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  • OTVI.USA
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Last MileNewsParcel

UPS testing of telematics tools draws ire of union dissident group

Teamsters for a Democratic Union warns of driver harassment issues

UPS Inc. (NYSE:UPS) said it is testing advanced technology that it claims will enhance driver and public safety, to the chagrin of a Teamsters union dissident group that warns the company could be continuing a decades-long pattern of leveraging technology to harass its drivers.

The Atlanta-based company has installed the “Lytx Drivecam” in its familiar brown vans at four centers in Texas and Oklahoma. It is the first step in a plan to install the technology nationwide, according to the Teamsters For a Democratic Union (TDU), a group at constant war with mainstream Teamster leadership and deeply suspicious of UPS’ labor-related initiatives. 

UPS, which is the largest Teamster employer with about 252,000 members, would not comment on whether a nationwide rollout is planned.

In a statement emailed to FreightWaves late Friday afternoon, UPS said that two devices are being tested: One is an in-cab sensor that monitors driving habits and sends an audible alert to the driver to take “corrective action.” The other is an outward-facing camera that alerts the driver if the vehicle drifts on the roadway or if a potential hazard is detected. 

The in-cab device does not have video or audio capability. The outward-facing device records video for use in accident claims and to raise awareness of safe driving behaviors, UPS said in the statement. The devices, which are enhancements to telematics systems in place for more than 20 years, are part of UPS’ ongoing effort to keep “our people and the driving public safe,” the company said.

In an internal memo issued Wednesday, Dennis Taylor, director of the Teamsters’ package division, said it is “investigating the enhancements” as it relates to contract language addressing how UPS’ technology changes affect the labor-management relationship.

“We have been assured by UPS that there is no driver-facing video or audio capability,” Taylor said in the memo. He advised Teamster officials to contact the division if they have any verifiable information to the contrary.

That doesn’t sit well with Ken Paff, TDU’s long-time national organizer and the group’s point man on matters concerning UPS and other Teamster employers. UPS Teamsters, he said, “know all too well how management abuses telematics to harass and discipline (its) drivers. The technology being tested could be another layer in the company’s efforts to hassle its drivers while they’re on the road,” Paff said.

Paff accused the administration of Teamster President James P. Hoffa, which the TDU opposes, for accepting at face value UPS’ explanation of how the technology will be used. Paff called the Taylor memo “weak,” and said union workers “cannot afford to wait until management activates all of the spyware’s capability before our union takes action.” 

Over the decades, there have been union anecdotes of UPS using telematics as a tool to harass drivers about the amount of time spent at one stop, or how long it took to arrive at the next stop, among other things.

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Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.

18 Comments

  1. As this article is written I see both sides I have seen trucks staying somewhere too long and the drivers being repremended for it.I have also seen semi and passenger vehicles cut off delivery trucks. So if there are any problems those meeting should have a 2nd person in the room when any reprimand is going on.It is to protect both sides because there are a lot of humans out there that lie to get there way. That is why technology is going faster than the law when it should be the same

  2. Technology is here, we are not going to be able to stop, but as for me telematics does help, it’s constantly checking the mechanical health of the package vehicle and if the driver is abusing the vehicle, it’s all about the number

  3. As always technology certainly can and should be used for betterment; however, technology also can but shouldn’t be abused in detrimental ways (to the viability of emotional/mental and physiological safety or health). It’s very easy to armchair quarterback back at the office after the fact.

  4. I have worked for companies that put them in the trucks and said that they would not be used for disciplining matters. Until they recorded me talking on the phone, using both video and audio then they suspended me for 3 days without pay. I don’t believe that inward facing cameras should be allowed. In my opinion that is an invasion of privacy.

    1. Invasion of privacy in their equipment when they are responsible for safety?
      You have admitted to getting caught for illegal and dangerous activity. Of course, you do not think it should be allowed.

  5. Ups is a piece of crap always trying to spy on it’s employees invading our privacy while we’re working just another way of trying to find ways to fire their workers and that’s coming. From a 29 year veteran who’s seen pretty much everything

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