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Archives- Editorials
Outsourcing: the exporting of America-Remember when the postal service set up three bulk mail processing plants in Mexico where workers were paid $1.20 an hour?

Commentary: Disability Retirement and the Law Today-

OPM is constantly and aggressively attempting to change the laws concerning disability retirement, to make disability retirement laws more difficult to overcome.

Disability Retirement and your Medical Documentation

(Robert McGill, attorney)

Jumping to Conclusion By James E Varner

Corporate Sweatshops: Bastion of Inhumanity by Lee Simons

Why a Union Member? by Lee Simons

Let's not destroy the world's greatest mail system By Dan Sullivan

USPS still doesn't get it By Dan Sullivan

Postal Commission A Stalking Horse for Privateers By Dan Sullivan

"Going Postal The Tip of the Iceberg." 

By Al Ainsworth

Nebraska PM Bans Book, Then Suspends and Fires Union Rep By Al Ainsworth

FMLA Takes A Supreme Hit by Steve Albanese
Postal Employees entitled to Unemployment Compensation By Fredric Jacobs

Disclaimer: Views expressed on this page  are those of the writer and not PostalReporter.com.

"Editorials" features longer and distinctively personal commentary from readers on topics that don't seem to fit in a letter to the editor. Send postal related articles to PostalReporter.com via here or  PO Box 161, Walnut Creek, Ca. 94597. Note: PostalReporter.com reserves the right to refuse articles which contain inappropriate language or addressing any subject which may be deemed offensive to others.
Is USPS In Need of An Internal Affairs Office? (11/25/07)
By Edward P. Fleicher, Second Vice President, NALC Branch #1111 submitted by reader

When contemplating life's ups and downs; one often wonders why things are the way they are. How do you know exactly when a change is needed? How do you know who is exactly to blame when all of the wheels fall of the wagon? Well, in my opinion, not only have the wheels fallen off of the wagon, but the Bay Valley District USPS leadership is still trying to roll that old wagon down the beaten path. That is, and in my opinion, they continue to ignore the fact that there are and continue to be serious ethics issues and problems among some of their supervisors and managers that have gone unchecked.


There is no dispute here of what is right or what is wrong! No one in the BVD leadership group can tell me that they don't know that some of their supervisors and or managers have crossed the line by: falsifying official USPS timekeeping record; inappropriately deleting actual employee work and pay hours; hiding carrier craft and or clerk craft work hours by placing employees under the wrong operational codes; by inappropriately using "waiting time" codes such as operation 354 when employees are actually working the mail: casing, sorting and delivery. The union has tiled grievances in offices like Oakland, Fremont and Walnut Creek. The union has discussed and reported this problem to and at the BVD Labor / Management Meetings. So, why hasn't it stopped?


What's that? You say that the Postal Service already has the Postal Inspectors and the Office of the Inspector General. Well that maybe true and I am sure that they are doing their jobs to the best of their abilities. But, let me ask you a few questions. Have you ever seen an Investigative Memorandum or OIG'S Report that implicated any supervisor and or mangers in the Bay Valley District for stealing pay from employee's, or falsifying Official Time Keeping records? I haven't yet.

Given the fact that this issue is not isolated to the BVD, I haven't heard that from any USPS District in the Nation? Why is that?

I have read and heard about Ethics Committees being formulated and utilized in some companies. Even the Employee Labor Relations Manual (ELM) alludes to that in some of its sections. However, I do think that we are beyond that. And, if you can't trust the high ranking Postal Leaders (who are Federal employees themselves) who are entrusted to uphold the integrity of their respective positions by doing the "right thing," then maybe a change is needed. Maybe a "USPS Internal Affairs Department" needs to be established (similar to that of Police Departments) to deal with internal management Postal crimes? Something defiantly needs to be done!

It isn't right!

Related link: Archive: Class Action Clock Rings Lawsuit

September, 2007
Whenever a federal employee finds that they may have been the victim of unlawful discrimination, they find themselves having to navigate through a complex and technical EEO administrative process in order to prove that they were discriminated against.

So here's my view on how the system currently works. You have to make sure that you contact a Postal Service EEO Counselor within 45-days of the date of the act, policy or practice that you allege is discriminatory. If you are even one (1) day late your complaint will be dismissed as untimely. [At the time of this article employees can contact the Postal Service's National Equal Employment Investigative Services Office (NEEOISO) in Tampa, Florida at 888-336-8777.] You have to make certain that you properly identify the type or basis of your complaint of discrimination (race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, disability, or reprisal for prior protected EEO activity). The Postal Service prefers to use their own forms (though it is not mandatory that you use them) which leave you little space to fully describe everything that is requested. This is either intentional, or was created by someone with an inability to anticipate that some people don't write in eight-point font.

If you don't agree to REDRESS mediation, or otherwise agree to extend the informal complaint period, within 30-days of when you filed the informal complaint, you should receive a Notice of Right to File a Formal Complaint. There doesn't seem to be any consequences to the Postal Service if they miss their time limits.

Once you file your formal complaint (don't forget about those pesky time limits) you then wait to find out how NEEOISO will frame or describe your complaint. They will also advise you what issues they agree to accept for investigation and what issues will be dismissed. Yes, you can write back within ten (10) days and disagree, but other than that, you have no recourse except to place your objection on the record. The accepted issues are assigned to a contract investigator (many who are retired Postal Service managers), who will send you copious questions that you must answer in affidavit form. Though s/he likely won't ask, you should take advantage of this opportunity by entering additional testimony related to the issues that were dismissed.

After struggling to get sufficient time on-the-clock from your supervisor to properly respond to the affidavit questions, you again wait for a copy of the Report of Investigation (ROI). The file (usually a proper government pale-green) is supposed to reflect an unbiased compilation of evidence related to your complaint, without drawing any conclusions or opinions. The ROI not only contains your affidavit, but should also contain the affidavit(s) of the individual(s) who were named as being responsible for the discriminatory act; exhibits of relevant documents; and a summary of the evidence contained therein.

A cover letter should accompany the ROI advising you of several options regarding how to proceed. A.) Take no action at all and within forty (40) days the Postal Service must provide you with a copy of its Final Agency Decision (FAD). B.) You can specifically request an FAD. (Don't get your hopes up that the Postal Service will find that they discriminated against you). C.) You can also submit a Request to Withdraw your Complaint (something that you've just waited all this time to do - insert thick sarcasm here). Your final option is, D.) you can ask for an Oral Hearing before an EEO Commission Administrative Judge (finally, you think to yourself - someone who doesn't work for the Postal Service). Generally, a form is enclosed to use to request a hearing, which instructs the complainant to send their request directly to NEEOISO (which is a Postal Service office). There is no prohibition (in fact a preference) to send requests for a hearing directly to the EEO Commission District or Field Office indicated in the cover letter, via Certified Mail. Send a courtesy copy of your request to NEEOISO. Once an AJ has been assigned and you receive an Acknowledgement Order you have new procedural requirements, along with varying imposed time limits. When engaging in discovery, you must do so within twenty (20) days of the date of the Order. Discovery is very important because it's FINALLY your (only) opportunity to request information, documents, and other responses from the Postal Service in order to supplement the ROI. When it's clear that the investigator compiled information or evidence that favors management, or was weak in supporting your case, then you have to gather sufficient information that favors your claim of discrimination. This can include obtaining depositions and/or affidavits from responding management officials (RMO's) and other witnesses. (Make sure that you're doing all this stuff on-the-clock, folks.)

Within thirty (30) days of the Acknowledgement Order you must submit any Motion to Amend your complaint. This is your opportunity to submit your arguments to the AJ why issues that had been dismissed, should be reinstated as an issue before the Commission. The most persuasive argument occurs when you can show that the reason(s) given for the dismissals were improper or not in accordance with law. At the conclusion of discovery, which is usually only a sixty (60) day window, your next major hurdle occurs when the Postal Service files a Motion for a Decision without a Hearing - also know as Summary Judgment. If the Postal Service doesn't file the motion fast enough for the AJ, you can expect a notice from him/her called a Notice of Intent to Issue a Decision without a Hearing. Of course judge's love this little legal maneuver because it gets the complaint off of their desk without them having to actually fully investigate your allegations of discrimination. So you find yourself arguing again that there is significant dispute of the material facts that should entitle you to a hearing. After all, what other reason would motivate you to submit yourself to this tedious, stressful, time-consuming, demanding, costly, and overly complicated and technical process?

If you find yourself to be one of the few "lucky ones" (and I don't mean it in a cavalier way) and the AJ finds that Summary Judgment would not be appropriate, you may finally get "your day in court". You might feel like this is the pinnacle of your achievement - the opportunity for someone to finally hear your side of the story. Not to burst your bubble, but overwhelmingly AJ's rule in favor of the employing agency.

If your complaint has not been bifurcated (separates the evidence on liability from the evidence on damages), then during the hearing you will also be expected to produce evidence and testimony regarding your claim for damages. This process especially can be extremely stressful and personally intrusive. And more often than not, damage awards rarely fully compensate what the complainant experienced. There are no punitive damages available in the federal sector - which would be the only sensible method to deter the Postal Service from its institutional behavior. Also, you cannot be compensated for the stress experienced or caused by the litigation process itself - you can only be compensated for the consequences of the discriminatory act, policy or practice.

Even if the AJ rules in your favor, it's likely that the FAD (which must be generated after the AJ's decision) will conclude that the Postal Service did not discriminate. After all, what motivation would the Postal Service have to find against itself? Nevertheless, you need this absurd piece of paper (the FAD) to either appeal to the EEO Commission in Washington, D.C., or to take the matter to Federal District Court. The FAD becomes your evidence that, as a federal employee you have exhausted your administrative remedies (which surely have exhausted you).

If you appeal to the EEO Commission, and your complaint has been adjudicated by an EEOC AJ, the Commission is not going to feel particularly motivated or compelled to look very closely at the issues raised in your complaint. After all, the EEOC defers to AJ's who have heard the testimony, reviewed the evidence, and ostensibly applied all of the relevant and applicable standards of law. Certainly you make your argument that the AJ erred in his/her decision, with regard to evidence in the record, credibility determinations, and application of law, but unless those errors essentially leap off the page and get the Commission's attention, deference is usually conferred on the AJ.

Assuming the Commission rules against you; it's at least more than a year since the discriminatory act occurred; you've spent money, time, and (likely emotional) effort trying to persuade anyone that will listen that you've been unfairly treated and the victim of unlawful discrimination. And now your remaining choice is to go to Federal District Court. Is the adverse action that you filed your complaint about still relevant? Are witnesses still available? For that matter, can any of the witnesses remember what happened so long ago?

The obvious cynicism and sarcasm about this process is directly related to the failure of this process to effectively recognize and/or deter discriminatory conduct. It's a system that inherently favors the employing agency and is insufficient to impose any meaningful consequences to the Postal Service.

However, because it's the only process available to federal employees, there are some tactical considerations that employees should consider. Specifically, after you have engaged in discovery and had the opportunity to fully develop the record, you may want to consider withdrawing your request for a hearing, and instead ask for a Final Agency Decision.

Why? For several reasons. First, and probably most importantly, in your appeal of the FAD you don't have to make any arguments to counter an AJ's findings. The EEOC is more likely to look more closely at a complaint where the Postal Service has declared that it did not discriminate against you (which they almost always say). There's no judge to have to give deference to - someone who is assumed to be non-biased. The Postal Service however, is not endowed with that expectation. When the AJ notes for the record that you have withdrawn your request for a hearing and have asked for an FAD, there's not usually much delay in returning the complaint file to NEEOISO. At that point, even the Postal Service Law Office doesn't usually pursue the complaint. So instead of the Postal Service attorney's arguments being considered and/or incorporated into the opinion of the FAD, it's all done by postal managers at NEEOISO. Your arguments presented on appeal, can now include detailed evidence obtained during discovery, including official Postal Service documents (policy letters, emails, etc.) written affidavits and/or transcripts of depositions. NEEOISO may not even be aware of this evidence when they write the FAD. Such an advantage just might provide the edge needed to convincingly persuade OFO that the articulated reasons provided by the Postal Service are pretextual and intended to masque, hide, or otherwise conceal discriminatory conduct or animus.

Now you are left with a tactical decision to make. Should you take the chance that an AJ will issue a Summary Judgment decision; which would either prevent, or extensively delay your opportunity for a hearing, just so you can have your "day in court"? You might still get that day in court if OFO remands your appeal back to the original EEO Office for a hearing. If it's reassigned to the same AJ, do you think s/he would be inclined to embrace evidence that would show that their prior conclusions were erroneous?

It may be that you have more than sufficient evidence where an AJ might have no other alternative but to find that discrimination occurred. Cases like that do still exist. But where the overwhelming majority of EEO complaints fall prey to Summary Judgment, a tactical method of avoiding it should be given serious consideration.

Mr. J.R. Pritchett is an Administrative Law Representative with POSTAL EMPLOYEE ADVOCATES, who are not attorneys. The above article has been prepared for educational and informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice or legal opinions and should not be construed as such. Readers should not act upon this information without first seeking professional legal counsel. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and not those of the Internet host or its sponsors. You may contact at postalemployeeadvocate@juno.com.

Ergonomic Work Group discusses Denver NIOSH DBCS Investigation in DC (9/18/07)
By Loyd Reeder
Denver Metro Area Local

I received the following via email from a confidential source that was actually present at this meeting in Washington, DC, on 8-2-07. These are the minutes of this EWG (Ergonomic Work Group) meeting. The EWG is composed of national representatives of the postal unions, USPS, and OSHA. As you can see, the NIOSH DBCS investigations I called in here in Denver were a topic of discussion. (See item #7) According to the DC source of this email, the "one disgruntled employee" Sam Pulcrano, national head of safety for the USPS, was talking about was me, since I was directly referred to by name. I find that comical. As I have said before, I am only the messenger. If the USPS is unhappy with the findings of the best occupational health expertise in the country (NIOSH), it should take its complaints to the Surgeon General of the United States. It should be blatantly obvious that I did not write the reports, NIOSH did. These NIOSH investigations have now reached the highest levels in Washington....

7. NIOSH Report – on DBCS

OSHA voiced the concern that USPS is not doing anything following this report and they need to, USPS stated they answered (by letter) NIOSH.

APWU requested OSHA conduct an evaluation of the DBCS in Denver; we stated we would assist OSHA in any manner possible.

OSHA will take some action, either in a cooperative manner or through enforcement if USPS continues to refuse to cooperate – the APWU offered support to OSHA.

Pulcrano stated that nationally deployed equipment was exempt from EWG review; the APWU objected. In addition he claimed that this was only one disgruntled employee. OSHA disagreed and made reference to other sites with the same and/or similar complaints.

Pulcrano claimed that employees were not following training protocol or using equipment correctly or installing modifications as the reasons for the ergonomic problems.

Additional discussion, although the report is flawed (??) it was agreed that the deployment of the equipment may contribute to ergonomic concerns. ERRP Coordinators will be notified to have “Site Core Teams” look at and evaluated DBCS’s focusing on the tasks performed, equipment configuration (per original protocols), and employee training, maintenance and support equipment. Discussion on this issue will continue between meetings.


NIOSH 1993 http://www.postalreporter.com/pdfs/DenverPO1992-0073-2337.pdf

NIOSH 2006 http://www.postalreporter.com/pdfs/DenverGMF062.pdf


May 24 2006 11:19 pm
NIOSH Reports on DBCS at Denver Postal Facility

Sep 25 2006 10:57 am USPS Injuries Down But Problems Still Exist With DBCS Machines

Privatization, consolidation, contracting = DESTRUCTION (7/31/07)

By Mike Ganino

Certainly it can be said that the APWU's overall response to the massive numbers of proposed consolidations has been one of success.

Curiously, the USPS continues to march forward with a nationwide program for privatization that seems to be well planned. Our President, William Burrus, again gave testimony regarding the continuing "consolidation" and "privatization" moves.

While the USPS sends up trial balloons in most communities nationwide - the APWU fights pitched battles that IMHO are holding actions that are created as diversions.

In Bridgeport, CT, one of the first six to experience consolidation (prior to APWU nationwide activity) a new proposal for more consolidation has been floated (reported at Manchester NH NPC) which emanated NOT from the local, district or
Area Levels, but from the OIG.

While the USPS is centralizing it's ability to "call the shots" within the OIG's office and pursuing definitive strategies to gain "bidders" to take over mail processing, we are moving in a manner somewhat akin to a loosely based fire drill.

Could a nationwide conference specifically geared towards the creation of a unified strategy to combat the USPS's planned goal of consolidation, privatization or whatever term you wish be held in LasVegas when many of the movers and shakers will be in attendance at the craft conferences?

Could be the optimum time to place an overall working strategy as ALL of our newly elected officers will be present as will an overwhelming number of activists.

This could signal a new beginning in the form of a major thrust instead of hundreds of locals trying to defend it's own "turf".

Amazingly the introduction of information to the NPC concerning the OIG's involvement in initiating consolidation "proposals" and their making recommendations "DOWNWARD" fell on deaf ears.

The USPS has made it completely clear as to what their intentions are. We can either respond "together" or head down the road where we will all "hang together".

Would NOT expect much help from some of our fellow postal unions as for the time being they have continued their "two step with the devil" not realizing that they are at "deaths door" with time becoming their enemy.

Well that is my opinion and "everyone is entitled to my opinion".


Revolving Around People (5/2/07)

By Ronald Williams, Jr., Mail Handler, United States Postal Service

 A few years ago I attended a seminar put on by the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and all the professionals present had an opportunity to participate in a friendly exercise of interviewing the person seated next to them. It was a business exercise to teach a lesson in stereotyping and assuming about others when we’ve only known or seen them for five minutes. The interviewer’s task was to look at the person next to them and jot down on paper what they thought would be the correct responses from the interviewee regarding a few basic questions before the interview. Earlier in the day I overheard the gentleman I was assigned to interview talking to an attendee and he was talking about skateboarding and I started associating that to the responses in the questionnaire. We had to complete questions like; is he married? I said no. The correct response was yes. How old is he? My response was 25. The correct response was 32. Does he have kids? I wrote down yes. He said no. What kind of car does he drive? I thought Honda. He responded with Lexus. What do you think his income was last year? I guessed $30,000 he looked at me like I was a donkey and bucked the response well last year my company made $500,000 immediately I had a dooops

 What I took away from that session was that we shouldn’t judge people by looks, thoughts, stereotypes, the color of their car, the style of their hair, or the way they dress. I believe this happens on a daily basis by postal leaders in a quest to get numbers not realizing the answer to increased productivity is right in front of them. I respect numbers but in the new millennium I bet if we involve the same people we hired to help us we will immediately see there is a bigger strength in numbers if we all put our heads together and figure out the best way to “move the mail”. We should get to know something valuable about all the members on our team and combine everyone’s talents to become a complimentary team of postal rangers. Regardless of race, religion, national origin we are all one color, Blue! Gone are the days of the “big momma/big poppa” theory on the workroom floor a style that prefers “quid pro quo,” use of fear tactics, and showing favoritism to reward, acknowledge and build relationships and expecting this behavior will force others to comply to compete for the one size fits all award. Telling people you’ve been around a long time, I’m guessing, “one hundred years” alone will never compete with a combined service of three hundred years.  Now, if you got up to date skill sets to go with that high sodium postal dust then everyone will be ready to take notes.  For the want to be or going to be supervisors following in the footsteps of a dinosaur I can assure you the label 204B for acting supervisor is not the equivalent of the fighter/attack aircraft known as the F/A 18B. Nothing changes until you do so start shifting the paradigm.

 These days it’s raining mail and the trench is getting muddy from the dirt being kicked around. Looking at the X-ray on the view box, we got fractures! Some in the nosebleed seats love to create flowery scenery and act like this is the neighborhood where the only thing that goes wrong is the cat gets stuck in the tree. Sorry “It ain’t like that.” I’m sharing my thoughts in this article to decelerate tactical errors in the field and protest the conquering and dividing mentality. I prefer to inspire greater maneuvers and uplift my readers to a change toward greatness. If this story makes you feel a little lightheaded just retrieve your electronic leash and dial 1-888-UNO-THE# it’s on your contact list.  How about we take the express train to the future where we will make employees the flat rate priority. A place where we all know our internal and external customers will always be first class and ethical conduct is indeed the standard image we want to project. Treat everyone as me (TEAM) is not a foreign principle. We don’t need to keep going around in a loop. And no one wants to be a reject. Step up postal people and stop drifting into camps; the passive camp, the cultural camp, the aggressive camp, the submissive camp, etc. Managers stop glossing over the weak leaders to avoid the need for the uncomfortable discussion. We got a long way to go to get to where the mail service needs to be and there’s a lot to think about.

 Quarterly evaluations are not taken seriously. Judging by the untimely way they are conducted it appears that they are something that’s gets in the way of those in charge getting their numbers. We spend a lot of time worrying about numbers but we can’t get this number right. Quarterly equates to 3 months. It doesn’t mean every 8 months or when the responsible personality feels like doing it. I don’t understand why some employees need a standby person at this session like they are going in for a Planned Parenthood screening and others don’t. The designated shop steward is virtually in snicker mode and literally doing the same because the supervisor can’t define terminology like sexual harassment. There’s nothing funny about that! If you don’t know what it is then how will you know it exists? This evaluation should be our time to privately give and receive feedback about personal, operating and working conditions. I notice the people with guts speak up and the fearful throw-up. Suddenly when it is time to step on stage many employees can’t find the box of candor they were loading before and after the session. During the evaluation they constantly adjust their cervical collar to protect the whiplash received from nodding up and down uncontrollably. Yep it’s comical! The supervisor has got the bosses ear and employees don’t get a say because directors don’t have time to keep the equation fair and balanced. Leaders can easily paint employees with voices using an extra muddy brush and that mural gets the employee unfair and unfriendly looks in the funhouse mirror. Managers, please don’t get blind-sided by being one-sided. Let’s save the circus acts for Las Vegas and refocus on the business. Commandeer a powered industrial vehicle and haul the rolling stock loaded with Undeliverable Bulk Business Malarkey (UBBM) out of here. Let’s do this! Find efficient and creative ways to process, manage, monitor, accept and deliver the mail utilizing all the people on the payroll.

A United Vision (4/17/07)

By Ronald Williams, Jr., Mail Handler, United States Postal Service

Recently while stopping at a gas station I saw a letter carrier in route delivering the mail and identified myself as a postal worker. While he continued to fill the local mailbox I asked him what he thought about life as a postal employee and he said he loved the work but hated the dignity and respect issues he has to deal with and spouted out a few specific examples of unwanted behaviors all driven by an end result of numbers. I assured him I appreciated what he did and respected the fact that he probably has to put up with a lot more strife than people like me working inside a P&DC. He reciprocated and reminded me that I’m the one that has to put up with “them” all day at least he can get away for most of the day. I laughed and said I never thought of it like that. That letter carrier made my day! I bet you a Ben Franklin our postal news outlets will let me pony express these thoughts out to all my comrades. I just want to vent a little white smoke to symbolize a controlled fire and the only way I know to do this is to pick up my pen and give the system a fair fight. I am a union member and want to share my experiences hoping that my aim is not over anyone’s head. I mean no offense to anyone but working with some people bruises my brain and writing soothes that pain. If anyone wants to get upset about this opinion just sit down and rotate around these paragraphs.

 Rat-tat-tat pounds the gavel! Attention to the meeting! The local union meeting is now called to order. Just kidding! It really doesn’t work like that but the meeting does take place in a public restaurant where the patrons can see and hear what our unionized brothers and sisters of the Postal Service are talking about. Hopefully nobody gets upset at the meeting or the public might think we are going “you know what” yes, the six letter word that starts with P and ends with L. There are 500 members but 25 are present to get a free breakfast. The local president takes the Christopher Columbus approach to the meeting by not having an agenda possibly because he wants to sail off the edge. He discusses mail handler bids and tells us about new machinery. He is unable to answer questions, and often blurts out “this is not the time or place”. I wonder why there are no minutes from the last meeting, past meetings, or any thoughts for the next meeting. I think if we really want to be productive and accomplish something we should create an agenda with timelines for guidelines. Developing an agenda days or weeks ahead will give the membership an opportunity to collect their thoughts on the agenda items and present them in a timely and professional manner so the meeting doesn’t go in circles and moves full speed ahead. 

 Back on the workroom floor I often notice that shop stewards are constantly engaged in casual conversation with their favorite supervisors laughing, giggling and cackling like Hyenas’ and creating a bonding so tight lubrication couldn’t loosen it. When it’s time to take on an issue they are afraid of hurt feelings in that relationship. On the other extreme they hide in the office all day or grab a clipboard and pounce around the floor periodically as quickly as they can to avoid the routes where they know supervisors are performing craft work. Or from fifty feet away they throw up crossed index fingers and rub them together like pieces of wood to indicate a “no-no” hoping the supervisor will stop. It works until the union representative is out of sight, and then its business as usual. Craft employees are numb to filing grievances because they know nothing is going to happen accept the fact they will receive some form of subtle retaliation from the supervisor like: no unscheduled annual, slight out of overtime, no recognition, etc. Stewards don’t know all the mail handlers by name or face but they do know everyone in management. Whenever presented with an issue you can see their hearts pumping Kool-Aid and their mouths forming to say in that familiar Barney Rubble voice “they can do that”. Of course they can do that! You are the Baker and they own the Bakery. Represent and make sure decisions are fair. That’s all we can ask to make this recipe a little tastier. It appears that communication is not one of the knowledge, skill, and ability (KSA) prerequisites for the position, just the popular vote. Working around some of these people for five minutes makes me understand why “let me slow the words down” c o n t i n u i n g   e d u c a t i o n is so important for all of us. Please, Pick up a book, listen to an audio book, play a podcast, attend a seminar, watch a video, go to class. Stop sitting on your butt relying on your seniority or lack of it. We have to inherit leadership. If the company doesn’t provide the training to make you a better representative then you take the initiative to do it for yourself so that public service is a public trust. Let’s tap into our own pool of craft employees (drill for oil) and utilize their talents and resources (discover the oil) like: computer skills, electronic talents, verbal & written skills, leadership abilities, technical and professional expertise to strengthen our union and ultimately improve postal operations (take the oil to the marketplace). Let’s show the employer who really runs barter town.  

 I recently reviewed the shop steward guide online and it is a very well put together document they gives excellent guidance to union officials. It’s the Bible, right! Unfortunately, the stewards I’ve seen don’t know how to look up the information they need to effectively represent and advocate for the membership. None of us can afford to be illiterate by choice in this new millennium or else we will all have starring roles in the next caveman commercial. We don’t have a mission statement. We don’t have a strategic plan. Does that lead to a motto of divided we stand, united we fall?  I recently selected choice vacations for scheduled annual per specific instructions provided by my shop steward who collected the data and handled the task. We both agreed on the dates, initialed the document, and when it was time for me to go two months later the supervisor decided to create conflict and change the rules at the last moment and wanted me to take dates she deemed appropriate. Sorry, but I didn’t plan for the dates you want me to take! Needless to say Big Bird, Bert and Ernie from the union office sided with the supervisor to save their own face without the morale courage to insist they negotiated the dates with me and everyone should respect this veteran and let him enjoy his earned vacation time and correct any discrepancies next time. Maybe my pen is taking all of them out of their game.

This activity is just the tip of the iceberg. I made such a stink that those after me going on vacation were told to bring in tickets for proof they were going somewhere for scheduled annual. Are we crossing privacy lines? Someone disengage the cruise control. Is this what I’m paying dues for? I’m not mad at anyone because no matter what I will always be an ambassador of good Will (Williams). Nationally I understand we have approximately 50,000 members in this union alone and there’s strength in numbers if we stick together to do the right thing which I believe is happening on the beltway. That means we got it like that; but locally we do it like this! It would benefit the masses if there was a mechanism in place to monitor local unions and what they were doing and not hiding behind a desk after they’ve been elected. I believe what gets measured gets done. In-house it seems like they are awarded an opportunity to hide as long as they keep down the grievances. A former U.S. President once said, “you get what you inspect, not what you expect”. Someone at a higher authority should periodically visit and ask the hard questions about membership percentages, reasons for joining, not joining, reasons, for getting out, grievance handling activities, and a whole host of other thoughts to keep the locals and regions focused and on their toes. Anyway, maybe I am little ahead of my time but I have a vision that together we can align the cars on this train, get all the passengers facing in the same direction, travel in sync and watch and feel the train turn the corner with precision.

Ronald Williams currently works as a Mail Handler with the United States Postal Service. His article describes his experiences with Unions as seen from inside a Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC).  He would like to share his perspective with expectations that this topic will spark debate in the postal community for positive change.



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