December 2018 - Article by VP Mark Beach

First of all, I would like to wish each and every one at Branch 78 a happy and safe holiday season. Secondly, I want to take a moment and thank ever single carrier in the Columbus Installation and the surrounding Associate Offices for the outstanding effort they are about to put forth this holiday season. Cyber shopping has lead to incredible package delivery numbers for the USPS in recent years forcing letter carriers to work longer hours and more overtime than ever.

Unfortunately, ever year the nightly news seems to be leading with a story about porch pirates and the stealing of Christmas packages. This can happen in any neighborhood and sometimes is more likely to happen in the more affluent areas because the criminal target them. If the package is not a release package and no one is home, determine the following factors; can I leave the package where it is safe (i.e. hidden from view but where the customer will see it, locked on a screened in porch or other secure locations. On my route, I encouraged my customers to leave out a large tub to leave packages in if they were not home, the old out of sight out of mind principal or with a neighbor. If you have any doubt leave notice and have them pick it up, better to be safe than sorry.

Recently we have had several cases alleging carriers stealing from the mail. Management is strongly pushing for these cases to be prosecuted in federal courts to the maximum extent possible. This type of behavior not only hurts our employer and their creditability with the public but hurts our images as letter carriers.

On a related topic management in the Columbus Installation seems to be pushing disciplinary up at a phenomenal rate. Most of the time carriers who are disciplined are so for excessive absenteeism. Most of these actions were dismissed or mitigated due to management making procedural errors. When the absenteeism is egregious but dismissed due to management errors the union will relay a message through the steward or send a not so subtle message in the language of the resolve that the employee’s attendance needs to improve. Please, if you get one of these warnings do not take it personally, the union is only trying to look out for you. Other disciplinary actions of late includes package scanning, unauthorized overtime, and MSP’s. In one particular office I noticed a pattern in the PDI’s dealing with scanning. When I finally convinced the supervisor to go back and look a little closer it was discovered that the closing supervisor failed to close out the day in question.

Management is required to complete a thorough and objective investigation before taking any disciplinary action? Often time’s management will try to ask leading questions or make statements in the PDI assuming the carriers guilt. Sometimes the frontline supervisor has been given an ultimatum to write a carrier up or be written up themselves. A lot of times this mentality leads to disciplinary actions being taken without management proving just cause. If asked about a specific package at a specific address just remember that customer may have got more than one package in the day and the package in question could have gotten to the route late, taken out by management or someone else, thrown in a tub for the next day. Etc. Management is trying to hold the carrier accountable for what clearly could have been someone else’s mistake. Worse yet you may have made the right scan on the package in question and the barcode could have been bad, incorrect, failed to upload to the server or be stuck in the cloud. Many times management has issued carriers discipline only to discover that later the scan downloaded. I hope that someday soon someone higher up in the Post office will take notice of the Columbus Installation and realize a fundamental change in management needs to take place in order for the USPS to succeed. Until then we all need to keep fighting the good fight together! United we stand!