proper procedure with unfair supervisor & steward?

Discussion in 'UPS Union Issues' started by tomixx1199, May 4, 2016.

  1. tomixx1199

    tomixx1199 New Member

    First, thanks for the time to help me with my problem.

    Second, some minor info to help you with my issues.
    I work in Small Sort, trained in every job available. Also able to work in the Unload.
    My seniority puts me ahead of about 5 other people in the area (about 20 workers total)
    Most people with less seniority than me are trained in same or similar jobs in Small Sort & Unload.

    Our Small Sort includes the SSLAW machine.

    So I have a few questions as I recently have grown into fighting for my rights rather than bending over for my supervisors as most workers at my plant do.
    I have obtained the book with the National Master United Parcel Service Agreement and Central Region and Local 243 and Metro Detroit Supplements. Its quite the read and a bit ambiguous in certain parts.

    Now for my major problem. My supervisor just put me at one of the jobs that I am capable of doing and was trained in(sorting for the SSLAW machine), however do not consider myself good at. Especially since a while back when I actually wanted to do the job I kept being criticized and even had been called into office with a union steward and my supervisor.

    Now recently I was asked to do the job as the primary sorters have gone on vacation. There are others who can do this job, with more and less seniority than me. I have told my supervisor about me not wanting to do the job as well as affirming the fact that I most likely will not be able to handle the flow.

    I was dismissed under the fact that I have done the job before and am good at it.
    At the end of the shift I was called in to have a talk with my supervisor and union steward (who by now I am displeased with the way they perform their job) and I was told that I have sabotaged the shift today as we had to take an extra 10 minutes to finish sorting everything I was unable to catch during the shift.

    So now that I have taken all of this off my chest, (and you managed to read through that mess)

    I have a few questions I'd like to ask and perhaps confirm ones I have had answered by other employees/backup stewards.

    1) If I am displeased with the way my steward operates, I am allowed to select a different one for my grievance procedure or a talk with supervisor and steward. Is this correct?

    2) If I see a lower seniority worker performing a job I wish to perform, and said worker is capable of doing my job I can ask to be switched, and the supervisor should comply with rules of seniority.

    3) If said supervisor refuses the above and uses the rule of "work as directed" (which I have not found in the contract yet) I am able to file a grievance against him/her.

    4) I was told a Union steward is a bridge between the supervisor & union worker, However my Union steward simply seems to be a gun for the supervisor to use against us, and never supports or defends us. Can I file a grievance against them for this reason?

    5) This last one slightly off topic but still an issue I'd like resolved.
    Small sort is my preferred work area, and my name is on that list. However with varying degrees of flow, sometimes I am asked to help on unload along with the people below me on the list in small sort. The part time supervisors as well as the full time supervisor are aware of the fact that I do not wish to be on unload. However my issue here is that the people with lower seniority either don't have to go help on unload or they return to small sort within 30 minutes while I stay for the entire shift. Am I not allowed to fight for my right to either stay at small sort or return before anyone with less seniority?

    Once again thanks for all the help, and thanks for bearing with my poor sentence structure and wall of text.
    Lasted edited by : May 4, 2016
  2. PiedmontSteward

    PiedmontSteward RTW-4-Less

    You're not permitted to select a steward when you're being disciplined; the company is simply required to have one present. If you're filing a grievance or want to have an informal discussion outside of the discipline process, then you can select whichever steward you wish.
    It depends on your supplement. I'm not in your area, but in mine seniority applies only to classification not necessarily station/load/set/etc. Meaning your seniority allows gives you the right to work in small sort, but not to pick a specific work area in small sort (sorting, debag, bagging, or this "SSLAW" machine that I'm not familiar with) unless there's a pay rate differential (which would be a different classification.)
    You can grieve anything. The thing you're grieving being an actual violation, however, is a different story. The rule of thumb regarding contract violations is to "work now, grieve later" meaning you can only refuse an unsafe, unethical, or immoral work order but not one that's a violation of the contract. For example, a package car driver can be forced to run a route in violation of his seniority and would have to grieve it later on. If he refuses, he could be fired for gross insubordination. The driver can refuse to drive a package car that he believes to be unsafe in good faith, ie. bald tires, broken headlights, etc. or can refuse to sheet a package in a way that would be a dishonest (unethical) act. I'll leave "immoral" up to your imagination.

    Having a :censored2:ty steward isn't a violation of the contract, but said steward's actions are likely a violation of his ethical responsibilities as a union representative. Keep in mind that not getting your way or getting dinged with a file write up doesn't necessarily mean a steward is in bed with the company. Regardless, you need to be having that conversation with your business agent, not the company.
    Depends on your local supplement, but in my area junior employees must be "sold out" to other areas ahead of senior workers provided that the employees are "qualified" to perform the work. You'll have to "fight for your right" via the grievance procedure not by being insubordinate.
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    Last edited: May 4, 2016
  3. tomixx1199

    tomixx1199 New Member

    Just for clarification
    How does an informal discussion help me? My impression is that its something they are required to hear me out on but can dismiss and pretend it didn't happen.

    They have been allowing higher seniority to pick jobs within small sort, So either it is allowed and I should receive the same benefit or it is not and I can put a stop to higher seniority people picking jobs they want?
    (SSLAW is a air pressurized machine that scans packages and spits out labels right onto the said packages, on a fast moving belt, typically at a rate of 3000-4500 packages per hour, the job I was disciplined in is sorting all the letters and small packages that move by on that belt after the SSLAW process into 8 different lines + special things like ECS, HOLD, HP ect.)

    If I say that I am inadequate for the job and asked to continue doing it, only to be reprimanded for failing to perform quality work. Would I be able to show that as a moral issue next time?

    I understand that a steward disagreeing with me is not immediately wrong, however with several other employees agreeing on the steward's poor quality, as well as the fact that the steward never does anything to support the union workers other than an occasional "Hey [supervisor name] why are you working?!?!" Just feels like it allows the steward to remain at the job they want and not have to deal with issues from the employer side.
    Another example to add is when I asked what it takes for a supervisor to be allowed to do hourly work. The reply was "one person calling in or not showing up" is this true? it seems like they could always get away with work with a rule like that.

    As I said I end up working in the unload for the entire shift while other employees that are considered junior in relation to my standing get to go back to small sort or never leave at all. And yes all of us have the same qualifications.
  4. Bastiatian

    Bastiatian Well-Known Member

    Are you sure about that? When I went to ask my steward for a union book, one of the first things he told me was that if they want to discipline me, they need to provide a steward AND that it can be the steward of my choice. He literally said, "it can be any steward you want that's present. If they give you steward A, and you want steward B, they have to get you steward B before they continue with the discipline process."
  5. PiedmontSteward

    PiedmontSteward RTW-4-Less

    99% of the problems/contract violations I deal with are solved informally outside of the grievance procedure depending on which manager I'm dealing with. If we have a good working relationship, I raise the issue informally and it gets fixed if management is able/authorized to do so. If I'm working with a :censored2:ty manager, I just hit him with paper (much less effective and takes longer to fix problems.)

    That's a tough one. Are they "picking" jobs or is management just knowingly putting their favorites in the spots they know they want? It's going to depend on the language in your supplement/rider, probably under any articles about seniority.

    You're reaching -- no. What do you mean by "being reprimanded for failing to perform quality work"? Were you disciplined for failing to adhere to company methods and procedures (typically "Failure to Follow") or for production? I'd advise you to read Article 37 in the NMA about "a fair day's work for a fair day's pay."
    No, it's not true. The company has an obligation to exhaust all local practices including calling in double shifts, having other shifts work over on OT, etc or follow the language for double shifting list per Article 3, Section 7 before having sups do bargaining unit work. They are only covered under an Act of God (massive ice storm causing most of the shift to call out, etc.) which involves the company contacting the local union to notify them they have declared emergency conditions. Someone calling in sick is not an Act of God.

    You and the rest of your coworkers should start going to your local's membership meetings and air these concerns with your BA.
    You need to grieve that under the appropriate article in your supplement.
  6. PiedmontSteward

    PiedmontSteward RTW-4-Less

    Every area, local, and building is different. In my experience and according to the letter of the contract, the company has no obligation to provide the member with the steward of their choosing. If there's a bona fide past practice (or even one that lower management believes to exist) in your building, then that's outstanding.

    This has been a serious issue in my local and, honestly, makes my job harder.
  7. Turdferguson

    Turdferguson Just a turd

    Article 4 of the master just says you have the right to request a steward not pick which one you want
  8. Bastiatian

    Bastiatian Well-Known Member

    EDIT: Didn't see above post. Disregard.
  9. bleedinbrown58

    bleedinbrown58 ahhh....the mouth breathers

    Let's start with "sorting for the SSLAW"...which, if I read your novel correctly, is the position you want to work but your sup says you can't handle. Now, I've only been in Small Sort for About half a year...and I don't work the SSLAWs unless I'm covering for a position until I transfer is Surepost. But isn't sorting for the SSlaws simply turning the packages shipping label face down so they can be placed on the belt and run thru the SSLAW? It isn't rocket science, how do you screw that up bad enough to be called into the office??
  10. tomixx1199

    tomixx1199 New Member

    There is a guy with about 30 years seniority, if he says "I want to do this job now" they move him to that job.

    I was disciplined for sabotaging the shift by not working at my 100%, I was working at my 100% and I have told my supervisor who has seen me work previously that I am not good enough for the job. In the end I had to pull the work off the belt on the side to be sorted later, this caused me and a few other works to stay an additional 10 minutes.

    Then you can agree that this steward is favoring the supervisors.
  11. tomixx1199

    tomixx1199 New Member

    Sorry that's incorrect, The job you are thinking off is "feeding the SSLAW" at least that's what we call it at our plant. Right after the SSLAW is where the totes for sorting smalls is. That's the job I cannot do well. Have 3000-4500 Air letters fly by me as I try to grab them all and sort them into 9 different locations (8 lines and the decap station)
    not counting the somewhat newly acquired Lab packs which need to be sorted separately from everything else into 4 additional totes.
  12. fres431

    fres431 Active Member

    My area you have the right to deny stewards representation and request another one or wave yours rights all together
  13. bleedinbrown58

    bleedinbrown58 ahhh....the mouth breathers

    Repeat after me..."I'm trying my best and working as fast as I safely can." if they are unhappy with your performance in a particular position....tell them that perhaps they should consider moving you to a different position.
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  14. Jkloc420

    Jkloc420 Well-Known Member

    I have always been told if someone is doing a like job and person a has more seniority they can bump you off of it. However you have to file a grievance on it. In your case never tell them you cant do the job because then you cant use your honest days work for an honest days pay. They will always come back with your sabotaging because you don't want to be up there. Your best bet since your stwerd sounds bad is call the union hall and see what they say. In my building lower seniority is always getting bumped for higher up seniority.
  15. tomixx1199

    tomixx1199 New Member

    Ok so I have a few more questions, Assuming that the group saying I am not allowed to deny a specific steward for when I am being disciplined. How should that steward act during the discipline? Since the last few times this steward at our work area had to be part of a Union talk (not always with me of course) they just yelled along with the supervisors at whatever the employee did wrong, even if they did not witness said event.

    I keep hearing about this BA, How do I get their contact info? would this be in my contract book?

    Also, in our area we have a backup steward(I believe that is what he is called) How much can I rely on him? How much does the actual steward outrank him?

    Lastly thank you all for your help, this has been a very informative welcome to this website, I will be returning here with more questions, and eventually answers for those who might need help as I did today. This community so far seems to be extremely friendly and it definitely feels like a Union for once.
  16. PiedmontSteward

    PiedmontSteward RTW-4-Less

    Not like that.

    In fact, no one should be yelling during a disciplinary hearing unless the manager and the steward are yelling at each other.

    I'd be lying to you if I said I've never raised my voice to a member before (for example, at a 10 year guy no call/no showing multiple times in a month), but it should be happening outside of the office/area and not in front of management.

    You should try Googling your local union and trying to find an office number to get in touch with the BA covering your barn. You mentioned you're in Local 243, so here you go: Contact Local 243

    Union Meetings

    It depends. The "backup" is probably an alternate steward; alternates are typically only permitted to act as a steward when the regular steward is out of work or on vacation. This varies by your local's by-laws.
    Last edited: May 4, 2016
  17. ski or die

    ski or die Ski or Die

    As former steward in the clerical, the employees in my building requested my presence at their meetings with management. I represented feeder drivers, pkg drivers, maintenance, as well as clerical. Each department had their own steward but they knew I would stand up for them and enforce the contract. As previously mentioned, possibly some bldgs. supplement does not allow you to pick your own, but I have never heard of it not being allowed. If you are continued to be forced to use who mgmt. picks (and usually the one they will use is in their pocket), be sure and try to remember everything that is said by management and the steward. Immediately after the meeting, write it all down for evidence. Heck, I would probably write it down while the meeting is going on to show both of them you are collecting evidence. Find out what Local you are in and call the hall and request a meeting with your BA and bring your evidence. If he determines the steward is not representing you properly or has violated your rights, he can file charges against the steward and have him removed.