Pressure tactics and intimidation are part of UPS management’s tool kit. The pressure may be turned on or off, or be directed at a select few, but it is rarely out of the picture altogether. And there are times when management embarks on serious campaigns of intimidation. Sometimes a center manager who has been transferred into an area for exactly this purpose launches these attacks. They target everyone, trying to stampede drivers into cutting corners to temporarily keep management off their back.
What can be done to defend yourself and your coworkers? Over the years Teamster members have developed their own tool kit for responding to pressure and intimidation.
Cut Corners Today, Pay the Price Tomorrow
Don’t fall into the trap of taking risky short cuts. One of the most effective defenses is something you can do well in advance. Work every day in such a way and at a reasonable pace that you will be able to maintain over the long run, especially while having an OJS ride.
Working through your lunch or off the clock before work or after you punch out on the DIAD will catch up with you. Cutting corners on safety or on methods is also a risky short-term gamble. Short-term survival tactics such as those mentioned will serve to create an unrealistic production standard that you will not be able to maintain through the ups and downs of your career at UPS.
Many UPS Teamsters use the Daily Log Book, available from TDU, to keep track of significant events during their workday that could effect “performance.” A pocket-sized notebook can serve a similar purpose, as could a PDA. If you are able to recall and point to problems beyond your control—traffic tie-ups, weather problems, delays—you will have the ammunition needed to counter management pressure over production.
Safety and Good Work Habits
Pay attention to how UPS says they want you to do your job. Handle over-70 packages strictly according to the rules. Deliver stops in the order set up by the computer, even if it is goofy. If a decision comes up during the day that may cause you delay, communicate it to the mother ship and let them make the decision. Doing it strictly the UPS way is often the best way to protect yourself and will often succeed in getting a manager off your back.
When they want to ride with you tell them to bring a video camera so they can make a training video. Practice, practice, practice, and don’t forget to get your customers into the act. Ask them to let you do your job exactly the way UPS wants it done when you have that special shadow along with you for the day. Ask your customers to communicate with your rider by complimenting on the good job you do or asking the supervisor all the service questions they have been just dying to know.
There is nothing like a good customer who just wants to know everything there is to know about international shipping from your supervisor.
Unity and Education
It is far easier for management to run amok when members are divided or isolated or uninformed about their rights. So it is a must to practice rank and file unity and carry out some basic education for newer members. Whether your local union is behind the effort or not you can:
• Make it a point to have older workers talk to and greet newer workers.
• Hold short parking lot meetings before or after work to talk about issues and strategies.
• Distribute copies of the contract, and the Rank and File Guide to Enforcing the Contract, to members.
• Insist on representation or a coworker witness when called into a meeting by management.
• Hand out information sheets on rights and issues (available from TDU).
• Start a website for sharing information and ideas (members in Denver, Albany, N.Y., and other areas have sites).
• Hold a member rights workshop, sponsored by your local, if they are willing, or with TDU’s help, if they are not.
• Get together often as a group for special occasions or social events. Getting to know each other and concentrating on the things that unite us are a great way to support each other.
These are just a few of the many strategies that can be used to protect against management intimidation.