OPTIONS IN RESPONSE TO WIDE
RANGE OF THREATS
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
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
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
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
"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
"The members must be convinced that their future is
Southwest Michigan Area Local
Workers deserve more
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
(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
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
* 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.
TO CONTINUE AT APWU HEADQUARTERS
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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 safety"
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 completely
unrelated to the vast majority of diabetes-related leave situations.
865.2 Other Required Certification
Employees returning to duty after an absence for communicable
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
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.
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:
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
"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.
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."
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 DUE PROCESS ARGUMENT
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
Just as in discipline, contracts are also subject to a due process
requirement. There are laws and rules that govern when and how
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
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 EARLY OUT BONANZA MYTH
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.
MORATORIUM ON EXCESSING
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.
EXTENSION OF NO-LAYOFF PROTECTION
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.
OVER FUNDING OF THE RETIREMENT SYSTEM
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
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.
STOP THE SELLOUT AGREEMENT
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
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
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
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
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
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.
BURRUS DENIES ANY AGREEMENTS REACHED ON
CONTRACT EXTENSION, THOUGH NATIONAL PRESIDENTS' CONFERENCE HAS
ALREADY ENDORSED TENTATIVE ACCORD
By Dan Sullivan
Southwest Michigan Area Local
November 3- In a November 1 posting on
apwu.org, 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
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."
IN SECRET CONTRACT TALKS
President William Burrus will be announcing today at
October 28, 2002 -
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
USPS Discuss Contract Extension #2 -10/30
APWU News Bulletin
From APWU News Bulletin:
USPS, APWU Discuss Contract Extension
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
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
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
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.
Southwest Michigan Area Local
USPS not above
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?
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.
Southwest Michigan Area Local
Friday, June 14, 2002
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
Postalnews.com 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
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
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
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
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
"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.
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
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