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The Boss Is Remotely Monitoring Blue-Collar Workers

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the course-and-scope-of-employment dept.

Privacy 228

McGruber writes "The Wall Street Journal reports on the new level of surveillance available to bosses of blue collar workers. Thanks to mobile devices and inexpensive monitoring software, managers can now know where workers are, eavesdrop on their phone calls, tell if a truck driver is wearing his seat belt and intervene if he is tailgating. 'Twenty-five years ago this was pipe dream stuff,' said Paul Sangster, CEO of JouBeh Technologies, a Canadian company that develops tracking, or 'telematics,' technology for businesses. 'Now it is commonly accepted that you are being tracked.' In the U.S., workplace tracking technology is largely unregulated, and courts have found that employees have few rights to privacy on the job. No federal statutes restrict the use of GPS by employers, nor force them to disclose whether they are using it. Only two states, Delaware and Connecticut, require employers to tell workers that their electronic communications — anything from emails to instant messages to texts — are being monitored."

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228 comments

Protip (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227021)

If you are using hardware or services provided by your employer, your data is not private and you should have no expectations of such privacy.

Re:Protip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227327)

"should" have no expectations of privacy? It's just the opposite.

Re: Protip (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227379)

It is morons like yourself who should be shot in the face and dumped at sea. The less morons like you on the planet, the less this surveillance shit would be happening and be acceptable. Rot in hell you fucking slave.

Re:Protip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227391)

If there is any allowance at all for personal business or personal time during work hours made by the employer, then they should treat it as such. If not, they are invading your privacy.

Re: Protip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227421)

Of course you'll be monitored out side of work. To believe you are not would be ridiculously stupid and naive.

Re:Protip (5, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 6 months ago | (#45227487)

If you're on personal time, you can use personal equipment. But if you're using company-provided equipment, expect them to monitor it.

And if you're driving a company-provided vehicle, with the company logo on it, you are on company time. End of discussion -- Anything you do while in that vehicle can have repercussions for the company. If you're on personal time, park the vehicle and go for a walk.

Re:Protip (4, Insightful)

mythosaz (572040) | about 6 months ago | (#45227909)

I'd moderate this some combination of informative/insightful if I weren't replying here.

While I don't *love* that my employer is reading this very post of mine, I respect that they're entitled to to do so. I'm using their computer, network, and time to do so. They allow me modest personal use of the internet, and in return, I know I'm getting watched.

I make a choice as an employee. I can choose to work for places that monitor my communications, or I can work elsewhere. I suppose the argument is that eventually I'll have no other option, but in the meantime, I'll just politely use their services and submit to minimal oversight of my activities. [e.g. this post being in a giant pile of other logs.]

Re:Protip (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#45228077)

Yes, yes we can all look at the obvious examples. Well done.

What happens when you are on call? can the employer follow you all the time? how about unpaid lunch break?
What happens when a boss doesn't like the movie you went to see? or the church you go to?

The logical end of all this .... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227027)

http://www.marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm

Re:The logical end of all this .... (3, Funny)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#45227143)

Except the part about a section of the world where the already moneyed elites don't control everything at the end. That's all fantasy.

I thought it was implied.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227639)

That 'moneyed elites' had set it up using funding from the common man knowing what was going to happen, as a combination safe haven and psychology experiment.

Honestly the people in Australia seemed as much trapped as the people outside, their cage was just a little more nicely gilded.

Re:The logical end of all this .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227147)

Damn, you beat me to it.

My kingdom for mod points!

News? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227049)

Where's the new part...

Re:News? (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 6 months ago | (#45227311)

Where's the new part...

The increasing cumulative affect as new technologies are developed, accumulate, and interact.

Well yeah (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | about 6 months ago | (#45227067)

I should hope so. I mean it's not your truck, it's your boss'. It's not your computer and desk, it belongs to your boss. Etc etc. Of course the employer has the RIGHT. Now there's the ethical dilemma - how to use this information for more than just trying to "catch people" in impropriety, how to make the workplace better rather than make big deals about an accidental swear word or comment, etc. Misuse of this technology can and will affect employee morale rather sharply. Errare humanum est. The watchers are going to have to tolerate SOME degree of slack...

Re:Well yeah (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227167)

Oftentimes it is used as a way, an excuse to get someone fired and a H-1B hired. In the truck category, this is especially true with truck drivers where it takes no training at all to get a Mexican CDL, so US workers tend to be brushed aside for people who will work for virtually any wage south of the border.

Re:Well yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227189)

So if you borrow a pair of pliers and I bug them you're OK with that because they're my pliers, right?

Practically speaking what they're keeping an eye on is not their physical property but rather the worker's time, which the worker sold in exchange for pay. The ethics of that are shadier because even though you're being paid our (somewhat) civilized society doesn't (yet) equate employment with powerless servitude. Workers have rights and it is not unreasonable in the least to assign them the right to privacy. Now that we've agreed on that all we have to do is figure out where the line between legitimate expectation for privacy and legitimate expectation for satisfactory work is. Easy!

Re:Well yeah (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 6 months ago | (#45227935)

If I'm paying you to use my pliers, and I only bug the pliers while you're using them in my employ, then yes. Of course I do.

Re:Well yeah (1)

mmell (832646) | about 6 months ago | (#45228019)

Um, not quite. If I'm paying you to use my pliers, I'm okay if you use them for your own purposes as well . . . but I get to know what those purposes are. You don't want me to know what you're building in your off-hours? Heaven forbid you should be doing something contrary to my interests with my own pliers, aftera ll. If you don't want me to know about what you're doing, go buy and use your own pliers, somewhere private and out of my sight!!

Re:Well yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45228111)

If the principle is that owners can monitor use of their property then the only thing that matters is that the object (pliers) are mine; after that's established I can bug them freely.

If the principle hinges on employment rather than property then you're saying that that employment, in and of itself, eliminates the right to privacy, which is ridiculous.

Re:Well yeah (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 6 months ago | (#45227207)

What if you're the sort of person who gets distracted by errant profanity? The boss catching such things would indeed make your workplace better, in your opinion. Similarly, a fleet mechanic's job would be easier if the fleet's drivers were more cautious, and marketing's job is easier if the executives aren't engaging in impropriety.

It ultimately boils down to what kind of company it is. Is the management so paranoid about imperfection that they'll fire someone for minor problems, or are they friendly enough that encouragement and positive reinforcement are the go-to solutions? Surveillance technology is a tool, and it can be used for good just as easily as for evil.

Re:Well yeah (1)

intermodal (534361) | about 6 months ago | (#45228073)

My boss is usually the culprit in errant profanity, but I bet he'd fire someone almost instantly for doing it on a day when he was a in a bad mood. Even though the culture around here doesn't even discourage it.

Thankfully, I'm not one who uses such language. While in my Volkswagen, though, I have on more than one occasion shouted, "Fahrvergnügen!" in situations that scared me while driving.

Re:Well yeah (1)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about 6 months ago | (#45227293)

I should hope so. I mean it's not your truck, it's your boss'. It's not your computer and desk, it belongs to your boss. Etc etc. Of course the employer has the RIGHT. Now there's the ethical dilemma - how to use this information for more than just trying to "catch people" in impropriety, how to make the workplace better rather than make big deals about an accidental swear word or comment, etc. Misuse of this technology can and will affect employee morale rather sharply. Errare humanum est. The watchers are going to have to tolerate SOME degree of slack...

Precisely.

Now I wish all this stuff actually resulted in getting rid of bad workers. A couple of years ago I worked in a coffee plant, in packaging. We had cameras all over the place, yet when we had down time and were supposed to be cleaning our machines, etc. certain employees would congregate to chitchat. Not being a supervisor, it was really no skin off my nose, and I was a temp to boot. Only real annoyance was when they gaggled around MY machine when I was trying to clean up. Every bit on camera, not a one of them let go.

Re:Well yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227305)

No they don't have the right. The employee/employer relation is, well, a relation. That implies some level of mutual trust and the willingness to give and take instead of only take. Yes, there is a power difference, it is a unbalanced relation, but that does not automatically make everything that the more powerful party can do morally right. We have other metrics for that.

By your logic employees would be allowed to monitor the companies complete cash flow, and what the company does with it, because some of that money is theirs (they worked for it and are not payed yet)

And we have not even discussed the rights of the shareholders (they own everything) and the government (they are entitled to some of the money, aka taxes) yet.

Re:Well yeah (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 6 months ago | (#45227367)

I mean it's not your truck, it's your boss'. It's not your computer and desk, it belongs to your boss. Etc etc.

It's the companies laptop. In your home.
It's the company's truck. After hours.
It's the company's phone. On a private call.

Misuse of this technology can and will affect employee morale rather sharply.

Right. Because nobody who's morale dropped enough to complain was disciplined. Anywhere. Ever.

I'm sorry, but this is a classic example of where government regulation is needed. Companies have the privilege (not right!) of monitoring their employees. Just like your driver's license isn't a right to drive: It can be revoked. Employers need to be held accountable for overstepping boundaries of reasonableness.

Go ahead and record e-mails, but if it doesn't directly affect the business it should be deleted and no further comment made. Direct managers should be prevented from monitoring their employees electronically -- instead a separate department such as HR should do this, so as to prevent bias. Phone calls should not be monitored once the employee is off the clock. If they have a problem with this, remotely disable the phone at the appointed time. Same with computers with internet access, and other dual-use devices. Keep in mind many people use their personal phone for work-related calls, and likewise with laptops and other electronic devices. Remote evesdropping when you are not actively engaged in company business should be prohibited.

And to seal the deal, we need federal legislation to drop the ban-hammer on so-called "right to work" state legislation; The laws should be written so only conduct which directly impacts the company, while using company resources, can be subject to disciplinary action. In other words, if you don't like JP Morgan's shady business strategies (which led to the subprime mortgage crisis), you should be free to protest on your own time without fear of reprisal.

We need to draw a line that says only conduct that happens on company time or using company resources is subject to any disciplinary action. We need to prohibit employers from taking action against employers punitively on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identification, etc. And this is not just about protecting "the little guy"; This is about protecting the country as a whole.

Merit-based employment and strong non-discrimination policies provide a direct and immediate benefit to society by making as many jobs available to as many qualified candidates as possible. It increases labor supply, and rewards companies who hire on the basis of merit with a more competitive and efficient labor force.

Pervasive electronic monitoring is a strike against that goal. I will tell you, being on the other side of the IT version of the 'one-way' glass, that if you watch anyone long enough, you'll find a reason to hate them. You will become judgmental, and you will look at them differently. Which is precisely why managers should never under any circumstances be allowed to covertly monitor their employees. There is no "if" about morale suffering; It starts deteriorating the moment you start.

And managers are notoriously short-sighted, poor judges of character, and often blow things radically out of proportion when they do come across something hinky. Just like the general public did during the hunt for the boston bomber. People who are not trained and experienced in surveillance, who are not impartial to the people being watched, should never, ever, ever be given the reins. Disaster is most often the result.

Re:Well yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227665)

Why are you using company property for your private time?
I took my company laptop home once. (and didn't use it)
I make work calls from my phone at work, and personal calls from my cell phone.
I use company email only to email other employees, or people I'm contacting for the company.
I have my own car.

It's like saying it's a public beech but I'm having private sex there.

Re:Well yeah (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 6 months ago | (#45227695)

And to seal the deal, we need federal legislation to drop the ban-hammer on so-called "right to work" state legislation; The laws should be written so only conduct which directly impacts the company, while using company resources, can be subject to disciplinary action.

I don't see what disciplinary action has to do with being forced to pay a union for permission to work in a particular industry.

Re:Well yeah (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 6 months ago | (#45227885)

I don't see what disciplinary action has to do with being forced to pay a union for permission to work in a particular industry.

Since it's clear you haven't actually read the law, "Right to work" allows an employer to fire you for any or no reason, excepting federally-protected reasons (like sexual orientation, sex, race, etc.). It means that any employment contract signed that stipulates a mediation or resolution procedure before an employer can fire you is rendered unenforceable.

Removing right to work is a necessary first step in restoring merit-based employment decisions, instead of arbitrary ones.

Re:Well yeah (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 6 months ago | (#45227801)

It's the companies laptop. In your home.

If it's personal use, why aren't you using your own computer?

It's the company's truck. After hours.

Why are you driving the company truck for personal affairs outside of company time? This one, there is a *small* degree of leeway in favour of your argument, but generally our employees who have a company vehicle leave it at the company lot at the end of the day and have their own transportation to get to/from home. A small number of them dispatch from home, and park the company vehicle in their driveways overnight, but it's still really bad juju for them to take it on a grocery run after hours....

It's the company's phone. On a private call.

Why are you using a company phone to make a personal call? Especially in this day and age, when almost everybody has a cell phone....

Companies have the privilege (not right!) of monitoring their employees

Companies have a right to make sure they receive the contracted services for the money they're paying you. They also have a right to ensure you aren't misusing/abusing company resources. If you're on company time/using company resources, then it should be for the work they're paying you to do. If your company has a policy that allows you to use company resources for personal use when you're on your own time (just as my company does -- I'm posting this while on break, from my office PC), then you have to expect that they're monitoring it. If, for no other reason, then to make sure you aren't wasting their time/money when you're supposed to be on the clock.

We need to draw a line that says only conduct that happens on company time or using company resources is subject to any disciplinary action. We need to prohibit employers from taking action against employers punitively on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identification, etc. And this is not just about protecting "the little guy"; This is about protecting the country as a whole.

I agree with you completely here. Of course, I live in a country where we already have those protections. Every single one of the categories you listed has been read into the constitution and human rights/anti-discrimination legislations as protected classes of people.

Pervasive electronic monitoring is a strike against that goal.

It doesn't have to be. The company I work for has GPS trackers in the company vehicles. They monitor the location/speed of every company vehicle in the field, along with engine idle time, and people do get censured for driving like idiots or wasting fuel. They also monitor the data use on the cellular devices provided to employees, and make sure you're not wasting bandwidth, and disable data on company-provided equipment where people are using too much. On company PC's, everything is logged and goes through a proxy. Every phone call made, both on cellular and desk phones, is recorded, and if you're logged in to your PC at the time, screenshots of what's on your screen during the call are recorded as well. It's company resources, and this kind of monitoring is completely reasonable -- They don't care what I do on my own time or with my own equipment, but they do (reasonably) have a right to expect that I'm not going to waste their money, and that I am not impaired while on company time.

Re:Well yeah (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 6 months ago | (#45228045)

If it's personal use, why aren't you using your own computer?

Possibly because a personal laptop can do work-related activities just fine, and many in fact prefer using their own devices over what is company-issued. Nonetheless, many pieces of software allow remote monitoring regardless of who owns the equipment.

Why are you using a company phone to make a personal call? Especially in this day and age, when almost everybody has a cell phone....

Possibly because the company allows personal calls as they don't cost anything on a "everything" plan. Possibly because carrying two cell phones is inconvenient. Possibly because you are making business calls using a phone that you own and pay for but use primarily for work-related purposes. Possibly because you have purchased multiple lines for a single phone.

Companies have a right to make sure they receive the contracted services for the money they're paying you.

Actually they don't, unless the contract specifically states this. Most employment contracts do not state specific services to be provided, they only state severance clauses, and leave it to "tasks as assigned" for the work performed.

They also have a right to ensure you aren't misusing/abusing company resources.

They may take reasonable measures to protect company resources... they do not, for example, get to shoot you dead if they find you carrying a laptop out the back door. Sorry if you got confused over what a right is, and is not.

If you're on company time/using company resources, then it should be for the work they're paying you to do.

What if you're an on-call surgeon; You are being paid to be available. That does not mean you may be monitored and tracked during this time.

If your company has a policy that allows you to use company resources for personal use when you're on your own time (just as my company does -- I'm posting this while on break, from my office PC), then you have to expect that they're monitoring it.

Expectation does not create, or override, law.

Of course, I live in a country where we already have those protections. Every single one of the categories you listed has been read into the constitution and human rights/anti-discrimination legislations as protected classes of people.

I live in a country where states are allowed to pass so-called "right to work" legislation and then fire people on the basis of those things, and as long as they do not admit this as the reason for the dismissal, it is perfectly legal. So you can see where I might have a problem with some of these statements you're making; You're operating under false assumptions -- they may be true where you live, but not where I live.

Pervasive electronic monitoring is a strike against that goal.

It doesn't have to be.

There is an old latin phrase: Ad mores natura recurrit damnatos, fixa et mutari nescia . Translated, it means "human nature ever reverts to its depraved courses, fixed and immutable." You're naive if you think that if you leave the barn door open the cows won't get out. They may not make a run for the gate immediately, but they will leave, eventually. The same is true of corporations monitoring their employees -- Where there is power without restraint, there is abuse. This is human nature.

When I say we need to regulate these things, what I mean to say is we need to address the power imbalance present between employers and employees. In this country, the power imbalance is massive; Employees have no recourse for an employer that abuses them or fires them without good cause. And surveillance is a form of abuse. If you don't believe me, let me come over and sit at the foot of your bed and stare at you while you sleep. I promise... I won't do anything. I'll just sit here. Staring.

Ja mein komrade! (2, Funny)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 6 months ago | (#45227091)

Er ist gut to work in workers paradise!

I am so glad we live in a police state where we are tracked and followed everywhere, and where we have always been at war with East Asia.

Silly privacy - only good for whiny people - strong workers need no rights ...

Re:Ja mein komrade! (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 6 months ago | (#45227521)

None of this involves the state at all. Nice job completely missing the point.

If you don't want to be monitored, don't take a job that involves operating equipment owned by someone else.

Re:Ja mein komrade! (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 6 months ago | (#45227669)

None of this involves the state at all. Nice job completely missing the point.

If you don't want to be monitored, don't take a job that involves operating equipment owned by someone else.

Neither did national socialist rule. That was all private enterprise, for the most part.

Try watching Schindler's List for how that works.

Hence, my point.

Good and/or bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227095)

OTOH I recently read a paper by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health discussing a system, cleverly called "Helmet-Cam", that links a helmet cam with a respirable dust monitor, allowing safety officers to review data and match up spikes in respirable dust with worker actions (eg when the worker presses button X the dust levels rise y seconds later).

IMHO the happy medium is using surveillance technology like this periodically to find problem areas in the workplace. Using them all the time doesn't seem necessary, especially given the privacy cost.

Re:Good and/or bad (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 6 months ago | (#45227215)

Sometimes it is good to have recorders. A crash happens, lawsuits fly, but the truck's dash cam sees it was a another car doing a swoop and squat from the breakdown lane in an attempt to run the semi off the road. This is not uncommon on I-35 in Austin where there have been semis jack-knifed by people deliberately wanting to cause wrecks.

There has to be a balance somewhere. I've wondered about mandatory data expiration laws, but this would take a lot of crafting so as to actually be usable, have teeth, and not be easily weaseled out of.

Here we have an example of (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227127)

Republican-on-Republican (mainstream/tea party) abuse

I have only one thing to say about this (4, Funny)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 6 months ago | (#45227171)

This isnt remotely surprising.

Re:I have only one thing to say about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227429)

Cue music [youtube.com] --- Thanks for joining us at the lovely Slashdot story forum! Tonight Nitehawk214's guests will be i kan reed, Dunbal, SJHillman, with a special appearance by Mod Point and the Moderators! And now, heeeeeres Nitehaw214!
[Cue applause]

UPS (4, Interesting)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 6 months ago | (#45227187)

We use software purchased from UPS to track our drivers. Their company cell phone has the UPS app, which relays data back to the server (including GPS). Of course, being on a phone and not built into the vehicle, it's dependent on the driver taking the phone with him or leaving it in the truck. However, it still managed to catch a driver "borrowing" the truck in the middle of the night to visit his girlfriend on the other side of the city, and then returning it a few hours later. He was let go the following day. The funny part is that he was one of the drivers who would always forget to take the phone or keep it charged.

Re:UPS (3, Informative)

TheCarp (96830) | about 6 months ago | (#45227331)

> However, it still managed to catch a driver "borrowing" the truck in the middle of the night to visit his
> girlfriend on the other side of the city, and then returning it a few hours later. He was let go the
> following day

That sounds like a bad management decision. So he broke policy in a way that didn't actually cause a problem and brought back the equipment he borrowed before anyone needed it... so in response they let him go and now have to train someone else to do his job.... which last study I saw said costs the company, on average, 150% of a workers normal salary

I really doubt that if you took all of the incidents where any employee ever did that for the company, and added them all up, it wouldn't equal the loss in productivity of replacing one average worker.

Re:UPS (3, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 6 months ago | (#45227359)

My exact reaction. You have to assume that you're going to detect more prohibited behavior, so you need to scale back your punishments as a result.

Re:UPS (5, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 6 months ago | (#45227381)

He took the company truck without permission for non-company use. In most places, that's called "stealing a fucking truck." It costs the company gas and wear and tear, as well as being a huge liability issue. Returning what you stole doesn't really make it ok.

Re:UPS (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about 6 months ago | (#45227515)

None of that changes that they likely lost more by getting rid of him than by ignoring his transgression. There is a difference between being in the right, and making a good decision. Sometimes the smart thing to do is to let people get away with things that don't matter very much. Perhaps you have heard "no harm, no foul".

also I never said that it costs them nothing. Yes it costs them wear and tear and even gas if he didn't refill it....but... I was thinking of tall that when I said, and stand by, the statement that they likely (unless there were other factors in the decision, which I wouldn't know) lost more by letting him go than they would by looking the other way.

Re:UPS (1)

chuckinator (2409512) | about 6 months ago | (#45227599)

Can I borrow your car to visit my sick relative? No harm, no foul, but ignore that sticky mess in the back...

Re:UPS (3, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | about 6 months ago | (#45227811)

I don't know you from Adam so there is no way you are getting permission. However there are people I likely wouldn't give permission to that I would give forgiveness if they did it. Mostly family members; a couple of good friends.... we might have words if one of them did it, and I might register my displeasure, but.... the relationship matters to how much I care about the transgression.

Hows this one.

A) You find a stranger man sleeping in your back yard, and find out he has been doing it for a week now without you knowing.

B) You find a good friend sleeping in your back yard, and find out he has been too embarassed to tell you he is homeless.

Both are transgressions. Both you might be unhappy about, but kicking person A out and telling him not to come back is no net loss for you. Saying the same thing to person B means you are losing a good friend. Either way, nothing changes that there was a transgression, its just a matter of, is it worth it to you to lose a friend over?

Now in this case the "friend" is actually an employee and the loss is the 150% of their salary that it takes to train their replacement.

Re:UPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227707)

The company isn't losing anything.
People who do this kind of shit generally can't be relied on, and in the long run you save much more by firing them before they move on to stealing other things and not returning them.

Re:UPS (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 6 months ago | (#45228043)

I said it elsewhere in this thread and I'll say it again.

Replacing dishonest, untrustworthy employees is always less expensive in the long run than keeping them.

I don't employ thieves, even when they're expensive to replace.

Re:UPS (2)

khallow (566160) | about 6 months ago | (#45227411)

So he broke policy in a way that didn't actually cause a problem

And if he had killed someone while driving that truck at the time, UPS would have been partly liable. That would have caused a problem.

Re:UPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227871)

eh? why would UPS be liable? I think you need to reread the comment you replied to.

Re:UPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227485)

That sounds like a bad management decision. So he broke policy in a way that didn't actually cause a problem and brought back the equipment he borrowed before anyone needed it... so in response they let him go

Not to mention that makes it sound like a really awful place to work. As word spreads, it becomes more difficult and more expensive to find that replacement.

(Note to self: Don't take a job at UPS!)

Re:UPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227687)

Not really. The trucking industry has 20 guys who will jump at that job.

Having worked on a couple of systems like this. Typically it is used as an excuse to get rid of someone who you do not have a real reason to get rid of.

Model employee A gets job done everyone likes him. Borrows truck returns it next day. Probably a scolding.
Screwup employee B gets job done everyone tolerates him. Borrows truck returns it next day. Probably a firing.

The trucking industry likes to put forward a nice face of fancy and high tech. But it is really a bunch of guys rolling around in trucks loading and unloading stuff. Good-ol-boys club is a better term for it.

Also most drivers like it. Some of the loads they haul around are 'high value'. Meaning people will show up sometimes with guns and leave you in the middle of no where with your face in the dirt. Recover a few trucks and save a couple of drivers from that and they like it PDQ. The ones who dont like it? The ones who are usually cheating the system somehow (almost every time).

Re:UPS (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 6 months ago | (#45227533)

That sounds like a bad management decision.

How us this a bad decision? The worker used company property without permission, used company property for personal business, cost the company money through the use of fuel and potentially could have cost the company money had he gotten into an accident.

This is an excellent example of a management decision. A clear cut one at that. If you think it's acceptable to randomly take company equipment whenever you fell like it, I'll be sure to do the same where you work. No harm in hauling off a server for overnight use at my place, right?

Re:UPS (1)

Imagix (695350) | about 6 months ago | (#45227617)

Right up until that guy who "didn't actually cause a problem" hits somebody with the corp truck and that results in a lawsuit against the company. Thus the corp cannot condone the truck being used off-hours. Between the two arguments of "It's Corp X's truck, thus they need to be sued for letting the guy use it.", and "Well, the corp didn't do anything about me using the truck, if I couldn't have used the truck I wouldn't have had the accident, thus the corp is liable.", the corp is screwed. So they have to take a hardline against it so that they can defend against those stupid arguments (which they have to spend $$$ on lawyers just to present those arguments).

Re:UPS (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 6 months ago | (#45228029)

> However, it still managed to catch a driver "borrowing" the truck in the middle of the night to visit his
> girlfriend on the other side of the city, and then returning it a few hours later. He was let go the
> following day

That sounds like a bad management decision. So he broke policy in a way that didn't actually cause a problem and brought back the equipment he borrowed before anyone needed it... so in response they let him go and now have to train someone else to do his job.... which last study I saw said costs the company, on average, 150% of a workers normal salary

I really doubt that if you took all of the incidents where any employee ever did that for the company, and added them all up, it wouldn't equal the loss in productivity of replacing one average worker.

Well, maybe the next guy they train will be trustworthy, because the guy they fired sure wasn't.

As an employer, I hate when my employees steal from me -- there's a cost to maintaining vehicles -- and stealing a few bucks worth of car rental is still theft, and still reason to fire dishonest, untrustworthy employees. It's also terrible for the other employees, in that they learn they too can steal.

Replacing thieves is always less expensive than keeping them.

Blue collar-workers? (4, Funny)

CurryCamel (2265886) | about 6 months ago | (#45227261)

Lucky I am a white-collar. So none of this applies, right?

Re:Blue collar-workers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227635)

Lucky I am a white-collar. So none of this applies, right?

This is your boss. Get back to work!

I knew Bruce Springsteen was up to something (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227275)

... and now I know what it is.

Re:I knew Bruce Springsteen was up to something (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 6 months ago | (#45227403)

Good lord, could Bruce Springsteen have teamed up with Bruce Schneier as foretold in the Bible!?

There's only once Bruce I know of who's Bruce enough to stop this unholy duo...

Goverment coersion is wrong. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227277)

" Only two states, Delaware and Connecticut, require employers to tell workers that their electronic communications — anything from emails to instant messages to texts — are being monitored. "

This is a GOOD thing, it means 48 states respect the RIGHTS of private citizens to control the things they own. Basically to any right thinking libertarian this means Delaware and Connecticut are just really really bad places to set up a company and should be shunned. If employees don't like being monitored, they should find companies to work for that dont monitor them. End of story.

Re:Goverment coersion is wrong. (4, Informative)

TheCarp (96830) | about 6 months ago | (#45227397)

> If employees don't like being monitored, they should find companies to work for that dont monitor
> them. End of story.

Then why don't you support their right to be informed of the monitoring so they can make an informed decision as to whether to continue that employment or find another job? as a libertarian myself I fully support people's right to do many things but.... I tend to look dimly on any notion that its ok to not inform people who are subject to your decisions, especially when your decision may have a bearing as to whether they would continue to choose to do business with you.

Re:Goverment coersion is wrong. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227539)

If the government can coerce employers into revealing their human resources practices what else can the government coerce companies to do? There is strength in purity, and libertarianism is strongest when it is most pure, and that includes allowing holders of private property to do what they please and allowing all competent adults to sign whatever contracts they please. In other words employees are free to sign contracts of employment that specify disclosure about monitoring practices just as they are free to sign contracts of employment that specify disclosure about monitoring practices. Why does either party need the nanny state to step in?

Re:Goverment coersion is wrong. (1)

Knuckles (8964) | about 6 months ago | (#45227753)

employees are free to sign contracts of employment that specify disclosure about monitoring practices just as they are free to sign contracts of employment that specify disclosure about monitoring practices. Why does either party need the nanny state to step in?

Because without the state we end up with these choices.

Re:Goverment coersion is wrong. (1)

Phasedshift (415064) | about 6 months ago | (#45227851)

I believe employers are legally required to inform you of monitoring your actions, usually in an employee handbook of some kind. The issue is that in general it is "your actions / calls / etc are subject to monitoring", versus naming specific ways they are monitoring you.

In general, if you're on the company clock and/or using company equipment - you should always assume you're being monitored. If you're doing something wrong and it is caught by you being monitored, then tough luck. If the results of monitoring are being misinterpreted and you weren't doing anything wrong, explain it to your boss and there should be no issues, and if there are you have a crappy boss (and the same situation would likely eventually happen without monitoring.)

The issue is if companies are monitoring you on your personal time, when you're not using company equipment. That's another issue entirely and IMHO wrong.

Re:Goverment coersion is wrong. (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 6 months ago | (#45228075)

Unless the Delaware or Connecticut laws are a secret, they are (or at least should be) informed.

....heck, it's probably an asterisk on that minimum wage poster in the break room.

Re:Goverment coersion is wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45228087)

> as a libertarian myself

LOL. You are just another statist posing as a libertarian so you can undermine our message. No doubt you subscribe to World Worker Magazine out of irony, huh? Idiot.

Re:Goverment coersion is wrong. (3, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 6 months ago | (#45227619)

If employees don't like being monitored, they should find companies to work for that dont monitor them.

No federal statutes restrict the use of GPS by employers, nor force them to disclose whether they are using it.

This is a GOOD thing, it means 48 states respect the RIGHTS of private citizens to control the things they own.

So, wait, how does that work? How do you propose the employee find companies to work for that don't monitor them if companies are allowed to keep it a secret?

What do you do for an encore? Argue that if you don't want lead in your kids toys just don't buy toys with lead in them, while simultaneously demanding that companies can keep using lead without having to tell anyone?

Re:Goverment coersion is wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227797)

No company that makes toys with lead in them will stay in business very long. All it takes is a few dead kids and that company will be out of business. Compare that to the MILLIONS of children who die every year thanks to goverment incomptence and corruption.

Re:Goverment coersion is wrong. (2)

vux984 (928602) | about 6 months ago | (#45228033)

No company that makes toys with lead in them will stay in business very long. All it takes is a few dead kids and that company will be out of business.

So we get a series of fly-by-night companies that each kill a few kids and then pop up with a new logo. Well that certainly seems reasonable.

Compare that to the MILLIONS of children who die every year thanks to goverment incomptence and corruption.

Your blaming the government incompetence and corruption for not saving them, not for actually killing them outright. So if we eliminate the government, they still die.

So you just argued for a more effective government, not a reduced government. Was that your intent? Somehow I doubt it.

Re:Goverment coersion is wrong. (1)

queazocotal (915608) | about 6 months ago | (#45228047)

Unless your industry has lobbyists.
How many children does the alcohol or tobacco industry kill every year?

Re:Goverment coersion is wrong. (0)

nurb432 (527695) | about 6 months ago | (#45227953)

Ummmm you don't own the equipment your company is letting you use as part of your job. Its company property, and have every right to monitor its resources. This includes YOU, while on company time.

Or are you one of those that thinks you are "entitled" ?

Absolutely nothing wrong with this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227285)

Company truck, company cell phone, etc., etc.... The employer has every right to track what workers are doing with company property.

There is only an issue if employers are tracking movements outside of work.... e.g: if the surveillance follows them home. That's not what this article is about!

Tailgating (1)

tutufan (2857787) | about 6 months ago | (#45227301)

There are a number of behaviors like tailgating and not washing your hands after using the restroom (esp in food service or medicine) that are simply not acceptable behavior. Surreptitious monitoring to catch and correct these transgressions isn't wrong in itself--it's a good thing. Might it be used as a pretext for more sinister behavior? Yes. So we will have to remain vigilant, but it was ever thus. This is no reason not to use these tools for good. Certainly there is no right to do wrong, just because we used to be able.

Re:Tailgating (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227719)

This is no reason not to use these tools for good. Certainly there is no right to do wrong, just because we used to be able.

This type of system lowers the bar for employing people in positions which require a certain level of attentiveness to legal and/or social norms. How many jobs require regular hand-washing, but no other rigor with respect to hygiene? How many forbid tailgating but not the innumerable other ways of driving dangerously and obnoxiously?

So, strictly speaking, it is fine to use these tools for whatever narrow good they can provide. The problem is that they will be used to replace valuable employees who do not require babysitting with incompetent but lower cost employees who will eventually find some way of screwing up that isn't covered by the monitoring system.

Employers won't care because The System says they are providing adequate oversight and compliance and you, the consumer, will be left holding the e. coli contaminated bag.

It is human nature to value that which we can measure over that which we can't. Creating half-assed metrics is bad because even if they are 100% reliable in their narrow field, they distort the bigger pictures that we need to be aware of.

Unintended consequences (2)

RogueyWon (735973) | about 6 months ago | (#45227373)

I work in a job relating to airports and have come across a funny little side effect of this. As GPS trackers in company vehicles get more common, so too do employees resorting to the use of GPS-jammers. Those jammers don't just block signals to and from the vehicle in question, but also a significant area around the vehicle. When one of them drives past an airport with his jammer active, this [cnet.com] can happen (and there are many cases beside the one in that story).

Re:Unintended consequences (3, Informative)

PRMan (959735) | about 6 months ago | (#45227509)

As someone who writes software for this, do you really think the data doesn't make it 100% obvious who is doing this? Believe me, if you are doing this, they can find out easily.

Re:Unintended consequences (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | about 6 months ago | (#45227609)

Oh, I'm not saying getting a jammer is a good idea. I'm just remarking that it's happening and that some of the consequences are ending up in unexpected places.

Re:Unintended consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227807)

Horrible idea. The FCC and other agencies are building up monitoring and direction finding networks to crack down on GPS jamming and the penalties are extremely stiff for anyone who gets caught. As TFA notes, the guy got a $31k fine when they nabbed him.

That's on top of the fact that more recent GPS receiver modules are equipped with programmable filters that reduce or defeat jamming.

Re:Unintended consequences (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | about 6 months ago | (#45227925)

Undoubtedly a horrible idea. But some of the people we're talking about here are, shall we say, at the Homer Simpson end of the intelligence spectrum. And so it happens...

Always wondered where he got his material... (1)

richarnd (962818) | about 6 months ago | (#45227423)

So that's how he's come up with such consistent hits over a multi-decade career, so many of which connect to the hopes and fears of working Americans. Turns out he was connecting with them a little more directly and often than they though.

25 years ago (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#45227525)

All this technology was available. GPS, vehicle telemetry, monitoring software, phone tapping. It was just more expensive.
Hardly a pipe dream.

Re:25 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227921)

That's about as correct as saying, "well, the spaceshuttles where available then". Does not mean the regular joe (or his evil boss) had access to it, nor does it mean you had a global data transmission network like GSM. And the first GPS units where heavy enough to kill someone with it. And cars wheren't computers on wheels. And...

Already being done for 'White Collar' too (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227527)

In my company, the corporate phone (SGS3) or BYOD (any device) must run the AirWatch app to get any emails. Despite trying multiple times to disable the GPS manually, it automatically turns on (by policy), so Im sure the data on where I go is monitored even when Im not on company time. And no, the point in carrying a corporate phone is to be available 24x7 on call or email, so keeping it at home isnt a viable option.

I can only thank my stars that the other items I agreed to when installing Airwatch (like access to my camera to take snaps anytime, and mic) are not used (at least not to my knowledge

Cant get a screenshot, but airwatch permissions according to my app manager include
- Your personal information
- Your location
- Network communications (including bluetooth)
- Your accounts
- Hardware controls (take pictures and videos)
- Phone calls
- System tools (there are many here)

The Yes Men predicted it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227571)

It's all in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_dg6V8pQGo

AirWatch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227787)

I have a company cell phone that I am required to carry on me, powered on at all times, 24x7x365. It runs the AirWatch MDM software. I assume they can get my GPS coordinates at any time. Though, they have never disclosed to this their employees in any way. I would think they would have to disclose this.

I have called in sick and been halfway across the country before. Nothing has ever been said about it. Anyone have any thoughts on the legality of this or experience with the AirWatch software and its capabilities?

If you are on the clock (0)

nurb432 (527695) | about 6 months ago | (#45227901)

Its your bosses time, not yours, and its really that simple. The fact that people are even discussing this like there is something wrong tells a sad story.

Re:If you are on the clock (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#45228103)

No, it's not. It's your time to. You have agreed to use some of you time as an employee. That might giver a right to the boss to track you.

Don't start thinking that the employees aren't also using their limited time to work.

Nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45227941)

The title reads: The Boss Is

The synopsis reads: managers can

The title is very missleading, and the article isn't saying anything new.

collar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45228005)

that reminds me, i need to find difference between blue and white collars in U.S.A.

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