UPS-YOUR PIG IS HERE-It arrived by LOOPY railroad management


Active Member
by J. William Watson

A generation ago, railroad clerks used four words — “your pig is here” — to inform truckers that an intermodal trailer shipment had arrived and was ready for pickup. Yes, and things have not changed. Now UPS has a freight division ran by previous railroad people who called themselves Overnite Transportation. UPS hopes that the light at the endless debt tunnel and poor operation ratio, of its’ UPS Freight division, is the light at the end of that tunnel and not another train on their rigid track headed for a very large wreck.

Overnite Transportation, who had little concern about operating in the black, with a big railroad, Union Pacific, behind them and less knowledge about a dynamic LTL relay trucking operation, was chugging down their subsidized tracks. Nonetheless, UPS Corporation bought Overnite Transportation hoping to catch up with the FedEx Corporation and join the fray of the LTL business. “United Parcel Services, Inc. (UPS) has reached a definitive agreement to acquire LTL carrier Overnite Transportation Co. for a cash transaction of $1.25 billion—which represents a 46% premium.”

Many reports, from analysis’s and experienced employees, after purchase and today are that UPS paid excessively too much money for Overnite. The equipment was in poor condition and the management in even worse condition. UPS hand its’ hands full now and now needed to change a railroad minded operation into a dynamic LTL operation. All people are resistant to change, Overnite people still are entrenched in a ‘choo-choo’ mentality. Their line operations are ran by “transportation engineers which sounds like rail road engineers”. Did they buy a pig in a poke?

UPS placed a figurehead at the train engine controls of this new division who had little experience in the LTL business. He did have some period of initial tutelage in the ‘Overnite pen’ for a period of two years or more and exposed to ‘their’ LOOP-Y [ii] business plan. The UPS figurehead came from their package car division and knew little about the LTL business. Package cars are not freight cars and not even interstate transportation trailers. Freight is freight and package is packages are the facts. UPS in arrogance fails to understand the basics that even Fred S of FedEx understands. Buy a good company at the top of their game-Viking Freight System and American Freightways-and let those dynamic people run the division. Keep the TL and LTL business off the railroad for customers’ service. Run it like the pony express in many ways.

UPS is arrogant enough to think that they could change the culture of Overnite and put an apprentice engineer in charge of an already failing transportation company. Some years ago, Viking Freight System attempted to go nationally, with the purchase of many smaller companies. Vikings’ culture and business plan was mentality discarded by many of those smaller companies. Because of the recalcitrant companies, they almost went bankrupt. Vikings’ savior was retraction to its’ original regional carrier size and their core base employees concerted efforts to save the company.

After some $500 million in additional costs, added to the purchase price of $1.25 billion[iii], and a reported total ceiling of another $500 million limit, suggested by the UPS corporation and threats to employees of a ‘national closure of UPS Freight’ for filling grievances, upholding their current union contract and complaints with the National Labor Relations Board-UPS is worried. Threats from management and finger pointing abound, directed at the Teamster Union and members, for a poor old Overnite business plan executed by rigid people. Rigidity and arrogance are mental illness. Derailment issues abound and are just not the threats of closure that is a violation of ‘The National Labor Relations Act’. The arrogant UPS Corporation has removed the pig from the poke, painted it brown, applied a UPS logo on it and attempted the impossible-trying to make it fly. The ‘transportation engineers’ related to ‘Casey Jones’, of UPS Freight, should keep to the rails and off the highways of expeditious LTL transportation management.

A main concern of the Teamster Union, inside the relationship of UPS Freight, is that of subcontracting work to outside companies-a clear violation of the current contract. It has been suggested to blazes with the contract and with keeping their word-UPS shows their unbridled dishonesty and their media machine still puffs out a steady steam stream good to many stockholders and public. What can Brown do to you comes to the forefront once steam screen and the paint wear off the pig? The company and the union are in no hurry to negotiate the yearlong grieved deadlocked ‘subcontracting’ violation. Push has come to shove and there may be a negotiated settlement of the issue and if not an arbitration this August. Watch out for the UPS stock to rise or fall on the storm of self inflicted stupidity and arrogance of UPS management. If pigs could fly-this one will come home to roost.

UPS bought an expensive overpriced Overnite ticket to lunch and came late only to find FedEx Freight [Viking Freight and American Freightways] eating their lunch hearing cheering resounds of ‘your pig has arrived and it does not fly’. It is not our fault, retorted shouts from UPS Freight management attendees; it is the fault and responsibility of the Union and workers.

UPS still paid the bill for the meal and continued headlong, full speed ahead, down the tunnel railroad tracts toward what light.

J. William Watson is a logistics, real estate and insurance consultant.

[ii] LOOP-Y: Latent Overnite Operational Psychosis


You made a nice long speech. I almost think you write for the Obama administration. It is filled with half truths and flat out falsehoods. While we were owned at one time by a rail road we were left alone to be a ltl trucking company, the reason Union Pacific sold us was the fact that they were having major money troubles, and they could not tap into our pension fund. Ups bought us, for our on time shipments, both local and sleeper team, not to mention that they were trying to catch up to Fed-ex. It is interesting that our equipment while at one time was in great shape and our shop had parts not to mention when a truck went down the mechanics could repair it with out having to ask permission from corperate all went away, once UPS bought us. Our west coast sleepers turned it in 4 and half days, are now history, our sense of belonging to a family is also gone, so while you wrote a very long speech your facts are wrong.