UPS — THE UNTOLD STORY
An excerpt from “The Tightest Ship”
by C.L. Kane

This is the story of the largest, most profitable management owned corporation in the world!

A multi-billion dollar corporation whose theory – “parcels, profits and people” in that order, has mislead the public for years into believing that United Parcel Service is a family oriented company and a swell place to work!

Of the twenty thousand plus, supervisors and managers who own and operate UPS and their mistreatment of 260,000 employees worldwide. Their struggle to keep the ship afloat by stuffing the leaks with their own people!

The Gestapo like tactics used by management to remind each driver how temporary their jobs are. The thousands of men and women on the street, in the hubs, behind the desks and in front of the computer, whose 110% devotion to duty and pleasing contact with the public has built a Hollywood image of UPS that is only true on the surface!

Of its founder, James E. Casey, his legacy and why he was cast aside by the new order at UPS!

They wanted it their way right away! Which worked great for Burger King but not for them!

Here then, is the real UPS based on information I gathered as a driver for 25 years.

It’s the turn of the century. Teddy Roosevelt is calling the shots at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. An unknown artist named Picasso traded paintings for food and a young actress, Helen Hayes debuts on Broadway. Meanwhile a teenage boy sparks a business that ignites a corporation to engulf the world of package delivery forever! The old adage: “from tiny acorns do mighty Oaks grow,” has never been truer than with United Parcel Service.

Their founder, James E. Casey, was born March 29, 1888 in Candelaira, Nevada. Under the sign of the Zodiac he’s an Aries. According to the book, they are courageous, hot tempered, innovative and bold workaholics. No one can describe Casey better than that!

Candelaira was a small mining town in gold rush country, but few found gold there. Casey’s father James Sr., ran a small hotel that saw less gold than most of the miners who spent their lives searching for the yellow stone that made dreams come true.

Mr. Casey’s less than well kept hotel reflected the lack of paying customers. So much so, that he often went on prospecting binges that brought him back home more broke then ever.

James Sr. is again overwhelmed with gold fever when word of the great Alaskan gold rush reaches town. He picks up the family and heads to Seattle, Washington, the closest major city to the Kiondike. Dreams of wealth and fame once more fog his brain and send a fool in search of gold for the last time!

As though reliving a bad dream, James Sr. returns home broke, disillusioned and in bad health.

Young Jim, the oldest of the four Casey children, was only in the sixth grade at the time. At age eleven, he’s forced to quit school to help his ailing father keep the family together! His first job oddly enough was: delivery boy for a local department store. He earned $2.50 a month there and ran messenger for a local telegraph office in his spare time. Jim’s workaholic tendencies had already come to the surface.

He worked the double shifts long enough to build a nest egg. Like his father, he was still prospecting. Still looking for a vain of shiny metal that would make him rich! But not by digging for it in the smoldering desert with the hot sun frying your skin until it turns to leather. No sir, not James E. Casey Jr., his gold mine was right here in this boom town called Seattle.

All he had to do was find it. At fifteen, he and two other messengers formed their own messenger service. But Jim was not pleased with the others lack of dedication and unwillingness to work weekends and holidays. More over, he disliked not having full control of the business. He sold his share to his partners and left town broke and disappointed, he puts his tail between his legs and limps back to Nevada mortally wounded.

Once again he has become his father, a loser! His return to Candelaria is without fanfare. Jobs are few and far between. Jim does odd jobs while socking away every dime he makes. Spending only what it takes to survive.

For a period of time, things seem almost tranquil. Then, the lure of gold boggles his mind. Like a bottle of bad booze, the demons of desire take control again.

He spends all his hard earned money on a mule and the usual mining tools. At day break the fol1owing morning, Jim leads a mule loaded with provisions on a four month trek that ends with the mule leading him back to town more broke then ever.

Once more the search for El Dorado ends with heart break and disgust! But, as though he were in a world championship fight, every time he gets knocked down Jim gets back up. Now it’s back to the part time jobs. You name he did it!

It was a humiliating and humbling time in his life when decisions were made that not only shaped his future, but thousands of others as well At this point in time, bear in mind this loser is just a teenage boy. Down the road, this boy will lead a few good men to form a multi-billion dollar corporation known as United Parcel Service.

Jim earns enough money for a train ticket one way to Seattle and a few bucks for survival until he can find work. Casey the bold, courageous, innovator is about to live up to his Zodiac symbol the Ram. As the train moves along over miles of steel rails on route to Seattle, Jim plots a course with destiny that few acknowledge and the rest deny!

When the train reaches Seattle, the future founder and C.E.O. of United Parcel Service, James E. Casey, steps boldly down on what will be his turf! He carries all his worldly goods in one hand. The wealth he will earn in the years to come will not alter his lack of desire for material things.

Casey soon finds work as a messenger for a large department store. There he meets Claude Ryan another messenger who shares Jim’s desire for the freedom of self employment. The two teenage boys begin saving money toward their own messenger company. In a short time they scrape up $100.00.

The search for office space ends when Ryan’s uncle offers them a 6 x 17 foot room underneath his saloon at the corner of Main and Second Avenue. The rent is $20.00 a month. This included an old lunch bar that served as a counter top for their phones by day and a place to sleep at night.

Casey is now nineteen and determined to succeed. He sees a town bursting at the seams from the gold rush. He knows there is money to be made in the messenger business. But money isn’t enough, Casey wants the best messenger service in all of Seattle. With that thought in mind, he assumes command of the fledgling company.

Ryan and Casey race through the business district placing placards on poles and in store window advertising their new messenger service that boldly states “best service — lowest rates.”

When the sun rose on the 28th day of August, 1907, it shone brightly on the American Messenger Service. Armed with two phones, six messengers and a couple of bicycles, Casey and Ryan open their doors for business.

They quickly establish company rules: only the owners will answer the phones, the service will be open 24 hours a day — 365 days a year including Christmas, messengers will be neat — courteous and fast, and bikes will be used for areas not reachable by trolley or too far on foot!

The boys soon learn that their nine competitors tell customers they have dispatched a messenger when they really haven’t because they did not have one at the time.

Casey and Ryan tell the customer the truth. There are no messengers standing by, they are told when the next one will arrive and they are always on time! Hungry for business, they accept any job including walking dogs, watching stores during lunch hour, carrying groceries and once in a while a little detective work — trailing someone’s wife or girl friend. All for 25 cents per hour. A good messenger could make a $1.00 to $1.50 a day.

Big bucks for a kid in the turn of the century. Their reputation for truth and honor Soon catches up with them. The company grows and expands. More messengers are hired and the bicycles are replaced by new motorized bikes made by Harley Davidson.

One New York department store magnate questioned Casey about delivering small packages. The next day, Casey’s Harleys were rigged with baskets and saddle bags that were the forerunner of the famed package cars that soon followed.

Little did Casey know at that time he was laying the foundation for the largest, most profitable, privately owned corporation in history. It was then that Casey first said: “determined men working together can do anything.”

Jim’s younger brother George signs on in 1911. They worked well together. They were tireless in effort, demanded perfection and often worked without pay!

In 1913, Casey bought the first “package car” a Model T Ford. It could carry 50 packages and only ran on Saturday at first. Casey viewed the Model T not only as the perfect vehicle to propel his company ahead of the competition but as a constant advertising symbol seen by the public daily!

He first painted it red, then yellow. Finally Charles Soderstrom, one of Casey’s top men came up with Pullman brown. Casey loved to ride Pullman coaches whenever he traveled, so accepted the color as symbolic of the giants of the railroad industry. “Perhaps it will make us equally as famous on the streets of America,” Casey proposed!

In 1913 news reaches Casey that Ford will discontinue the “T” at the end of this production year. Casey is outraged. He borrows $10,000.00 from a friend and the two hop a Pullman to Detroit. He’s sure Ford can be talked out of this fool’s move.

But Ford not known for his hospitality, quickly squashes Casey’s plea to continue production of the “T”. When that failed Casey offers to buy as many cars as ten grand would cover. At that time — almost fifty.

He gets jolted out of his chair when old Hank the ‘horse trader’ tries to persuade Casey’s unknown benefactors into investing his money in Ford stock, instead of some little delivery company. Of course he refused.

But what if he had invested the money? Some have said it would have altered history or at least UPS history. Without the new “T” Casey’s progress would have come to a sudden halt, while his friend would have gotten a chair at the long table with the rest of Ford’s board members!

Lucky for Casey, he closed the deal for the last of the T’s to be shipped in crates by rail to Seattle. On arrival, Casey and his crew had the task to finish assembling the new T’s before they could be operated!

By 1918 the Casey crusade has Seattle locked up tight with contracts for same day delivery with every major department store in town. His success only fuels his hunger for more. He targets Oakland County as the next challenge because it’s large, prosperous and badly in need of a good delivery system. He moves his operation to Oakland in 1919. There he changes the name from the Seattle based Merchants Parcel Delivery to United Parcel Service.

UPS does well in California. They continue to grow and expand but at a much slower pace.

In 1928 Casey began experimenting with air package deliveries, using established airlines and feeders and only shipping between major cities coast to coast. It worked well and showed a profit until Wall Street crashed in October of 1929. The idea was abandoned a year later. Because of the depression flight schedules were unreliable and this temporarily put out the lights on his dream for world-wide air package delivery service.

Still he was 44 years ahead of Federal Express. By 1930 UPS has control of the small package business on the west coast. Casey said: “Well, now that we control the place where the sun sets, let’s see what we can do with the place where the sun rises!”

He and his troops arrive in New York City at the height of the world-wide depression. While everyone around him was trying to survive, Casey expands. Major department stores such as Lord & Taylor and McCreery & Co. quickly dissolve their own delivery services in favor of the more efficient and reliable UPS.

Then on to Philadelphia where Casey established not only the usual retail store deliveries, but a new office furniture moving business that still does well in New York City. Philadelphia becomes the nerve center for Common Carrier in eastern Pennsylvania in the early sixties. It will also become a trouble spot that will alter the company’s feelings and their actions toward all employees forever! Many years later!

Casey’s crusaders mark time as the war years of the forties impose the usual restrictions on all businesses. During this time, Casey the innovator, worked at perfecting a daily delivery procedure that would speed deliveries and lessen the work load for his drivers. He designs rapid package sorting equipment that are still the basic theory incorporated in the modern systems of today.

Casey was so intense in his pursuit of excellence, that he actually cut away the side of one package car in order to observe a driver sorting packages. As a result of this experiment, he was able to increase productivity 30% simply by eliminating unnecessary moves.

When the fifties rolled around, Casey’s crusaders are gearing up for major expansions to Common Carrier. They bring back air service under the brown label. It worked the same as before but better as a two-day air service between major cities coast to coast. Actually it did very well, but received little acknowledgment for its success!

Later I learn that while the air service was only 2% of their business, it was 10% of their profit. At that point in time, they just couldn’t see the hand writing on the wall. The board simply refused to accept Casey’s theory for air service. A very bitter pill they can’t swallow to this day!

An old general once said: “he that rules the sky rules everything.” Casey believed it, but no one else did.

The early sixties are the rallying point for Casey’s crusaders full assault on the small package industry. His plan begins with Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware. Followed in time with New England, the South, the Mid-West and the last hold out, Texas.

It will take years, but James E. Casey won’t see it to the long hard fought conclusion in 1962.

Before much of the plan can materialize, the Captain of the tightest ship is ordered to step down. At 74, in good health and a quick mind, the Pharaoh of Parcels is put out to pasture.

I think it’s more than strange that Casey will outlive his successor, George Smith, by eleven years. What purpose did it serve except to destroy an old man’s dream.

Little do they know at this point in time, there’s a bad moon rising and years of trouble are on the way for the depredators of dreams.

The usual testimonials that follow do little to ease the pain that Jim Casey will endure for the rest of his life.

Casey had no family here in the east. The few friends he thought he had were all at UPS. All this man ever wanted to do was what he did best — lead UPS as far as they can go! He lived another 21 years, years wasted!

Although he was allowed to remain on the board, he was greatly out numbered. Besides, once you’ve been Captain, first mate isn’t good enough.

Here’s a man who wallowed in hard times, impossible obstacles and never ... never tell him “it can’t be done”. Casey cared about little more than the daily challenges that landed on his desktop every day!

Again, why retire? His wildest dreams were just beginning to materialize. From a 6 x 17 foot basement to the threshold of international domination of the small package industry.

I can’t believe that this great man who was head honcho, chief paymaster and chairman of the board, suddenly surrenders his command in the dawn of his “finest hour”! How was that possible?

The way Gary Glasgow S.S. (supervisor, stockholder) told it to me back in the early sixties was that: “the new order of management at UPS were getting tired of Casey’s ‘old man’ ideas!” So, all the fun guys at UPS headquarters in New York City bought Mr. Casey a nice Rolls Royce, chauffeur-driven of course, since he never owned a car before! He stated that a few of the young lions walked down the hall to Casey’s office where they dangled the keys to the Rolls in his face. In essence what they said was: “have a nice retirement and stop and see us some time.”

Talk about kicking an old dog when he is down, the new Captain orders 180 degree course change, canceling Casey’s dream plan for overnight air service in favor of their 48 state ground service link up.

By doing so, they break the first of Casey’s ten commandments for continued success. The future of the package industry is in the air.

The second — “a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.”

Casey devised a formula to fairly evaluate each days work based on the number of stops, parcels delivered and picked up plus your daily mileage. He called it the daily production standard — standards for short. His time allowances were realistic because they were the result of years of driver surveys he conducted personally.

I can remember when every driver in the Williamsport center ran under the standards just by following Casey’s delivery and pick-up procedures to the letter. That went on for years until the advent of the computer standard, then, very few ran scratch let alone run under! (Scratch) means to do the job in the time the company allows - not a minute more!

When I ask an I.E. man (Industrial Engineer what happens if a computer pops out an impossible standard - the I.E. guy said “only drivers lie!”

The third - “don’t make company demands that border on harassment.” With this one they step badly across that border in broad daylight. It begins with a total change in the palace guards. In the late sixties the new order is older, uglier, poorly dressed and lacking in any manners at all.

The only time a driver is spoken to is during the newly established daily drivers’ interrogation period - better known as: “what happened yesterday?” A subject I will discuss in future chapters.

The fourth — “they are advised to constantly seek better, safer work methods.” What they seek is faster, faster, faster work methods. This is the I.E. department’s big thing “faster is better.” They are an elite group of “tiger troops” called industrial engineers. They perform all time studies. Their power is absolute, all time studies stand as written, even if “Jesse Owens” himself can’t run fast enough to get it done!

A case in point: Marlin Wolfe has nearly thirty years of driving time. Wolfe runs a long mileage rural route that he’s been on for years. I.E. did a time study on his route that made him an hour over the standards every day before he leaves the building! That went on for years. They can’t show him where the hour is, nor could they find anybody - management included - who could run the route with that time allowance. They admit something is wrong but it’s not I.E.’s fault and they refused to correct it. Wolfe still took the flak for being an hour over every day!

The fifth — “provide the best possible service for the least money.” The Mansfield center is the northern most outpost in the central district. At the morning propaganda meeting (PCM) the men of this center are warned about competition like Roadway and Federal Express, etc., stealing UPS customers away because we did not meet their needs.

This fine admonishment came from Chet Trout S.S. Division Manager, on one of his rare trips that far from Harrisburg. The drivers tell Chet, “that’s great, give us the equipment we’ll do the job!” Turns out, Chet lost a big shipper named Mid-America to Roadway because he wouldn’t authorize a trailer to be spotted at their plant. Roadway had one there the same day!

Good ol’ Chet, just another can’t lead and won’t follow in a management position. He’s another long time supervisor who never delivered a package in his life! With Chet on the job, Roadway won’t have to take any UPS business - he’ll give it to them!

The sixth — “always promote from our own ranks.” Some how down through the years something is lost in the translation. Casey believed a good street-wise driver made the best supervisor and maintained a balance of knowledge between management and hourly employees.

Very few supervisors spent more than a few months out in the street. In fact up until a few years ago, it wasn’t mandatory to spend one day out on the street! Including most of the board members and especially board chairman and C.E.O., “Oz” Nelson as all the fun guys call him, came to us straight from the campus to the combat at customer service. He can show you the scars he received climbing the corporate ladder in his Brooks Brothers suits Flourshiem shoes.

All he knows about delivering packages is he doesn’t have to do it. I can’t believe munchkins didn’t get this guy on his way up the yellow brick road.

The seventh — “no stock outside the company.” Casey believed it was essential to keep the UPS stock in UPS hands. “That way,” he remarked we don’t have to listen to people who don’t know our business try to tell us how to run it.” Sound advice from the grand master of motivation!

“0z” and the other eleven board members personally smashed number seven when they accepted outsiders to the UPS board of directors. We can say what we want about the Atlanta arrangement, but one thing’s for sure these two big city boys don’t know which end of a truck the packages come out of either!

Vic Pelson is an executive from A.T.& T. in the field of communications. Vic has strong ties to A.T& T. and he’s also chairman of a company called American Transtech!

Bob Teeter is president of the Coldwater Corporation. He’s an expert in strategic planning, public opinion analysis and former senior adviser to the Bush for President campaign.

Kind of makes me wonder who’s watching the store?

The eighth - “treat your people well and the company will flourish.” Again, Oz suffers from hoof in mouth disease. When he states and I quote: “each employee should be treated as a special asset that needs to be appreciated and developed - when some one leaves our company that’s a failure.”

This will come as a shock I know “Oz”, but if all the people UPS management has fired or coerced into resignation were to meet at one time in one place, it would have to be at Giant Stadium (capacity 77,000). Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but then if HR3221 is passed maybe not! If you haven’t heard about this Bill, you will!

The ninth - “stay close to your employees.” He didn’t mean follow them around on foot or by car hoping to capture something on video, like having lunch after 2:30 in the afternoon.

Recently, the Williamsport center lost three people in one night! Management guys armed with video cameras followed the shadows through the partially darkened building to a high point where they lay and wait for things to happen. Sure enough things happened, Larry Weaver, car washer, was seen walking around eating a cookie!

Later he and car washer Matt Butters engaged in a brief water battle and all on tape. The third person, a night mechanic was caught with the wrong work order on his work sheet. All were charged with stealing time! It
covers a multitude of sins!

Nor did Casey intend for his supervisors nock on the door of men who have called in sick demanding to see them in their sick bed because management believes that if a driver’s lips are moving he must be lying!

Much less the use of sophisticated high-tech electronics from UPS subsidiary II Morrow Inc. and Roadnet Inc.! Their state-of-the-art vehicle surveillance equipment allows management to track any package car - stop for stop - electronically without leaving the comfort of their air conditioned bunks.

The tenth - “personal pride and dignity are essential to each employee, without this management fails and the company will not prosper.” In 1989 with Jolly Jack Rogers at the helm, the good ship “Parcel” and crew, steer a crooked course through shark infested waters as the tightest ship takes on water like the Titanic.

While revenues rose 1.4 billion dollars, profits dropped by 86 million dollars. Casey must have rose from the grave when he heard this next report. The board announced that for the first time ever they would sell public debt securities on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to the tune of 700 million dollars for a grand total of 786 million in the red. No, Frank it wasn’t a very good year! It’s safe to say – far worse than Casey ever had including the depression and W.W. II.

Another problem he never had, was employee turnover. I worked for UPS over ten years with a zero turnover but in the last 15 years of my 25, the turnover has reached 58%! That’s not counting people who quit on the same day they were hired! Which are too many!

However, the most disgusting and humiliating of all their bad moves, the $50.00 ransom fee for the “refer a friend” program designed to entice loaders and sorters with seniority to bring new people to UPS who will stay - at least 30 days!

Then there is the “wine and dine” driver applicants’ program. UPS picks up the tab and pays the acceptable person a $250.00 sign-on fee with the promise of another $300.00 if they ever get seniority! That is, if any of the people that show up can qualify!

Sad isn’t it? I can remember when 300 applicants showed up for one job at UPS and this was in a small town. But then those were the Casey years! Like once upon a time at UPS!

Sir James would be heart broken (more then before) to see what the heirs to the throne have done to UPS. But he needn’t be ashamed, after all he gave them the keys to the kingdom and the ten commandments for continued success! They broke all ten of them then cast them to one side like a toy no one cares about any longer.

He would, however, be extremely proud of the work his legacy has financed through his Anne E. Casey Foundation named in honor of his late mother. Casey never married, so he never had children of his own, but vivid memories of hard times in his youth made helping poor kids the Foundation’s biggest project. This quote by James E. Casey says it all: “let us not just home in on kids and families who need us most and help them, lets save them!” And save them is what he’s doing by the hundreds in fifteen states. Kids of all ages, from different ethnic, minority and religious backgrounds. The average age is thirteen with a fair balance between the number of boys and girls. His case workers seek out the kids who need help most, boys or girls who have had at least six previous foster homes. They are referred to the Foundation by school, hospitals, the courts and state agencies. Once selected for care, the Casey Foundation will provide what ever it takes to make these kids become happy, healthy, productive adults.

Casey’s main interest is children at risk and family preservation, but the Foundation is looking at other problems as well. Such as child abuse and neglect, teenage pregnancy, schools and possibly others.

The Casey Foundation also annually awards paid scholarships to promising students among both hourly and management employees. The scholarships range from two to six thousand dollars per year, depending on financial status.

However, it’s somewhat lopsided. Management receives 35 to 40% of the scholarships but they only represent 10% of the work force! Apparently management picks the scholarships? For instance, “Iron” Herman Moyer who recently retired from loss prevention, a lot of you will remember “Hermy” he punched a few tickets in his day, well anyway his boy Richard has been honored with a scholarship. This poor kid spends his summers in Europe and would like to become a controller for a large corporation when he graduates. Like UPS? So how much
1ii~r~d receive? Hermy’s more than likely got every penny he ever paid into the Thrift Plan, then with stocks and retirement plan, who knows?

By now you must be wondering where all this money comes from? As I said, Casey had no desire for material things. This shy, slender man loved the movies and train travel. When UPS headquarters was in New York City, he had a modest two bedroom apartment nearby. His clothes closet was half filled with dark suits that were his trademark most of his life.

When corporate headquarters was moved to Greenwich, Conn., Casey bought a small two bedroom masonry home - his first! He lived a very frugal life style and never stepped into the lime light of fame.

This gentle man, the pioneer, philosopher and also philanthropist was unlike others of his era. He was not to be found on the tennis court or back nine of the famous country clubs. Nor sipping Mai Tais on a private beach!

The bottom line: his high was being on the job, building UPS. They, the (new order) didn’t understand that, but you will when I tell you that most of his money went into the Foundation. Ten years after his death in 1983, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has had assets worth $667 million dollars while helping people in need, every day!

Ed Mitchell, a retired military man was hired by Casey as his secretary and the two became friends. He said Casey would always have his driver stop when he saw a UPS person! Casey would ask them what they thought of their job, but never told them who he was. He must have been shocked by their replies!

Ed commented on the fact that Casey never spoke of his accomplishments but rather the good other people did.

He recalls the last year of Casey’s life because he was in and out of hospitals. When asked where he worked, he replied that he was associated with UPS, but that he did not have medical insurance through them. The nurse was reluctant to admit the ailing UPS founder. Ed recalls pulling the nurse to one side to tell her not to worry about
paying the bills - this man founded UPS! Ed concludes by stating UPS was Jim Casey’s life!

James E. Casey died alone in a west coast home in June of 1983. There was very little accolade, if any! He is to this day, referred to as one of the founders by this new order of heel clickers!

So this great man who worked so hard, spent so little and gave so much to so many, ends a brilliant life swept under the corporate rug!

Gone and forgotten seems a heartless “epitaph.”

The Darker Side of Brown makes no determination of fact or incidents within the above article written by C.L. Kane in, "The Tightest Ship." It is published here for a unique history of UPS as seen and experienced by a company employee of 25 years. A search of 'The Tightest Ship' along with the word 'UPS' should be able to bring up some stores that still do have copies of this unique and enlightening book. Well worth the read, it clearly shows the darker side of brown.

 

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