People 2 People
This feature is called People to People because it is like one person talking to another person. We as carriers are more than just workers. The implications of our job play an important and profound role in the rest of our lives. Hopefully, from some of these perspectives you can get a more balanced picture of what the branch does. The first three letters of what we do is who we are---U-N-I-on! Together we can accomplish great things, but fractured we will only just stumble along.
My experience at the 2014 NALC National Convention
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The 2014 NALC National Convention was a tremendous experience. There is a special feeling you get when you get to stand side by side with over 6,000 USPS Letter Carriers.
I had the honor and privilege to represent Branch 725 as a member of the Distribution Committee. The Distribution Committee’s main job is to distribute all of the extremely important literature My experience at the 2014 NALC National Convention
and handbooks used for each class and workshop.
The NALC does a phenomenal job of training and supplying Letter Carriers the necessary information so that we can be informed on a wide range of topics and discussions. The classes and workshops range from Shop Steward training, processing grievances, Social Security and many more. I believe there were over 20 different classes and workshops offered. The information we receive in these trainings provide the ammo we all need to fight for our rights at the USPS. Information is power and that is what the convention does best, it provides us with the necessary tools so that Letter Carriers are not left fighting for their rights as individuals.
The delegates at the convention also get to hear from some of our country’s leaders as well as leaders from the AFL-CIO, a top executive from eBay and also the son of the late Vince Sombrotto. It is an amazing feeling when national politicians like Senator Bernie Sanders or Senator Elizabeth Warren (by video) take their time to speak to Letter Carriers and deliver a message that they have our backs. The delegates also get to see videos that detail our history and the fight that has been waged in our 125 year existence as a Union.
The NALC is an amazing organization. The delegates get some much useful information so that we can be active in the fight to preserve 6-day delivery, to represent our fellow carriers so that the pressure coming from management is able to be meet with the rights that come from our contract. Some useful information to help fight the misinformation coming from certain segments of society is that the USPS has a $1.2 billion operational profit from October 2012 to the present time, the USPS could generate $ 9 billion annually by offering basic financial services without any cuts to the traditional postal service. 100% of USPS losses in 2013 Fiscal Year are directly attributed to the pre-funding of future retiree health benefits.
The most important information that I learned at this convention was said by President Fred Rolando that “we must work toward making a safer work environment every day.” There are two threats that are on the rise in recent years. Suicide and park place accidents are Safety and Health issues that we must address. “…the president noted that although suicide does not arise primarily or exclusively from workplace pressures, “I think we need to talk about this problem and figure out what we can do to help.” Park place accidents are preventable, we need to take a look at where a carrier parks their vehicle and works out of the back of the truck. If the truck is parked in a high speed area, can it be moved to a side street where the threat of a crash is not as likely?
Our Union is fighting every day to preserve our jobs and the wages and benefits that we have. My experience at the convention will allow me to go back to my office with the conviction and the information needed to fight for each and every letter carrier.
Shop Steward, Bala Cynwyd
Letter From Rolando
I hope by now everyone has read the letter from President Rolando and didn't throw it out as no big deal.
There is something for everyone, Active and Retired letter carriers.
Losing thousands of jobs is only the tip of the iceberg.
Retirees would be dealt a serious blow. Carriers took a hit in the 80s when they substituted FERS for CSRS.
With the threat of some members of Congress talking about cutting or eliminating Social Security and Medicare, these are scary times. I guess those under 55 would be thrown under the bus.
I don't hear anything about the Billions of dollars that the Government BORROWED from the SS trust fund over the years. It brings to mind when Al Gore suggested putting the SS trust fund into a lock box, not so funny now.
I wonder who was responsible for agreeing to the 5.5 Billion price tag for future retiree health benefits fund, that occured in 2006 under new reform. What did the Postal Service gain to agree to that.
We fought tooth and nail for our benefits since the 1970 strike and now could lose everything.
Unfortunatly there are too many carriers that are not stepping up to the plate as we did then.
If they don't go to meetings, at least read the Postal Record to find out what is going on.
The time has passed to just let the other guy do it.
Bill Mellon, trustee
Postal Service Shooting Themselves In The Foot
I got a phone call today from Sports Weekly. They said I could expect a one to two day delay in the delivery of my publication due to the changing regulations from the Postal Service. What I found out was this was all so they could run them through the new flat sorter machines. These machines are supposed the speed the delivery of the flats not delay them. How many of you have customers that know when a certain publication comes out and question you why they didn't receive it on the correct day? Especially when they are time sensitive to people like the financial ones. The alternative that Sports Weekly gave me so I could be kept up to date was to view my subscription online. How long will it take for people to use this exclusively. By the time the publication gets into their mailbox they will have read everything they needed to online. THEN they will only subscribe online at a reduced rate and leave the Postal Service out of it totally. We have some real Morons running the asylum.
It doesn't surprise me that the Postal Service picked such a time to make all these changes. FSS, DUO, routes changing and going up for bid and all the uncertainty and fear they cause can only get worse when done during prime time vacation periods. Going on vacation and for a time forgetting the worries of work and the nonsense that goes along with it are gone this summer. People are concerned about their jobs, the route they may or may not have, having to bid on a route during their vacation and the attitude they are receiving from their Managers about travel time etc. We didn't ask for this. It was thrust upon us. It takes more time to get to our routes yet they think we can absorb that time. The problems with FSS when we have ADVOs etc takes more time. They don't want to hear it and it causes us all more stress then we need. Especially during a period of the year when we usually relieve ourselves of the stress by enjoying some vacation time with our families. Is there anyone out there that hasn't had such thoughts racing through their heads I would be surprised. We even suspend Union meetings during this time to allow ourselves some time to breath. And they know that as well so that is why I beleive along with the drop in volume they picked this time of year to do this. In an emergency we can always get help from our Union leaders but we need the down time. The Postal Service has saw to it that there will be no down time for us off the clock as well as on it this Summer.
DUOs and the nonsense that goes with them
Some of us have been a part of the DUO process. The merger of Carrier activities into one office. Management in some of these cases has increased the stress level for us by stoking the fears we all have. One of the biggest fears people have is change. And they are trying to use that against us and to their advantage. I myself as well as family and friends have been part of this. I want to say for the most part all I have heard and experienced is good things from our brothers and sisters in the merging office. Problems like parking etc. that were foreseen seem to be the biggest issue. But, the Carriers from the merging offices have excepted each other and understand this is not something they brought about and they will have to work together. So Management you can forget about trying to make us separate war camps. We have dealt with your crap long enough to know we need each other and will work through what ever you dish out.
Post Office Consolidations
I like a lot of you are being subjected to the Post Office consolidations. My office is scheduled to consolidate with Glenolden Post Office on May 21st. Rumors are like a cancer and grow to create an enormous amount of damage. The Postmaster and Supervisors themselves are not being told what is going to happen so why do you think the guy next to you does? They and the Clerks have a lot more to be concerned about then you do because you will still have your Route no matter where you are working from. Trust our leadership to get the information out to us as soon as they get it. Don't believe the rumors because they only may make you decide to make the wrong choices. Think before you act. Everyone is acting differently right now because of the fear of the unknown and the Postal Service has created this environment. For a company that is so proud of the Voice of the employee and the Voice of the customer and the communciation with all this is an embarassment. Now you know why I wrote the article about the Voice of the Employee a while ago. They really don't care about you or how you feel. But I don't want anyone to make a bad choice being unsure of their future. We are all in the same situation and need to wait for our leadership to do what they need to do and then they will tell us the facts and not what might happen.
Reaction To Drinking Carriers
I got a picture the other day drawn by one of my customers grandsons. It was addressed to Mr. Mailman. The kid didn't know my name only the relationship I have with customers like his grandparents. He wanted to show me his appreciation for what I do. His grandparents always meet me at the door when they are home. I thought about that picture for a while and all the other customers I serve. They know me and what I am about. The negative publicity with all the Postal Workers and especially Letter Carriers in the last few weeks didn't make a dent in their opinions of me. They know me personally and know I am hurting by the misrepresentation of my profession. They do not question if I also could be doing something like this. They understand the pride myself and a lot of other Letter Carriers take in the service we provide for our customers. I think a lot of you are getting the same. So take heart. because our customers know us better then anyone else. As we know them and watch their families grow and move on. They have always known us as well and we have become a part of their communities. Let Fox or any other News outlet come down to our routes. All they will find is a lot of Carriers working very hard and trying to do their best to make their customers happy. And the relationships with our customers will show the results of our efforts.
Eastern Update Propaganda
I don't know how may of you read the Eastern Update Propaganda Newsletter we get in the mail but I do. I found it funny that a Letter Carrier was so enthusiastic about getting the Voice of the Employee survey. Why? Do they ask you any questions that can improve the quality of the job you do or your work environment? Of course not. They ask self serving questions that make them fell better about what they are doing. Do they allow an open area where you can make suggestions on how things can be changed to make your job easier or more efficient? Of course not. They don't really want to take the time to see what might be more beneficial to you or your job. Do they give you at least an address or phone number to use in case you want to deal with someone in person? Again, of course not. If they really wanted to HEAR us they would use a different method. You can talk to any Letter Carrier, Clerk, Truck Driver, Mail Handler etc. and hear a lot of good reasons for why we have problems and what they think should be done. Some have a lot of merit and should be looked into. But under the current way the voice of the employee is used that will never happen. Sorry Phylis but until they make the VOE a more effective way to hear me I will just continue to rip it up and throw it in the trash when they give it to me. Evidently things in your Youngstown Ohio branch are not as bad as they are elsewhere. Good for you but we have problems we would really like to have someone address.
After our last Union meeting I went home thinking about what we talked about. We had a town meeting type thing for those of you who weren't there and it is refreshing to have these a few times a year because we discuss more issues and concerns then normally. It would be well worth your time to make one of these. While everyone is not happy with what is said they at least get honest answers on just what they are really concerned about. And that is why you should come to a Union meeting.
The two biggest issues I have are with our representation and Carriers not following our instructions to their own advantage. We have Stewards that don't file grievances because they don't want to make waves or have their own agenda. If they file one and then another office does we can show a pattern of mistreatment. Then we can go up the ladder and file a class action one for the branch if necessary. Higher up we have grievances that aren't pushed through because of some reason or another that the Regional office or DRT has decided to just drop. Now, how many of you vote for the people making these decisions? Next time do so.
Secondly, we have Carriers that don't care about how their hours are distributed as long as their pay is straight. I agree with the premise that it shouldn't matter where the hours are assigned but unfortunately it does matter. If it takes you twelve hours on a certain day to do your job and you get paid twelve then that is all that should matter. But the fact is that it matters a whole lot. The Postal Service is all about numbers. You should all know that by now. We went through those fazes that they busted your hump about street time. They realized all the intangibles that are involved with that they decided to focus on office time. That they can control. They can change your starting time if the mail is not available for you to case or whatever but they can control that. We own the street. Understand that they have given you the key to a more relaxed working environment. Nobody is encouraging you to be a dog on the street. What we are all saying is you are entitled to a lunch and breaks. Don't let DOIS or anything else to make you feel you need to work through them or else. And don't let them change your clock rings to show a different activity so they can justify you being out on the street after their bogus Window of Operation. If it takes you that long to perform your job - SHOW THAT IT DOES. When we have been in different offices to discuss Route Adjustments we have people with all the paperwork showing how many hours they worked and wondering how it is possible their routes could be added to. We tell you why but you don't listen. It doesn't matter how many hours you were paid for - it matters how those hours were applied. Take the time to make your own clock rings and moves. And if you don't know how - ask your Steward. Don't like the answer you get from him or her you can always call the Union Office. Don't complain latter if you don't listen to what we tell you. A lot of you are your own worst enemy and you don't realize it.
If you are not aware of it the Rural Carriers and the Postal Service have reached an impasse and they will be going to an arbitrator. The APWU has extended their deadline for talks until December 1. The Postal Service is looking to get both to accept a two tier wage scale and Health benefit reductions. This would create a lower tier for new hires. Along with that they want - in the Rural Carriers case - to except a wage freeze with less benefits. The APWU is still fighting this as well but willing to negotiate. This is not a new tactic. It has happened in the past when the economy was in trouble. And just recently there have been Unions that have accepted this. Read this article in the New York Times and you will understand what we may expect next year.
We are getting ready to head out to Annahiem for our National Convention. A lot of you think of this as us going to a large party and having nothing but fun. I wish that were true but it is not. We go to training sessions daily and exchange ideas and problems we are experiencing with other Locals throughout the Country. We find a lot of common complaints and talk to each other about ways to deal with them. A couple of years ago in Boston I saw Jim McCullough respond to a phone call from home about a problem in one of our offices. He and others are not unavailable during this time. How many of you would have that much devotion to your job to do that? So don't get the wrong impression of what we are doing during the convention. We are away but we are spending a good amount of time making us a stronger bargaining unit to protect your jobs as well as ours.
How can YOU help save the Postal Service?.
By being a Professional Letter Carrier like most Regular Carriers that treat their patrons like family. Sometimes it takes a little extra effort like the saying goes "Random acts of kindness". Looking out for the elderly, a kind word, not being in too big a hurry to do the route right and safe. Also giving to COLCPE, MDA, Food Drive. Remember "The job you save may be yours"
Are you a Professional Letter Carrier?
Bill Mellon, trustee
Bill Mellon's Letter To the PRC
In regard to the Postal Service going to five day delivery, I feel that this would be a great dis-service to the American public. As a letter carrier for 39 years I can attest to the fact that people appreciate having a member of the Federal Government going door to door 6 days a week to every household in these United States. The public has consistently rated the Postal Service as the most trusted of all Government agency's.
Countless times letter carriers have come to the aid of patrons in distress that may have saved their lives. There would not be a financial crisis if they were given credit for the $75 billion overpaid to the civil service. The Postal Service only has to break even but every time they make a profit the Government uses them as a cashcow. This has to stop.
Bill Mellon, Trustee
March 1970 Postal Strike
Prior to the Postal Strike, letter carriers made starvation wages. Almost everyone had two jobs to survive.
I remember delivering mail to the Philadelphia Airport at the customs office. One of the customs workers ask me "when was the letter carrier union going to ask Congress for a raise". At that time, prior to 1970, when we got a raise, all federal workers got a raise through Congress, if the President didn't veto it. Yet we were at the bottom of the pay scale.
After working 10 years in Philadelphia, I transferred to Wayne Pa. in 1967. Wayne had its own NALC Branch # 899..
In March 1970 I became a branch secretary on a Monday. That Friday we voted to strike. Welcome to the NALC.
We had already got our keys and accountable mail from the key desk. After hearing about the strike in NY we went outside and voted to strike,
We returned our keys etc to the key desk. I still can hear the supervisor saying "you can't do this" as we filed passed him. We made some signs and started to picket outside.The Postmaster called me in and tried to talk me into getting the carriers back to work. I told him that conditions were so bad that would be difficult. We sent some carriers to other offices to see what was going on. They also were going out. By Monday the carriers voted to go back to work, but as we started to go in , the clerks had a picket line.
I told the Postmaster that we would not cross their picket line. Then one of the clerks told me that if we asked them to go in, they would go in also, and we did.
President Nixon agreed to have Postal Reform that gave us Arbitration which brought us COLA and better wages. That was the end of collective begging.
It was scary since management threatened to fire us, but the outcome was worth it.
I later become President of Branch 899 and in 1974 we merged with what is now Branch 725 SE PA Merged.
Bill Mellon, Trustee
Five Day Delivery
We keep hearing about the Postal Service cutting mail to five day delivery because they are losing money. The Postal Service is supposed to be non-profit and does not pay their top executives no where near what the private companies do. For years every Administration has used the Post Office as a cash cow, taking money anytime they show a profit. As far as the internet, which seems that idenity theft has increased since its invention, how many of our own people pay their own bills on line. I wonder what would happen if we had a campaign for everyone to pay bills through the mail.
Bill Mellon, Trustee
Every time I hear the song Wasted Words from the Allman Brothers, I think of all the Parking Lot Lawyers we have in this Union. That is my personal term for them. Every Office has them. They have all the answers to everything that ails us and how they would fix everything. They can spend hours hanging out in the parking lot at the Post Office or a bar after work explaining how things should be done. Yet they never have the time to come to the Union meetings or get involved to really become a part of the solution. Your ideas might have merit. I personally am always willing to listen to opposing views and I know a lot of others would be willing to do so as well. Then we can formulate an approach to an argument to make a more thought out and united front.
Nobody has all the answers. We need to be listening to all points of view and decide what courses of action to take. We have to be better informed as how to do so. Take the time to know what is going on in the Postal Service and our Union. Take advantage of all the training that is given. But most importantly go to the Union Meetings and listen to what is said, ask the questions and express your ideas and thoughts. That is why we meet every month. We need to get more people onboard. When I go to a Union meeting and it is standing room only - only then will I think this message has gotten through. Don't use wasted words - make them work.
Like the old saying goes. If you are not willing to be part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. Stop being a part of the problem.
Route Adjustment - Final Thoughts
The name was changed to the Modified Interim Alternative Route Adjustment Program. MIARAP is the term the Postal Service uses. The program was adjusted to correct some flaws and of course the Postal Service had to designate a new name for it.
There were some problems along the way and in the end there were some problems with the strips being wrong. Some of the delivery points were given slots too small or there were some sequencing problems with them. Really small problems in the long run. But the bottom line is we would have done a lot worse if we went with the old method of Route Adjustment. People seem to forget to use what is allowed to them in a regular inspection. All of a sudden they don't need to use the Rest room that day and they move a little faster then normal because someone is watching them. This process might not be perfect but we know how it is used so we need to use it to our advantage.
We know in advance what they are looking for. They are giving us the opportunity to use it in our favor to protect out routes. Of course we all know this because we have listened to Rhonda and Less when they gave us all the instructions right? If you haven't then shame on you. If you haven't don't complain about what was added to your route or what might be added to it in the future.
The training I receive is valuable not only to me but to the members I serve. I look forward to the additional training this Local has announced it will be giving me to protect my job and the jobs of my Brothers and Sisters. You should all attend this training sessions for the same reason. If you don't it may cost people their jobs. Don't blame anyone but that person in the mirror.
Route Adjustment - Part 2
OK now the fun part. This is were you have to go back to everyone in your office and tell them what changes have been made. Nobody wants to hear they have something added to their route but most of the time that is exactly what happens. After I went to the mapping process and did all the adjustments I knew I was not going to face any happy campers in my office. The way they do this is to square off routes into what they believe to be eight hour blocks. Not the way the carrier believes it to be but we know they are doing it by numbers from a machine.
You have a list of everything that is going to move - 1840 Reverses showing all the additions and subtractions, resequencing sheets - to set up their delivery points, and a sheet allowing you to show how they may want to deal with these changes. Now, what you have to do is let them know what changes have to be made. If you are doing it in your own office then you are the one that helped to create these changes so when you sit down with them for this review don't look for any thanks. All they know is how it is affecting them personally and not appreciating what we all are doing overall. Some routes changed a little but there are other routes that changed dramatically. Almost like a whole new route. I don't expect anyone to be happy with this process but it is something the Union signed off on doing and what we could have lost in my mind would have been more significant hadn't we of done so.
I sent everything off to the team to have the new strips and red books created and we will see what happens next. I will let you all know how I make out there as well.
If anyone else wants to add to this, comment or ask questions then this is the forum to do it. We learn a lot from each other's experience and all it can do is help us do what we have to do.
My Personal Experience with the Route Adjustment Process
I want to walk you through my personal experience with the Route Adjustment Process. I hope it will help you understand what to expect and also to understand the support that is out there for you. If you try to get it - it is there for the asking.
I was on vacation when a friend of mine told me we were visited by the adjustment representative from the Union. He told me what we stood to lose on each route and as an office. We fully expected to lose the AUX in our office but hoped to keep a little more as a buffer for later. Jim Watson came into our office and went through the first stages with the Guys and everything was looking like we were going to take a big hit. Eric Jackson came into our office to finish off the process and at the end we still were concerned about losing bid assignments. I want to state right now in saying all this that both of these guys did the utmost to prepare us for what was to come.
My Shop Steward wanted me to go along with him to the mapping part of this process. He decided to allow me to go alone instead after our Postmaster decided we only needed one of us to go because I was a PTF for so long in this office I knew all of the routes better then he did.
After the initial consultations we knew we were going to lose the AUX. But, we had a buffer of 38 minutes to work with over the 7 routes that would be left. Or, so we thought. We got to the mapping and my Postmaster and I were under the impression we were soon to be found wrong. Rhonda Massari was a welcomed person to see when I went to the Plant. And her help and guidance were extremely part of what we were able to protect. So much so that I thought it important to thank her personally for her efforts once we were done
We found out that while our original estimate would be that we had 38 minutes to play with that doesn't figure the time that you - take a break - load your truck - wash time and travel time. All of which reduced the buffer time we thought we had to 12 minutes. And if you want to talk to anyone that has gone through this process they will tell you that is nothing.
I am the Junior Regular in my office and I stand the most to lose. Maybe because of that I have a sharper vision on what might happen but I think there is another reason.
Actually more than just one. I have a Leader that leads in our President. We have a great Executive Board to back that up. I have a lot of people I can call on. Friends that we can all share experiences and how to deal with them. The training that this Local gives us prepares us for what to do. I was on vacation like I stated earlier and was unable to make the formal training the Union gave. But Rhonda Massari got me up to speed on what to do and along with her and my friends with their past experiences I felt confident in doing what I needed to do. I got it done but it wasn't me that did it. It was a collection of people working towards the same goal Protecting jobs.
I can't thank all of those involved enough,
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