Depression for vehicle drivers

Discussion in 'UPS Union Issues' started by Mike23, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. Mike23

    Mike23 Guest

    I was curious as to why our union hasn't done much to help those with this condition? I lost a brother in law to suicide in February who worked long haul and read this article If this is the case with long haul, it would stand to reason that UPS drivers might be more prone also? I know the average is 1-5 and that was in 2004. With the recession I'm sure it's more like 1-3 now.

    UPS is also one of the fewer companies out there that fully staffs a night shift. These people tend to have lower serotonin levels which lead to depression. They also work nights which means they tend to not have the benefit of the suns endorphins (

    I realize the the union is not supposed to get involved in management issues, however, I do have a small story about how well UPS handles depression.

    I've had depression since about grade 5 (so most of my life) and have not had a problem (before my brother in laws death) for at least 7 years. I took my meds and it was all good. Depression is usually due to a chemical imbalance for those who are not familiar with it (that's the basic way of explaining it).

    After my brother in law killed himself and my sister found the body I received a phone call at 0630 MST (it would have been around 0830 EST where my family is). My father was on the phone and told me that my brother in law had passed away. We automatically (my gf and I) assumed it was a heart attack since he was a VERY big guy. I later found out he had actually hung himself and my sister was the one that found him.

    This was on a Friday in December. I immediately called my supervisor and told them I couldn't come in to work because of a death in the family. My sups were AMAZING during this time and I hope if they read this that they'll know how thankful I was.

    Here's where the problems start. For this death, UPS treats it like any other. I had FOUR paid days off to fly home (1 day travel), go to the funeral (2 days), and try to comfort my sister (lets throw that in as 1 day). Where's my time to mourn and come to terms with the situation during this time? I also got 2 extra days off without pay (hadn't worked for a year yet so no benefits or option days).

    So, a grand total of about 5 days with my family (2 in travel time) and back to work. My sups were pretty understanding but I began to slip into a MAJOR depression. I was cover driving at the time and began bawling my eyes out on road since it was 1930 and all I wanted was to call my sister to make sure she was ok. Of course I couldn't because I was working. I called my sup and he had someone help me out a bit. I later went to get a note requesting only 8 hour days since anything past that added to stress which adds to depression and suicidal thoughts (again, I was not suicidal, just had the thoughts).

    Anyways, my depot manager asked why I needed only 8 hour days so I told him. I was then brought into the head of western canada's hr office and told I would be paid Wed, Thurs, Fri and to get paper work filled out (which I did immediately) to reinstate to work.

    This is where it gets cruel and heartless by the big boys in Toronto. I got the paper work filled out then was given more paperwork to fill out and on and on it went for FIVE weeks. Yes, that's 5 weeks without a pay check. I talked to my union in the area and he told me that UPS stance was that it didn't happen at work so therefore they did not need to accomdate me (which they barely did to begin with for the funeral and it was only my immediate sups who had a heart). There was ONE person who tried to have me work 8 hours a day in the depot but someone over her head over rode that. I was also told multiple times by the HR team that UPS had no protocol to follow for this. I was also told by my union guy that, off the record, UPS wanted me to just 'go away and disappear'. I'm wondering how many people in the past, with depression, have actually just 'disappeared' to make it convenient for UPS? I've read of one so far on this website.

    Well, after five weeks of living off my VISA (which does wonders for depression by the way when you don't have an income and are already depressed) I got my doctor to just write I was 100% fit for duty. Of course I wasn't. My sups were nice enough to give me some easy cover routes (again, they have big hearts even if they are a pain in the butt sometimes) until I completely recovered. After a month of duties I went to talk to my HR guy again who informed me someone north of the city I'm in was found driving around without a seatbelt. The situation for his depression was almost identical but since he hasn't dealt with it most of his life he was just hoping to smash into something and die. UPS termed him but then our union fought and had him reinstated with only 1 week suspension. This guy was luckly a long time driver who had benefits so was able to take advantage of them.

    During this time I collected EVERY doctors note and document UPS requested from me. I was taking advantage of the councelling UPS has setup as an outside source (had a note from the psychologist there saying 8 hours was ok), had a note from the head of psych ward in the emergency room stating I was NOT suicidal and was ok for 8 hours work. Had a note from multiple doctors who I had seen, all said 8 hours was ok as well as a bit of a buff in my meds. Every note also stated that being home is the worse thing for someone with depression.

    Well, that's the story...I just had a few questions though.

    1. Why doesn't UPS have protocols to do with this?
    My theory is that if they acknowledge it then they have to do something about it which means they just want to ignore it to cover their butts

    2. If UPS doesn't want to acknowledge it, why doesn't the teamster union acknowledge it? Especially since a lot of long haul drivers are teamsters and are a lot more prone to suffer from it.

    3. Should it not be standard protocol in EVERY teamster contract to have people with this taken care of since we're more prone to it then the majority of society. After all, it can, has, and will cause death (sometimes).

    4. If SOMEONE acknowledges it eventually, should it be put into the next contract?

    5. If it is, what should it state?

    I remember reading recently a post of someone also going through the same thing I did. I couldn't find the other post though.

    Sorry if it was long winded, I just wanted to show how brutal it is for someone with a mental illness to try to get back to work due to beauracracy BS and the stigma attached to it.

    Through the whole time I kept thinking of the Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns tells Smithers to 'Unleash the lawyers' because that's exactly what UPS did.
  2. DS

    DS Fenderbender

    Mike you bring up some good points about how they deal with disorders.
    I may well know you and the sups involved as I am based in Toronto.
    We had a guy with a sleeping disorder and he was taken out from above .
    With all the pressure with overallowed,under 9.5 ,and a neverending workload,I can see more and more drivers with some degree of depression,
    thinking about suicide,you would think that after 100 years,firing someone,should be a last resort.
  3. redshift1

    redshift1 New Member

    You should not be working unless you are 100%. Everyone knows about the long hours prior to becoming a driver so no big surprise. What you are asking for is an easier day for the same rate of pay as all the other drivers. Someone is going to get the work you cannot complete. If you are diagnosed with clinical depression any Psychologist or Psychiatrist will excuse you from work just like a physical injury and UPS must give you the time off. Unfortunately with UPS its all or nothing.
  4. Mike23

    Mike23 Guest

    See, the real issue I have is that before being hired UPS was aware that I had depression since I filled it out on the application. They still hired me but then when it reared it's head UPS claimed, 'uh, we knew nothing about this...we're ignorant of the away!'

    I would say, with our drivers working the long hours, and the way the economy is and the fact that drivers do have a stronger chance of developing depression it's very likely 1/2 our drivers could be depressed sometime over the next year. What's more important, UPS covering their butts or possibly causing someone their life because they completely bail on them for coming forward with something like this and cut them off entirely?

    It'd seem UPS cares more about money then a life...which shouldn't really shock me but it does disturb me a little.

    If that's the case, where's the union hiding during all this time?

    Here's what I'm thinking UPS should do (but never will). Since we are at higher risk, sups should be trained to spot signs of depression. We already pay for doctors to pass us physically when we're first hired, why not hire a psychologist to make sure we're fit for duty/continue to be fit for duty? This protects the driver AND protects the public.

    UPS continues to take care of the employee by giving them the option of working in the depot until the driver is 100% fit for road or if the UPS psych says otherwise (IE 8 hours).

    Depression is not like a broken leg, torn ligament or cut finger. You can't see it coming right away so UPS is able to hide behind, 'well, it didn't happen at work...If it did, prove it'. Of course you can't PINPOINT when depression sets in but with our long hours it's very likely it could increase over time until it finally hits you that you're depressed.

    Think of a glass of water. Your glass is half full right now. You're working 12 hours a day so a little more water is put in the glass. Your sup yells and threatens your job. There's a little more water. Your told you need to be laid off due to cut backs. Suddenly the water overflows the glass. That's the way depression works so to say UPS is blameless is completely incorrect. To say they're completely to blame is also incorrect.
    Lasted edited by : Jun 16, 2009
  5. trickpony1

    trickpony1 Well-Known Member

    My stepdaughter was taking a business class at the local community college.

    She showed me one of her textbooks that clearly stated, "......UPS employees have a higher incidence of anxiety and depression than [the general populace]".

    The bracketed content means I can't remember exactly the verbage used but it was close to that stated.

    So it seems there are others that are aware of the situation besides those that choose to ignore it.
  6. UnsurePost

    UnsurePost making the unreadable unreadabler

    Trickpony, I think you are confusing the fact that people are suffereing from anxiety and depression PRIOR TO hiring at UPS. UPS may attract more of that type of person than the average corporation due to its fast work pace (high strung, anxious, etc)

    THough admittedly I do think that UPS could contribute in some cases as well.
  7. dannyboy

    dannyboy From the promised LAND

    In my service at UPS I found a direct link to the amount of stress and depression linked to the job, and the type and style of management during that time.

    Usually when you have a manager that is hell on you all day, its hard to leave it all behind when you punch off and go home.

    And yes, other companies have managers that are real gems, but for what ever reason, UPS has a higher percentage of sups that intentionally try to make life hell for the hourly than others. Fact is some enjoy it so much, you will find their group photo under sadist in the dictionary.

    So why would they try to get you help for your problems when they have worked so hard to get to you that way.

  8. toonertoo

    toonertoo Most Awesome Dog Staff Member

    I worked with a guy who had serious depression, and one day he was experiencing problems with a new med, depakote. I went to take work off him, and I recognized it instantly. He didnt last much longer, the stress of working anywhere, much less UPS with a serious illness, is usually too much.
    We should all be thankful, and Im the first one to admit I dont feel LUCKY most days. But when you see someone suffering, it humbles you plenty.

    Ive always found UPS to be a good depression fighter, but only for normal depression, not clinical depression. Normal depression can be fought with keeping busy, and exercise, the best of both worlds at UPS to fulfill that order.
  9. Mike23

    Mike23 Guest

    It's not likely you know me unless you happen to work in the health and safety department for management. I think UPS tried to keep this as hushed up as possible. I think that's kind of their 'protocol' in this situation, then make things a pain to try to sort through until the person becomes frustrated and goes away. UPS doesn't want to have you back because they think of you as a liability but they can't tell you to go away for fear of appearing 'uncaring'. So they just make excuse after excuse until you go away on your own.
  10. Mike23

    Mike23 Guest

    As I said, I've had depression most of my life (I really hate saying I suffer from it because I really don't). It's usually just the stigma attached to it that weirds people out. It wasn't 50 years ago that I'd be steralized and given a labotomy as a 'cure'. Before that, I'd actually be sent to jail. Before that it was midieval times and I'd be thrown in a dungeon and tortured (cause nothing cures depression like torture!).

    Lets compare this to a situation that doesn't have as much 'stigma' attached to it. If a driver had a heart attack behind the wheel of the vehicle, would UPS give him lighter duties even though UPS wasn't 100% of the leading cause of the heart attack? I almost garauntee you they would because it shows an actual physical symptom and has no stigma attached to it. Even though someone with a stroke is likely less predicatble then someone with depression (ie rambling, acting strange, etc...). Same deal with going into diabetic shock when driving. Although UPS isn't completely to blame they still take care of that driver by giving light duties, etc...

    I'm not saying UPS is completely to blame, but going through what was the hardest time in my life, and UPS still having me cover drive for 10 - 11 hours a day (not including break). Having four days off to grieve over something like this is not nearly enough time for really anyone. Working for UPS for less then a year I had no benefits. I was between a rock and a hard place so why wasn't my union there for me or UPS?

    I think they really have to recheck how they deal with immediate family deaths. It just doesn't work having drivers go for four days, come back and are expected to resume full duties. Even if they aren't depressed their mind's still not 100% on their job (in majority of situations). Maybe light duties for an additional two weeks to give proper healing times? As well as UPS making it easier for employees to access outside help (IE there's actual suicide councelling, maybe talking to a priest for the religious folks). I'm just saying there needs to be more done then what's there because it's minimal at best.

    I do like my job A LOT. It's one of the better jobs I've had. I've always loved working outdoors because I'm just not a desk person so that really has nothing to do. Also even if you are clinically depressed it's been proven that regular physical activity increases your endorphins.
  11. Mike23

    Mike23 Guest

    See, other people know it but why aren't the people that can help change it acknowledging it, like UPS and the teamster union?
  12. DS

    DS Fenderbender

    And where are the teamsters? Having lunch with the DM no doubt.

    Typical...I guess thats how they survived 100 years

    Rome was built by slaves.

    Hail Caesar.

    ERI this

  13. FedEX 4 Life

    FedEX 4 Life New Member

    Maybe some of these depression problems are not work related at all?
  14. toonertoo

    toonertoo Most Awesome Dog Staff Member

    MIKE 23. No a heart attack patient gets no extra credit.
    No easy jobs at UPS. And no special treatment for sicknesses.
    UPS is in business to make profit.
    They do not cater to sick and ill employees.
    Dont feel you are singled out, You are not.
    I got my 3 to 4 days for deaths in my family, Mom-Dad-brother-sister. I could have taken more, unpaid, Im sure they would have given it to me.
    Best thing for my mind, was go back and keep busy.
    Just my 2 cents.
  15. ups_vette

    ups_vette New Member

    This is a typical trickpony1 post. If what he states is true, he should have no problem in listing the title and author of his stepdaughter's so called "textbook" for her business class.

    If he finds some reason that he can't provide that information, we will know his post was just another in his long line of anti UPS posts.

    Trickpony1, we all are waiting for your reply.
  16. anonymous6

    anonymous6 Guest

    I think all depression drugs are poison. I was on thm for a while and they made me feel great except for gaining 25 llbs and slowly having more and more violent thoughts.

    I quit cold turkey and decided to do my own research about 2 yrs ago.

    I no longer have bad depression bc of th following changes.

    1. eat local grown food ( much more nutrients ) also eat fish, turkey and chicken, balanced diet. stay away from sugar and processed foods as much as possible.

    2. 30 minutes aerobic exercise daily.

    3. 15 minutes minimum of sunshine.

    4. social interaction with friends or volunteer in the community.

    5. get plenty of sleep. power naps help a lot.

    6. pets help

    these things have helped me and several family members tremendously
  17. FedEX 4 Life

    FedEX 4 Life New Member

    Ive read about this before.It was in a few books at this class i use to take.Pretty interesting stuff but still sad.
  18. Mike23

    Mike23 Guest

    I honestly don't feel singled out in the least. It's not so much me that I'm worried about because I know the proper steps to take to actually become healthy again. It's the UPS employees that are depressed or may go through a depression that kind of bother me.

    My statement about the heart attack was more if it happened at work and not at home, UPS would HAVE to take care of them because it's therefore work related because it happened AT work. Even though everyone knows heart attacks take a long time to build up. The person could still be put on light duties.

    For a company that preaches safety (which I've decided they preach it out their bums) it's idiotic to think that someone who just lost a close family member would be over it in 4 days. I'm not too sure if anyone else has seen a grief chart but this is done over the span of 18 months, not 4 days. Apparently the first month is the worse and for some reason the 18th month. So, that being said, after a close relatives death would it not stand to reason that no matter who you are that your mind isn't going to be effectively on road? You're going down the street thinking about the funeral and a kid runs out, bam, UPS blames it on the driver and claims they weren't the least bit responsible for what happened? Is our union that naive?
  19. toonertoo

    toonertoo Most Awesome Dog Staff Member

    I agree with the safety comment, and thought the web site was informative. No you are not over it in four days, actually it gets worse once the funeral is over and everyone goes home, and you are left to deal.
  20. Mike23

    Mike23 Guest

    I was trying to find a better one to show the times of it but was too lazy to look much deeper. When I went to the UPS 800 help line council thing it was way better cause it actually gave you the time frames and spikes of when to expect it. I'm sort of lucky because I'm on the other side of the country then my family but I'm sure my sister feels it really hard. I suppose it's an out of sight out of mind sort of deal but there are days where you really think about it and those are the days where you probably shouldn't be on road but have no choice because of CUPS (that's communist ups :happy-very: ).