Don't Jam Yourself Up When Dealing With a Supervisor

All jobs at UPS are under constant surveillance: either virtually or in-person. These are the basics for dealing with the in-person situations. The following tips will be especially valuable for inside employees.

Once you have been on the job for a while, you may find yourself being told how to do your job by a supervisor with less time than you. They may try to make you work in a way that you know does not make sense. But when you are at work, the supervisor is the boss. Even if you may know how to do the job better from experience or common sense, supervision has the right to make inefficient decisions.

You can suggest a better way, but if they don’t want to hear it then, unless it is illegal or unsafe, you need to work as instructed.

If a supervisor’s direction is illegal or unsafe point that out to your boss. If they still want you to do it, you can ask them to show you how to do it safely or legally and get your shop steward involved. If the work can be done safely and legally and you are ordered to do it by management, then you must work as directed, even if it is against the contract. You can point out that it is against the contract, but if the supervisor insists then the rule is Work Now, Grieve Later.

Remember and write down the supervisor’s response when you told them the instruction violated the contract and to use with your grievance. Meet with your shop steward later to get help writing a grievance. Make sure you get the grievance in timely.

Sometimes what happens isn’t a grievance, it is a complaint. I.E.: “The supervisor yelled at me that I should use hand to surface with every box!” The content of what the supervisor said isn’t. They just told you to follow a method. If the area is loud and that is why they yelled, then it is just a complaint. You didn’t like that the supervisor yelled and several people heard it. But that is not necessarily a grievance…at least not yet.

When the situation has cooled down, you and your steward can ask the supervisor to approach the situation differently. How they handle things next may become a grievance, or your complaint may be resolved.

You have a right to get your point across, but do so politely. It is always wise to have a steward involved with any conversation you have with management. It isn’t always possible when supervisors come up to you, but you decide when and how to respond. When possible, talk issues out with the steward first, plan a good response, and have a witness to the conversation with management.

It may be distracting for a supervisor to stand right next to you and watch what you are doing all shift, but it is their right as a supervisor. However, if you feel you are being over supervised, you can write a grievance on that over supervision. For details read the National UPS contract under article 37. 

Remember, if you try to address a problem or file a grievance, there may be a rogue supervisor that tries to retaliate against you.. The best defense is to make sure they can’t find something on you. Watch your attendance, come to work every day and be on time. Use sick days sparingly. Follow the methods, and ask to be shown a method if you don’t know one.

The next best way is to defend yourself is to write things down. Keep a logbook or a journal. Give yourself 10 to 30 minutes every day to review what happened and write it down. If you can, type it on your computer or smart phone, so you can search for dates, times, and names.. What you write down now can help you with something unforeseen in the future.