Saturday, July 21, 2007

Quest Diagnostics and the Union Q&A

Someone in Florida contacted me in order to ask me a few questions about the Teterboro unionization effort. I am more than happy to answer mail but I am not quite sure if the individual is truly interested or is simply stating questions in such a way as to indicate that forming a labor union is not in the best interest of the Logistics Department of the Teterboro Business Unit.

In any event, I will attempt to answer those questions, but since writing is a very time consuming thing for someone like Snake Oil Sam, since my maxim is “why say in one word that which you can say in three words,” I will respond to the question/statement on this blog so that while answering the questions I also get to write a new article. If you have the patients to read it then I have the patients to write it.

As an interesting side note on Friday no one read this blog during the hours of 2 to 4 a.m. and the hour of 8 a.m. and the report isn’t compiled yet for the final hour of the day.

I guess that translates into two hours for sleep and one hour for the caffeine fix. The majority of the reading is done between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. which I guess means that not much else is getting done in Teterboro around lunch time.

Actually in all fairness they pretty well spread out the time spent doing the daily Quest Diagnostics Snake Oil Sam reading circle over the entire day. My Homeland Security friends at Picatinny Arsenal tend to show up at just about any time of the day. It’s a bureaucracy thing you know. The only thing that I really care about is that they show up.

So, in order to do this right let me first reprint the question/statement from a reader in Florida then I will continue with my comments. First let me state that this in no way represents the words or opinions of the executives of Quest Diagnostics and anything stated here is representative of what amounts to my opinion. And I might add that “my opinion” is subject to the legal disclaimer which can be viewed by clicking this
“my opinion” link or at the legal disclaimer link at the bottom of this page.

Now the readers’ question/statement:

Hi,

Will you tell me more about Quest logistics & unionization? I came in late to SOS & I'm sure there's an update from your source anyway. Can you imagine drivers actually agreeing to pay $40/mo for union dues? I doubt if they make enough denero for paying in dues. What would they get besides joining a group? Michigan found out too late the damage unions can bring. They were good in the hay-day of industrialization but they are 'almost' a dinosaur now...Walmart, Chinese low cost imports etc. Only miners & sweat shops need unions. I wonder if the union thing isn't really a corp-sponsered "poison pill" to thwart any leveraged buyout attempt (LBO) in addition to that last purchase that Quest company made wherein they spent way too much!?!

Also, what will you now discover about Quest being bought out/taken over by perhaps GE Healthcare?

O.K. I guess that the best way to do this will be to comment on an issue by issue basis.

[Will you tell me more about Quest logistics & unionization?]

In regard to the first part of the question tell about Quest Logistics, simply stated they were at one time the most important and well respected part of the team at Teterboro. They always go above and beyond the call of duty. I have known people who have run the gauntlet in order to collect specimens. You will find no more dedicated staff at Quest Diagnostics then the group at Teterboro Logistics. Just as an example they have learned to operate submarines simply to get the job done and get into the laboratory in the rain. (sorry inside joke)

In regard to the second part of the question, as you might or might not be aware this same department attempted to go union about two years ago. The union effort failed for a number of reasons. The company fought a hard won victory. They did so by a number of ways. They made a few statements which indicated that changes would be made if the rank and file, no that sounds to harsh, the crew, no that sounds to mafia, the R.S.R’s, there you go, leaned in favor of the company. Translation, a NO vote to the union.

The company attempted to hold up its end of the agreement. But apparently there have been a number of issues which have occurred such as the termination of an R.S.R. who became very seriously ill on the job. After a very poor response from the E.M.S. Company which seemed to have treated a very sick man as if he were a drug addict he was eventually transported to the hospital. His condition had nothing to do with drugs.

A short time after that incident that individual as is my understanding was nearly killed in an accident when he was struck by another motorist after exiting his vehicles to fix a flat or for some such reason.

It was reported at a union meeting that this gentleman was terminated for what some staff consider unjust cause. You need to understand that unjust cause is cause when you don’t have union representation.

Right or wrong this is one of the issues which outraged some who are leading this union effort. It is only one example. There are apparently others such as forcing someone to return to work even though he was recovering from a bout with some form of cancer. It was apparently “come back to work now or be fired.”

[I came in late to SOS & I'm sure there's an update from your source anyway.]

Sorry but my source is out of circulation as it were. But this is going to be a long drawn out issue. And it is not something which is just going to go away.

[Can you imagine drivers actually agreeing to pay $40/mo for union dues?]

Yes, actually I can! One of the issues is the cost of healthcare insurance. Even though the company pays a considerable amount for healthcare insurance, so do the employees. One of the goals of the union negotiators will be to get lower paycheck deductions so the bottom line is in effect $40.00 a month less for healthcare translates into $40.00 a month more for union dues.

The effect is that the company Quest Diagnostics pays the union dues for the employee. Why should the employee care which envelope his money goes into bottom line is he will get Company paid union representation.

Will the company agree to such a deal? Who Knows! The company will quickly point out, in the process “everything is on the table” in a union negotiation. The company will also quickly point out that the union could cost you to lose benefits. It is all a head game on both sides.

My personal belief at this point in time is that the employees won’t lose anything more than the respect of the management. The problem with that thought is that when someone with cancer is told to “come back to work or risk being fired” then the employees of Quest Diagnostics already have lost the respect of the management. And I really mean that Wendy!

[I doubt if they make enough denero for paying in dues.]

The Route Service Representatives at Quest Diagnostics Teterboro Business Unit make anywhere from $30,000.00 to $75,000.00 a year. Some a little more. It is not unusual for an R.S.R. to drive an Escalade or some other high end large carbon footprint S.U.V. to get to work. The issue is not so much money though you can bet that it is something on the minds of some.

But like I said the expectation is that changes and adjustments in other deductions from the paycheck will balance that issue. The problem here is that if the union is formed and negotiates successfully with the company then everybody else in every other department is going to want their deductions to match a good union contract.

That is why the company is so very adamant about holding the union down. As I stated in past articles which as I mentioned are covered by my legal disclaimer under the retroactive clause, this union effort could potentially spread like a wildfire. And with the help of New Jersey National Guard it isn’t hard to get a wildfire going.

Since Quest Diagnostics already makes boat loads of money from members of labor unions who also invest in D.G.X then the Teamsters have a considerable amount of leverage. “These local 97 guys ain’t no pussies.”

[What would they get besides joining a group?]

Oh, I don’t know, perhaps a little respect. Perhaps not being told that you have to come to work when you have cancer?

[Michigan found out too late the damage unions can bring. They were good in the hay-day of industrialization but they are 'almost' a dinosaur now...Walmart, Chinese low cost imports etc. Only miners & sweat shops need unions.]

Now this is the statement portion of the question/statement which I referred to above. I’m sure that the executive at Teterboro Business Unit loves this comment. Well, not really since Quest Diagnostics makes about a couple million dollars a year from doing pre-employment drug testing for Wal-Mart. Why does everybody hate Wal-Mart? I love Wal-Mart!

How about the fire and police unions? You forgot them. And how about construction workers unions? What about Medical professionals like nurses? There are a lot of people who have very respectable jobs who have unions. As for Michigan, did the trade unions kill it? Or was it perhaps the actions of corrupt politicians, mostly Democrat politicians, who sold America down the river a long time ago? You know; the ones who allow China to undersell American workers, the most skilled and dedicated workers on the planet.

[I wonder if the union thing isn't really a corp-sponsered "poison pill" to thwart any leveraged buyout attempt (LBO) in addition to that last purchase that Quest company made wherein they spent way too much!?!]

No! The union effort is no poison pill. I suggested that it would be something which might keep the hounds at bay, but it seems, according to the “experts” that there are far too many factors which cause Quest Diagnostics to not be a buy out target, at least not a buy out target at the moment in time.

As far as Quest Diagnostics spending “way too much…” all that I can say is that if you believe that you are more qualified to make those decisions than is Surya Mohapatra then get into the Lex and head North. Take Interstate 95 North to New Jersey Turnpike and take exit 16W to route 3 west. Follow the signs for route 17 south. Look for the Copper Ridge Center.

Your office is waiting. Just tell Surya that you have a plan. I’m sure that he would love to hear from you soon. Tell him that you are my pal. That will really get you in good with the boss. Just make sure that there are no sharp objects near his desk when you say that.
For the record the things which I have stated here represent my view of the situation and don’t necessarily represent my opinion about the need for or support for a union.

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