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VOE Revisited - VOE Surveys-Here We Go Again!

Carriers have asked me about my prior articles expressing my displeasure with this VOE survey and why I feel the way I do. I will try and explain so that you may understand my position on this.

During a previous contract negotiation years ago management had been sending out the VOE surveys and telling everyone this would help the workplace. We all fell for it and filled them out. One of the questions they asked was are you happy or satisfied with your salary? They didn’t give you an option other than yes or no. Most answered yes. We make a good living but it could be better. However, there was no place for comments, just yes or no.

During the contract negotiations when President Sombrotto began his pitch for why the carriers should receive a raise in their salary, manglement’s reps pulled out the VOE and waved it in front of the NALC officers and told them that most of the carriers were happy with their salaries and didn’t need a raise. Well, this pretty much torqued Sombrotto off. And he came out against the survey. The carriers were angry that a survey was used in negotiations to deny them a raise! To this day I have a bitter taste when I hear VOE survey, as do most of the old timers.

Manglement’s pay for performance bonuses are partly based on participation in the VOE survey. That is why many want you to fill them out or “participate” by putting “refuse to fill out”. This means you participated and they get the bonus points! Oh boy!

Here’s my take. You want a real survey. Take account of the number of grievances filed, especially ones filed over and over again, such as Art. 8. If the number of grievances goes down, guess what? Communication has improved, the workplace is a better place, Union and manglement are getting along, less problems are prevalent, and the less grievances means people are being held accountable for their actions. Now, from what I remember of the surevey, that just about covers all their questions and what they are trying to improve. So, you instruct supervision to comply with the contract and things fall into place! What a concept! If they are not violating the contract, carriers are happier, mgmt is happier, the workplace improves and there is an actual result from it!

Now let’s take the VOE. Have you seen any improvement on anything you criticized in the VOE? Of course not! When you have no accountability to the people you are surveying you can say anything about the results of the survey. Why not include the Union in developing the questions so it may be more objective rather than so subjective? That would mean they would have to account to the Union for the answers and they don’t want to do that. It would mean that anything derogatory to management would have to be addressed now they just gloss over it.

The grievance procedure is the best VOE survey I know of. Cut down the violations and the workplace improves, carriers are happy, and they want to work for you, instead dread having to work with idiots. Management has the ability to address all the issues on their own. They don’t need a survey to know this. This is something they hide behind. If they are not doing right for the employees, however, the survey says they have improved 2% over the last survey, they claim they are changing and improving, not just that a couple carriers more mailed in their survey.

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I am not going to tell you what to do with the survey, however, I will tell you what I did with mine. I gladly accepted the letter. Took it home. It is a first class piece of mail addressed to me and it is mine. I put it in the shredder or used it for kindling for the fireplace. There have been reports in other areas where managers were picking the surveys out of the trash at work and filling out the surveys for the carrier themselves and sending them in. Don’t let that happen here. Take them home and do with them as you wish. If you fill them out, don’t expect anything to be done about any problem you point out. Nothing has been done in all the years of the VOE and I don’t expect it to change.

If they really want to show that they want to improve the workplace, then improve the workplace, quit talking about it and show us. Talking does nothing but wastes my time. Show me you want improvement; show us a drop in violations of the contract. Last year we had over 600 grievances filed in Branch 1091 and we are on the same track this year. Improvement? Don’t think so.

So here’s management’s challenge, reduce the grievances, reduce the violations, be a concerned employer instead of hiring us to fire us. Once this is done, maybe, just maybe, the workplace will turn around. Until then the VOE is just talk, in one ear and out the other. 600+ grievances and they want to talk about improving the workplace…give me a break… and a match! VOE not for me!


Denny “Shred ‘em” Belden AKA-VetCarrier

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