Where’s The SERVICE?

(Fade in)

Scene 1:  Three older ladies are standing around looking at their mail.

Old Lady #1: “I can’t believe them.”

Old Lady #2: “Yeah, I know.  What ever happened to the good old days?”

Old Lady #3: “Where’s the SERVICE?”

I’m sure many of you recognize the Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” commercial reference.  I think that many carriers, as well as many customers are thinking the same thing.  The only ones however who aren’t feeling the same are Postal management.  These groups of people spend more time with their noses staring at a computer screen worrying about  “numbers” than what is important.  That would be the delivery SERVICE we provide to the United States and the World.

I find it somewhat humorous that once the endorsements on the mail changed to include the word “SERVICE”, everything went downhill (or it seemed that way).  I remember an incident where my station manager told me that unless we make money on a SERVICE, we (i.e. the Postal SERVICE) will not be providing the SERVICE.  What part of SERVICE doesn’t management understand.  All of them apparently.  I always thought I was working for the United States Postal SERVICE, not the United States Postal dis-SERVICE. 

I’m sure each and every one of you who reads this article can come up with an example of where SERVICE is leaving the Postal SERVICE.  I can think of a couple right off the bat.

1.     Getting rid of suite/door to door delivery for business’s. (are these the people that the Postal SERVICE is trying to keep from using other delivery companies like UPS and FedEx?)

2.     Replacing door to door delivery in residential neighborhoods with gang-boxes.

With the continuing decline of the SERVICE’s we provide, where does postal management think business is going to go?  I would have to say UPS, FedEx, and the many other delivery, SERVICE orientated companies.  I personally don’t want to see that happen.  Every one of us has a stake in ensuring success of this organization.  Granted, it’s not perfect by any means; however, I take extreme pride in the SERVICE I provide to my customers and I sincerely hope each of you do the same.

Trevor Payne

Delegate/Webmaster

www.nalc-branch78.org

Trevor@nalc-branch78.org

This article first published April 2002

 

Hat’s Off

There are too many times through our lives that we neglect to acknowledge other people.  These can include husbands, wives, children, family members, and even co-workers.  My previous articles seemed kind of “aggressive”.  This time however, I’d like to show recognition to a group of workers that we all see everyday yet sometimes, don’t really notice them there.  These are the PTF’s or Subs.

The life of a Sub isn’t an easy one.  I’m sure we all look back at our times as a Sub and sometimes wonder how come we didn’t quit.  You hear stories of how some of the older Brothers and Sisters of our Union subbed for seven years while some only subbed for three days.  I’m not entirely sure of what life as a Sub was decades ago, but I can definitely reflect on my three years.  The pressure of making my ninety days was enormous.  Between having to make your street times, carrying off of other routes,  skipping breaks, lunches (early on), learning routes and streets, all the carrier terminology, and best of all…working fifty-six to sixty hours each week. 

You hear many people say “It was like that when I was a Sub”.  When you’re a Regular it is kind of fun to say that, but as a PTF, hearing that just made you crazy.  Many times that meant something wasn’t going to go your way.  I remember many times thinking “it wasn’t fair”.  “It” being anything from carrying off a terrible route to having to always come in on holidays to case on routes.  But I made it.  How many times did you wonder what number you are to making regular?  How long would you be a PTF?  When would you become Regular!?  Those questions weighed on your mind until you received the glorious letter saying “You made it.”  Now, the cycle starts all over with a new group of  PTF’s.  Now as Regular you cross over from being on the top of  the list to the bottom.

I know that life as a Sub isn’t easy.  Regular’s tease the PTF’s every once in awhile, but that right of passage will soon be passed on.  I would like to give each PTF who reads this a pat on the back and a thank you!  Thanks for carrying the lousiest parts of  our routes, or even worse, the lousiest routes in the city.  Thanks for being dedicated to a job that the Nation depends on.  And lastly, Thank You for being a Union member.

Trevor  Payne

Delegate/Webmaster

Trevor@nalc-branch78.org

www.nalc-branch78.org

This article was first published May 2002, I thought it was of relevance to the current CCA's

The Future of the Post Office?

This morning I was witness to one of the many facets of being a professional letter carrier.  I guess I shouldn't have been surprised since I've seen it before.  What is this act that I saw you wonder? What would make me want to write an article about it?  The answer: a PTF carrier broke their hold-down to carry another route.  I asked the PTF about breaking their hold-down; however, I must admit I was a little "aggressive" in my tone, but this bothered me.  The conversation went something like this...

Me:  Why did you break your hold-down?

Carrier:  No response

Me:  Let me get this straight, you break your hold-down to carry one of the best routes in the station right?

Carrier:  Yes.

Me:  So, would you break your hold-down to carry the worst route in the station?

Carrier:  No.

Me:  Then why break your hold-down in the first place?  What would you do if management came up to you some morning and asked you to break your hold-down to carry the worst route?  You can't say "no" since you broke your hold-down before.  Don't you think that management would bring this up?

Carrier:  Don't worry about it, it’s none of your business!

Me:  Everything that happens in here is my business.

It's not a verbatim account of what was said, but the gist is there.  I have been in the Post Office for only 5 1/2 years, but ever since day one, I've been attending my union meetings, going to conventions, Congressional breakfasts, attending Union functions and I even held a stewardship.  I am very pro-union and have no problem expressing it.  However, I'm very troubled in what I'm seeing with a few of the PTF's that work for the Post Office now.  I don't think that they even know what all the Union has done for US as professional letter carriers.  I'm sure that this has been a problem for many years in the past, and will continue to be a problem in the future. 

Many new carriers haven't heard the stories of what it was like in the past, waiting on a bench in the morning hoping to work that day, being called in for only two hours of work, and many more.  Before there were hold-downs for example, management would be able to place a PTF on any route at any time.  Thanks to the Union, today’s letter carriers have it much easier and we all should be thankful for that.  If you doubt my words just ask any senior carrier, you'll be amazed at what you'll find out!

Another thing which is troubling is seeing a PTF finding every possible way of getting out of the job that they are paid to do.  We, as letter carriers, get paid to deliver the mail, not to case on other carriers routes all day, answering phones, processing stampback, and other jobs as this.  When this happens, the only people who are getting hurt are the other carriers that now need to handle the extra workload.  Is this fair to them?  No.  But unfortunately life isn't fair and neither is the Post Office.  How would they feel if the roles were reversed?  I'm guessing not so good. 

Some of you may be asking yourselves why I should even care.  Well, I'm proud to wear the carrier uniform and what it means.  I'm proud to be a letter carrier and everything the job entails.  I want the Post Office to continue operating and provide a career for me to support my family.  And lastly, every Union Brother and Sister should care about the continual success of our Union, and what it does to make our lives better.

Trevor Payne

trevor@nalc-branch78.org

This article was first published December 2001

What's One Day A Month?

     Here it is, March 2002 and another Union meeting is coming up next week.  I've been going to them since I began my career with the Post Office (way back in 1996...yes, that was a joke).  It has been six years of taking one day a month for about two hours out of my life to learn about what the Union is doing to make my life as a carrier better.  How many times have you been casing mail and overheard some carrier complain by asking "...what has the Union done for me?"  For those fifty or so of us (yes, I said 50) that attend the meetings each month we could tell you.  However; it is a shame that only about 3% of OUR Union membership attend the monthly meetings.  These people are the ones who know what the Union is doing to make our life as carriers better.  These people are the ones who know what Congress is doing with Postal Reform.  It's nice to see these fellow brothers and sisters take time out of their busy schedules to learn what is going on with the Union, Congress, and the Postal Service. 

     I would love to come down to a meeting some second Wednesday of each month and not find a place to sit!  It would be nice to not be able to find a parking spot.  It would be nice to see some new faces (not that the ones that show up are bad...well, there is Rocco's). I challenge each carrier who reads this article to attend at least one meeting in 2002.  Come and introduce yourself to me saying that you accepted the challenge.  I will put up a page on the website listing everyone who accepted this challenge.  There are forty-nine other members who would like to see you down at a meeting also.

 

I'm not going to make this a long article this time but I want to leave you with this...

 

            To have a Stronger Union, what's one day a month?

 

Trevor Payne

Delegate/Webmaster

Trevor@nalc-branch78.org

www.nalc-branch78.org

This article was first published in April 2002

The Reality of Our Future

I would like to first off thank the membership for giving me the opportunity to represent Branch 78 at the NALC 68th Biennial Convention in Minneapolis Minnesota. The convention was very informative with many speakers to listen too and workshops to attend. In my opinion, the best speaker was Ron Bloom from the investment bank Lazard Group, LLC. Many of you may recognize both of those names. The NALC has hired them as advisors to consider the current USPS financial crisis and its long-term challenges.

Mr. Bloom was an amazing speaker. The information he gave the delegation wasn't all peaches and cream however. This Union and the Postal Service are at a crossroads. The Postal Service believes that it needs to “shrink to survive”, the NALC believes in new revenue generation, new services, and the continuation of six day delivery among other things. The steel industry did the same thing the Postal Service is doing now; retreat, retreat, retreat.

Like the steelworkers union, the NALC will need to try and lead the restructuring of the industry on its own, focusing on five arenas: politics, collective bargaining, corporate operations and finances, industry structure, and management. If we as a Union don't “stand up for the industry, nobody will, because at the end of the day, nobody cares more about these institutions than the people who work for them.” Mr. Bloom said “The history of the Postal Service teaches us that we need three things to succeed: A leader with vision who wants the Postal Service to win; a Congress that sees the value of the network; and letter carriers who stand up for themselves and this institution.”

We as a Union, can do great things. One way is by giving to COLCPE. This is one of the arenas Mr. Bloom talked about. Every member, scab, and employee knows that politics is a money game; no money and you don't play. That is why giving to COLCPE is a great way for the NALC to get into the game. The Gimme 5 program is an easy way for us to help those that help us. I believe that $5 per pay (the minimum for the program) is something we all can afford. How much is your job worth to you?

Mr. Bloom stated a very important fact. The Postal Service has the NALC. “Whether the USPS survives really does rest on letter carrier shoulders.” I was texting back and forth with another carrier last night and the topic of our future came up. He asked how long do we have? My response was very candid, the 5% of Union membership can not do the work of 100% of the membership. This Nation, the Postal Service and this Union needs the 95% to get off their asses and fight for our jobs, our families, and our futures!

If we are to survive this time of transition as employees of the Postal Service and members of the NALC, we ALL need to work to do anything in our power to secure our future.

Trevor Payne

The article was first published in the Branch Bulletin September 2012

CCA Whisperer by Ramon Lawson

So you’ve been working here at the Livingston Station for about 2 weeks and the manager tells you that he wants to speak with you in the office. What do you do, what do you say? Many newly hired employees have no idea what there rights are. Well I’m here to help. I am Ramon Lawson, the CCA whisperer. I’ve been employed by the good ole’ postal service for about 10 years now. I started as a Part-time Flexible (PTF). I never had the opportunity to go through the ‘transitional employee’ (TE) or city carrier assistant (CCA) phase but that doesn’t mean I can’t relate to how you feel.

This career path is tough. Long hours, being disrespected, weather conditions, and the occasional dog make this a thankless job. It may seem hard at first but as time goes by and you start learning more and more you will come to find being a mailman is a great job to have. I’m here to help you make it to becoming a regular full-time city carrier.

Once a quarter I will be submitting an article to give you pointers on how to make the job a little easier. My first article is going to focus on your carrier duties. The job title you are assigned is “city carrier assistant.” Your main job is to carry mail. This means that you will actually have to carry mail and deliver it on your own. Unfortunately some people do not understand this. Carrying mail can be fun, rewarding, and worthwhile but only after you have mastered the craft. As new carriers you should focus more on mastering your craft and not as much on what “Johnny and Becky” are doing. I have seen many carriers come and go in my time here. The one common thing I notice among those who left is that they never figured out the craft of being a good mail carrier. It isn’t that hard to do. I will tell you how you can master your craft in 5 easy steps:

Step 1 - Come to work when you are scheduled. Not coming to work is the easiest way to not having this job.

Step 2 - Again I say come to work…you can’t learn how to do the job if you aren’t here. While your at work ask questions. Each station has a union steward. Find out who your steward is and go to them with any questions you have. They are there to help you.

Step 3 - Pay attention. You will be given lots of acronyms and numbers that you wont be able to memorize. Just nod your head and say ok, you will get it in time. It took me years to learn what a 1838C is.

Step 4 - Deliver all the mail you are given. Do not bring mail back unless told to do so by someone in management. If they do tell you to bring the mail back make sure you write it down (on ps form 1571) and have someone witness it for you if possible.

Step 5 - Smile, you will be getting a great big ole paycheck for all the hours you will be working.

During my first 6 years with the postal service I didn’t have any activities planned until after 630pm nightly. You will be tired, you will miss your family but its all worth it when you get to take that family vacation….in 3 years.

If you follow these 5 steps you will make it through your 90/120 day probationary period with no problems. Then the real fun can begin. Until next time…Peace, Love, and safe City Streets!!!