Before you read my story, let me assure you that what I’m about to share with you is accurate and true. Some might be skeptical of its content; however the majority of it is well documented. When I first signed up to work for UPS, I wanted to because I believed that it was a strong and stable company with a great history of success. And once I became a full-time employee, I believed that my financial future looked bright and I would be able to achieve some person goals I sat out to accomplish. Being that I was a single parent with two children also gave me good reason to seek employment with the company. To help better their lives by being able to provide them with the necessary tools and environment for success had a deeper meaning to me. Especially for my son who came to live with me because his mother was addicted to illegal substances. Also the fact that he was a special needs child who demanded extra care. So I worked extremely hard and did whatever that was asked of me to earn my way to a full-time delivery driver position. Little did I know that an unexpected situation would arise in my life that would contribute to the end of my career at UPS! Almost two years before the day I was removed from the company for alleged “dishonesty” and “stealing time”, I went to the emergency room of a local major hospital because I had stomach pains. The pain was moderate at the time but I still felt that I needed to be seen by a doctor. They took some basic tests and everything came back normal. So they gave me some medicine and released me. Within a few days I felt better so I continued with my life. Less then nine months later, the pain came back more intense and accompanied with other symptoms so I was forced to go back to the emergency room. Again they took some basic tests and again the results came back normal. Now there is a growing concern because I don’t know why I am suffering with such pain and discomfort. Being that the test came back normal, that was a good thing but I still didn’t know why this was happening. Over the next nine months, I experienced the series of pain and discomfort off and on. I didn’t go to the emergency room this time because I have been there twice already and I received no answers about my illness. So I tried to gut it out and pray that what ever this pain was would go away. My prayers went unanswered so now I made an appointment with my family doctor. She sent me for a series of more involved test which included a sonogram. Still all the results came back normal so I was becoming even more frustrated. In all this time I really didn’t miss any work due to my unknown condition. I still had responsibilities so taking time off wasn’t an option for me. I believed in showing up for work everyday and only use my option or sick days when I absolutely had to. However, looking back at the situation, I should have taken some time off to deal with this health issue. Now about six months later, I was at work when the pain came back with high intensity. It is very important to understand what my mindset was at the time. This occurred in the morning and continued through out the rest of the day. “What is this?” I thought to myself. Now, not only am I frustrated for not knowing what it is, I am afraid for my life. I was a relatively young man so for me to be dealing with this type of health crises, I was very fearful. There was something serious going on with my health and I had no answers so far. Even though I was suffering with immense pain and discomfort, I continued to deliver packages. I did the best that I could under the circumstances but somehow I missed a stop. At the end of the day, I realized what had happened but instead of going all the way back to try and make a delivery of a few ground packages, I believe I sheeted them as closed. On some days, this customer would have been closed at the time I sheeted the packages but later I found out that this was a day where they had extended hours. I did not know this or I would have gone back to deliver them. I knew about ten routes at the time and it was probably next to impossible to remember what time every business opens and closes on every single day. All I really wanted to do was to get back to the hub safely and as soon as possible. When I got back to the building, I immediately let the clerk know that I was calling off sick the next day. She saw the look on my face and she expressed concern for me. I actually was off the next three work days and I used up the remainder of the days I had left. I ended up making an appointment with a specialist that my family doctor referred me to. Hopefully by seeing a gastroenterologist it would shed light on what was causing me so much me grief and concern. I had to wait several weeks before I could see the specialist because she was well booked. In the mean time, I was still sick but I returned to work anyway because I had to. When I went inside the building, I was immediately met by my center manager (center manager). He ordered me into his office and proceeded to question me about the stop that I missed. I had to gather my thoughts because that day was like driving in fog. Come to find out the customer called in a complaint. I apologized for the error and I tried to explain to him that I was very sick that day. He looked at me with disbelief and concluded I was being “dishonest” with him. He probably thought that I was speaking about having some type of cold or flu. On the outside I looked totally healthy, but what was going on internally was a far cry from good health. Next thing I know, the center manager called in security and had me escorted off the premises immediately. I was shocked and devastated! I could not believe that all of this was happening to me! This was the last day that I wore the cherished and once proud brown uniform so I was also sad. I was very much under duress so what was I suppose to do now? I can either fight UPS to try and get my job back or I can fight for my health which I still did not know the state of. Later I received a letter from him stating that I was being terminated for “dishonesty” and for “stealing time” from the company. According to the UPS/Teamster agreement, a union employee has to go through a series of disciplinary steps before they can be terminated. A written warning letter is the first step. Then if another infraction happens within 9 months of the previous warning letter, a second warning letter is issued. If another infraction happens after that, then a suspension is handed down which is a loss of a few work days. Then after that, the termination of employment can be applied! The only way UPS management can justify an on the spot termination is if a union employee commits a “cardinal sin.” Some examples of UPS’s “Cardinal sins” include the following: Drinking alcohol on the job, use or possession of illegal drugs, reckless driving that results in a serious accident, having unauthorized passengers on your vehicle and dishonesty. Since my center manager didn’t understand my situation or didn’t want to, he felt empowered to use the term “dishonesty” as his bases for my termination. I do admit that the circumstance was unusual. However, the customer that was inconvenienced did receive their packages the next day. What is recorded in the Delivery Information Acquisition Device (DIAD) doesn’t always tell the whole story about a questionable situation. Everyday there are packages that don’t meet the commitment time due to human error. However, everybody does not lose their careers over it. More than the income or the benefits, the most fulfilling part of my job was servicing my customers. Interacting with my customers was the biggest joy I had. I would take extra measures to make sure that they were taken care of when they had a situation. I was able to bond with a lot of them because of the person that I was. So they would do special things for me because they appreciated me and how I provided service and how I treated them. Being a package-car driver is already a tough career to chose but having a relationship with a lot of good customers got me through many tough days. If I am going to throw my career, my pension, my health and dental benefits, my future earnings, my UPS stock options and my potential 401k savings away, it better be for something that has a way greater value. When an individual steals something, they wrongfully take possession of something that they perceive of having some sort of value. If it has no value to person, then why would they steal it? So let’s examine the price that I paid for what I received. First off, I was convicted of “stealing time.” I calculated that it may have taken an extra 10 to 15 minute minutes to go back to the customer that happened to be open late on this day. For arguments sake, I will round off a package-car driver’s regular hourly wage to $30.00 dollars an hour. I will now divide 15 minutes of an hour which equates to $7.50 for time it would have taken for the delivery. My full-time career really just started so I had many years before I could actually retire. I guesstimate that a current full-time package-car driver’s position is worth about 100,000 a year at the least. This includes the salary and all of the full benefits and all other perks that come with the job. Over a 30 year career, based on $100,000 per year, this equates to $3,000,000 during this period of time. This does not include the full pension a driver receives after thirty years of service. So I gained $7.50 to lose at least 3,000,000 from a career that I worked so hard and sacrificed so much to get. It just doesn’t make any sense! There is absolutely NO value for me to “steal time”. I have never been convicted of any crime in my entire life but now at UPS, I am convicted of being a thief. There were several occasions where UPS management asked me to drop off packages on my way home from work. Packages were somehow left in the building by somebody else and they approached me to render the situation. I always kept an attitude to help others when ever I could. So I rarely refused if somebody asked me to help them. When I made these deliveries, I was actually off the clock and I used my personal vehicle. I wasn’t trying to brown nose or anything like that. It was because of my character and who I really was as a person. I was trying to do my best to help service customers even if I didn’t get paid for it. This makes me look back and wonder if UPS was actually stealing time from me. My center manager didn’t know me long enough to understand my character or what I was all about. So he rushed to judgment and used the UPS internal language of “stealing time” which helped him in justifying ending my career. Now let’s look at the value of me being “dishonest.’ When I was grilled by my center manager about how I missed this stop, I simply told him that I was sick. I didn’t have any other answers for him yet because I wasn’t diagnosed with anything yet. I felt that I had the right to keep my medical issues private. Hippa laws were enacted in 1996 so people would have their medical records protected. I could have shown my previous history of doctor visits and results but what good would that have done? It didn’t show my diagnoses because my medical condition was yet to be discovered. What hurt me the most besides losing my primary source of income was the fact that I was going to lose my full health insurance coverage at the time when I needed it most. I would now have to pay out of my pocket for insurance coverage through the Cobra program. It extended health coverage but it would run out in less then two years. The coverage would also expire if I didn’t make monthly payments. I now would have to make co-payments for medications and doctor visits. To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. I had a panel hearing coming up to try and save my job. And I also had a doctor’s appointment with a specialist in hopes of finding out what is the cause of my declining health condition. Some people reading this story may ask the question why didn’t’ I ask management for help on this day. The short and simple answer was in my heart I believed that they could care less. I have witnessed how management has treated other hourly employees in the past so I did not want to aggravate my situation by calling them for assistance. I chose to try to grin and bear it even though I was in horrible pain. I did make it back to the building in one piece. However for all of my effort, I came up a little short. Look for Part2 the conclusion by the end of the month.