Keep a daily log book. Make note of exceptional circumstances. Keep in mind that if nothing exceptional happened, there’s no reason you would remember any particular stop.
- Unless you remember a specific problem, don’t guess or assume to explain delays. Do not say, for example: “I must have been sorting packages.” A better answer is: “That’s how long it took me to complete my work,” or “I don’t know why it took me nine minutes at that stop. Do you know why?”
Management’s second goal in a telematics review is to get you to fill in information they don’t understand. Telematics gives the company more information about your day, but it still only tells them so much. Don’t be part of a management fishing expedition. If you’re not stealing time, you don’t owe management a whole song and dance about every minute of your day.
Follow the Methods
Telematics gives management another tool to put the heat on drivers to work faster.
But the system may be more bark than bite. Telematics alone cannot be used to discipline drivers. Our contract forbids UPS from using information collected solely from technology for discipline except in cases of dishonesty.
Following UPS’s methods every day is the best way to protect yourself.
Drivers who only follow the methods when management is watching need to adjust because telematics lets management watch you all the time. The best response is to work every day like a supervisor is in the jump seat.
That doesn’t mean being nervous. It means maintaining a safe, even pace, using the methods and strictly following EDD and PAS—even if it slows you down. Focus on doing your job correctly—not taking shortcuts to make up for delays or problems created by the company.
Your stress level will go way down and you won’t have anything to worry about whether management is watching you with telematics or while sitting in your truck.
Protect yourself with your own data by keeping a daily log book. Use a Package Car Log Book from TDU to keep notes about your load and route—especially exceptional circumstances.
Click here to order the log book.