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USPS to Cut Another 12,000 Jobs: Potter




President William Burrus has informed national officers of the broad outlines of APWU's plan to respond to what he calls "the greatest challenges in the history of the union" - plant consolidations, the Bush Commission on the Postal Service and postal reform legislation.

In a January 29 written report to resident and field officers titled "Briefing Papers for Presentations at State Conventions," Burrus said national officers, staff and professionals are considering a wide range of options in response to these threats.

Burrus said the Postal Service is considering closing more than 50 processing plants throughout the country. In response, the union plans to activate a national legislative network to contact national, state and local government officials to oppose the closings locally.

The union is also considering ways to respond to the President's Commission on the Postal Service, which is expected to attack universal service and workers' rights in its final report, due at the end of July.

Part of the union's plan might involve formation of a ‘shadow ‘ postal commission of noted professionals who represent large groups of citizens to make the case for continuing universal mail service and protecting the rights of postal workers.

Burrus says the union will "solicit the involvement of the retiree associations, civil rights organization, public service and others to determine their willingness to serve on a Commission.

"If we are unable to achieve the cooperation of notable individuals, we will form a coalition of interested groups and create an entity that has common goals of preserving universal service."

The union will also be presenting testimony and position papers to the President's Commission on the Postal Service. The commission has set a February 12 deadline for submission of written comments.

APWU is planning a public forum on postal reform, perhaps in conjunction with the Brookings Institute, to be aired on C-Span at an undetermined date

While specifically not prohibiting local or state unions from acting on their own, the national union is not requesting any action at this time from the membership until the national plan is "further developed" and members are asked to take specific actions.

The plan envisions putting pressure on Congressional representatives in their home district, "editorials, leafleting and other means of informing the public" and, if legislation is proposed to erode collective bargaining rights, formation of a coalition with other postal unions to oppose the attack.

"We must evaluate whether we can be successful in amending or quashing legislation in Committee or if the fight will occur in the full House and Senate. The legislative strategy will be influenced by this decision," according to Burrus.

He warned that the commission may propose plans to dismantle the Postal Service by expanding work sharing to permit private companies to perform retail, maintenance or processing work, modify rates to charge businesses less and consumers more to use the mail, establish a user fee for delivery, eliminate the Postal Service's mail monopoly and universal service obligations and erode collective bargaining rights of workers.

Changes such as reducing delivery from 6 to 5 days a week could reduce retail and mail processing complements by 16 percent, he says.

With a Republican President and Congress, "If the White House supports legislative change," Burrus says, " it will be extremely difficult to defeat," adding the union will need the involvement of "every member and their families as well as community activists" in the fight.

He concluded with a plea for support and membership involvement.

"These issues that confront us cannot be resolved through the filing of grievances so this fight cannot be left to union officials with the sole responsibility of contract enforcement. We must expand our activities to include motivating others to engage and develop the skills to assemble coalitions.

"The members must be convinced that their future is at stake."

Dan Sullivan
Southwest Michigan Area Local



Workers deserve more than rumors

It is said when rumors replace information as a form of communication in an organization, you can be certain the organization is in trouble. If so, the Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union are in dire straits.

USPS managers have floated rumors -but no hard facts - about plans to close and consolidate plants across the country and have tantalized older employees with a promise to go to the Office of Personnel Management for authority to offer early-out retirements. Both these plans could affect tens of thousands of postal workers.

In the last year the American Postal Workers Union has cut back on the publication of the American Postal Worker magazine from 12 to 6 issues a year as a cost-cutting measure. Beyond that, it has reduced the amount of information going out to the field to a trickle since the contract extension was approved.

While postal employees and union members wait for hard information about rapidly changing events affecting their jobs, the storms swirling about the Postal Service continue to build. A partisan Republican committee is now plotting to change the laws that govern the Postal Service. The plan they present to Congress will certainly contain attacks on APWU members' jobs and benefits and possibly an attack on collective bargaining rights.

We will have to persuade a hostile Congress to protect our jobs from privatization or subcontracting as well as fight to retain the right to bargain over future contracts.

The Postal Service on its own is plotting to eliminate tens of thousands of clerk craft jobs under a plant closing and consolidation plan its keeping under wraps.

In these days when the postal world is in upheaval, the American Postal Workers Union should be increasing, not cutting back on the information it disseminates to the membership. Unfortunately, you can find more information about your job and on-the-job rights on private web sites such as

Lu's News and Views


9th Street Rag

than you can find on APWU's home page or in its bi-monthly magazine.

Postal employees deserve more accurate and timely information from the Postal Service and less propaganda and cheer-leading. And union members deserve the same from the American Postal Workers Union.

But don't hold your breath waiting for it.

By Dan Sullivan
Southwest Michigan Area Local
Sunday, January 19, 2003


Big Brother stalking EEO complainants

by Dan Sullivan

he Postal Service is now demanding that EEO complainants seeking monetary relief provide information about their personal life during the investigatory stage of their complaint.   Postal Big Brothers want to know about everything from recent illnesses, dietary problems  and deaths in the families to legal, financial  and marital problems the employee may be  having.   

The Postal Service is requesting the information on PS-Form 2569-C (EEO Investigative Affidavit) when an employee files a formal EEO complaint.   Employees filing formal complaints are notified that "in addition to evidence and testimony concerning your allegations(s) of discrimination, the EEO investigator will require you to provide testimony and evidence pertaining to the nature, the extent, and the severity of the harm you allegedly suffered.  You must complete PS Form 2569-C and include it in your affidavit statement."

The affidavit states the employee must "declare under penalty of perjury" that the answers are "true and correct."

Employees are strongly urged not to answer the questions on the form or sign the affidavit.   The Postal Service has no legal basis to require the information or deny your EEO claim for not answering the questions.  The affidavit is an obvious attempt to gather information that can later be used against the employee in retaliation for their filing an EEO complaint.

The questions have been described as "repugnant, objectionable, intrusive and invasive," by EEO employee representatives.   No one should ever answer any questions on PS Form 2569-C or sign the form  without first consulting  an attorney. 

Employees filing EEO complaints are entitled to legal representation during the entire process and the best advice is to get an attorney early on in the process.   If you can't afford an attorney, you may have someone else represent you during the investigatory and hearing stage of the complaint.


Joint Grievance-Arbitration Committee

(source American Postal Worker Jan-Feb issue pg. 28 )

APWU President Bill Burrus and postal headquarters agreed to establish a task force to address the backlog of grievances and to reduce the number of arbitration dates that are cancelled.
       The APWU committee is made up of the executive vice president, the three APWU craft directors, and the five regional coordinators.   The postal committee consists of representatives from USPS headquarters and each district manager of Labor Relations.
       On November 18, a subcommittee assigned to investigate possible strategies submitted its preliminary recommendations to the joint task force.   After a full day of discussion, the subcommittee, which includes regional coordinators Liz Powell and Terry Stapleton and Assistant Clerk Craft Director Mike Morris, was asked to revisit some of its proposals.  The following were determined to be acceptable by both sides:

* With the exception of removals, a 90-day moratorium on arbitration scheduling is imposed;

*  A review of all cases certified to arbitration will be conducted by the parties (NBAs and national advocates), to close or settle the pending cases;

*  National advocates will be "on the clock" during the review;

*  Arbitration scheduling letters will be issued 90 days in advance;

*  The NBAs/national advocates and management will meet no fewer than 60 days in advance to discuss scheduled cases;

*   The parties will identify cases to be heard at arbitration no fewer than 30 days before the scheduled arbitration date.

       We're hopeful that the entire package can be finalized at our next meeting, which is scheduled for January.



The Union Flash has learned that the American Postal Workers Union and the Postal Service will soon announce a 6-month moratorium on arbitrations as one of several new APWU cost-cutting measures to offset declining union membership. According to national union sources, the union is losing 2,200 members a month.

The moratorium on arbitrations will be in conjunction with a nationwide ‘grievance shake-out' - meetings between union and postal management officials to resolve the backlog of grievances where they exist - and will be explained as an attempt to fix the broken grievance procedure. The hold on arbitrations will not affect removal cases.

"The moratorium will probably begin in February, because the January schedules are already out," according to one national business agent.

The union will also spend up to $1.6 million to renovate and then lease two-floors of the 12-story Moe Biller Building in downtown Washington, DC to provide additional income to the union.

Sources at union headquarters say other cuts will be passed on to state and local unions by charging them for supplies previously provided at no charge, such as contracts, manuals and training materials.

Along with $1.5 million in negotiations costs the union saves next year by the membership's recent ratification of the contract extension, these latest cuts in representation paint a picture of a worsening financial crises at APWU headquarters.

It's hard to measure exactly how bad the union's financial condition is because the national union keeps most of its current financial records closely guarded. But at the 2002 APWU convention in Minneapolis, President Burrus alluded to a possible deficit this past year when he promised to cut costs at headquarters by more than $2 million next year and predicted a surplus by 2003.

The latest government required annual financial disclosure report shows the union's yearly revenues declined by almost $2 million between Dec. 31, 2000 and Dec. 31, 2001, from about $124 million to about $122 million.

Period Covered
End Date
Date Report
Form Receipts
12/31/2001   09/06/2002 LM2 $ 122460244
12/31/2000   04/10/2002 LM2 $ 124662299

(source Dept. of Labor)



Diabetes group says USPS policy illegal
By Dan Sullivan
Southwest Michigan Area Local

An attorney for the American Diabetes Association says a Postal Service policy requiring employees with diabetes to bring in medical statements certifying they're no threat to themselves or others every time they come back from sick leave related to their disability is illegal.

Shereen Arent, the group's National Director of Legal Advocacy, was responding to questions about the Postal Service's policy of requiring employees with diabetes, mental or nervous conditions, heart disease or seizures to provide medical certification stating they won't be a hazard to themselves or others when they return to work after being off because of one of those conditions.
(see excerpt from ELM 865)

"As described, it would violate federal disability law," she said of the Postal Service policy. "The only way the policy would be legal is if it was applied to all employees for all leave situations."

Arent says such a regulation shows a basic misunderstanding of diabetes. "There are many reasons why someone might miss work because of diabetes that wouldn't have any impact on sa
fety" in the workplace, she said.

Arent explained that some people with diabetes do experience severe low blood glucose (sugar) levels that can cause a person to lose consciousness. These reactions are rare and most people can avoid them by sensing the signs of low blood glucose levels and responding by eating. If a person experienced this kind of difficulty and if the person's job involved driving or some other sort of hazardous situation, then medical documentation would be appropriate. The USPS rule, however, goes way beyond that to require documentation that would be com
pletely unrelated to the vast majority of diabetes-related leave situations.


865.2 Other Required Certification
Employees returning to duty after an absence for communicable or
contagious diseases, mental and nervous conditions, diabetes,
cardiovascular diseases, or seizure disorders or following hospitalization must submit a physician’s statement doing one of the following:
a. Stating unequivocally that the employee is fit for full duties without

hazard to him- or herself or others.

b. Indicating the restrictions that should be considered for accommodation before return to duty.

Requests for restricted duty are reviewed by postal medical personnel and postal management to consider the availability of accommodated work assignments.

(posted 8/4/02)

EEOC: USPS discriminated against diabetic
By Dan Sullivan
Southwest Michigan Area Local

In a ruling which deals a major blow to the Postal Service's attendance terror policy, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found in favor of a Postal Service truck driver (postalreporter: read case)  who was transferred to a different job because he was an insulin using diabetic. The commission ruled that the Postal Service discriminated against the driver because it made no effort to determine whether or not his disability posed a significant risk that could not be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation before it transferred him to another job.

The ruling reinforces the concept that it is illegal for the Postal Service to hold workers with disabilities to higher standards when assessing the fitness of employees to return to work after illness.

"This assessment must be based on objective evidence, not subjective perceptions, irrational fears, patronizing attitudes or stereotypes about the nature or effect of a particular disability or of disability generally," the EEOC wrote.

The current USPS attendance policy discriminating against disabled workers is of course based on the exact same irrational fears, patronizing attitudes and stereotypes the EEOC ruled were illegal.

Union officials say they don't expect postal attendance terrorists to change their discriminatory practice of requiring employees with diabetes, mental or nervous condition and heart diseases to provide return to work certification every
time they call in sick because of their disability. But they do say the award supports the position that the policy violates the law and they urge all employees to continue to file grievances and EEO complaints over each act of discrimination.


posted July 14, 2002

Heart attack follows postal attendance terrorism
By Dan Sullivan
Editor Southwest Michigan Area Local

A Kalamazoo postal worker suffered a heart attack two days after postal attendance terrorists threatened to discipline her when she tried to call in sick on June 23.

The employee, who asked that her name not be used, was taken to a Battle Creek hospital by her son after complaining of chest pains on June 25. Doctors there told her she was having a heart attack. She was treated and released the next day and allowed to return to work without any restrictions five days later.

"I think a lot of it was stress," she said of the heart attack.

"When I called in sick, I was told I had a record of calling in sick and would receive a letter of discipline and couldn't return to work without documentation," she says.

The postal attendance terrorist taking the sick call demanded to know the worker's symptoms.

"I started crying when I hung up because she didn't believe me and thought I was lying. I was embarrassed and angry."

The employee said she went into work that night and the next even though she wasn't feeling well because she was afraid of being disciplined. She had a doctor's appointment scheduled on Tuesday, but went to the hospital instead when her chest pains worsened. She's now awaiting the results of further heart tests and is still working.

The worker's run-in with the postal attendance Gestapo is the latest in a wave of terrorist acts since the Postal Service revised its Kalamazoo attendance policies in May by requiring employees calling in sick to talk to bosses trained in sick leave harassment, coercion and intimidation

Postal attendance terrorists have demanded documentation in violation of the contract, discriminated against workers with certain medical conditions and retaliated against workers when they've exercised their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Other employees have been told they couldn't return to work without medical documentation and some have been threatened with AWOL charges and discipline when they call in sick.

The union has filed a class action grievance over the attendance policy and numerous individual grievances have been filed over acts of harassment committed by the postal attendance terrorists in Grand Rapids.

The Postal Service's own Employee and Labor Relations Manual requires employees to notify management as soon as possible when they're too sick to work and how long they expect to be absent. There is no requirement that they explain their symptoms or the nature of the illness when they call in.

"No one should be intimidated by the postal attendance terrorists," said Local President Mickey Elmore. "No one should not call in when they're sick out of fear of discipline. No one should be threatened or coerced into coming into work when they're sick. Everyone should ask to see a steward when they are hassled, harassed or threatened by the postal attendance terrorists."


Minority Report

As expected, the Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee has endorsed the tentative contract extension agreed to by President Burrus and postal officials. The committee, composed mainly of local and state presidents, has published the reasons for its endorsement in the Nov. 15 edition of the APWU News Service Bulletin. There is little that is persuasive in their brief.

Their support echoes an October 28 endorsement by the National Presidents' Conference, which was briefed on the details of the accord by President Burrus three weeks ago.

Since the committee acted unanimously, there will be no minority report contained in the Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee's endorsement. It's now left to the rank and file membership to dissect the accord and offer dissenting views.


The union often wins discipline cases by arguing that management has failed to provide due process to an employee prior to discipline. This simply means that management has failed to follow the orderly rules that ensure an employee is treated fairly when management proposes discipline.

Just as in discipline, contracts are also subject to a due process requirement. There are laws and rules that govern when and how we negotiate.

The current contract expires November 20, 2003. The union would normally begin negotiations on a new contract next summer, presumably to advance the goals and aspirations of the membership through an orderly negotiations process with management. By agreeing to an unprecedented extension of the contract for two years, the union waives its legal right to negotiate a contract next year for the membership. The membership can certify this waiver by ratifying the tentative contract extension. But they shouldn't do so blindly and they shouldn't do so without considering the consequences of such a waiver.

During talks on extending the contract, USPS officials refused to open negotiations on any of the issues the union is allowed to address during contract talks except for the length of the contract extension, wages and a few other items of interest to management. Our concerns were not brought up. Postal Attendance Terrorism, plant closings and consolidations, the grievance procedure and improvements in benefits and working conditions were not discussed.

These and any other issues of importance to the membership will now have to wait for another day. Actually, they'll have to wait for another thousand days, until 2005, if the tentative extension is ratified by the membership. The membership will have to set aside their goals and aspirations for not one, but three more years. That is the price the membership must pay to get 1.3 percent pay raises in November 2003 and November 2004.

That's too high a price to pay. The extension is unprecedented in the history of the American Postal Workers Union. Union negotiators have never before short-circuited the negotiations process - in effect delaying negotiations, in this case for two years. Unless we have no goals and aspirations for improvements in working conditions and benefits, unless we have achieved all we can reasonably hope to achieve, we have sold out the membership by delaying negotiations until 2005 for a pittance. We have thrown up our hands and said negotiating a contract next year will be too difficult. Let's not even try. That's the politics of defeatism and despair. That's the politics of hopelessness. It's a failure of nerve on the part of the union leadership. The membership deserves better than that.

The first argument the Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee makes in favor of ratification of the contract extension is that it contains an agreement requiring the Postal Service to ask the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for permission to offer early retirements. President Burrus has said employees aged 50 with 20 years of service or employees with 25 years of service at any age will be eligible. But the devil is always in the details and neither the union nor the Postal Service is providing any details on how many or when early outs will be offered. Will you be offered an early out? When will you get it? Members are being asked to buy a pig in a poke. It's never a good idea to sign a blank check.

Consider also that the early outs are only being offered because the Postal Service is planning on downsizing the workforce through plant closings and consolidations. Under the law, if the Postal Service plans to transfer you to an office more than 50 miles from where you work, they have to offer you early retirement if you're more than 50 years old with 20 years of service or if you have 25 years service at any age. That doesn't need to be negotiated. The only early out bonanza will be for those not under the threat of excessing who may be offered early outs. No one has said how many will be offered an early out and when the offer will be made.

But perhaps the best reason to ignore the early out bonanza myth is that early outs are the most efficient way for management to downsize and management can request authority from OPM to offer early outs without union approval. Management can't lay employees off. They can excess employees hundreds of miles from their workplace, but if the employee chooses to accept the assignment, the postal service incurs the cost of moving the employee and doesn't reduce its overall workforce.

Early outs aren't a good reason to ratify the contract. They're coming with plant closings and consolidations anyway.


President Burrus expects "considerable" excessing as a result of plant closings and consolidations. During a tele-conference with state and local presidents, he mentioned Postal Service plans to cut 18,000 jobs next year, mainly through plant closings and consolidations. He has given no indication the union will fight these closings and consolidations at the national level. From his silence, we can reasonably infer that local unions will be on their own in fighting the closings and consolidations. But what Burrus does offer the membership is a temporary moratorium on excessing beyond 50 miles until May 15, 2003. That means a 6-month reprieve. The agreement establishes a national level joint labor-management committee to ensure that the rules of excessing are applied uniformly across the nation.

Giving a condemned man a 6-month reprieve doesn't sound like any great benefit. And establishment of another national level committee to agree on interpretations of the contract begs the question of what we will do when local managers violate these prospective agreements on excessing, as they've done with so many other agreements in the past. Shall we address our complaints in the grievance procedure? The one that's still broken and can't be renegotiated until 2005?

There is no good reason to extend the contract based on this impotent response to excessing and plant closings and consolidations. The current contract requires that management give the union as much as 6-months advance notice at the regional level and employees at least a 60-day notice when it's proposed to excess them out of an installation. The moratorium adds little to current protections in the contract.


The committee is impressed by the 1.3 percent pay raise we'll get each year of the two-year contract extension. I'm not. Especially in light of the $27 billion dollar windfall the Postal Service is sitting on as a result of years of over payment into the Civil Service Retirement System. Nobody expects huge pay raises, but we should be able to do better than 1.3 percent a year. In fact, during the last negotiations then Vice President Burrus rejected a 2.9 percent pay raise over 18 months.

Much is made of Arbitrator Goldberg's assessment that postal workers are paid well compared to the private sector. It's significant that he still gave us 3 percent in pay raises in the first two years of a 3-year deal and 1.4 in the last year.

Proponents of the contract extension also ignore a crucial aspect of Arbitrator Goldberg's private sector comparability analysis. Goldberg said postal workers weren't required to "subsidize the long-term structural deficit of the Postal Service." That was up to Congress to fix. But he agreed the terrorist attacks, their economic aftermath and the anthrax threat should have a bearing on postal worker wages.

"Private sector employees whose employers are faced with a short-term crisis have frequently moderated their financial demands to enable their employer to weather that crisis, and, taking the comparability analysis one step further, it is not inappropriate to require Postal Service employees to do likewise." So he gave workers a 1.2 percent raise in the first year and a 1.8 percent second year pay hike as a concession to hard financial times.

Conversely, Arbitrator Goldberg tried to teach us that the private sector comparability requirement allows postal workers to make greater financial demands at the bargaining table during good financial times, as is the common practice in private sector negotiations. Unions increase their demands during good times and moderate them during hard times.

The Postal Service is in a lot better financial shape today than it was in 2001, reeling as it was from the unexpected costs of the anthrax attacks. Today, its financial condition is much brighter. It's sitting on a $27 billion dollar windfall caused by its over payment to the Civil Service Retirement System and a projected surplus next year of $3.5 billion. That's real money. We deserve some of it.


Electronic Technicians PS 10 and 11 will get a one level upgrade next November. CFS level 4 clerks will get an upgrade to level 5 in November 2004. The ET upgrade is clearly a positive gain. The CFS upgrade is a mixed blessing. Along with the upgrade in 2004, CFS clerks will now be eligible for excessing out of their section to higher level jobs early next year. Without the upgrade, management can only excess CFS clerks to level 4 jobs. That makes it much more difficult for management to place CFS excess clerks elsewhere, as there are few level 4 jobs left in the craft. On balance, though, this is the most positive aspect of the tentative extension.


The Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee considered extension of the no-layoff protection through Nov. 2005 important and we agree. But it doesn't follow that we would lose that protection if we reject the tentative contract extension and open negotiations next year on a new contract.


The committee's assertion that the $27 billion dollar over funding of the Civil Service Retirement System doesn't provide the Postal Service with real money must be disputed.

The fairy tale that the over funding is just some sort of Enron accounting error and doesn't provide the Postal Service with real money was started by President Burrus, and the committee's belief in it is testimony to his political skills and considerable powers of persuasion. But let's look at the facts.

The Office of Personnel management has discovered that the Postal Service currently has only a $5 billion liability to the Civil Service Retirement Fund instead of the $32 billion everyone thought it owed. To correct for this over funding, OPM is recommending that Congress change the formula the Postal Service uses to pay into the fund. If Congress does change the law, as it's expected to do, the Postal Service will free up $2.9 billion in funds next year and $2.6 billion every year thereafter.

Burrus claims that if legislation passes, the Postal Service will have to use the money to pay down its $11 billion debt. In fact, Burrus can no more foresee what the final language of the law would require the Postal Service to do with the money than anyone else can. Congress could give the Postal Service a free hand to use it any way it wants to. It could put requirements on how it's used. It could even agree with President Burrus and require that not one dime of it go towards improvements in postal workers pay and benefits.

But right now no provisions have been made for where the money will go. And Burrus' unwillingness to lay claim to any portion of it is a sellout of the membership's interest.

There is no good reason for the membership to ratify this proposed contract extension. Fear of negotiating a contract next year is not sufficient reason to ratify an extension that is unacceptable in terms of real wage increases and which denies us the right to negotiate over improvements in wages and benefits until 2005.

The Postal Service faces long term challenges, but is in pretty good financial shape today. We deserve better than what we're getting in this tentative contract extension.

A no vote sends a message to President Burrus to go back to the bargaining table next year and fight for a fair contract for postal workers.


Today President Burrus announced he's reached agreement on a tentative two-year contract extension with the Postal Service. Details of the agreement are essentially the same as reported two weeks ago: pay increases of 1.3 percent in each of the next two years and continuation of the COLA. The grievance procedure remains broken, Postal Attendance Terrorism remains unchallenged at the national level and plant closings and consolidations are unopposed by our national leadership.

When Arbitrator Goldberg granted us 3.1 percent pay increases over the first two years of the current contract, President Burrus refused to comment on the award. He said, "It is what it is."

The membership should now tell President Burrus what this tentative contract extension is: Garbage.

It was announced last week that the Postal Service has been over-funding its retirement account for years. Congress is expected to quickly pass legislation which will change the formula the Postal Service uses to cover its retirement liabilities, which will add $3 billion this year and $2.6 billion in future years to its cash flow. So great is this windfall that PMG John Potter has already announced the service won't need another rate increase until 2006.

Yet Burrus says in the Nov. 12 APWU News Service Bulletin that USPS over-funding of the retirement account "won't add a dime of revenue to Postal Service coffers." What he doesn't tell you is that it will free up more than $27 billion in revenues to be used for purposes other than funding the retirement system if congress changes the pension funding formula as expected. That's real money, Bill.

Burrus' ‘new math' won't wash now anymore than it did in 1998 when he passed off unprecedented pay cuts to employees in steps A-C as a correction to the promotion pay anomaly.

We can't depend on local or state presidents to educate the membership on details of this sellout agreement. They were snowed in Seattle at the Presidents' Conference and endorsed the tentative contract extension before news came out about the Postal Service's cash windfall.

We obviously can't depend on Burrus or national officers to tell the membership the truth about this garbage offer.

We can't trust our elected leaders, so we all must become leaders now.

I urge everyone reading this board to immediately contact the Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee and urge them to veto the sellout contract extension. Put pressure on your local president and officers to recommend a no vote on this sellout agreement. Print and distribute postings from 21CPW telling the truth about the sellout agreement in your post office break rooms. Post messages on this board in opposition to the extension. Educate your friends at work.

A massive propaganda effort is already underway by Burrus and other national officers to stampede the membership into ratifying this dismal tentative contract extension. We can stop this sellout agreement and send a message to national union leaders that we want a decent contract next year if we all pull together. But time is short. We all must act now.


By Dan Sullivan
Southwest Michigan Area Local

November 3-
In a November 1 posting on, President Burrus informed the membership that discussions with postal officials on extending the contract have been going on for awhile. He said, "No agreements have been reached at this time; we are discussing concepts and exchanging proposals. It is not assured that final agreement will be reached: Important issues are at stake and it will be extremely difficult to find common ground to resolve them"

Sources at the Oct. 28 Presidents' Conference in Seattle say local and state presidents voted overwhelmingly to go on record in support of the contract extension, but reserve the right to call an emergency meeting to reconsider their endorsement if the terms explained to them change when the actual details are revealed to the membership.

Burrus told the presidents the tentative two-year extension contained pay raises of 1.3 percent each year and continuation of COLA increases. In an October 28 News Service Bulletin - which was briefly posted on the APWU web site, then taken down - he said pay raises "equal to those granted to other postal bargaining units" were under consideration.

In his November 1 update, Burrus said talks will focus on a "limited agenda", including pay and COLA raises, special retirement opportunities, developmental training and a moratorium on excessing until "special retirement opportunities" occur. The broken grievance procedure, Postal Attendance Terrorism and plant closings and consolidations are not on the "limited agenda" listed in his report.

The October 28 News Service Bulletin stated a Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee will begin its deliberations in Washington DC, on November 6 or 7. The committee has not yet been appointed. In his November 1 update, Burrus said the committee will be empaneled if a tentative agreement is reached.

Under the union's constitution, (postalreporter: Article 13, Sec. 9) the purpose of the Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee is to "recommend and advise the National Negotiating Team on bargaining demands." The committee is supposed to be convened "not less than 60 days prior to the submission of the proposed contract demands and at such other time(s) as the President might deem necessary to keep the committee adequately informed on the progress of the negotiations, but specifically when any tentative agreement has been reached."

Dan Sulivan

October 28, 2002 -
President William Burrus will be announcing today at

 the President's conference in Seattle the results of secret negotiations between the APWU and the Postal Service to extend the contract by two-years. Burrus plans to call the rank-and-file bargaining committee back to Washington next week to approve the new tentative agreement and then quickly send the proposed new contract out to the membership for a ratification vote. No details on the new agreement are available yet. Sources also tell us that the Postal Service will offer early retirements without incentives and that negotiations between the union and management are close to conclusion on a moratorium on excessing until the Postal Service consolidates facilities sometime next year. There is no word on which facilities the Postal Service plans to close or whether or not the union has agreed in principle not to oppose the closings. Under the law, any closings are subject to congressional oversight.


APWU, USPS Discuss Contract Extension #2 -10/30 APWU News Bulletin

From APWU News Bulletin: USPS, APWU Discuss Contract Extension


Attendance Crackdown Underway

     demands for documentation rise as management cracks the whip

By Dan Sullivan
Southwest Michigan Area Local

Postal attendance control watchdogs are making more demands for medical documentation from Kalamazoo postal workers calling in sick and, in some cases, refusing to accept doctor statements certifying an employee was unable to work when he called in for sick leave.

This latest attack on workers' sick leave rights follows an earlier edict requiring return-to- work medical documentation from employees with certain medical conditions before they're allowed back to work from sick leave.

It's all part of a new attendance control policy in Kalamazoo based on an attendance monitoring system called Resource Management Data (RMD)

In the first week following the start of the attendance crackdown, management figures showed sick leave dropping from more than 5 percent to 2.5 percent of scheduled work hours at the Kalamazoo plant.

The American Postal Workers Union has filed national level grievances over elements of RMD at the national level, but hasn't publicized the issue in the national tabloid, The American Postal Worker. The local union is filing grievances on a case-by-case basis when employees are denied sick leave, required to submit medical documentation or denied the right to return to work after an absence.

The new policy, which went into effect on May11, requires Kalamazoo postal workers to call an 800 number to report all absences from work. An attendance control supervisor in Grand Rapids answers the call, pulls up the employee's attendance record on a computer monitor and questions the employee about the reason for the absence. The attendance control officer also determines whether or not the employee will be required to provide medical documentation to obtain sick leave.

Employees who indicate the absence is related to an FMLA condition have been told they can't return to work without providing medical clearance from a physician if their condition is for "communicable or contagious diseases, mental and nervous conditions, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, or seizure disorders or following hospitalization."

An internal USPS document obtained by the Flash states, "The fact that the employee is under the protection of FMLA against attendance issues does NOT supersede the basic requirement for RTW (return-to-work) clearance."

The new policy discriminating against workers with certain medical conditions violates postal regulations which requires workers to provide return to duty medical documentation only after extended illness or injury.

Some employees report they have called in sick and weren't hassled by the attendance Gestapo in Grand Rapids. But others say medical documentation has been demanded when they called in for more than a single day of sick leave or when they refused to explain their symptoms over the phone to the attendance bosses.

In one case a tour three worker was told to bring in medical documentation for an absence of one day. When he turned in a note from his doctor saying he was "unable to work due to medical condition," local attendance control officer Gerry Reeves rejected the doctor's note as "insufficient documentation."

Citing a section of the postal Employee and Labor Relations Manual, Reeves told the Flash that medical documentation must contain information about the nature of the illness sufficient to indicate the employee was unable to perform his regular duties. In the past, postal supervisors haven't challenged doctors' opinions stating employees are unable to work.

Local Clerk Craft Director Mark Cornelius says postal bosses are also violating the Privacy Act by giving attendance control bosses access to employee medical information. President Mickey Elmore has scheduled a meeting with a local attorney to discuss the union's concerns about medical privacy rights.

In the meantime, the union is urging all employees who have been ordered to provide return-to-work medical documentation after an absence to file handicap discrimination complaints through the EEO process as well as grievances challenging the arbitrary and discriminatory nature of the new attendance control rules.

The union reminds members they don't have to reveal their symptoms or any medical diagnosis to any postal supervisor and they shouldn't argue over the phone with the Grand Rapids Gestapo. Instead, when disputes arise over the attendance control policy, employees should demand to see a steward.

Union officials are also warning employees not to provide too much medical information when they call in sick. It's enough to tell the bosses the general nature of your illness - such as "I have a headache" - and when you expect to return to work.

Dan Sullivan
Southwest Michigan Area Local



USPS not above the law

By Dan Sullivan
Southwest Michigan Area Local

Exercising your rights under the law shouldn't be a hassle. But it is if you work for the Postal Service and the law in question is the Family and Medical Leave Act. Since early last year postal FMLA ‘coordinators' across the country have made obtaining FMLA leave as painful as a visit to the dentist. They've been going over medical documentation with a fine tooth comb, looking for any excuse to send an employee back to the doctor for more medical information.

And now they've come up with a new tactic in their ceaseless effort to erode protections the law affords workers suffering from serious medical conditions. They're now not only trying to stop some people with serious medical conditions from taking FMLA leave, they're also trying to stop them from coming back to work after they've had to use FMLA leave.

Citing out of context a section of the Employee & Labor Relations manual concerning employees returning to work after extended illness or injury, the postal FMLA police in Kalamazoo have decided it's ok to discriminate against workers suffering from "communicable or contagious diseases, mental and nervous conditions, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, or seizure disorders" by requiring them to provide medical documentation clearing them to return to work before they're allowed back on the clock.

The postal attendance Gestapo is not only making it as difficult as possible for people with certain medical problems to go off work on FMLA leave, but also as difficult as possible for them to come back to work when they're able.

Isn't that just like postal management.

The apparent theory behind all these games is to let employees know they will be hassled coming and going if they try to use FMLA leave in hopes of discouraging them from the exercise of their rights under the law.

But will employees just roll over and give up the benefits the law offers? Will the postal FMLA police be able to intimidate large numbers of employees from exercising their rights?

Fat chance.

What's more likely is an increase in discipline, grievances and discrimination complaints and a further erosion in morale and respect for postal management on the workroom floor.

For the foreseeable future it looks like employees will have to continue to fight over their FMLA rights with arrogant postal managers. But sooner or later - and it may take a few court cases or arbitration awards to convince them in Washington and Kalamazoo - the postal brass will learn that even the Postal Service is not above the law.

Dan Sullivan

Southwest Michigan Area Local
Friday, June 14, 2002


USPS still doesn't get it By Dan Sullivan
It was the headline above the news item that grabbed my attention. "Kinki postmaster fired for filming women changing clothes."

At first I thought it was a typographical error. The story was on the Internet site and was datelined Hirakata, Osaka. I figured the Japanese headline writer had simply misspelled kinky. These things happen occasionally in the news business.

But it wasn't a misprint at all. Kinki is a region, a governmental unit comparable to one of our states. It's located in central Japan and is home to more than 24 million people. So the kinky postmaster was actually a Kinki postmaster.

But even more amazing than the ironic wordplay was the postmaster's response to getting caught peeking on his female employees while they were undressing.

The postmaster had filmed women employees in the changing room at a Hirakata post office for two weeks in August last year until one of the women found the camera.

The newspaper described the postmaster as ‘shamed' and said he admitted the allegations. It quoted him as saying, "I wanted to see women changing clothes."

What happened next was even more amazing, at least by United States Postal Service standards.

Kinki Postal Bureau officials fired the postmaster.

That's right. He wasn't transferred or promoted. He lost his job.

That's not the way things would work in the United States Postal Service if a lecherous boss was caught red-handed spying on workers undressing in the women's locker room.

Here, the first thing a boss would do is deny it. Or, if forced to acknowledge he'd installed a hidden camera in the women's locker room, he would defend his action by saying it was done for security or safety reasons, and then remind everyone of 9-11.

That response would be enough to appease his superiors. If there was a big enough uproar from his victims, they might have to transfer him to another post office or even give him a promotion to protect him.

That's the way things work in the Postal Service. Bosses protect bosses.

And for those of you who think I'm exaggerating, I would point you to the tragic case of Cynthia Stoll, whose story is perhaps the worst example of sexual harassment in the history of the Postal Service.

You can read a more graphic and complete version of the story on the web site But here it is in a nutshell.

A letter sorting machine operator at the Sacramento post office in 1990, Stoll was forced to quit her job after being sexually humiliated and harassed by her supervisors and other employees. The worst of the bunch was a boss named John Garrard who, according to appeals court Judge Stephen Reinhardt, offered her unsolicited favors "and then demanded sexual services from her as a quid pro quo."

"When Stoll declined Garrard's advances, he raped her repeatedly. Although Stoll was too frightened and ashamed to report the first rape to the police, she did report the subsequent assaults, and Garrard was eventually ordered to stay away from her.

"Garrard, predictably, claimed that Stoll was his ‘girlfriend,'" Judge Reinhardt wrote in his opinion.

The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who initially ruled on her EEO complaint "found this assertion ludicrous, and concluded that ‘there was absolutely no evidence presented to indicate that the complainant and Garrard were romantically involved at any time during complainant's employment.'"

In ruling in her favor, the ALJ recommended that the Postal Service pay her back pay as well as front pay - the wages she would have earned over the rest of her postal career had she not been driven from her job by the sexual harassment.

Of course, the Postal Service didn't see things the way the judge did. They agreed to give her back pay, but refused to cough up the front pay.

Stoll's attorneys appealed to district court to get the front pay and lost. But on January 15, 1999, appeals court Judge Reinhardt, calling the facts of her case "gruesome," ruled in Stoll's favor and remanded the case back to the lower court, where her front pay claim is to be considered on its merit.

Stoll still suffers from severe depression and other mental ailments brought on by her humiliation, harassment and rape and continues to be heavily medicated. Judge Reinhardt says she "was severely psychiatrically impaired." The administrative law judge says she was "obviously scarred for life."
As for her boss, John Garrard? He did better than the Kinki postmaster.

Judge Reinhardt, in a comment dripping with contempt, noted that the Office of Federal Operations "without any evident trace of irony, directed the Post Office to ‘afford EEO sensitivity training' to supervisor John Garrard, ostensibly because he had raped a Post Office employee."

"The manager received 3 hours of sensitivity training," says Stoll's attorney, Elaine Wallace.

"He remained at work, received his EVAs and bonuses, and even got higher level details. Nothing happened to him but the minor inconvenience of a 3 hour sensitivity training."

Three hours of sensitivity training for ruining someone's life? Justice is supposed to be blind, not deaf and dumb.

The Postal Service still doesn't get it. And probably never will.