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Thread: Not so new

  1. #1
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    Default Not so new

    I've been reading this forum for the last couple of years, signed up under another name at that point but decided that it was too close to my actual name to post anything. Figured I might as well start all over and start posting my two cents on some of the subjects that have come up on here.

    One of the main things that I've noticed on these boards is the bashing that USIC gets. I myself am very thankful for the opportunity that was presented to me, by them. At the time I was hired, I had just been layed off from a manufacturing job in the area, which by the way was union (they did absolutely nothing for me). SM&P offered me $2.00 an hour more per hour compared to what I was making with the previous company(plus no union dues), and by the end of the first year I was making $5.00 an hour more. I think the pay structure has changed some since that point, but I was lucky to get in when I did.

    The area that I cover was a new area to SM&P at the time, (previously located inhouse by AT&T). I had one week of "hotel conference room" training, and two days of field training before they threw me out there to the wolves. The closest tenured locator was two hours away. My first day was a breeze, I think I had 4 or 5 tickets come in because the tickets weren't getting routed correctly. On my second day I woke up with 80 tickets on my board, most due within 48 hours. (We get 72 hrs to complete tickets in my area). ALOT of relocates, because the AT&T techs did not locate anything the last week they were supposed to. I worked 80 hrs a week, the entire summer, with absolutely no help, or possiblilty of a backcheck, because my supervisor lived six hours away. I went my entire first year damage free, with a TON of stress, but never once did I complain to anyone. You want to know why? Because I was happy to be able to work, and support my family. I read all these complaints about GPS, and production, production, production, do people really believe that a company is in business so you have a job? No...there in business to make money, plain and simple. Yeah, we might have a GPS on our truck, but if you were following company policy to begin with, nothing much should change. I'm just tired of reading all the bashing, if you don't want to work for USIC there is a simple solution, QUIT. Nobody is holding a gun to anybody's head, go get a job at McDonald's(one of the tech's in my sup group actually did this), the monies not as good, but the stress level isn't as high either.

    I've been in the industry for six years, there have been many days where I've brought the stress of work home with me, but the fact remains that I can put a decent meal on the table for my family, and keep the keep the heat on, and for that I thank USIC. I may not agree with all the policies(especially the new ones) but until something better comes along, I'm happy where I'm at. Having a good supervisor, and team help too.

    Well I suppose that is enough for my first post, I already know I'm gonna hear it from a select few, but that's expected right?

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    Senior Member Wingfoot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not so new

    Quote Originally Posted by loc8this View Post
    I've been reading this forum for the last couple of years. One of the main things that I've noticed on these boards is the bashing that USIC gets. I myself am very thankful for the opportunity that was presented to me. I was lucky to get in when I did.

    I went my entire first year damage free, with a TON of stress, but never once did I complain to anyone. I was happy to be able to work, and support my family. I read all these complaints. I'm just tired of reading all the bashing. If you don't want to work for USIC, QUIT. Nobody is holding a gun to anybody's head.

    I've been in the industry for six years. I can put a decent meal on the table for my family, and keep the keep the heat on. And for that I thank USIC. I may not agree with all the policies (especially the new ones) but I'm happy where I'm at.

    Well I suppose that is enough for my first post, I already know I'm gonna hear it from a select few. But that's expected, right?
    Wow loc8or! What an entrance! I Luv it! Welcome to the'Vine! I accept your membership to our Forum! Your input, backed with 6 years experience, will be valued and will add greatly to all our discussions.

    I, too, am a fellow USICer since 1997. I agree completely with every point you've called out on your rant. I commend your restraint on naming member's names with the one's you disagree. If you are keeping track of the USIC whiners, you'll see it's always the same 5 or 6 that make all the noise. Please don't judge the vast majority of the satisfied USICers on board by the criticism of the very few.

    Steve, our Administrator, has given us a forum that is always very interesting, informative and FUN! The'Vine is also a place for all locators to vent on occasion. We all have those days when we need to tell someone about an issue that rears it's ugly head. And that's okay. But I tend to tune-out those that are habitual in their pissing and moaning.

    Thanks for "coming out to play" and please post often!

    ---------------------------------------------------------

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    Senior Member Bad Robot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not so new

    Welcome to the 'Vine loc8or, it will be nice to have someone of your experience posting here! Please do not be put off by the posts about USIC. A lot of it is justified, in my opinion mind you, and the techs use this forum to vent. In the areas I cover, many USIC techs have indeed quit. I see fresh faces every spring, and I do what I can to help them out in this business. If they stick around long enough they often return the favor, and it's nice to know I have made a friend. I am glad that your story isn't what I am used to seeing with a USIC tech, and I am glad that you are happy and proud to work for them. It proves that there are happy endings over there, good luck to you!

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    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not so new

    The thing with USIC is that they need not treat so many of their employees so poorly, there just is not a good reason for it.

    The techs from Texas have written of 110 degree days and the GPS also monitors their ignition switch. So if they idle the engine more than two or three minutes they get a call from their foreman and face discipline. So they sit in cabs of trucks where the temps must reach over 130 degrees. As an aside this also adversely affects the computers which will shut down due to overheating or go into slow processing mode. Overheat the locator and they have to slow down on work as well dropping productivity.

    There are other problems reported but no need to repeat them all here.

    Some spots in USIC are not so bad but it appears to me this is due to a few local managers risking their jobs going against the corporate office. Altogether USIC is not a company where most people would want to work.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Not so new

    Okay... this is a general comment that goes for every person who works for every company... Wait, first things first. Welcome to thecablevine. Visit often, post often.

    Alright, back to the meat of the post. You said "do people really believe that a company is in business so you have a job?" This means that the company is not here for the employee. I agree with you on that point. But later on you go and thank USIC by saying "...and for that I thank USIC." That is fine, too. But it is contradictory. They are not here for you but you thank them as if they are here for you. They are not here for you. They will cut you loose faster than you can thank them a 2nd time.

    I had a supervisor once at a manufacturer where I worked many years ago. He was complaining about one of the employees and he went on to say how he hired this person as if he did him a personal favor. He didn't do the employee any favors. He had an opening and he filled it because the company thought the investment in an employee would bring them more profits. Simple as that. I had to laugh to myself because this supervisor was acting as if we were there because of his generosity. If we had people sitting around with nothing to do but were still earning a paycheck, then that would be generous. But everyone had plenty of work.

    My point is this. Don't ever thank an employer for a job or the work they throw your way. Thank yourself for you work ethic that keeps you your job. A company as big as USIC (as with any company) is a machine that picks up or sheds employees as needed. They are not doing you any favors. They didn't hire you as a favor and they aren't keeping you as a favor. They need you so you will stick around. That is all.

    You are trading them labor for wages. Wages for labor. When you buy food at the store do you thank the store for providing you with food? No. You purchased that food fair and square. They aren't doing you any favors by selling it to you and you aren't doing them any favors by purchasing it from them. Same goes with an employer/employee relationship. It's an even trade.

    Of course in very few cases one does the other a favor. I will spend more money at an independent burger place before I will go to a franchise like McD's or Wendys. That is an exception to the rule. Or, in all my years of working (20+ years) I've only had one employer purposely pay me extra on a paycheck when he didn't have to and I thanked him for it. No other employer ever offered to give me more money than they agreed to pay me. NONE.

    So. THANK YOURSELF, NOT THE COMPANY.
    "Change does not always equal progress."

  6. #6
    Mke
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    Default Re: Not so new

    Steve, I understand your point, but maybe you are infering that he is thanking USIC for the job, and not the opportunity. When it comes down to the nitty gritty of getting a job, it comes down to who you know, and not what you know. Locating is no different. Thanks to Swagman, I was afforded the opportunity to become a locator, and eventually a private locator with a different company. Not once did he hold that opportunity over my head. He opened the door, but I was the one who walked through the threshold. In other words; The opportunity was given to me by the company, but it is my own abilities that have kept me there. So for that Opportunity and every opportunity that has been given to me by the following companies, I am thankful for.

    Mke

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    Default Re: Not so new

    Thanks for the welcome guys.

    I too have seen a lot a new faces come through especially in the first year we took over for AT&T, fortunately on my supervisor team we've had a good couple years with our lowest tenured guy at 2 years. We did just lose one guy to a competitor, and have two newbies coming in the spring to help with staffing issues. Some people just can't handle the stress, and with the new pay structure, I can see it being hard for a new locator to want to stay in the field.

    As to thanking USIC even though they are not there for me. It's definately changed ALOT since SM&P became USIC that's for sure. The first year that I worked here, my wages were reported to the wrong state, so when it came to RIF season my state did not have any record of wages earned. Long story short, I ended up having to collect unemployment from the state my wages were reported. There was a $20 dollar a week difference, not in my favor, also the formula they used for deducting wages earned was different, which was not in my favor. In the end, SM&P ended up cutting me a check for the difference. I definately feel that is something they didn't HAVE to do. Granted, it was thier fault to begin with, but I've worked for companies that would have told me to get bent. There have been other things as well.

    Mke, you hit it on the head, the oppurtunity is exactly what I'm thankful for. I could have went back to the flooring installation business, but i'll tell you what, this job may be stressful on the mind, but nothing compared to the stress that the flooring business puts on your body.

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    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not so new

    Quote Originally Posted by loc8this View Post
    Thanks for the welcome guys.

    <SNIP>

    As to thanking USIC even though they are not there for me. It's definately changed ALOT since SM&P became USIC that's for sure. The first year that I worked here, my wages were reported to the wrong state, so when it came to RIF season my state did not have any record of wages earned. Long story short, I ended up having to collect unemployment from the state my wages were reported. There was a $20 dollar a week difference, not in my favor, also the formula they used for deducting wages earned was different, which was not in my favor. In the end, SM&P ended up cutting me a check for the difference. I definately feel that is something they didn't HAVE to do. Granted, it was thier fault to begin with, but I've worked for companies that would have told me to get bent. There have been other things as well.
    <SNIP>
    Do not thank them for paying you the money, they were trying to cheat you and they got caught.

    I have seen this used at other places. The employer intentionally does not report your earnings in the state you are employed and lists you as working in another state. The other state has lower fees for the employer to pay into the unemployment fund. They do this to save money by cheating you, this is a crime called fraud. It was pay you off or face charges and an investigation by the state.

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    Default Re: Not so new

    I have to agree with both sides here. I am not only new to "thecablevine", but I'm 9 months in with USIC. This is actually my first post. I don't have too much to say about USIC, per say, because I have been concentrating on doing each and every locate the right way every time. I've had one damage in just over 8,000 ops. I really enjoy what we do, and have to agree that the stress level is the key. The team that I'm on had four guys start last year, and I was one of them. I'm the only one left!!

    I was laid off for over a year, so I'm also thankful for the opportunity. I enjoy reading the posts from those that have positive things to say, and if you have any advice for a "soon to be 1 year guy", I'll gladly take it.

    Hello, CableVine!!

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    Senior Member Turk182's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not so new

    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessionalLocator View Post
    Do not thank them for paying you the money, they were trying to cheat you and they got caught.

    I have seen this used at other places. The employer intentionally does not report your earnings in the state you are employed and lists you as working in another state. The other state has lower fees for the employer to pay into the unemployment fund. They do this to save money by cheating you, this is a crime called fraud. It was pay you off or face charges and an investigation by the state.
    They also avoided heavy fines from the NLRB as well as paying a minimum of treble damages.

    I am still considering filing a suit against USIC for back pay on all the unpaid standby pay they legally owe me, but most lawyers I have talked to have balked at dealing with a class action suit.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Wingfoot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not so new

    Quote Originally Posted by paintslinger View Post
    I'm 9 months in with USIC. I don't have too much to say about USIC. I have been concentrating on doing each and every locate the right way every time. I've had one damage in just over 8,000 ops. I really enjoy what we do.

    If you have any advice for a "soon to be 1 year guy", I'll gladly take it.

    Hello, CableVine!!
    Hey paintslinger - Welcome to the'Vine! I'm impressed on you getting tagged for just one damage during your first 9 months. That's really pretty good!

    I can't stress this enough -- Please get hooked up with a seasoned locator for a mentor if you don't already have one - preferably one who has 3 to 5 years field experience. Make sure it's a person you can bond with quickly.

    Your mentor will speed up your learning curve tremendously. Try to nail down the basics before your mentor shows you some of the safer short-cuts. Get involved with all your mentor's challenging intersections and cluttered jobs.

    Get your mentor to train you on the deeper levels of all your prints (AT&T detail prints, AT&T conduit prints, AT&T underground prints, electricity prints to recognize and isolate A, B & C phases, water, TV, etc., etc,.) If your mentor is weak on prints, find someone who can teach you this next level. Trust Wingfoot on this: the more you understand the basics and gain FULL knowledge of ALL your prints, the easier locating becomes!

    Don't be afraid to ask for help on any ticket/job that stumps you or you feel uncomfortable to walk away from. Document on every ticket all phone calls and conversations made with your senior locators and/or supervisor when asking for help on any job. With proper documentation on the ticket, as soon as you talked to these people for advice or help, the responsibility of that locate was just transfered to that person; no shit! This opportunity is meant to be used as a learning tool for you and to take away a lot of pressure from you during your tenure as a noob. Please don't over-use this privilege just to cover your ass on every ticket you complete. In other words, don't get in a habit crying, "WOLF!" You sure as hell don't want that reputation...........

    WARNING!!!! Don't use your supervisor as a mentor. Supervisors only go by the book and believe in "over-locating" just to cover their ass. Besides, most supervisors, trainers and support staffers became middle management-types because they couldn't cut it as a locator - just sayin.'

    As a final note, please use the CableVine as a source of help also. There is a bunch of seasoned vets on our forum eager to help anyone who asks. We have all been where you're at now. Remember, we all learn from each other. Thanks for becoming a part of our fraternity and please post often!

    ---------------------------------------------------

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    Senior Member FiosKing's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not so new

    well said by everyone... welcome to the vine... this really is a great job and pays well if you know what your doing... i know alot of things have been changing ect i understand that... but all of us will always have a job with this field due to aging utilites ect and thats the best thing...
    "What Are You Doin!?!? GET THE HELL OFF MY LAWN!"
    you have entered a restricted area

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    Default Re: Not so new

    Do any supervisor groups actually look at how many companies tickets you get done rather than just tickets done...what I mean by this is that my numbers are compared to guys in my crew and my jobs are 4 and 5 ways where most of theirs are 2 and 3 ways....When they adjust my Quota I always get 2 to 3 tickets per eight higher than these other guys...

    It's just odd to me to because I have gone my first year damage free and the guys that only do 2 or 3 ways I know we have guys that have had 2 to 4 damages in less than 6 months...

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    Default Re: Not so new

    Quote Originally Posted by mmm_paint View Post
    Do any supervisor groups actually look at how many companies tickets you get done rather than just tickets done...what I mean by this is that my numbers are compared to guys in my crew and my jobs are 4 and 5 ways where most of theirs are 2 and 3 ways....When they adjust my Quota I always get 2 to 3 tickets per eight higher than these other guys...

    It's just odd to me to because I have gone my first year damage free and the guys that only do 2 or 3 ways I know we have guys that have had 2 to 4 damages in less than 6 months...
    In our group it is looked at! if you dont mind me asking what company is it? We have goals set for everyone here, so guys with 1 way, still have to get done the same as the ones with 4 to 5 ways, yes stupid, but your numbers are high as far as the units billed

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    Senior Member Wingfoot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not so new

    Quote Originally Posted by Wingfoot View Post
    Hey paintslinger - Welcome to the'Vine!

    Don't be afraid to ask for help on any ticket/job that stumps you or you feel uncomfortable to walk away from. Document on every ticket all phone calls and conversations made with your senior locators and/or supervisor when asking for help on any job. With proper documentation on the ticket, as soon as you talked to these people for advice or help, the responsibility of that locate was just transfered to that person; no shit! This opportunity is meant to be used as a learning tool for you and to take away a lot of pressure from you during your tenure as a noob.

    WARNING!!!! Don't use your supervisor as a mentor. Most supervisors, trainers and support staffers became middle management-types because they couldn't cut it as a locator - just sayin.'

    ---------------------------------------------------
    A friend of mine, JW (an ex-USICer), is a job co-ordinator for a sizable company that is a sub-contractor to the electric utility here in town. JW shared with me his experience with a low-life supervisor.

    JW had a boring job where he had to bore cross a large intersection on the east side of town. The locator involved was inexperienced on reading and understanding telephone prints and half-assed the locate. This guy should have made documented telephone calls to his boss if he found himself overwhelmed. Regardless, JW arrived with his crew to pot-hole utilities and saw the telephone man-hole in the intersection with no paint. JW knew the USIC supervisor in charge of this area was a worthless dirt-bag but still made the call for the "heads-up." The sup asked for 2 days to get it marked and JW agreed.

    3 days later JW arrived with his pot-holers and still no paint on the conduit package. JW called the sup again and told him, "I'm drilling tomorrow, with or with-out paint."

    Tomorrow came and the bore machine tagged the un-marked conduit package. The locator beat the supervisor to the damage. JW said the c*cksucker supervisor immediately laid the blame of the damage to the un-suspecting locator. JW said, "Bullshit! I talked to you twice! You had 4 days to get it marked and you didn't. You are the one who should be blamed!"

    The supervisor denied ever getting telephone calls from my buddy JW! Then the supervisor turned the tables and said JW should not have been drilling knowing there wasn't enough paint! The supervisor sent the locator home without pay for 3 days. I strongly suspect the supervisor knew less about the telephone prints than that locator and never did any training with this person to prevent future occurrences.

    JW said the USIC sup may fight to get the bill sent to him, but he ain't paying. The lessons JW learned is to call in a "Bad Locate" if locates don't pass the smell test and NEVER talk to an USIC supervisor.

    -----------------------------------------------
    Last edited by Wingfoot; March 9th, 2011 at 06:23 AM.

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