Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What can Brown do for you?

I was working in our home-office this evening when I was startled by something hitting the front door--hard. I ran to the front door only to see a UPS truck driving off. It was obvious what had happened. The driver had thrown a package and hit the front door, probably without even getting out of the truck. UPS would have to hear about this. I couldn't believe it.

I called the main UPS customer service number and spoke with a nice woman who agreed that this was not how their drivers are trained. She was very apologetic and promised that I would hear from someone at our local distribution center.

Not fifteen minutes later I received a call from a local supervisor who was also very congenial and apologetic. He admitted to me that this driver had other problems and he wasn't terribly surprised by my complaint.

So I asked, "Why is this guy still on your payroll?"

I got a two-word answer, "He's union."

"What? You've got a driver pissing off customers and you can't fire him?"

"It's really hard. You have to have a lot of documentation before you can even think about going to the union to try to get rid of him."

The supervisor thanked me for taking the time to report the problem and said he'd discuss it with the general manager of the facility but I got the impression that it wouldn't go any further. Actually, I'm even a little fearful of retribution, this driver is on our street every day.

How did labor unions become so powerful that thoughtless and irresponsible employees are protected? There may have been a time in America when unions served a legitimate purpose, but aren't we beyond that now? Shouldn't a business be able to fire someone who is an embarrassment and a liability?

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