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  From PEN's Readers and Other Postal Sources

Please Note: This section may contain outdated material - please reference date/year of article.

The U.S. Postal Service is a Toxic Work Environment
Posted April 14, 2010
by Dr. Steve Musacco

Dr. Steve Musacco is a Ph.D. in organizational psychology, a M.S. in Counseling, and a B.A. in psychology. He's been licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist and completed Coachu's coaching program. He currently teaches online courses with Walden University. He also work for the postal service for 30 years.

Dr. Musacco said:

Prior to my retirement from the USPS, at a former district I worked for, there were three suicides within a two year period that I concluded were contributed to in significant part by how these employees were treated in the workplace. The third employee, a city letter carrier, fatally shot himself in a postal jeep and left a letter stating that he could no longer take the job. The night before he committed suicide he told his wife he did not know if he would be able to handle his job anymore. How do I know? His wife told me this one day after his suicide. He was one of the best employees in the office. The District Manager and I interviewed his coworkers after his death, and they stated he would urinate in a bottle while on delivery route for fear he would not meet an artificial deadline set by postal management. During the interviews, one of the postal supervisors told the District Manager and me that the day before the suicide she gave a letter to all the city letter carriers in the station, noting that any future over time used for their routes would be considered unacceptable performance. The suicide at the Gastonia postal facility was the second since December 2005.

Many people have asked: Why is there so much stress and workplace tragedies in the U.S. Postal Service? The answer to these questions is because the postal culture embraces and reflects core values that center on achieving bottom-line results with little or no regard for employee participation, respect, dignity, or fairness. Additionally, there is little or no accountability for the actions of top management in the Postal Service. Many postal facilities consequently have toxic work environments, and they can be a catalyst or trigger for serious acts of workplace violence, including homicide and suicide. The associated rewards system for behavior consistent with the postal culture core values, moreover, enables systemic organizational and individual bullying of employees at all levels of the organization.

I define a toxic workplace environment as a workplace where there is a high incidence of stress-related illnesses. These stress-related illnesses are manifested by psychological and physical deterioration. In other words, these types of environments seriously erode employees’ health and well-being. The primary factors contributing to a toxic workplace environment are high job demands, low job control, and low social support. Low social support generally entails a lack of respect and validation of employees’ dignity by their “superiors”. It also oftentimes includes organizational practices and methods that encourage the bullying of employees to meet corporate goals.

Dr. Steve Musacco

Submitted by:
Eric L. Wattree

FMLA Coordinators Soliciting Release of Medical Information to USPS Law Dept

The Postal Service is soliciting medical releases for those employees that are required to partake in the 2nd and 3rd opinion process. In doing so, the FMLA Coordinators are requiring employees to release the “specified information” to the USPS Law Department. Specifically, the USPS is requesting access to:

Any and all records regarding treatment, including but not limited to, all current and past medical treatment, aliments and/or conditions (sic); Other: Stress, Psychological and/or Medical Disorders, Aliments, Conditions (sic) to include a copy of complete chart, progress notes & interview notes, discharge summaries, operative reports, x-ray & all imagery, laboratory tests, pathology tissue, and all diagnostic studies whether in electronic data or other format.

The Local Union has filed a complaint with the Department of Labor, and we have asked Senator Udall to intervene. We are also addressing the issue at the National level. The request seems highly improper. What legal purpose does the Law Department have with sensitive, private and personal medical information? Is the Law Department going to review x-rays and pathology tissue? The USPS letter goes on to assert that the information sought is the “minimum necessary” to accomplish the intended purpose of the request. There is nothing minimal about the information being sought. It is the Postal Service’s customary and routine practice to request everything.

Hopefully we will have this resolved quickly. Until then, we need to have every mail handler that is pushed to a 2nd and/or 3rd opinion (and required to sign the referenced medical release) to file a complaint with the DOL. The Union can assist you with this. It is nothing more then a simple letter written to:

Denver Colorado District Office
Martin Barrow, District Director
US Department of Labor
ESA Wage & Hour Division
1999 Broadway, Suite 2445
Denver, CO 80202-5712

Those that are affected and do file complaints should remind the DOL that the USPS will likely terminate their FMLA (for refusing to sign and return the medical release) asserting non-cooperative with the 2nd/3rd opinion process. They should ask for appropriate extensions until their complaint is addressed. Additional information will be posted as this situation develops.

Source: http://www.npmhu-local-321.org/FYIs/FYI%20FEB%2009.pdf

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Connecticut Congressman Wants to Know How USPS Will Solve Late Delivery After Abolishing 8 Carrier Routes
Press Release - September 12, 2008

NEW BRITAIN, CT – Today, Congressman Chris Murphy released a letter he sent to Frank Marshall, Acting District Manager for the United States Postal Service to get answers for Meriden residents about how the Postal Service is going to resolve the mail delivery delays in the city caused by the recent elimination of eight routes.

“Individuals and businesses rely on the United States Postal Service; they expect to receive their bills, paychecks, and other important packages in a timely manner. The Postal Service’s sudden change in service begs not only explanation, but a solution,” said Murphy.

Murphy has received calls into his office about the situation. Many of those affected by the route changes are senior citizens, who are waiting until the late evening for their mail to arrive.

Minor adjustments to the routes have not remedied the delays. As a result, Murphy has asked the United States Postal Service detail how the routes are being improved to provide better customer service.

“I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the Postal Service deliver for their customers, the residents of Meriden, before they go to bed every night,” said Murphy.

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FERS Sick Leave Credit
Source: NAPUS

Earlier this week, Sen. Cornyn, the Senate sponsor of the Senate companion to HR 1108, legislation to give the Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority of the tobacco products, indicated that the Senate is unlikely to take up the measure this year. HR 1108 includes a provision, authored by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) that provides FERS retirement credit for unused sick leave. The House passed its version of the bill on July 30 by a 326-102 margin. The September 10 issue of CQ Today reported that when Sen. Cornyn was asked about whether the Senate would take up H.R. 1108, he answered, “Realistically, I don’t think so.” According to Senate leadership staff, the crowded end-session legislative calendar renders consideration highly doubtful.

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Theft by NALC and APWU Officers

Former Letter Carriers Local President Pleads Guilty to Embezzling $20,000 in Union Funds

On July 8, 2008 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, David Denman, former president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 272 (located in Newton, N.J.), pleaded guilty to embezzling union funds in the amount of $20,000. The plea follows a joint investigation by the OLMS New York District Office and the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General.

Former APWU Local Officer Charged with Embezzling More Than $18,000 in Union Funds

On July 17, 2008 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Tina Curtis, former secretary-treasurer of American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 232 (located in Columbus, Ohio), was indicted on one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $18,283 and one count of filing false financial reports. The indictment follows an investigation by the OLMS Cleveland District Office.

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Deputy PMG: All Field Non-Bargaining Position Postings Frozen

USPS Deputy Postmaster/Chief Operating Officer Pat R. Donahoe sent the following letter dated August 18, 2008 to Vice Presidents, Area Operations

SUBJECT: Field Non-Bargaining Job Postings

The July financial results were as follows: Volume was 5.4 percent under plan, revenue was 3.5 percent under plan, and expenses were 2.8 percent under plan, resulting in a net loss of $216 million. Year-to-date, volume is 3.5 percent under plan, revenue is 3.5 percent under plan, and expenses are 1.4 percent under plan, resulting in a net year-to-date loss of $1.4 billion.

The net income loss and decreasing workload require a thorough review of all administrative positions. Headquarters is working with Area representatives to determine the appropriate field administrative staffing. As a result, effective immediately, all field non-bargaining position postings are frozen. Any exceptions must be approved by the Area Vice President.

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USPS CFO Glen Walker discusses USPS finances

USPS finances aren’t a pretty picture these days. And don’t plan on them getting better any time soon.

That’s what Chief Financial Officer and Executive VP Glen Walker reports in his inaugural quarterly video briefing, Dollars and $ense. In the seven-minute video, Walker describes in broad terms the financial problems facing USPS and what postal employees can do to help.

Walker blames the general economy — with slumping housing values and inflation caused by rising fuel prices — for much of the Postal Service’s problems. “The same factors that impact us individually impact the company as well,” Walker says.

The magnitude of the economy’s problems on USPS is imposing. Last year, Walker says USPS spent about $1.7 billion on fuel. This year, USPS will spend $2.3 billion.

Similarly, the economic crunch in the housing and financial markets has led to a decline in mail volume. He says the 48.5 billion pieces of mail processed in the third quarter was 2.7 billion less than forecast, and 5.5 billion pieces less than the third quarter last year. “How many credit card solicitations have you gotten in the mail lately?” Walker asks.

Declining volume — only the seventh time in the last 50 years that has happened — was with rising fuel prices the major factor in the Postal Service’s third quarter loss of $1.1 billion. “Losses of this magnitude in only three months are not sustainable,” he says. “They threaten our longer term ability to accomplish our mission of providing universal service at affordable prices.”

Walker said USPS must accelerate expense reductions through measures like the hiring freeze at Headquarters, the Voluntary Employee Retirement Authority, network realignment and the sale of excess real estate.

He also said that employees must do their share. “Handle the expenses of the company like they were your own,” he advises. “Limit discretionary spending and continue to reduce work hours, including overtime.”

Walker also urges employees to continue improving customer service and to make sure USPS gets full payment for its services. “If we get paid fully for what we do, our revenue would improve and the threat to all our futures would be dramatically reduced,” he says.

If you haven’t seen the video yet, click here to watch.
Note: Requires USPS computer to view.

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If you live in Irvine, Calif., the car of one area postman is more expensive, more Jetsons and rarer than yours.

An Irvine-area U.S. Postal Service branch got a Chevrolet Equinox hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in late July, one of just about 100 of the cars released throughout the United States. General Motors Corp., which makes the car, will also provide a hydrogen-fuelled Equinox to a postal branch on the East Coast later this year.

The Equinox is part of the Postal Service's efforts to "green" their 220,000-car fleet, since higher gas prices will have added $600 million to its expenses by the end of the year.

USPS is also testing other types of alternative-fuels cars, and has had hydrogen-car experiments in the past.

"We're a consumer, and we're a good test bed," said Walter O'Tormey, USPS engineering vice-president.

The project is based in Irvine because the car will gas up at a hydrogen fuelling station at the University of California at Irvine. GM provides maintenance and fuel.

The Irvine post office will use the car, which is already in service, on a regular mail route. It can carry enough hydrogen to fuel it for about a week.

The car looks just like a regular Equinox SUV, but has no tailpipe, since the only emission is water vapour, and has a chemical formula printed on the back.

Other carmakers, including Honda and BMW, have also released or have plans for zero-emissions hydrogen fuel cell cars in the U.S.

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NALC: ‘Contracting Out’ Moratorium Extended To September 30

NALC President William H. Young announced June 13 that he has obtained agreement from the Postal Service to extend the moratorium on delivery subcontracting called for by the Article 32 Committee Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in the National Agreement through September 30, 2008, the end of the USPS Fiscal Year.

The moratorium applies to city carrier offices not covered by the National Agreement’s life-of-the-contract ban on CDS routes in offices that employ only city carriers.

The NALC and the Postal Service, meanwhile, continue to update the list of city carrier offices covered by the MOU on Subcontracting. That MOU prohibits any outsourcing of delivery in covered offices for the life of the contract. Young said another list of affected CDS routes that will be converted to regular delivery in June will soon be released.

The extension of the moratorium on subcontracting in offices where letter carriers work side by side with rural carriers and CDS contractors will permit the Article 32 Committee to complete its work, as outlined in the MOU contained in the 2006-2011 contract.

Young applauded the continued cooperation of Postmaster General John E. Potter and Vice President for Labor Relations Doug Tulino on the issue of the moratorium.

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German firm has agreement of cooperation with USPS

The Postal Service is one step closer to PMG Jack Potter’s vison of being the last mile of delivery for every American. Deutsche Post — which owns DHL — announced today that it has an agreement of cooperation with USPS that will have us delivering 40,000 more packages a day using Priority Mail and Parcel Select Service. The agreement also makes USPS the exclusive delivery provider for DHL to nearly 3,600 of the nation’s ZIP Codes.

“I am pleased that DHL has chosen to expand its relationship with the Postal Service,” said Acting VP Ground Packages Jim Cochrane. “This new volume is a natural extension of the delivery service we already provide to DHL and further recognizes the value of our delivery reach. Last-mile delivery remains a fundamental strength of the Postal Service.

“Partnering with us has environmental benefits as well, because it reduces the number of different trucks in the neighborhood serving the same locations,” Cochrane added, “locations we visit every day.”

DHL will use Priority Mail — USPS’ premiere two- to three-day shipping service — and Parcel Select, one of the Postal Service’s ground package services.

Parcel Select is a reliable, low-cost way for businesses to ship packages to residential customers. Postal Service business partners — including traditional competitors like DHL, FedEx and UPS — pick up packages from large retailers and then transport and deposit these packages at a USPS facility near the customer’s address. From there, letter carriers deliver the packages the last mile to their final destination.

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Labor Organization Annual Financial Reports; Proposed Rule

The Department of Labor proposed a new rule today that would revise Form LM-2, Schedules 11 and 12 to include the value of benefits paid to and on behalf of labor organization officers and employees. This will provide a more accurate picture of total compensation received by labor organization officers and employees. In addition, the proposed changes will require the reporting on Schedules 11 and 12 of travel reimbursements indirectly paid on behalf of labor organization officers and employees.

Comments must be received on or before June 26, 2008. You may submit comments, identified by RIN 1215-AB62, by the following methods:

Internet – Federal eRulemaking Portal. Electronic comments may be submitted through www.regulations.gov. To locate the proposed rule, use key words such as "Labor-Management Standards" or "Labor Organization Annual Financial Reports" to search for documents accepting comments. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Please be advised that comments received will be posted without change to www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

Mail: Mailed comments should be sent to:

Kay H. Oshel
Director of the Office of Policy, Reports and Disclosure
Office of Labor-Management Standards
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue NW, Room N-5609
Washington, DC 20210

Because of security precautions the Department continues to experience delays in U.S. mail delivery. You should take this into consideration when preparing to meet the deadline for submitting comments.

For links to the Federal Register Notice, please visit:


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Source: USPS

Despite cost-cutting measures, the Postal Service ended the second quarter with a net loss of $707 million, driven by a continued decline in mail volume resulting from the current national economic climate. Meanwhile, the on-time delivery of First-Class Mail continued at record levels in the second quarter.

The second quarter results were presented during today’s meeting of the Postal Service Board of Governors. For the first six months of the fiscal year, the Postal Service has essentially broken even, reporting a net loss of $35 million on revenue of $39.3 billion.

Mail volume for the quarter ending March 31 totaled 51.3 billion pieces, a 3.3 percent drop from the previous second quarter. First-Class Mail volume decreased by 3.1 percent and Standard Mail volume was down 3 percent.

Year-to-date total mail volume is down by 3.1 percent compared to the same period last year. If the trend continues, this will be only the seventh year total mail volume has decreased in the last 50 years and could be the largest decline since 2002.

Revenue was $18.9 billion in the second quarter, an increase of $584 million, or 3.2 percent, over the same period last year reflecting last year’s price adjustments, but well below expectations. Expenses in the second quarter totaled $19.6 billion, an increase of $52 million, or 0.3 percent, from the previous year. The slight increase was driven by an increase in transportation expenses, particularly fuel costs.

“Weakness in the housing and credit markets, both of which are heavy users of mail, are leading the declines in mail volume,” Postmaster General Jack Potter told the Board. “While mail volume may rebound with the economy, it is clear we need to accelerate our efforts to seek new structural and process changes to remain economically viable and to further improve customer service.”

One such change, made possible by the Postal Act of 2006, gives the Postal Service new pricing flexibility to better serve its customers. “Next week, for the first time ever, we’ll begin offering price incentives for Express Mail and Priority Mail, enabling us to better compete for package business,” Potter said.

The Postal Service also continues to focus on reducing costs and increasing efficiency. For example, workhours have been reduced by more than 18 million in the first two quarters of the year compared to similar periods in 2007.

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NALC Golden Gate Branch 214 call for abusive Supervisor to be removed from supervising carriers


Friday May 2, 2008 4-7 PM
16th and Bryant

Golden Gate Branch 214
2310 Mason St., Fourth Floor
San Fancisco, CA 94133

Union call for abusive Supervisor to be removed from supervising carriers

Join Brach 214 Carriers in protesting the continuing abusive and discriminatory behavior by Bryant Annex Supervisor Ron Malig and calling for the Postmaster to remove him from supervising carriers.

Management allowed this supervisor to continue his obnoxious behavior at PCA. Carriers at PCA struggled to stop the abuse including petitioning Congress people. He was moved to Bryant Annex where he continues his behavior in violation of The Joint Statement on Violence and Behavior in the Work Place.
"Making the numbers is not an excuse for the abuse of anyone. Those who do not treat others with dignity and respect will not be rewarded or promoted. Those whose unacceptable behavior continues will be removed from their positions." (From the Joint Statement)


This action was authorized at the Branch meeting in April.

Carriers should be off the clock and preferably be out of uniform.
If you are in uniform, please wear a non-uniform jacket or coat over your uniform.
Note to anybody on total disability or with medical limitations.
If you are on total disability/on OWCP you should NOT participate.
If you have medical limitations, make sure that you will not be violating your restrictions by participating.

Source: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/04/21/18494446.php

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Millions Squandered On Government Cards

U.S. Postal Service workers separately billed more than $14,000 to government credit cards for Internet dating services and a dinner at a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Orlando, Fla., for 81 people at a cost of $160 each for steaks and crab. The dinner bill also included more than 200 appetizers and more than $3,000 worth of wine and brand-name liquor such as Courvoisier, Belvedere and Johnny Walker Gold.

In the Internet dating case, a postmaster charged $1,100 over 15 months for two online services, including the Ashley Madison Agency. The expenses went unnoticed for more than a year even though he was under internal investigation for viewing pornography on a government computer. The postmaster was eventually told to repay the Internet charges but faced no disciplinary action.
See full report here > GAO

Source: CBS News and GAO

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Resolutions in support of labor action against the war
March 2008

The resolution attached below was adopted with no opposition by the N.Y. Metro Area local of the American Postal Workers Union at its 19 March membership meeting.
Bill Bachmann


WHEREAS New York Metro has long opposed the U.S. war against and
occupation of Iraq as unnecessary and unjust; and

WHEREAS the Bush administration is threatening to expand the war to
Iran and Syria; and

WHEREAS the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) is
planning to stop work in all Pacific Coast ports on 1 May
2008---International Workers Day, or Mayday---to protest the war; and

WHEREAS National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 214 in
San Francisco is requesting its members to observe a 2-minute period
of silence in all stations on Mayday in solidarity with the ILWU;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that New York Metro requests that all its
members in all its stations observe a 2-minute period of silence at
1AM, 9AM and 5PM on Mayday in solidarity with the actions of our
brothers and sisters in the ILWU and NALC; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that New York Metro requests all
its members to wear a button, ribbon, badge or some other symbol in
protest of the war on Mayday.

PEN Editor: See below for San Francisco NALC Branch 214 - please post comments here.

San Francisco Letter Carriers on May Day and the war

RESOLVED: That Branch 214 of the National Association of Letter Carriers, representing 2, 700 letter carriers in the San Francisco Bay Area, request that carriers in all carrier stations observe 2 minutes of silence at 8:15 AM on May Day ­ May 1st, 2008 ­ in honor of International Workers Day and in solidarity with the ILWU longshore workers¹ action in stopping work in all West Coast ports for 8 hours on May Day, to express our opposition to the war in Iraq.

Adopted by NALC Branch 214, meeting in San Francisco March 5, 2008, by unanimous vote.

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National grievance filed on 2008 rural mail count

National Rural Letter Carriers Association
1630 Duke St.
Alexandria, VA 22314-3467

March 20, 2008

Mr. William Daigneault
Manager, Contract Administration (NRLCA)
United States Postal Service
Room 9126
475 L'Enfant Plaza, S. W.
Washington, D. C. 20260

Dear Mr. Daigneault:

Pursuant to Article 15, Section 4(D), of the parties' National Agreement, the Association submits this National Level grievance on the following dispute.

During the February 23 — March 7, 2008, National Mail Count, the Postal Service failed to ensure an even flow of mail on rural routes as required by Article 30, Section 1.A, Article 19 and Section 534 of Handbook P0-603, to the detriment and disadvantage of all bargaining unit employees. Rural routes experienced an unprecedented and substantial drop in the normal volume of rural route mail during the 2008 NMC for several reasons, including but not limited to, the Postal Service's failure to provide rural routes with dated and other mailings during the 12 working days of the count. The Association expressly reserves the right to modify and/or amend this grievance as additional facts are discovered through additional investigation and responses to information requests.

The Association's remedial request includes, but is not limited to, a substitution of the 2008 NMC volume-related columns with the volumes recorded in the same columns for the last mail count for each rural route or, at the regular rural carrier's sole discretion, the complete and total nullification of any counts or results of any portion of the 2008 NMC. In addition, an appropriate remedy must be fashioned for any rural route that was counted for the first time during the 2008 NMC. All bargaining unit employees shall likewise be made whole in any and all respects, including the provision of interest at the Federal Judgment Rate on any monetary payments. The Association expressly reserves the right to modify and/or amend its remedial request and to seek additional remedies if warranted by disclosure of additional facts not presently known.

Please contact my office to determine the earliest possible date to discuss this very important issue.


Donnie Pitts, President

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FedEx Watch

FedEx Home Delivery is defending its illegal contractor model in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In a brief filed March 17, FedEx Home Delivery is requesting a review of a National Labor Relations Board determination that drivers at two Massachusetts terminals are employees and not "contractors" as contended by FedEx.

The drivers at the two facilities overwhelmingly voted in October 2006 to join Teamsters Local 25. The NLRB ordered FedEx to bargain with Local 25, but FedEx refused to do so and filed the request for review in the Court of Appeals instead.

The D.C. Circuit is the highest court yet to hear a case on FedEx's illegal contractor model.

FedEx's filing restates the many losing arguments that the company has tried in previous trials and hearings before the NLRB, civil courts and state and federal agencies. FedEx's brief focuses on the false claims of "entrepreneurship" offered by the company and ignores the many control factors that directs the drivers as employees in practice.

"The National Labor Relations Board has repeatedly and rightly determined that FedEx Ground and Home Delivery drivers are employees, yet FedEx is trotting out the same failed arguments and false promises before the Court of Appeals," said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa.

"Instead of sitting down, negotiating a contract with these drivers that literally deliver profits to FedEx everyday and getting back to business, FedEx is repeating its mistakes," said Local 25 President Sean O'Brien. "These drivers and Local 25 are ready to talk and get a contract, but FedEx insists on delaying the process and raising the stakes with an appeal that will only result in another legal setback to its scam contractor model."

After FedEx Corporation held its quarterly conference call to report its earnings, Reuters and other reporters are pointing out how legal challenges to the "contractor" model are weighing FDX down.

Revenue at FedEx's ground delivery unit FedEx Ground rose to $1.72 billion from $1.52 billion, but margins were hurt by intercompany charges and "costs to enhance and defend" its independent contractor model.

FedEx faces lawsuits in more than 30 states that claim the contractors should be classified as employees. The Internal Revenue Service has also tentatively concluded that the 15,000 contractors at FedEx Ground should be reclassified as employees and that the company owes more than $319 million in taxes and penalties for 2002.

"I am concerned that we have this situation where the management is spending so much time, effort and money on this issue," said the AHA Diversified Equity Fund's Meyers. "For me, that is the only wart in FedEx's results."

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Recent USPS MSPB Cases

Appellant: Dean J. Balouris
Agency: United States Postal Service
Decision Number: 2008 MSPB 1
Docket Number: PH-0752-06-0495-I-1
Issuance Date: January 4, 2008
Appeal Type: Adverse Action by Agency
Action Type: Removal
Penalty - Assault/Violent Conduct

The agency petitioned for review of an initial decision that mitigated the appellant’s removal to a 60-day suspension. The removal action, based on a charge of “Unacceptable Conduct/Assault,” related to an incident between the appellant and another letter carrier, Sullivan. The agency charged that, after heated words between the two were exchanged, the appellant punched Sullivan in the side of the face. The AJ, however, believed the appellant’s testimony that he reflexively pushed Sullivan away after Sullivan had spit on him and, in doing so, accidentally hit Sullivan in the face. The AJ also found that Sullivan instigated the altercation by referring to the appellant as an “a**hole” in a telephone conversation with a third party within the appellant’s hearing. In light of these findings, and that (1) Sullivan suffered only minor injuries, (2) Sullivan was only issued a letter of warning, and (3) the appellant had 15 years of satisfactory service with no previous disciplinary record, the AJ found that the removal penalty exceeded the bounds of reasonableness and mitigated the penalty to a 60-day suspension.

Holding: A majority of the Board, Member Sapin dissenting, granted the agency’s PFR and reinstated the removal penalty. Although the majority found no error in the AJ’s finding that the appellant did not intentionally strike Sullivan, it concluded that the deciding official had weighed the relevant Douglas factors and that the removal penalty was within the bounds of reasonableness.

Relying on the same factors as did the AJ, Member Sapin concluded that the removal penalty exceeded the bounds of reasonableness, and would have affirmed the mitigation to a 60-day suspension.

And also this case...

Appellant: Cheryl W. Nevins
Agency: United States Postal Service
Decision Number: 2008 MSPB 4
Docket Number: PH-0353-07-0280-I-1
Issuance Date: January 11, 2008
Appeal Type: Restoration to Duty After Recovery from Compensable Injury Jurisdiction Miscellaneous Agency Actions - Restoration to Duty Timeliness

The appellant petitioned for review of an initial decision that dismissed her restoration appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The appellant experienced a work-related injury to her eyes in 1991. In 1997, the agency offered the appellant a limited-duty assignment, which she refused to accept, and resigned from her federal employment. There was extensive litigation between the appellant and the Department of Labor, including the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) and Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB), starting in 1998, and concluding on February 26, 2006, when the ECAB found that the appellant did not have any permanent residual affect from the employment injury, and affirmed OWCP’s action terminating compensation in 2004.

Holdings: The Board granted the appellant’s PFR, reversed the initial decision, and remanded the appeal to the regional office for adjudication on the merits:

1. Where an employee fully recovers from a compensable injury after more than a year, MSPB jurisdiction requires nonfrivolous allegations that: (1) the appellant was separated because of a compensable injury; (2) she has fully recovered more than a year after the date she became eligible for OWCP benefits; (3) she requested restoration within 30 days after the cessation of OWCP compensation; and (4) she believes that the agency violated her reemployment priority rights.

2. The first and fourth elements are satisfied, as there is no dispute that the appellant’s OWCP compensation benefits were terminated in 2004, and that the agency has not subsequently entered the appellant on its reemployment priority list.

3. OWCP eventually determined that it did not make a valid work suitability determination with regard to the limited-duty position offered to the appellant in 1997, and she has alleged that her resignation arose in the context of rejecting the same limited-duty position. The appellant thereby made a nonfrivolous allegation that this separation resulted from, or was substantially related to, her compensable injury, satisfying the first element of the jurisdictional standard.

4. With regard to the third jurisdictional element—a timely request for restoration—the Board found that the appellant has raised a sufficient factual dispute as to require a hearing. A remand is therefore required.

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(TEXARKANA, TX) United States Attorney John L. Ratcliffe announced today that a Texarkana, Texas couple have pleaded guilty to federal charges in the Eastern District of Texas.

PAUL GREGORY, 43, and MILLIE GREGORY, 40, both of Texarkana, were indicted in October 2007 and charged with conspiracy to use unauthorized access devices and use of unauthorized access devices. They each pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge David Folsom.

According to information presented in court, former postal contractor, Paul Gregory, and postal employee, Mille Gregory, admitted to illegally using two United States Postal Services Voyager gasoline credit cards to buy gasoline for themselves and to sell gasoline to others. Over a ten month period, the couple fraudulently charged $47,393.23 to the cards for gas purchases in Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

Paul and Millie Gregory each face up to 10 years in federal prison, a fine of up to $250,000.00 and restitution of $47,393.23. A sentencing date has not been set.

This case is being investigated by the United States Postal Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Denise Simpson.

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Read this USPS report here: 2007 USPS Annual Report

A few facts from the USPS Annual Report for 2007

  • Revenue - Up
    $72,817 (2006) - $74,973 (2007)
  • Total USPS Workhours - Down
    1,458,729 (2006) - 1,423,001 (2007)
  • First-Class Mail - Down
    (pieces in millions)
    97,617 (2006) - 95,898 (2007)
  • Standard Mail - Up
    (pieces in millions)
    102,460 (2006) - 103,516 (2007)
  • Total Career Employees - Down
    696,138 (2006) - 684,762 (2007)
  • USPS HQ and HQ Related Employees - Up
    11,364 (2006) - 11,521 (2007)
  • Supervisors / Managers - Down
    33,201 (2006) - 32,635 (2007)
  • City Delivery Carriers - Down
    224,400 (2006) - 222,132 (2007)
  • Rural Delivery Carriers - Full Time - Up
    66,344 (2006) - 67,584 (2007)
  • Clerks - Down
    213,920 (2006) -  204,145 (2007)
  • Mail Handlers - Up
    57,158 (2006) - 57,882
  • Other:
    Casuals: 22,518 (2006) - 22,078 (2007)
    Transitional Employees: 5,133 (2006) - 5,232 (2007)

Read this USPS report here: 2007 USPS Annual Report

2007 Embezzlement of Union Funds

APWU Branch 715
On November 5, 2007, in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, Linda Peterson, former Secretary-Treasurer of APWU Branch 715, was charged with embezzling union funds in the amount of $2,905 and embezzling U.S. Postal Service funds in the amount of $3,600. The charges follow a joint investigation by the OLMS Denver District Office and the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General.

APWU Local 238
On October 1, 2007, in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, Dwayne Giles, former President of APWU Local 238, was sentenced to five years probation for conspiracy to embezzle union funds. As special conditions of his probation, Giles was ordered to make $11,959.44 in restitution and serve six months in home confinement. On May 30, 2007, Giles pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to embezzle union funds in the same amount. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Kansas City Resident Office.

On August 17, 2007, in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, William Kendrick, former Treasurer of APWU Local 238, was sentenced to six months of home detention, five years probation, and ordered to make restitution in the amount of $26,236.94. On May 23, 2007, Kendrick pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to embezzle union funds.

On May 23, 2007, in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, William Kendrick, former Treasurer of APWU Local 238, pled guilty to conspiring to embezzle union funds. Kendrick and Dwayne Giles, former Local 238 President, co-signed checks that allowed Kendrick to embezzle approximately $26,237 in union funds. On February 28, 2007, Kendrick was charged with one count of conspiring to embezzle union funds in the same amount. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the OLMS Kansas City Resident Office.

On February 28, 2007, in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, Dwayne Giles and William Kendrick, former President and Treasurer, respectively, for APWU Local 238, were charged in a one-count indictment with conspiring to embezzle union funds. The two are alleged to have co-signed checks that allowed Giles to embezzle approximately $15,589 and Kendricks to embezzle approximately $26,237 in union funds.

APWU Local 7065
On January 18, 2007, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, David Hlavacek, Secretary-Treasurer for APWU Local 7065 and Missouri State Postal Workers' Union, entered a plea of guilty to one count of embezzling union funds totaling $6,383 from the labor organizations. On December 18, 2006, Hlavacek had been charged with one count of embezzling union funds in the same amount. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the OLMS St. Louis District Office.

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White House order giving federal employees the day off doesn’t include postal employees

The Executive Order President Bush issued yesterday excusing executive branch employees from duty Monday, Dec. 24, does not include postal employees. The day is to be treated as a normal business day for USPS.

Office of Personnel Management Director Linda Springer said the Executive Order “does not affect Postal Service workers, nor does it include Executive Branch employees whose agencies determine they cannot be excused for reasons of national security, defense or other essential public need.”

Click here to read Springer’s statement.

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USPS Seeking Beverage and Food Service Suppliers
from Don Cheney: PEN Reader

I wonder how this solicitation complies with the Randolph-Sheppard Act, which gives preference to blind venders in federal and USPS facilities? The USPS is required to go through the state agencies for the blind.

Code of Federal Regulations, 34 CFR 395.1x: "Vending facility" means automatic vending machines, cafeterias, snack bars, cart service, shelters, counters, and such other appropriate auxiliary equipment which may be operated by blind licensees and which is necessary for the sale of newspapers, periodicals, confections, tobacco products, foods, beverages, and other articles or services dispensed automatically or manually and prepared on or off the premises in accordance with all applicable health laws, and including the vending or exchange of changes for any lottery authorized by State law and conducted by an agency of a State within such State."

Arizona Department of Economic Security, Rehabilitation Services Division v. United States Postal Service (June 17, 2005)


After reviewing all of the records and hearing testimony of witnesses, the panel concluded that the Act requires Federal agencies to give priority to blind vendors in the operation of vending facilities on Federal properties. To accomplish this, Federal agencies and SLAs enter into permit agreements authorizing the operation of vending facilities by licensed blind vendors. However, the panel noted that the Act does not authorize Federal agencies to collect commissions from a blind vendor or the SLA without the authorization of the Secretary of Education. Moreover, Federal agencies are not permitted to go outside the Department of Education's regulations and substitute a negotiated vending agreement in place of the permit system.

Don Cheney
Auburn, WA

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FSS Will Get Carriers To The Street Earlier - That's a Myth
from Don Cheney: PEN Reader

I saw the following mailer's quote today, on LiteBlue, and want to respond. The quote is:

“I don’t think anybody would argue against moving toward the automation of flats. Automating flats, putting them in carrier sequence, getting the carriers out on the street earlier, it’s all going to benefit mailers, mail preparers and our mutual customers. It benefits us all.”
- Dennis Farley, director of distribution for ESPN The Magazine

It is a MYTH that machines like the Flats Sequencing System will get carriers out to the street earlier. It didn't happen with Delivery Point Sequence letters and it won't happen with FSS. It would only be true if you had enough machines and facilities to process that much mail in a very short time. That solution would be very expensive and isn't going to happen.

The fact is despite their speed the machines are a bottleneck. All routes in a zip code must be processed before it can leave the P&DC. Typically one truck takes several zip codes to their destination, which means ALL zip codes for that truck must be completed before it leaves. Then the truck must fight traffic getting to its various destinations.

This means mail is getting to post offices later, which means the carriers leave later. The days when carriers could leave early are rapidly disappearing due to automation and processing plants located farther and farther away. The benefit to mailers is reduced cost--not earlier delivery.

Don Cheney
Mail Processing Clerk
Auburn, WA 98092-9050

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Find available PO Boxes online!

Starting Friday, Nov. 9, customers no longer have to visit or call around to different Post Offices to find an available PO Box. They can find them online at usps.com. The Postal Service’s new PO Boxes Available locator will make finding just the right PO Box “Quick. Easy. Convenient.”

To check it out, customers can go to usps.com and click on Locate a Post Office in the upper right-hand corner. Under the drop-down menu for “What are you trying to locate?” they can choose the new option “PO Boxes Available” and search by either ZIP Code or address. Customers will then receive a list of the closest Post Offices along with PO Box information for each office.

Information includes availability by box size and associated six-month box fees, as well as standard address, phone and fax numbers for each listed office. They can then click on More Info under each Post Office for more details, including PO Box lobby hours.

The PO Box Available online locator uses information from WebBATS to make it easier than ever for customers to locate a PO Box, help fill vacancies and boost your office’s revenue. If your office isn’t on WebBATS, your PO Box availability information won’t be available.

Remember, this new feature doesn’t go online until Friday, Nov. 9, 2007.

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Employee benefits open season begins Nov. 12, 2007

It’s Open Season. Beginning Nov. 12, you can update your health benefits, dental and vision coverage, sign up for flexible spending accounts, adjust your Thrift Savings Plan contributions and elect annual leave exchange. Or not. It’s up to you.

Starting Monday, employees can make changes in their Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) coverage, including the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP). The deadline to make changes in FEDVIP is midnight, ET, Dec. 10. Open Season for FEHB ends at 5 p.m., CT, Dec. 11.

Open Season for Flexible Spending Accounts also begins Nov. 12 and lasts until 5 p.m. CT, Dec. 29. Open Season for the Annual Leave Exchange begins Nov. 15 and ends at midnight Dec. 15.

You can make changes to all these programs online or by telephone. On the Internet, go to https://liteblue.usps.gov and select PostalEASE under Employee Self Service, or access PostalEASE at http://blue.usps.gov. If you prefer, call the Employee Service line at 877-477-3273 and select Option 1.

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Bogus USPS early out/buyout letter making the rounds

A letter purporting to offer USPS employees in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) an early out or a buyout by December 2008 is bogus.

Someone cleverly copied sections from a legitimate offer by another government agency to its CSRS employees, substituted “USPS” at key points, and sent it to USPS employees. The letter has been photocopied and is surfacing in different sections of the country as an official USPS letter, prompting numerous inquiries into its legitimacy.

“The Postal Service has no plans to offer mass early outs or buyouts to any employees — CSRS or otherwise,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Anthony Vegliante.

And that’s no rumor — that’s the truth.

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NEW BEGINNINGS - Potter and executives focus on 2008
Thursday - Oct. 18, 2007

PMG Jack Potter met with more than 700 USPS executives this week in Dallas to recognize FY 2007 performances and to prepare for the challenges of FY 2008. The recap included milestone achievements in operations — Capital Metro and Western Areas earned 97 percent overnight EXFC scores, Western Area surpassed the 85 percent delivery point sequence (DPS) goal with an 87 percent DPS performance for the year and the Northeast Area was recognized as the leader in finishing below their total operating expense plan. Nationally, record levels of two- and three-day service were achieved.

But it was the Postal Act of 2006 and the opportunities it will provide USPS in the competitive marketplace that dominated the discussion.

“We must have aggressive growth to be profitable and we have to change to compete in the marketplace,” said Potter, on the new strategic direction USPS will take. “We have to drive innovation and leverage intelligent technology, be accountable at a higher standard and use knowledge to our customers’ advantage — and add new value to the mail to ensure we deliver for future generations.”

To help achieve that, all executives attended breakout sessions focusing on three topics — efficiency, culture and growth. Specifically, they looked at how to increase efficiency, how to engage employees to help us become more service driven, customer-oriented and profitable, and identifying the biggest opportunities to grow existing customer spending and generate new sources of revenue.

More than 2,000 suggestions were electronically transmitted to a “command center” where the Executive Committee sorted the ideas by themes and identified 10 areas of opportunity for each topic — as well as constraints that might prevent us from succeeding.

In a follow-up session, attendees voted for the top three opportunities from each topic. The results will provide the focus for USPS efforts during FY 2008:

To engage employees, we must shift from an internal focus to a customer focus, compensate to incent performance and improve communications by having simpler daily messaging.

To increase efficiency, the top vote-getters were managing sick leave and overtime, better utilizing transportation and maximizing use of non-career employees.

To drive growth, attendees recommended maximizing our competitive pricing flexibility, becoming the last mile of delivery for competitors and owning — that’s right, owning — parcel returns.

The next morning, Deputy PMG Pat Donahoe, Chief Human Resource Officer Tony Vegliante, Chief Marketing Officer Anita Bizzotto, Chief Financial Officer Glen Walker and Senior Vice President Intelligent Mail and Address Quality Tom Day each reported on how USPS performed in 2007 and what our 2008 goals will be, incorporating the ideas from the breakout sessions.

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USPS - 9/26/07

The Postal Service Board of Governors today approved an aggressive 2008 financial plan for the Postal Service that includes $1 billion in cost savings and puts its expense growth lower than inflation.

USPS operating, capital and financing plans for the new fiscal year, known as the Integrated Financial Plan (IFP), project expense growth below the assumed increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the most commonly used benchmark for inflation.

Those projections do not assume any price changes for postal products and services over the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The Board of Governors has not made a decision on future prices but applauded the Postal Regulatory Commission for being well ahead of schedule with its recommendations on the new rate regulations.

The IFP projects revenue of $78.2 billion and expenses of $78.8 billion in fiscal 2008, for a net loss of $600 million. The financial plan is significantly affected by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (the Postal Act of 2006), as are finances in the current fiscal year.

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2007 — One-time costs

For fiscal 2007, the Postal Service projects revenues of $75 billion and expenses of $80.4 billion for a projected net loss of $5.4 billion. The net loss of $5.4 billion includes operating income of $1.5 billion and a $6.9 billion negative financial impact from the Postal Act of 2006 — which includes a $3 billion one-time escrow expense, which was required under the previous law, an additional $5.4 billion payment into the Retiree Health Benefit Fund for 2007, and $1.5 billion in savings from Civil Service Retirement System relief.

“Absent the negative financial impacts from the Postal Act of 2006, the Postal Service projects operating income of $1.5 billion this year and $400 million next year,” Chief Financial Officer H. Glen Walker said.

2008 — Expense growth below inflation

Total expenses for fiscal 2008 are planned at $78.8 billion, or 2 percent below projected fiscal 2007 expenses. Even after excluding the $3 billion in one-time escrow expenses from 2007, expense growth in fiscal 2008 is projected at 1.8 percent, below the assumed growth in the CPI.

The 2008 plan predicts a record ninth consecutive year of Total Factor Productivity (TFP) growth, which measures the relationship between workload and resource usage. TFP is planned to grow by 1 percent in 2008.

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USPS: New compensation package extends Pay-for-Performance

Pay consultations with the Postal Service and the National Association of Postal Supervisors, The National League of Postmasters and the National Association of Postmasters of the United States have concluded, resulting in a four-year compensation package that will remain in effect through fiscal year 2010.

Labor Relations Vice President Doug Tulino said, “This four-year pay package extends our market-based, performance driven compensation philosophy using our award-winning Pay-for-Performance program as the foundation for building organizational success.”

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by Rick Owens - PEN Editor/Owner

The NALC recently announced that a tentative agreement has been reached with USPS. The NALC site states "The proposed contract includes new limits on contracting out of city letter carrier work in more than 3,000 city delivery installations."

It is my personal opinion that carriers nationwide should immediately demand that either the NALC or USPS, or both, provide them with a complete list of these delivery installations BEFORE ratification is considered.

According to USPS we "Serve more than 9 million customers daily at nearly 37,000 Post Offices." Now, keeping the 37,000 post offices in mind - just how many cities service the proposed '3000 city delivery installations' that the NALC is referring to? All major cities have more than one delivery station (installation) - some have more than 10-15 delivery stations. So, in the real world, just how many cities will receive protection against contract delivery under this proposed NALC/USPS agreement? 300 cities? 500 cities?

I say to you that it is my 'guess' that most of the smaller cities across the nation will NOT be on any protected list against contract delivery. I say to you that one of the reasons behind this is possibly the fact that the vast majority of NALC members work and reside in larger postal cities such as NYC, Atlanta, Chicago, etc.

Smaller cities, where carriers deliver from only one or two stations, MAY not receive any protection against contract carriers being hired. What does this mean to you? Well, it means that for the immediate future you won't have to worry about it - for the long haul carriers could lose jobs, weaker voices (less carriers equals less power), and through DOIS based route adjustments carrier routes will be adjusted DOWN to aux routes which may be offered via contract carrier - hence, less USPS carrier routes for official USPS carriers.

Attrition will take care of much of the fallout from contract carrier use, but the future of officially uniformed letter carriers will be vastly affected and along with this the service this nation under our postal system.

It is very possible that I may be totally incorrect - if the national NALC can prove that what I say has no basis at all then please do so.

That is my opinion and I am sticking to it.

Rick Owens
Postal Employee Network

QWL for Everyone
Exclusive Commentary for PEN from Ronald Williams, Jr.

A few years ago there was an opening in the Quality of Working Life (QWL) craft coordinator position in my facility. A partnership between the mail handlers union and management designed to improve quality of working life for all employees. I applied and was selected to fill what was described as an independent detail for a flexible around the clock mail handler to represent the craft employees. The other partner position was for a supervisor who represented the management side of the house. Wow! I was very excited about the challenge and saw it as a great opportunity to bring a multicultural setting of people together and make a quality difference in an industrial surrounding. We immediately started out by getting organized clearing out the mush-in-the-room, reviewing, destroying and reorganizing the office to immediately boost our image of the place we called our safe haven off the workroom floor. Our intent was to pull out the duster and give this program a five star shine.

Through work orders we improved the lighting, decorated the walls, and requested routine custodial maintenance in the room to prove to all employees that we really believe we do get one chance to make a first impression. With assistance from at least one supportive senior manager we were able to replace the existing 13” TV/VCR combo that was eating videotapes with a 19” loaner TV/DVD combo. One month later we requested a new copier to replace the dated model known as the “jammer” with an up to date 4 in 1 print, copy, fax and scanner color inkjet.

We are progressing in a keep busy mode. The room is looking good, the training aids are falling in place and we had marketing advertisements running as commercials on postal vision in an endeavor to engage our coworkers. We slowly redeveloped and fined tuned the teams already in place with refresher training and group dynamics. There were about four quality circles. Teams made up of approximately ten mail handlers and a supervisor from different operations to work as a circle to identify and improve quality of working life issues across the workroom floor. There were about two self directed work teams each comprised of employees from the same operation attempting to improve their own operation. After four months in office, a room facelift, and multiple group presentations somehow we had sealed the deal on about six more teams for total of twelve. With four self directed teams and eight quality circles, magically our interest rate doubled. Teams were trained through QWL refresher videos, discussions about QWL roles, responsibilities and team concepts right out of the QWL workbook. As coordinators we were present at all meetings to kick off each session with some warm up brain teaser exercises to get the groups focused and in thinking mode.

The ice is beginning to melt right! Wrong! On a regular basis there is minimum management involvement. Many supervisors that have never attended a meeting are bad mouthing the program because employees want to participate and they believe they can’t get their mail processed if a few employees are brainstorming for one hour. The minority of supervisors that do attend the meetings should understand that they are not there to be babysitters. Squelch the two way radio noise, censor the phone calls, muffle the interruptions outside the circle, and put a lid on going in and out of the room. Postal leaders are frequently barging into the group meetings to yank employees out or end the meetings. Over a period of seven months I noticed that managers were generally disengaged from the quality of working life process. I never saw more than two out of about ten who actually showed their physical support and a willingness to get involved with employees and share their perspective on the benefits of a QWL program.

Letting employees have a meeting doesn’t mean you support the process it just means you have political intentions. As a counter move to that lack of interest I told my partner to pack his notes and the easel and let’s go on a road show. The road show was to the weekly supervisor meeting to present our ideas, concepts and bring awareness to the executive and administrative side of the house with hopes of future support. We tried hard to show these leaders on the floor that if they used this format to figure out how to improve operations they would see that the one hour was well worth the return on investment. We showed them photos and discussed projects like ergonomic mail prep tables, and ergonomic slide ramps under construction. We were informed after the meeting by several supervisors that this was the first time this format was used. Unfortunately for us as weeks went by we weren’t able to effectively attach the electrodes to the right anatomical positions to defibrillate the heart of the problems. The end result was no appreciation. The frequency of beatings in the form of snatching employees away from the meetings began to increase, more people wanting to use the space as a place for private meetings, training, counseling and morale slowly started to dwindle because many members were not allowed to attend the meetings because supervisors were increasingly concerned about getting their production numbers. I think everyone should be trained in group dynamics in a team environment even if they are not involved in QWL.

Next there are those employees who are not interested in accomplishing anything at these meetings. They only want to get off the workroom floor for an hour to sit on their hind quarters for an extended and legitimate break. There are those who want to have a one hour party with dinner trays that I call the lunch before the lunch. Whoa! Tone that down; Snacks are reasonable and heavy meals slow down the progress. Coordinators must step up and don’t just participate but regulate. Don’t forget the primary objective of the meeting and remember that the meetings are a privilege and not a right. Our theme was “let’s get to work.” We have to represent all the groups at the monthly Local Joint Steering Committee (LJSC) meeting which is a forum where we don’t want to embarrass ourselves and we do want to gain more support for our activities.

The recycling program was another opportunity to excel. A collateral QWL activity that required about 4 hours a week to collect the plastic bottles and cans, wash out the receptacles, separate them outside in our designated area, sort them, then package them into individual dumpsters, shrink wrap and tarp the dumpsters for transport to the downtown recycling center, and always maintain good housekeeping for pest control. Recycling provides an opportunity to bring in extra revenue for the facility and increase the Postal Service image as an environmental leader. The revenues deposited into a USPS bank account and reported monthly to the LJSC. The funds were returned to the employees in the form of a cash contribution toward the annual Christmas dinner or other morale venues with permission.

Here’s a solution everyone might like. The coordinators need to be people who are interested in more than weekends off. They should be qualified to teach employees how to brainstorm, create agendas, hold productive meetings, stick to timelines and produce results. After the meeting the team members should feel like they had a day in class. Don’t just tell the management you need $5000 show them how much the organization will save and discuss the benefits of spending that amount. Get the estimates, do the research, and organize your thoughts in writing so the boss only has to make a decision. Find challenging projects that will produce the greatest good for the greatest number of employees. Don’t look for the easy projects that will benefit just industrial vehicle operators in order to say you accomplished something for the last 50 hours. Members don’t keep your work a secret, share what you are working on with your coworkers so they don’t think you are on a one hour break and they are picking up the slack for you. Create story boards, talk about your goals and achievements at stand up talks, produce quality videos and slideshows then use them for training to increase awareness. If you run a recycling program show everyone that you appreciate their support in saving the environment by utilizing the funds to drive up morale and don’t forget to publicize the numbers so that participation increases. Managers and supervisors use QWL as a tool to improve postal operations and make coming to work fun. Periodically attend meetings or recruit employees for meetings then challenge them to evaluate and focus on some big picture issues that you have knowledge of in the work environment impacting operations so you will have more time to focus on big-ticket items. Coordinators keep a carat in front of your teams. Lead the teams in creating logos to personally brand themselves. Develop a scoring system for your LJSC to evaluate all teams at the end of the year and award tangibles for team and project activities and disband those without significant achievements.

I reconciled the detail after seven months of insignificant management participation. No matter how much craft employees put into the program it will never work without top down management support. It takes two to tango! Years later I notice the local process is still on a treadmill going nowhere fast. I never attended coordinator training or a national conference. Why would I want to attend higher visibility meetings if lack of support is what I’m going to get on the ground? I already traveled around the world and throughout the United States so my primary goal is not to get out and go to a party. Business before pleasure! My partner from the management side was unsuccessful at getting his side of the house to understand and support the program. We were working around the clock to keep up with teams and circles on three tours, promoting and operating an active recycling program, managing the closed circuit postal vision, updating bulletin boards, and a project display case. I quickly found out it was a thankless job. I love a challenge but without support from the top of the pyramid the foundation will crumble. Working a straight eight I would have no worries except moving the mail and that’s all it seems we care about. QWL is a venue to not only move the mail but process it better. Some readers might be thinking would you like some cheese to go with that Whine? The answer is no! I want a better quality of working life for everybody. A place where we all can show up to work in an ergonomic and safe working environment without dignity and respect issues. We must all greet each other with a polite phrase or learn to smile! It truly translates in every culture. Quality of working life shouldn’t be a lip service program and it shouldn’t be a program that postal leaders have a choice in supporting. Let’s weigh anchor and shift the blue flag with the sonic eagle to full mast and get moving.

Ronald Williams, Jr.

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Please note: This news release has not been verified as of 4.20.07 - 5:22pm cst


(BEAUMONT, TX) —The U.S. Postal Service today announced that the Beaumont Remote Encoding Center (REC) will be closed as part the next phase of a nationwide consolidation plan. The facility, located at 750 Pearl Street will close in November, 2007.

“The Remote Encoding Centers were designed as a temporary solution to automate and expedite the the processing of of handwritten and poorly printed addresses,” said Danny Smith, manager for the Beaumont REC. “The plan from the start was to downsize the REC operation as technology enhancements enabled us to automate more mail.”

In 1994, when the Beaumont REC and 54 others were established, postal computerized sorting equipment could only read two percent of addresses on handwritten envelopes. Since that time, with new technology improvements, postal computers are currently able to read and process 93 percent of the mail electronically.

Smith said the decision to close the Beaumont REC was based on a variety of business factors, including operating costs, facility costs, lease expiration dates and the ability of other RECs to absorb the workload. The Beaumont closing, and the previous closings since the consolidation process began in 1999, mean that the number of RECs will decline to nine.

The Postal Service is providing the REC employees with six months notice of the closings. The 344 career postal employees at the Beaumont REC will be reassigned to other postal positions in accordance with national collective bargaining agreements. The 549 part-time temporary employees will receive outplacement counseling to help them find new employment.

The remote encoding process involves transmitting electronic images of handwritten mail from mail processing plants to RECs where operators view them on computer screens and key in address information. This information is transmitted back to the postal processing plant where a barcode corresponding to the address is printed on the envelope so that it can be processed on automated equipment. With ever-increasing improvements in optical character recognition technology, the volume of images sent to RECs has diminished significantly and the Postal Service has gradually consolidated them. As technology evolves, the Postal Service will continue to look for opportunities to reduce operating costs and these opportunities will likely include additional REC consolidations in coming years.

Dave Lewin
Communications Programs Specialist
Southwest Area Public Affairs and Communications

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Keys of Post Office Clerk Aboard R.M.S. Titanic to be Auctioned

Given the demand of the job, sea post service was reserved for the best of the best, and a position in a transatlantic post office was highly sought after. Often, these clerks were selected from their posts on the railway postal service or from other positions in the foreign mail division. Life as a sea post clerk was a busy and rewarding one, but also a precarious one. The mail was considered precious cargo and the clerks were expected to protect it at all costs--even with their lives if necessary.

Of Titanic's five postal clerks, two were British and three were American. None survived. During the sinking they were seen working feverishly to protect the mail from the rising water, probably giving little thought to their own safety. Oscar S. Woody was one of the American clerks. He had previously worked for the Railway Mail Service and, on April 1, 1912, was directed to join Titanic as a sea post clerk for her maiden voyage from Southampton. April 15, 1912, the day Titanic was lost, marked Woody's 44th birthday.

Woody's body was recovered by the cable ship Mackay-Bennett and assigned body No. 167. Due to its condition, Woody was buried at sea. In Halifax, an inventory was made of Woody's personal effects. They included a quantity of postal facing slips. These slips were used for bundles of mail being delivered to the same location. Also recovered were keys and a chain. These effects, along with some others, were placed into a stenciled bag and returned to Woody's widow in America.

Woody had been a member of the Freemasons and his effects were bequeathed by his estate to that society to raise money for philanthropic purposes. The keys and chain were exhibited by the Smithsonian Institution's National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. The exhibition, entitled "Posted Aboard R.M.S. Titanic", it can now be visited online at www.postalmuseum.si.edu/titanic.

Offered for auction on the 21st April are the keys and chain recovered from Oscar Woody's body. The chain is approximately 24" long starting with a belt buckle loop containing a small clasp inscribed "U.S." The chain ends with a ring holding three keys. The loop and ring are connected by 43 identical links.

The largest of the keys was manufactured by the Eagle Lock Company of Terryville, Connecticut USA and was used to open a special mailbag padlock. One side of the key is stamped "U.S. MAIL 19". Stamped on the obverse is "SEA POST 101". It is believed that the No. 101 referred to ships of the White Star Line, with No. 100 belonging to ships of the Cunard Line. The small two-lever barrel key with a round head was likely intended for lever locks installed on furniture of the period, such as a desk drawer. In such a locker or drawer could be kept rubber name stamps such as the one Woody used for his facing slips, as well as cancellation stamps, etc. The small lever lock barrel key with the oval head matches stock barrel keys of the era used on items such as steamer trunks. This key was likely for Woody's personal luggage.

The keys and chain exhibit a light coating of rust owing to their submersion in salt water and could probably be restored to brilliance if one were inclined to do so. In their current state all the markings are discernible.

The only other Titanic postal clerk to be recovered was American John Starr March, but no keys were recovered from his body. The keys and chain offered in this lot are arguably among the most historically significant Titanic and philatelic artifacts ever to come to market, supported by extraordinary provenance. This may represent the only opportunity one will ever have to acquire the only known keys to Titanic's on-board post office; and the only keys recovered directly from the body of one of her postal clerks and are estimated at £30000-£50000.

But the Oscar Woody Keys and Alfred Rowe archive only account for a very small percentage of the auction. Another stunning collection on offer relates to William Gwinn. Like his colleague Oscar Woody, Gwinn was a seasoned veteran of the Trans Atlantic postal service. Part one of this stunning archive offers Titanic collectors the opportunity to acquire a letter written by Gwinn to his wife Florence prior to the sinking and also offered is one of only two photographs known of Gwinn in existence. This emotive collection gives the reader of any of these letters a snapshot into the long distance relationship between Gwinn and his wife. Further lots included are photographs from Stanley May showing Titanic at Southampton, a very rare First Class menu for a luncheon onboard Olympic on the 20th September 1911, the day of the collision with HMS Hawke, publicity material relating to Titanic maiden voyage, material from 3rd Officer Herbert Pitman, over 50 lots of rare and unusual postcards of Titanic, a silver Benson pocket watch given by the Countess of Rothes to Bedroom Steward Alfred Crawford shortly after the sinking and a series of photographs of the aftermath of the sinking including several of Halifax are expected to realize in excess of £1500 each.

The principal lots in the auction will be on show at Titanic Made in Belfast from 7th – 14th April and in Devizes on April 20th and the morning of the sale. Alan Aldridge will also be holding a lecture called Titanic at auction in aid the Youth Action for Wiltshire “Kev’s Van Appeal” on the 20th April at 2pm. All proceeds of the lecture will go to the appeal and those visiting will also have the opportunity to view items relating to the Titanic in an exhibition that will run alongside the auction items. The appeal itself is about raising money to buy a new van to help Youth Action Wiltshire. The charity supports youth groups throughout the county and Kevin Whitehorn provides an invaluable service by taking play equipment out to the rural areas.

Henry Aldridge are the leading auctioneers of Titanic and White Star Line memorabilia and are now accepting entries for their next auction of this genre on September 22nd. Please contact either Alan Aldridge Principal or Andrew Aldridge BA Hons MRICS for further details.

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APWU Officers Subject of Criminal Enforcement Actions

During 2006 several APWU officers were subject to criminal investigation by OLMS - The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS). Some were:

On December 29, 2006 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Charyle Emel, former President of American Postal Workers Union Local # 2013, was charged with one count of falsifying union financial records by willfully making or causing to be made a false loan agreement between herself and Local 2013. The agreement purportedly allowed Emel to borrow approximately $7000 of her USPS salary from the local and required her to repay the loan by the end of her term in office. The charge follows a joint investigation by the OLMS Philadelphia District Office and the United States Postal Service Inspector General’s Office.

On December 18, 2006, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, David E. Hlavacek, Secretary Treasurer for American Postal Workers’ Union Local 7065 and the Missouri State Postal Workers’ Union, was charged with one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $6,383. The charge follows an investigation by the OLMS Kansas City Resident Investigator Office.

On February 27, 2006, in the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, Robb Dutchuk, former Secretary-Treasurer for American Postal Workers Union Local 349, was sentenced to three years probation, which includes six months of home confinement with electronic monitoring and work release privileges. Dutchuk was also ordered to pay restitution of $18,812.18 to the local and a $125 assessment. The sentence follows an investigation by the Minneapolis Resident Investigator Office.

On February 21, 2006, in the United States District Court of the District of Wyoming, Richard Carlson, former Secretary-Treasurer for American Postal Workers Union, Local 769, was sentenced to three months time served and three years probation. He was ordered to pay restitution of $3,899.14 in addition to the $6,500 he has already repaid, plus a $100 special assessment. On December 9, 2005, Carlson pled guilty to one count of embezzling union funds. The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Denver District Office.

On February 17, 2006, in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, John McGovern and Gary Weightman, former Secretary-Treasurer and President, respectively, for American Postal Workers Union, Local 190, were arrested and indicted on three counts each of conspiring to embezzle union funds totaling over $400,000. The indictment also charged that McGovern and Weightman obstructed investigations by the American Postal Workers International Union and the Department of Labor by destroying essential financial records. The arrests and indictments follow an investigation by the OLMS New York District Office and the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey.

You may read more enforcement actions against APWU officers in the following years: 2005: Go here

For previous years just search for “American Postal Workers Union” at the following link: Go here

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New Mail History Tracking System deployed

Delivery Point Sequencing (DPS) revolutionized the way the Postal Service processes letter mail by sorting it into a carrier’s line of travel. But even with the best of systems, errors occasionally occur.

Sometimes it’s human error, where a mail processing clerk sweeps the mail incorrectly. Other times, it’s machine error — where the machine has calculated an incorrect ZIP Code. And still, less-than-optimal machine performance affects the quality of the sort.

And because letter carriers don’t discover these errors until they’re out on the street, service is impacted.

But thanks to the Mail History Tracking System (MHTS), a new web-based application, the Postal Service can tell if there are errors and, if so, exactly where in each tray the missorted, missequenced and missent letters are located. Within one hour after completing the DPS second pass — the final sortation for DPS mail — MHTS can produce a report that lets maintenance, processing operations and delivery units know the number of errors, if any, and where they are in each letter carrier’s tray.

That saves carriers time and improves delivery service. MHTS also provides mail processing and maintenance departments with vital performance information that helps them identify opportunities to improve performance in their operations.

The Mail History Tracking System is being deployed nationally this week.

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USPS News Link - January 8, 2007

The Financial Impact

The Facts
The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act abolishes the escrow requirement of a 2003 law designed to correct Postal Service overpayments to the Civil Service Retirement System fund.

That 2003 law let USPS use the amount of the overpayment for operating expenses for three years. But it required that the Postal Service begin in 2006 to put the money into an escrow account, with the use of those funds to be decided by Congress at some later date.

Under the new postal law, the escrow account has been abolished and payment will be made into a new retiree health benefits fund, which will pre-fund health benefits for postal retirees. The payments will be approximately $5.5 billion a year.

The new postal law also returns to the Department of the Treasury the obligation to pay for the military retirement costs of postal employees who are veterans. The 2003 postal law had transferred that $27 billion obligation to the Postal Service.

The PMG’s view

To fully appreciate the changes this law brings us, consider how far we’ve come over the past six years. In 2001, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) placed us on its “high-risk list” due to our unfunded liability obligations.

Now, thanks to the new postal law, that gaping liability is gone. We no longer have to pay for the military retirement costs of postal employees. We have a fully funded pension system for both the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System.

And in just 10 years — by 2016 — our health benefits will be nearly fully funded, with about $100 billion in the new health benefits fund.

When faced with these “legacy costs,” most organizations either reduce or eliminate benefits. However, our employees can count on having their pensions and health benefits.

I’m proud of the fact that working with Congress, the Administration and the mailing community, we’ve been able to protect employee benefits and put the Postal Service on a firm financial footing for the future.

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Postal Service Could Learn A Lot From GM
Charles Guy - Issue Brief

Unions were created to serve an important purpose -- to protect workers? rights and safety. But in their zeal to negotiate as many benefits as possible, some may be hurting the very employees they represent.

Workers in the automobile industry have learned this lesson the hard way. Employees of the U.S. Postal Service -- the third largest employer in the country -- should take note: Asking for too much can sometimes turn big benefits into big layoffs.

Delphi, the nation's largest auto-parts supplier and employer of 34,000 hourly workers, is bankrupt. It might have something to do with the fact that Delphi's unionized workers make on average $64 per hour in wages and benefits -- more than twice what some of its competitors pay. The company is offering voluntary buyouts, while GM and Ford have announced layoffs of at least 30,000 workers each.

Ford also announced this week that it is offering buyout and early retirement plans to all of its 75,000 hourly U.S. employees as a way to help shrink its workforce.

The four unions whose workers serve the U.S. Postal Service have operated under similar principles -- get as much as they can for their workers. Postal employees generally earn between 20 to 30 percent more than their private-sector counterparts. Most are protected by no-layoff and no-relocation clauses.

Today, the Postal Service has accumulated over $80 billion in unfunded liabilities -- mostly in the form of benefits for retirees. And the cost of health benefits continues to rise dramatically. It has shot up 36 percent -- or $2 billion per year -- since 2002. Rising healthcare expenditures were cited as a major reason for the recent layoffs at GM and Ford.

Within months after increasing the first-class stamp price to 39 cents in January, the Postal Service has announced plans for another rate hike next year, and regular annual increases starting in 2009.

USPS says the increase is mainly in response to rising gas prices. But its ballooning labor costs are creating a system-wide strain. If it doesn't reverse this cost-stress, its workers could face the same fate as those in Delphi, GM and Ford.

If it acts now, USPS -- and its employees -- can avoid the massive cuts that have rocked auto plants from Detroit to Doraville, GA.

There is plenty the agency could do to streamline costs. If its unions allowed it more efficiently distribute labor and negotiate lower pay and benefits for new hires, cuts could be spared for current employees.

The Postal Service should also consider changing its pay structure to incorporate differences in cost-of-living -- a common private sector practice. USPS wages should reflect the fact that an employee in New York City, for example, has much higher living expenses than an employee in rural New Mexico.

Postal unions must recognize that there is little choice. If they continue to block the agency from addressing its rising labor costs, postal workers will eventually be faced with the prospect of large-scale workforce reductions.

The agency has been able to push off this problem for a few years. Through attrition, it managed to reduce its workforce slightly. And productivity gains through the use of new technology offset the drop in first-class traffic for a while. But these benefits appear to have been maximized. Meanwhile, the Postal Service continues to lose business to the Internet and courier services.

In many ways, under the leadership of Postmaster General John Potter, USPS has acted like an exemplary government organization -- embracing the best practices from the corporate world. Even now, it is moving aggressively to consolidate distribution centers and make them more efficient.

Postal management likes to describe their organization in corporate terms. But when it comes to trimming fat, USPS has a tendency to act like a government bureaucracy -- hiking rates on its letter-monopoly customers to avoid more painful cost-cutting measures.

General Motors, Ford, and Delphi cannot solve their financial problems by simply raising prices. Clearly, such a strategy would drive consumers away at an even faster rate. Instead, they focus on becoming competitive again. That means lowering prices -- while improving quality -- to make their cars more attractive to buyers.

Meanwhile, their unions, having recognized their folly a little too late, are busy negotiating buyout packages and trying to arrange soft landings for the employees caught in the crossfire.

What will the Postal Service and its unions do? Face reality, lower labor costs, and hold the line on price increases? Or give in again, raise prices, lose market share, and go the way of the auto industry -- if not worse -- sooner than anyone expects?

Charles Guy, Ph.D., is Adjunct Fellow with the Lexington Institute and
former Director, Office of Economics, Strategic Planning, U.S. Postal Service.

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Managers Required to Stop Harassment from Outsiders
By Rita Risser, attorney at law - http://www.FairMeasures.com

Managers sometimes feel helpless when their subordinates are harassed by outsiders such as customers or vendors. What can the manager do to stop the harassment? A recent Court of Appeals case affirms that managers must take "all steps necessary" to prevent the harassment.

Although the particular case involved a woman corrections officer who was being harassed by prison inmates, the same principles apply no matter who is the harasser.

Employers are liable for the acts of non-employees when they "know or should have known of the conduct" and fail to "take immediate and appropriate corrective action." The court noted that "[t]his theory of liability is grounded not in the harassing act itself - i.e., inmate misconduct - but rather in the employer's 'negligence and ratification' of the harassment through its failure to take appropriate and reasonable responsive action." Freitag v. Ayers (9th Cir 09/13/2006)

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NIOSH Investigation
Loyd Reeder - a DBCS Clerk: Denver

Here are the reports: 2006 Report | 1993 Report - both are PDF files.

In 1993 NIOSH released another ergonomic investigation in which they described the sweep side of the DBCS to be "a significant departure from good ergonomic design which places workers at high risk for lower back and shoulder disorders". As a clerk who works on the DBCS almost every day I fully realize that NIOSH states what most of us grunts have already long known. However, when the best expertise in the country (NIOSH) backs us up, it gives us more legal muscle against management's relentless push for BIG NUMBERS.

I did request both the 1993 and 2006 investigations and they are available for your review by clicking the links provided below. I need to add that I am NOT a union officer and these investigations were NOT called in by the union.

If you have any questions you may contact NIOSH industrial engineer Dan Habes at 513-841-4438 or email at dhabes@cdc.gov

As most of you probably well realize, NIOSH has no enforcement power over the USPS. However, they are the very best expertise in occupational health in the country. The truth they reveal for automation clerks in both investigations looks dismal. With the deployment of the four tiered DIOSS DBCS to replace the single tiered ISS the fewer clerks that will be left in automation will be doing far more ergonomically hazardous work and ERRP has done little to address these hazards.

The inevitable question arises why the postal service would deploy such a machine as the DBCS, a machine that one NIOSH official correctly described as a work comp time bomb back in 1992. The answer in one word is money. A major reason for the deployment of the multi tiered DBCS to replace the singe tiered BCS and the deployment of the four tiered DIOSS DBCS to replace the single tiered ISS is what management likes to describe as greater “depth of sort”. With 200+ stackers on a typical DBCS versus 60 stackers on an ISS, this simply means that the mail does not have to be run as many times with two clerks running mail on a machine with more mail sortation stackers. Hence, there will be a need for fewer clerks. for the same amount of sortation. With about 85% of USPS costs going into labor costs this does make sense. The big downside in all this is that the fewer clerks will be doing far more ergonomically hazardous work on the multi tiered DBCS, versus the single tiered machines. For the Postal Service, the decrease in labor costs are offset to some extent by the inevitable increase in work comp costs. However, as many of us grunts who work on the DBCS fully realize, the Postal Service has a very effective system in place to discourage workers from reporting injuries through use of harassment against injured workers. Several years ago OSHA cited the Denver GMF for gross underreporting for this very reason. This is another reason to hold highly suspect when we hear about miraculous reductions in injuries here in Denver that are attributed to ERRP. Are these ACTUAL injuries or just reported injuries. In response to several email inquiries, I need to post this reply. I did call in both NIOSH investigations, but I am NOT a union officer. These investigations were NOT called in by union request. I am a “grunt” clerk who does work on the DBCS almost every day. I am a former high school teacher and my brother is a medical doctor who deals in occupational health issues which did help in gaining immediate expertise during the course of the NIOSH investigations. Both NIOSH investigations that are posted here on Postal mag are NOT copyrighted and can be downloaded. If anyone has any remote interest in these investigations and the truth they reveal PLEASE download and also email then to anyone else that may have an interest. The 1993 NIOSH investigation has already been used on numerous occasions by clerks who have been injured by the DBCS to successfully file comp claims. What NIOSH says about slowing down the pace of work and running less mail through the DBCS as the most effective control, short of a redesign, to avoid injury HAS been already figured out by many us grunts who work on these machines every day. However, when the best expertise in the country backs this up it gives us more legal muscle to fight management’s relentless push for big numbers.

I have one automation clerk friend who had to have a disk removed from her back from working on the DBCS. She told me afterwards if she had only known about what NIOSH said in 1993. She, and a number of people like her, is why I called in NIOSH for both investigations and had them posted here. When one local APWU president over a thousand miles from Denver read through both NIOSH reports he reminded me of the familiar quote of US President Garfield: “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” The truth needed to get out there.

Here are the reports: 2006 Report | 1993 Report - both are PDF files.

Loyd Reeder

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Laid off injured worker says, "It can happen to anyone"
By Dan Sullivan - Southwest Michigan Area Local

The piece of vinyl siding was hidden beneath 3 inches of snow when Mike Vinci accidentally found it while delivering mail in Caledonia, NY.

It was like stepping on a sheet of ice.

“My feet went straight up in the air,” he remembers. ” Like an idiot, I hung onto the mail and landed on my elbow.”

Mike finished his mail route that day. But the pain wouldn’t go away.

“I worked for almost a year with shoulder and neck pain, not knowing I had damaged two discs in my neck and partially tore my Achilles tendon in my left ankle.

“I went out of work in February of 1992. It took eight months to even get an OWCP claim number and my first comp check. I had $75 to my name.”

Mike had more than money problems.

It turns out he needed surgeries to repair his ankle and neck. But, like the wheels of justice, the bureaucracy moves slowly. After his ankle surgery, it took another three years to get approval from the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) for surgery to fuse his 4th and 5th and 6th and 7th cervical discs.

His days as a letter carrier were over.

But the Postal Service has always provided work for employees hurt on the job. So when he recovered from his surgeries, Mike was given a position as a part-time flexible clerk at the nearby Geneseo post office. Eventually he worked his way into a regular position.

His work involved the usual clerks’ duties, sorting and distributing letters and flats, clearing carriers and handling accountable mail. Mike has done everything, in fact, except work the window, where the college kids often bring in large parcels too heavy for him to lift because of his medical restrictions.

The story would end here, if the Postal Service hadn’t come up with a scheme to get rid of injured workers like Mike.

Called the Reassessment Program, the plan is being tested in the Western New York District and a couple other areas of the country. The purpose of the program is to cull injured workers from the payroll by dumping them on Workers’ Compensation and then retraining them for private sector jobs.

Mike got his walking papers on May 24, when it took five postal bosses coming down from the Western New York District Office in Buffalo to tell him he was no longer needed.

“A mail carrier had to come in off the street to take over my duties delivering all of the guaranteed overnight mail so that I could attend the meeting,” Mike says.

“They took my badge and walked me out the door. It was 2:00 p.m. They don’t even let you say goodbye to your friends.”

The Geneseo Postmaster, Tammy Kelley, disagreed with the big shots who said there wasn’t any work for Mike.

But what did she know? She was only looking out for Geneseo and wasn’t able to see the big picture.

‘Tammy insisted to them that, not only was I doing a great job and an asset to the office, but the work was there for me to do and had not changed. She also emphasized that I was included in the office budget hours, compiled by them, and that the office had made budget last year and is continuing to do so.”

For obvious reasons, Postmaster Kelley was reluctant to speak about Mike’s situation.

“I can’t really say too much, except this is all new. It’s beyond me. It involves staffing decisions by higher-ups,” the Postmaster says.

But she wasn’t reluctant to praise Mike’s work ethic.

“Oh, Mike was an excellent worker. I can tell you that.”

The bosses at postal headquarters who came up with the Reassessment Program have been mum about the scheme, referring all questions to the American Postal Workers Union, which they say has been briefed on the outsourcing program.

According to APWU Human Relations Director Sue Carney, the Postal Service claims it wants all limited duty and rehabilitation jobs to consist of “necessary work,” not make-work assignments.

So it seems like an obvious question to ask: Why dump Mike Vinci back on Workers’ Compensation when the Geneseo Postmaster has plenty of real work for him to do?

The postal big shot who apparently decided that Mike wasn’t needed at the Geneseo post office is Mary McNeill. She has an important title: Western New York District Manager of Injury Compensation.

Mary wasn’t in her office when I called to ask why Mike was put off the clock and unceremoniously shown the door. Or why it took 5 postal bosses to deliver the news. The person who answered her phone said she was on the road doing reassessment interviews.

I have to assume she must be quite busy trying to help other injured workers, because she hasn’t returned my call.

Mike is now 54 years old and in 11 months he’ll be eligible to retire. Until then he’s going to fight to get his job back.

He’s written his Congressman and filed a grievance with the American Postal Workers Union over his dismissal.

As you can imagine, he doesn’t have much good to say about the Reassessment Program and the bureaucrats in charge of it. But he’s grateful to Geneseo Postmaster Tammy Kelley for “being truthful and maybe jeopardizing her job” for him.

And he has this bit of advice for other postal workers who think it can’t happen to them:

“Even the people who aren’t injured should be against this program because anyone can get hurt at work.

“If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.”

Contact Dan Sullivan at dan_sullivan9026@hotmail.com.

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