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Chicago Teamsters Complaint on National Stage

Workers said that the company called people who had been injured multiple times “repeaters” and that those people were more frequently monitored by supervisors.

Chiacgo Teamsters Local 705’s effort to push back against United Parcel Service’s blame the worker approach to healthy and safety hit the national stage this morning with a story in the New York Times:

Employees said they were pressured to increase productivity while at the same time they were pushed to reduce injuries, a combination that workers claim leads many of them to avoid reporting injuries. Workers and union officials said the health and safety issues at U.P.S. affected tens of thousands of employees. They also said the issues symbolized larger trends in many workplaces where people were pressured to work longer and harder, resulting in more physical effects, even as long-term job security and health care access had become more precarious.

UPS has countered that their recent injury statistics display below-average instances of harm: 3.6 injuries per 200,000 employees versus the national average of 4.7, according to NYT. Still, citations from OSHA indicate a less-than-sterling record on safety and discipline:

Workers said they were afraid of being disciplined or fired if they disobeyed supervisors’ orders. Last spring, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ordered U. P. S. to pay more than $100,000 to a Missouri driver who had been fired for refusing orders to drive a vehicle without working lights.

U.P.S. workers in the Chicago area said they also dealt with hazards like falling packages and dangerous machinery. In November 2009, OSHA cited the company’s Palatine facility for safety violations including missing guardrails, unsafe ladders and the lack of emergency shut-off mechanisms for conveyor belts. A company spokesman said U.P.S. was negotiating with OSHA over those citations and had contested some of them.

Many drivers say they enjoy relatively good wages and benefits, and do not want to risk being fired for disobeying orders, complaining about company procedures or getting injured.

Read the entire piece, which delves into one of UPS’ policies: giving workers “36.57 minutes to perform a list of more than 100 tasks.”


One Comment on “Chicago Teamsters Complaint on National Stage”

  1. There probably should be a congressional inquiry to all of the poor safety practices at UPS. From not allowing MSDS mandated respirators while painting, to not allowing a carbon monoxide detector that a doctor ordered for a worker!

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