June 20, 2014: Harassment isn’t an accident at UPS. It’s a strategy, called management-by-stress.
Under management-by-stress, the company uses harassment to try to intimidate us into working faster. Sometimes, they’re trying to provoke you into losing your temper. In extreme cases, they’ll try to harass workers into quitting.
TDU asked experienced package car stewards for suggestions on how Teamsters can protect themselves from harassment at UPS. Here were their Top 10 tips.
Don’t Make it Easy for Them
You know the cardinal sins. Don’t commit them. Take your breaks and lunch according to the contract. Sheet every package in your truck and do it accurately. Make sure to be at the customer's address when making DIAD entries. Don’t turn late Air or a missed package into a dishonesty issue. If management is coming after you, don’t make it easy for them.
Supervisors use harassment as a strategy to get results. If it’s not working, they’ll stop wasting their time on you.
Try not to let management get under your skin—and never let them know it when they do.
If you turn into a runner after you get called into the office, you’re teaching your manager that harassment works. Work safe and smart. Practice following the methods every day.
If you work inside, focus on safety, sort/load quality and protecting the packages. Don’t play into management’s hands by blaming coworkers for slacking; help them out instead and stick together so everyone can work at a sustainable pace.
This will be good for your body and your wallet.
Be Strategic In the Office
If you get called into the office, always bring your steward. Management’s goal in the office is to pressure you, get a rise out of you or fish for information. Be strategic.
Answer management’s questions with clear, simple answers. Whether they’re fishing or trying to goad you into reacting, don’t take the bait. Keep your cool and never make up an answer. If you don’t know or don’t remember, just say so.
When you leave the office, document what happened while it’s still fresh in your mind.
Put the Problems Back on Management
Inform management of unusual situations that come up. Send a DIAD message if there's a problem with your Air, if you need help with your pickups, or if you will have missed pieces. Don’t take shortcuts or count on supervision to always look the other way. Put the problems back on management and work as directed.
Don’t Let them Dirty Up Your Record
If you get a warning letter or other discipline, grieve it right away. If you get in more trouble later, a grievance panel or an arbitrator will hold it against you if you haven't challenged previous warnings.
Document your day with a Package Car Log Book, a notebook that fits in your pocket or on your smart phone.
Keep track of your stops, pick-ups and circumstances that affect your production, like being sent off route, changes in your work, construction, bad traffic, etc. Use your smart phone to take pictures of DIAD messages or summary screens for documentation.
Management is less likely to pick on the drivers who keep track of their days. When they know you’re prepared for them, they tend to leave you alone.
Track Management & Use that Smart Phone
If a supervisor gives you an instruction that violates the methods, make a record of it. If you get an inappropriate message on your DIAD board take a photo and save it.
File Harassment Grievances
If management is trying to build a case against you, you need to build a case of your own. If you’re being targeted by management, it’s too late to fly under the radar. File grievances and build a paper trail. Especially useful are well-documented, clear instances of harassment, discrimination or instructions that violate UPS’s own policies and procedures.
Include in your remedy that you want a record of the incident to be retained in your personnel file.
Put Management to Work
Make management pay for petty discipline by prolonging grievance meetings and using your rights in the grievance procedure. Caucus with your steward in the hall. Have the steward ask detailed questions about the company’s investigation and evidence.
Article 4 requires the company, upon request, to provide the local union or designated shop steward with documents and information that is “reasonably related” to a pending grievance.
Managers that issue frivolous warning letters are sending the message that they love paperwork. So put them to work producing more of it for the union's grievance investigation.
Strength in Numbers
If you're being harassed, odds are you're not the only one. Talk to your steward or other drivers and work together. If you see a driver who's feeling the heat, help them out before they get to the breaking point. Teamsters are stronger standing up to harassment when we work together.
Never Let Them See You Sweat
“Managers use harassment to get results. If it’s not working, they’ll stop wasting their time on you.
“Try not to let management get under your skin—and never let them know it when they do.
“If you turn into a runner after you get called into the office, you're teaching your manager that harassment works.”
Thomas Oliver, Steward, Local 804, New York
What Is Management by Stress?
Invented by Toyota and now championed by UPS, management by stress is a strategy for boosting productivity (and profits) by keeping employees under constant pressure. Management-by-stress techniques include intense monitoring of the workforce, and constantly demanding more production, in less time, with fewer employees. Other management-by-stress strategies are constantly changing how work is done or mounting revolving campaigns on different methods that that must be followed or mistakes that need to be eliminated at any given time.