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Keeping our hard-earned benefits

by Lili Beaumont, Branch #214

There's really no mystery as to why postal employees turn to violence at work. If you are not on the workroom floor, you would probably be shocked to find out what really takes place there.

The post office job is pretty simplistic: collect the mail, sort the mail and deliver the mail. We've been doing it for hundreds of years and with modern machinery the job should be getting simpler and easier every day.

On the contrary, it's more complicated and stressful than ever. The more work a letter carrier does, the more managment wants them to do.

The carriers who work at a normal pace and take the time to do the job correctly are treated with contempt by their supervisors. The supervisors walk up to those carriers while they are casing mail and with a look of utter disgust order them to "take four feet of mail, and don't go over eight hours." Sometimes the carriers will ask, "why are you talking to me like that?" And the supervisor gets indignant and says, "talk to you like what? I'm giving you instructions."

Finish in eight

If the carrier is leaving late and believes he is unable to complete the assignment in eight hours and turns in a PS form 3996 (request for auxiliary assistance) management will write "denied" on the form and keep it on their desk. The carriers are left with no instructions of what to do. And if they ask the supervisor whether they should work the overtime or if they will be getting street assistance, management typically will tell them, "just call the station later."

When the carrier does call the station later, it's hard to get through because everybody else is calling at about the same time and so the line is busy or they get put on hold. the carrier is only calling because they cannot finish delivering the mail on time, but when they finally do speak to the supervisor they are told, "Finish delivering the mail and don't go over eight hours." You can see the dilemma here for the carrier.

Dragged into the office

The next day the carrier is dragged into the office and questioned about whatever they did. If the carrier stayed within the eight hour limit and brought the mail back to the station, they are charged with failure to follow instructions, because they were told to finish delivering the mail. If the carrier finished delivering the mail but goes into overtime, they are charged with failure to follow instructions, because they were told not to go over eight hours. This is an impossible situation for the letter carrier.

The carriers who give in to the pressure and do everything they can to finish within the eight hours have it even worse those carriers, known as runners, skip lunch, breaks and often times skip on safety.

Many times the runners skip on customer service. They don't put all the mail in the mail boxes, they save time by throwing all the magazines on a table for the customers to pick out what they want. They fail to ring the doorbell to deliver parcels and don't bother to write up a notice that the customer has a parcel being held at the post office.

The runners finish within eight hours, but give terrible customer service, run the risk of injury to themselves or others and basically wear themselves out. And to make it worse, once the supervisor realizes the runner will bust their ass to make the time limit, they will give them more work, once again, creating an impossible sistuationfor the letter carrier.


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