Jim's NowPublic Postings

Random thoughts about the world, politics,politics, comedy, and stuff I post on NowPublic.com

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Location: Statesville, North Carolina, United States

57, bald, beard, 5'3" 189# single and looking

Monday, August 08, 2005

The politics of business

Lost my job....not that I lost much.
The job itself isn't shitty, just the company I worked for.
Dubya policy allows companies to get away with lying, cheating, and every underhanded tactic that one can imagine.

here's question 2 of my grievance filed with the union.

Q2. of Grievance.

Harassment has been continual since I filed a claim with the California Labor Board over bounced paychecks.
Write-ups start coming in alleging things that, had there been any truth to them, should have been dealt with over 2 years ago. Things I had never even heard of started appearing in complaints.

The company wrote me up for not doing proper post trip inspections. I was suspended without any verbal or written notice, pending a conversation with Dennis Poturalski, Director of Operations at Alex’s Transportation. After talking to Dennis Poturalski, I was told to sign something that the lead driver brought to me, which contained extra pages which had nothing to do with the current issue. I signed with a notation that I was signing for page one and the lead driver’s statement ONLY. Later, the Lead driver came back to me with another copy of it to sign, minus the two extra pages.

The company was trying to pull a fast one, by having me sign for things that supposedly happened almost 2 yrs ago and then backed off when I refused to sign for all 4 pages. The lead driver swore she would get me copies of the extra pages, but never did.

During the time I was signing the write-up, the lead driver and I had a long conversation about how we can relate to each other better so there were no problems or issues about “attitudes” towards each other. We came to an understanding that lasted till the August 1, 2005 issue which Dennis Poturalski allegedly used to decide to terminate my employment.

During that August 1, 2005 incident, I met the lead driver at the home of another part time driver to hand her my paperwork, and I also wanted to ask the part time driver about some CDs she was going to burn for me. Leila jumped all over me, started yelling and cursing at me to take the papers to the Dunsmuir yard office. As originally stated by Leila, the purpose of the envelope AT the yard office was to deposit paperwork WHEN Leila couldn’t be reached elsewhere. She was in complete agreement that due to gas prices being artificially high in Mt Shasta, it was not a cost effective move to have to drive clear to Dunsmuir just to drop off paperwork if there was no run called in to go with it to make worth the 20 mile round trip drive. If she was available elsewhere in town, she would just take the papers, or if she by chance, had to come to our house for some other reason, she would take the paperwork.

This kind of money saving “helpful attitude” is also what caused Samantha St. Cyr, the previous lead driver, to keep the vehicles at her house whenever possible, so we Mt. Shasta drivers wouldn’t HAVE to drive clear to Dunsmuir several times a day to pick up company vehicles to go on runs.

Had Leila Linebarger just taken the paperwork and not gotten profane and abusive, this would have not escalated into any big deal. I left the paperwork on the drivers seat of her vehicle after her insane sounding outburst and then went home. I was then suspended without notice, either verbal or written, pending another chat with Dennis Poturalski which I was not even notified of until I had called our new union president, Jerrianna Duran.

I still have YET to see any written paperwork regarding this incident. NO write-up, no formal termination notice in writing. I have only heard verbal notice on 8-5-05 that I was terminated and that my final check was mailed on 8-4-05 and that Leila would have it as soon as UPS showed up.

During this conversation, which I can provide a recording of, if need be, Dennis started making other false accusations and remarks of a slanderous nature. He also indicated that one reason for terminating me was due to the May Moran case, where one of the former drivers sued Alex’s Transportation in Federal Court. I was cleared of any wrong-doing in that case, and it should have not been said by Dennis, that her case had anything to do with his decision.

He also lied and said that he had been trying for two days to contact me. I do have a witness that can verify that no calls came in. He was trying to make his case for me not answering my phone for runs or him. I was home the whole time and my phone records should show he never called as he claimed. It wasn’t till 8-4-05 that he called me and left a message, and my phone is triggered to page me when someone calls, and it leaves their phone number on my pager where the call came from. I got that page while on the way home from a shopping trip to Redding and called him back ASAP, but was told he had stepped out but that he would be back because his briefcase was till there. He never called me back.

I can provide an estimated 25 times Dennis Poturalski has lied to me personally or told lies to others, (based on conversations with other drivers or Union officials, where they too said Dennis had told them this or that.)

The company has also yet to address the issue with the Labor Board properly. Their only response was to send my payroll check register, showing what checks had been sent, without indicating if they had been paid or not without problems. They also sent a write-up for ANOTHER driver. That driver’s privacy was violated by this action. The company’s apparent attitude is that since the checks finally cleared they owe nothing. I suggested to the Labor Board case manager, Eric Rood, that he school Dennis Poturalski on the finer points of the law, which are that it doesn’t matter when the checks cleared, and regardless if they did, the penalties are for the fact that they bounced in the first place.

PTO day request slips have never been made available so we can get paid for days off.

Vacation pay slips were never obtainable till Late July 2005. I had requested vacation slips after one year, and after the 2nd year. Had they been made available, I would have taken my two weeks vacation before now, and payment of such would no longer be an issue. I also was not paid for the extra week vacation that Curt Balducci had promised any driver who continued to take trips during this paycheck fiasco, I put in 43 hrs during that week which certainly shows that I was still loyal to the company and working.

The meal allowance has not been paid on any trips over 500 miles. Under my pay stub where it says year to date for meals, it has $25, but this didn’t appear until we were given the special “thank you for waiting 2 extra days for your paycheck” bonus check of $25.
I was also not paid holiday pay for Memorial Day 2005.

Dennis Poturalski told me that he had arranged with Walmart to take our checks and cash them during the initial rash of bounced paychecks. This was false. This was also a criminal act, as it could have led to the driver being arrested for cashing bad checks.
Walmart check fraud division has told me that Alex’s Transportation never made such arrangements with Walmart, and that Alex’s checks are now on the banned list and cannot be cashed at Walmart stores any longer. They maintain they still have a fistful of Alex’s checks that have bounced and that they would be pursuing Dennis Poturalski with legal action. They DID confirm that the check that I cashed at Walmart after Wells Fargo refused to cash it has cleared, but that’s not the point. The point is Dennis could have caused me to face legal repercussions.

The vehicles we were forced to drive, (Ford Expeditions) were never outfitted in a safe manner. At least 6 DOT violations are readily visible on all vehicles, including displaying false ICC numbers. We would report such things to our lead driver, she would in turn supposedly report it to Dennis Poturalski, and nothing would come of it. I can provide witness to the fact that Samantha St. Cyr never reported such defects, during the time the witness lived in Samantha’s home.

Dispatch would routinely call drivers before their rest had ended just because they were desperate to cover trips. Dispatch would also routinely call drivers during rest to ask if they had time to do a certain trip. They would also try to talk drivers into taking trips which would mean certain violation of driving hours. They would even call to dispatch me on trips that were 3 states away.

Dispatchers routinely lost notes about things drivers had said, or never entered them into the computer, or the next dispatcher failed to read them.
Dispatchers would make up rules and/or change rules as they went along. Nothing was consistent about policy or rules.

Cigarette butts were planted UNDER the floor mat on the drivers side of vehicles I had driven. Since I had never smoked IN an Alex’s Transportation vehicle, the ONLY way they could have gotten there was to plant them. I would be willing to bet that if DNA were done on them, they would show that they weren’t even smoked by me, unless they were picked up off the ground near the vehicle and then planted. I still have one such butt in my possession. Since the vehicles were never in our possession during off hours, anyone could have gotten into the rig, left ash on the dash, butts under the mat, and left the rig smelling like smoke and then blamed it on the last driver. I highly suspect that is what happened.

Alex’s transportation has yet to provide reimbursement for costs incurred in driving to Redding to cash checks.

Alex’s Transportation has yet to enact several points in the contract, including the drivers website and provide proper number of and properly equipped vehicles.

Lies, slander, and innuendoes have been fabricated as an excuse for termination because of my being so verbal and pro-active on the bounced paychecks and labor board issue. This practice MUST cease.

and here's question 3 of the grievance
Q3 of grievance

1. Restoration of job and immediate pay for all time lost.
2. Immediate payment of all vacation (2 yrs worth) and PTO time
3. Immediate payment of all back pay including meal allowances, ($250)
4. Immediate payment to the Labor Board of ALL penalties they seek, past, present and future.
5. Immediate payment for all expenses incurred in trips to Redding to cash paychecks.
6. Cease and desist all harassment
7. Handle all complaints and grievances according to established rules of conduct and do it with total honesty.
8. No suspensions shall occur without written notice first.
9. Open immediate negotiations for payment of penalty for company caused stress, monetary loss and health issues which have arisen due to the stress. IF condition #1 is not met, negotiations should include future earnings loss.
10. All but one vehicle (to be used by the driver who resides in Dunsmuir) are to be kept at a centralized Mt. Shasta location unless Alex’s Transportation wants to start paying gas for anything more than one round trip per day to the yard in our own cars. 4-5 vehicles are always to be allocated to Dunsmuir for those times when things are busier than normal. 4 vehicles IS normal for Dunsmuir. We currently have 3 and have lost many trips due to lack of vehicles.
11. The company must obtain new vehicles which conform to the needs of the railroad and still allow for being safely equipped. This means 4WD vehicles (for Dunsmuir at least,) where radios work properly and are bolted to the floor. Fire extinguisher and first aid kit are properly mounted in reach of the driver; signs reflect proper ICC/DOT numbers, cargo CAGE, not a net is in place. (This CANNOT be done IN a Ford expedition but CAN in a Suburban.) Rear plate must be visible to police.
12. Give retraining to dispatchers to eliminate mistakes.
13. Provide a cell phone or direct radio to dispatch for contact with dispatch while on the road.
14. Paychecks must come in the form of cashiers checks or direct deposit.
15. Company should make every effort to cut down on anything which requires the employee to spend money to make money, other than one round trip to the yard per day in their car.
16. Re-negotiate Union contract to include the above necessary changes AND give EVERY driver the chance to vote on the contract. (Dunsmuir drivers were NEVER given a ballot or notified that a contract was even being negotiated, so we had NO input during negotiations.)
17. Appoint lead drivers based on seniority AND qualifications rather than favoritism.
18. Appoint an oversight committee of drivers to monitor Alex Transportation’s compliance with rules and procedures.
19. Per contract, finally get the website online and working properly.

Of course, question 2 is....what is your complaint and question 3 is what remedy do you seek?

I am not going to hold my breath, but this will be the groundwork for a paper trail that hopefully will lead to a class action suit. And we intend to show that Alex's was so closely tied to Milepost, that since they went bankrupt with Milepost, they will not be allowed by law to file on alex.