Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Good Will vs. Profit? Not a Tough Choice For Some

Author John Grisham wrote a book that I enjoyed the hell out of, but I can't for the life of me remember the name of it. Perhaps someone can help me out here.

Anyway, it was about insurance companies not paying claims that they damned well should have paid. This required that the customer raise a holy stink to get the money owed. The insurance companies had all the angles calculated and knew what percentage of customers would give up as obstacle after obstacle was put before the customer. The insurance companies knew the amount of bad will generated by such obstructionism was well worth the extra profits to be gleaned... so they went for it at the expense of their own customers.

Brilliant AND sleazy AND totally believable... because we all think the worst about the insurance scam industry.

I told you that to tell you this...

I worked for the UPS a couple weeks before Christmas as a Driver's Helper to earn a couple extra bucks and to keep myself busy. You see, the architect scam business is not doing so well lately. My friends called me the Brown Santa because I delivered packages to the good girls and boys of Northern Colorado. And maybe a few bad ones too.

UPS employees belong to the Teamsters Union, and Unions charge fees for their "services", including a one-time $250 initiation fee to join. So how does it make sense [and cents] to be a temporary, seasonal employee if you have to cough up that much coin up front just to work a couple of weeks? The answer: The Teamsters Union delays withdrawing their $250 initiation fee until one has worked for UPS for a month.

Ahhh, a loophole!

However, we were warned the Union has "accidentally" withdrawn the initiation fee from seasonal employees. There's a story that the drivers I worked with loved to tell me about a Driver's Helper last year who looked at his first paycheck delivered by the driver with whom he was supposed to spend the day with, saw that the Union took out the fees, said a few choice words, and then removed his UPS jacket AND pants right there, and ditched the driver.

Like I said, the drivers all told me this story with glee in their voices because even though they, themselves, are members of the Union, they didn't think too highly of its motives and integrity. They all believed their own Union was trying to rip off temporary employees, of whom the Union doesn't approve.

Yeah, I believe the stories... because at the training session, 20 of us were looking at a sheet of paper describing Teamster Union Fees & Dues -- $250? Holy crap! -- and in unison we all decided that working a couple weeks as a Driver's Helper was a Mug's Game [a futile endeavor]. However, the person "training" us said that the Union won't be deducting it from our paychecks this year... but.... just in case they do, here's the phone number to call for a refund: 303-433-and on and on.

Thankfully, this Howard wrote down and kept that number!

Because they withdrew the initiation fee from my second paycheck. After taxes. Which didn't leave much of anything for ME!

So I called and after many frustrating attempts, was finally instructed by the automated operator to push extension 15 to talk to someone about Union fees and dues. BUT when I did, there was no extension 15! The auto-operator told me so. So I punched in *0*, got voice mail, and left a message with my name and number and my level of dissatisfaction with Teamsters Local #17. Oh yeah, and my request for a refund.

I wonder how many temporary employees fail to call and request a refund because they didn't notice the "small" deduction? Or because they didn't keep the phone number? Or because they couldn't wind their way through the automated phone maze? Or because they did and left a message and were then ignored? Or? Or? Or!!!!

I also wonder if someone at Teamsters Local Union #17 knows the answers to these questions. If they do, then it's
brilliant AND sleazy AND totally believable because we all think the worst about Union scams organizations, right?

If it's not true, they still earned my ill will and this blog post. Way to go guys! Unions! Yes!


Blogger Company XO said...

Unions have held a very admirable and extremely valuable place both in our economy and in our nation's history.

That being said, I believe that most unions have become bloated and corrupt only in place to maintain their largesse and now pretty much overblown existance today (hey! Much like our career politicians in DC- on both sides of the aisle).

If anyone does not believe this then please take a look at the fine UAW and their luxury golf course/ "education" center in Michigan.

The complete joy in using my money stripped from me by a bunch of crooks in DC to bail out a couple of antiquated and horrible business model auto makers. Oh and let us not forget UAW's role in propping-up Ford, GM's and Chrysler's need for lots of bailout money...

Frustrated in TX.


5:32 PM, January 01, 2009  
Blogger A Midnight Rider said...

I have heard stories like yours but know that the company payroll department takes the money from you and maybe or maybe not sends it to the union.

My guess is that the Teamsters have not received any of the money yet, and I would suggest directing your anger to the payroll office who are the ones who screwed you.

Can you even imagine working for a company like UPS without a union. I'll bet top pay would be less than than those Jap auto plants in the south.

1:58 PM, January 02, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does this make Arby's look better all the time?

7:15 PM, January 04, 2009  
Blogger Howard said...

Hahahahaha! I know who you are, Mr. Anonymous, because I only mentioned Arby's to YOU!

9:27 PM, January 04, 2009  
Anonymous Sonarman said...

The Grisham books is "The Rainmaker"

and Sonarman finds himself with the Comapny XO on the aforementioned issue !

11:10 AM, January 05, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am excrutiatingly disappointed you did not feature a photo of your lovely Brown Santa's Helper Hat that was handcrafted by a wonderful, elderly, totally disabled lady. I suppose that since it was a non-union hat there might be legal issues.

3:54 PM, January 08, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and as to union/insurance/whatever scams:

Rule One of All Scams: If any benefits are being paid out to anyone the scammer is not doing its job right.

I am totally disabled under Social Security rules. You think unions, insurance companies, etc. have an obstacle course? Try SS's Obstacle Course. Actually, I do not recommend trying it if you value your mental health.

My employer pays Cash American Dollars to provide all its employees this insurance benefit: income replacement up to Age 65 for total disabilities. Great benefit! Try and collect it.

If Social Security deems you "totally disabled" that is the Gold Standard for all of Planet Earth. And probably the Universe. I was turned down outright by the insurance company [and ever so subtly threatened in carefully couched legalese to not fight their decision or I would rue the day] because they use "different standards than Social Security" and I did not meet those "different standards".

A successful lawsuit [economically impossible for just about everyone], AT BEST, would make the insurance company say "Oh! My bad!" and pay the benefits due to the insured.

Due to the legal loophole of ERISA [don't ask], which insurance companies make sure they have leapt through, no punitive damages can be assessed against the insurance company for its "bad".

So, never mind that a successful lawsuit result [impossible] might occur, by the time that money came down the pike the disabled person would have lost every asset they ever had prior to starting the [economically impossible] lawsuit.

There oughta be a law[suit]!

5:32 PM, January 08, 2009  

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