Operations for the Postal Service, not knowing a good thing for our company, has decided to scrap joint route inspection agreements and go back to formal route inspections. In the spring, we had multiple special inspections that resulted in time added into stations. Operations as a result announced several full-blown inspections. Many carriers that came to the union route inspection-training class did an excellent job protecting their route. Yet a few of the younger carriers where taken completely off guard by their first inspection, which resulting in these carriers missing time credits that they deserve. The mail volume in Grove City was unbelievable low during the week of inspection only to have it explode the week after the count was over. No routes at Grove City during the week of inspection had any EDDM mailing the week of inspection. Yet the week after the count was over almost every single route has had at least two EDDM mailings, most had three. Seems like management has specifically targeted the lightest mail volume weeks to perform these inspections.
Next came the Lincoln Village inspection and almost the same exact thing happen with low mail volume. We have guided the stewards in these offices to ask management for relevant information on these inspections and handling and processing grievances regarding these inspections. I’m truly sadden that our employer would choose to throw away thousands of dollars just to cut two or three minutes per route based on inspection times that took place during the lowest month or two of mail volumes. We have not had route inspections for years so; I cannot understand why carriers would not come to union inspection-training classes that are designed to ensure carriers get a fair shake when being inspected. I hope that in the future more carriers take advantage of these training classes.
The union has seen an increased volume in attendance related disciplinary action recently. Many of these adverse actions resulted in expunged due to management mistakes. However, the district has now brought in an Attendance Czar to ensure management stops making errors in these disciplinary actions.
After pressure from the union and grievances, management announced 26 conversions in the Columbus installation in May. Just a reminder to these new regular carriers you only have 60 days to contact Shared Services to sign up for benefits. Newly converted regulars are contractually guaranteed time to meet on the clock with the union to discuss their benefit options.
Last, I would like everyone to check out the final report for this year’s “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive. A big thank you goes out to each person that helped make this year’s food drive a tremendous success. Your generosity and effort have helped our local communities tremendously. Thanks for all your hard work and generosity to support this great community service project.
By the time you read this article the 27th annual Letter Carrier Food Drive will be in the books. I would like to thank all city carriers, rural carriers, APWU members and management personnel that made this endeavor possible. Several groups including CVS, UFCW local 1059, United way, Central Ohio labor council, Mid-Ohio Food Bank and other surrounding local food banks that partnered with the NALC and the USPS to make a difference for Columbus and the surrounding area’s less fortunate. This year’s need was greater than ever, and I believe once the totals are in, we will be above and beyond the last few years totals. Thank you for your effort to help our community.
The union has noticed a huge upswing in the Office of Inspector General activity in Columbus recently. The union does not condone criminal activity by our members or against our employers. However, the OIG sometimes goes after employee’s that are completely innocent of wrong doing or they twist situations to implicate carriers as being guilty of crimes or actions they did not commit. The membership needs to be aware that they have right’s to council if approached by the OIG, but the individual must exercise this right, the OIG will simply not offer them. If a carrier requests representation, regardless of the representative being a union steward or a lawyer, the carrier has the right to remain silent with no fear of reprisal until representation is provided. Now if the OIG would just pay as much attention to managements indiscretions over the past 7- or 8-years concerning clock ring falsification and failing to pay grievance settlements just name a few things OIG worthy, I would have much more respect for them. I believe the OIG has a very important role in maintaining the Postal Services integrity, but it must be done on both sides of the house. The increased OIG presence may be result of the many Congressional inquiries filed by customers over mis delivery or non-delivery issues, former employees not receiving their pay checks or current employees who are owed back pay and the long delays they have experienced.
However, all is not lost there is still a core of good managers and supervisor in Columbus that new Postmaster Jennifer Goldstein will hopefully build around to create a more productive work environment. The union suggests that the new Postmaster start with the staffing issue and believes many of the other issues may drastically improve as a result of being fully staffed, if that ever takes place.
The union contacted the Columbus Postmasters office on the matter of conversions. The union contends that as a result of 12 routes going residual on the march bids that 12 conversions, minus any accepted transfers should have taken place. Saturday 4/27/2019. A week later 13 conversions were announced for Columbus. Again, this is an entire pay period after these conversions were contractually obligated to take place. The union is filing on this matter and the outcome of this grievance is still pending at the writing of this article. Although these conversions are only two weeks these are the types of issues that continue to plague the Columbus Installation. Sometimes I go out to the associate offices just to regain my sanity.
The second Saturday in May is a very special day for letter carriers. On that day the National Association of letter carriers in partnership with the USPS hosts the nation’s largest one-day food drive. Many of our newer letter carriers may not understand the tradition and the importance of the letter carrier Food Drive. City letter carriers on that day collect nonperishable food items donated by their Postal customers while in the course of their daily letter carrier duties. Over the years, NALC members have collected billions of pounds of food that replenishes food pantry shelves when they are at their critically lowest level. I would like to encourage all city letter carriers to give 110% when delivering the food drive bags, cards and when collecting on the day of the food drive. The effect and impact that our letter carrier food drive has on Columbus and our surrounding communities is far greater than any single letter carrier can imagine.
This year we have had a huge outpouring of support for the food drive from both the AFL-CIO and United Commercial Food Workers (UFCW) who have combined to donate over 150,000 food drive bags. These bags are to be delivered by letter carriers at residential address, on both walking and mounted routes until they are gone. We are asking the membership to ensure these bags are delivered during the two weeks prior to the food drive and that not a single bag be left at any station. We also have food drive cards that are to be delivered to every patron serviced by Branch 78 letter carriers including apartments on the week leading up to the food drive. We are counting on you the membership, to take the time and extra effort to make sure every food drive bag donated, and every food drive card is delivered in the two weeks leading up to the food drive. We have been given the full commitment and support of the current OIC who has pledge complete management cooperation to ensure the food drive is a complete success.
For the younger members who have not experienced the food drive or have only been with the Postal Service for a few years, I encourage you to talk to some of the veteran carriers at your station on how to be successful at collecting food on that day and its importance to the community, your employer and your union.
Understaffing has plagued the Columbus Installation for many years, and it is from a variety of factors. Now the Columbus Installation has been asked to move its hiring from a local person, to a human resource specialist in Cincinnati. This will more than likely serve to exacerbate the problem by moving it to someone over a hundred miles away.
There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there among CCA’s. For instance, I have run into many CCA’s who think that if they put a hold down on a route, they will automatically get the day off that is assigned to the route. This is wrong. If you put in a hold down, management is required to work you on the route for the duration of the opt. There are two exceptions to this where management can bump a CCA off a hold for the day. 1. Management can bring in a regularly scheduled carrier in that group and if the T-6 has no where else to go in his/her group they can bump a CCA. 2. Management needs work for regular carriers to give them 8 hours in a day when no other work is available in the station to fulfil their work hour guarantee. Regarding the routes scheduled day off management has three options for a CCA with a hold; 1.) They can give them the day off, 2.) They can make them work the hold down route or, 3.) They can make them work somewhere else. Remember CCA’s are required to work flexible hours and flexible schedules. This means that a CCA can be required to work up to 11.5 hours in a day up to seven days in a week. Know your right’s get the NALC APP. And know your right’s.
I would like to wish all the letter carriers and their family a Happy New Year from my family and NALC Branch 78 family. The last year has been a huge struggle for letter carriers, especially in the understaffed Columbus Installation. The Columbus Postmaster and staff have allowed the Columbus Installation to fall more than 40 city carrier assistants. Although we are hiring every other week in Columbus the turnover rate for CCA’s is absolutely horrendous. Columbus clearly needs a cultural change which only the Post Office higher ups can enact. The Postmaster always wants to focus on the handful of employees that call in frequently or get caught sitting or staying in one spot too long. These employees are few and far between and clearly would not have a significant impact if the Installation was properly staffed.
Congratulations to new Region 11 Business Agent, Mark Camilli who officially took over for Dan Toth January 1st. We have already been in discussions with Mr. Camilli and he has admitted that Columbus needs some major attention and he is looking forward to helping us fix the problem. Outgoing Region 11 Business Agent and new National Director of Retiree’s Dan Toth got the ball rolling on this issue by helping implement several processes to help curb management timecard theft and failure to provide information. This process was agreed upon with the District Manager, Melvin Anderson. Shortly after having the intervention, Mr. Anderson went out on detail. The process was very effective for a long period of time but, is clearly still needed as some stations again are failing to provide daily packets. Furthermore, the union is still finding on average two dozen hours a week that supervision is failing to provide. Mr. Camilli’s first visit is much anticipated and he has big shoes to fill from his predecessor.
I would like to thank Yana Miller and Tom Wilson for their many years of service to Branch 78 and the One New Toy program. We had an interim program this year and I’m glad to say that Branch 78 and its membership donated $3,700 dollars in gift cards and several thousand dollars more in books and toys. Next year Hilltop retiree Mary Robinson will be helping with the toy drive and she will be looking to recruit other members to help out as well.
Branch 78 finished the year just shy of 3,000 grievances appealed at the formal step A. A vast majority of these grievances were related to the issue of forced overtime and result in monetary awards to the membership. We are finding out that management never input many of these “agreed to resolves”. The end of the year is a good time to go back and check your grievance settlements versus your end of the year adjustments. If there is a discrepancy with what you received and what you were owed, contact your steward with the documentation and a statement.
I would also like to thank the Columbus Formal A Representatives (in no particular order) Charles Sanders, Allan Moore, Ramon Lawson, Jackie Mitchell, Jeff Stiverson, Jeremy Hirschfelt and Dean Peruzzi. The tremendous amount of cases these people have handled along with a learning curve that was super accelerated made for a rocky path at times for all of us. However, they all showed dedication and pride in learning how to get along while improving their communication skills and improving their formal A skills as well. Hope everyone has a great start to the New year.
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!
I would like to take a moment and thank each and every member of Branch 78 who served in our nation’s military services. I believe those who have willing served to protect this nation and our way of life in the United States deserve the utmost respect and gratitude. Each year for the past 10 years I have felt truly blessed to donate my time the last weekend in October to help disabled and wounded veterans in a charity event and I’m truly humbled by the men and woman I meet and the love that they show for their country and fellow American’s.
By the time you read this the midterm elections will be over. I hope that all branch 78 members exercised their right to vote and thought long and hard about their jobs and future before they pushed that button to vote. Unfortunately no matter how you feel about President Trump and his policies he has made one thing abundantly clear, he hates union shops and will do whatever he can to privatize the Post office and kick hard working letter carriers to the curb along with our health care, retirement and good paying middle class jobs. Many of your fellow NALC members have started to see the writing on the wall and have joined the letter carrier political fund for five dollars a month to make sure the NALC has a seat at the political table. Would you miss five dollars a month to help secure your job, healthcare and retirement benefits? Please talk to Todd, myself or Trevor Payne on how to join the letter carrier Political fund.
The recent attempted mail bombing by alleged right wing radical Ceaser Sayoc could have really brought the mail industry to its knees if the attempts had been successful. Even though it is still unclear if the bombs actually went through the mail system or not the threat to Postal Employees is very real. I urge all employees to be extremely cautious of any suspicious package. The letter carriers who were employed by the Postal Service back in 2011 when the 911 attacks took place and terrorist sent anthrax laced letter and packages through the mail killing 5 and leaving 17 others lives forever physically changed will never forget the impact this had on the mailing system. Over half of our current regulars in the Columbus Installation were not even employed at the time of 911 so they may not even realize the threat that or impact terrorist using the mail can cause. Please I caution all of you to stay vigilant and aware. Don’t just think because we live and work around Central Ohio that it could not happen here.
We are slowly working through the minor route adjustments we did during the Spring of 2018 and doping the revisits. We have had a willing partner to try and do what is right instead of costing our employer tens of thousands of dollars in payouts in the grievance arbitration procedure. We still have a few offices left to revisit and with one exception the re tweaking has been minor. That being said management has informed the union that Northland (43229) station will undergo a formal route inspection beginning 4-6-2019.
I would like to take the time to thank Yana Miller Farney and retiree Mr. and Mrs. Tom Wilson for their many years of dedicated service to NALC Branch 78‘s one new Toy Program. Due to health reasons, work conflicts and a long tenured run of leadership with this program they are stepping down. The branch is looking for a few dedicated and eager volunteers to take this program next year so we can continue the tradition of Letter carriers and NALC Branch 78 giving back to families in need during the holiday season.
Last but not least I want to give a big shout out to retiree’s Doug Gulley and Ray Mitchell for working o the labor 2018 get out the vote campaign. While letter carriers worked late hours into the night these gentleman spent time away from their families making phone calls and doing labor walks on behalf of labor friendly candidates. If you see them make sure you thank them for their efforts. Also I would like to thank Ramon Lawson for covering the November stewards meeting while I was on vacation.
Each week the union is finding that management is failing to input dozens of time cards for new City Carrier Assistance. New City Carrier Assistant’s, I’m sorry that I have to put out this alert but you will need to keep track of the time that you work, your time cards and your hours. Although I have tried to stay positive on this subject, it is happening too often for the union to feel comfortable. Please keep track of your time cards and hours and if there are any issues please report them to your steward or the branch immediately.
There is a large amount of discipline being issued on missed package scans. From what I’ve seen from my recent office trips everybody from the carrier of record for a route, CCA’s, management and even maintenance personnel carry and deliver packages, even if they are not assigned to them. Not to mention that some packages are being left on the supervisors’ desk or worse yet on the carriers’ case after they leave. This, along with the unreliable scanners that we currently have, are leading to more failures than the carriers’ actual missed scans. If you are given a PDI for missed package scans be very careful on how you answer the questions. A customer may get four packages in a day. You as a carrier may have gotten two packages on the day in question and properly handled and scanned them. The other two may have been thrown after you left or misrouted. When asked if you delivered packages for a certain address you may be referring to packages that you did actually deliver and scan when in reality management is asking you about the other two packages. The heat is coming down on the supervisors and managers from above and they are passing the blame to the carriers. I agree that package scans are very important and vital to our companies’ success but, I also believe management needs to prove that a carrier intentionally acted wrong with knowledge before issuing disciplinary action.
This fall is a very important election year both locally and nationally. There are opportunities to help both local and national labor friendly candidates win office. President Emeritus and Director of Retires Doug Gulley, has been released for the 2019 campaign. Please feel free to contact him or the hall to see how and when you can volunteer. Since it is election season a friendly Hatch Act reminder, a letter carrier cannot do any campaigning while on the clock; in uniform, or represent his or her views posing as a Postal employee. A letter carrier may not wear or display any type of political endorsements or campaign material while on the clock. Cars driven by Postal employees to and from work may only have two political bumper stickers and they must not be for the same candidate or issue. If the car is used for official business, the stickers must be covered. In addition, the use of social media to discuss, campaign or endorse a candidate or issue is strictly prohibited if the employee is on the clock or in uniform. This includes private social media, email accounts and electronic devices. We want to make sure labor friendly candidates and issues are elected and passed but we also want to make sure our letter carriers do the right thing and follow the rules set forth in the Hatch Act. That being said, I hope all members consider giving $5 dollars a month to the letter carrier political fund or come down to the AFL-CIO (out of uniform of course) and help get labor friendly candidates elected. The job you help save might be your own.
I wanted to start this article out with some statistics from the third quarter of the USPS. We reported an overall 3rd quarter revenue of 17.1 billion dollars. This is an increase of 402 million dollars (2.4 percent) over last quarter. Yet first class mail continues to fall at an alarming rate, down another 13.4 million in revenue while marketing mail went up 63 million and package volume grew another 475 million (10.2 percent increase). That increase was due to 102 million more packages being shipped (increase of 7.5 percent). Now the bad news, the bottom line is the Postal Service still reported a 507 million dollar loss after all considerations. Yet the blame cannot be placed on the employees because total operating cost was down $240 million for the quarter an overall decrease of 1.3 percent. These losses can be overcome if the United States Postal Service is given the flexibility in pricing that is needed to deal with the market and that the pre-funding and health care issues are addressed fairly.
This type of report gives the naysayers who want to privatize the post office a large platform to try and sell their case to Congress and the American people that the Postal Service is no longer needed. I’m asking all letter carriers to write their representative in Congress to encourage them to allow the USPS to leverage their considerable mailing and have the flexibility to set prices quickly to reflect changing markets. Ask your congressional representative to support initiatives such as vote by mail, the shipping of beer, wine and spirits, Postal banking and secure E-mail services to help grow USPS revenue streams.
Ask your Congress rep to cut through the red tape and fix the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act that requires future retiree’s health benefits to be paid 75 years in advance. This act handicapped the USPS and still stops the Postal Service the freedom to invest in themselves or the ability to decrease its liability and invest smarter and more productively. Currently the USPS is required to invest the retiree’s Health benefit plan money only into low yield slow growth treasury securities. The USPS could look into diversifying these funds into safe assets like the thrift savings plan.
We need Congress to acting on bills that secure our future like House Resolution 28 which protects door to door delivery which is what are customers prefer. Door to door delivery helps protect the relationship with our small business owners and helps strength programs like Customer Connect, Carrier Alert for the elderly and allows the USPS to work with federal and state agencies on programs like the Cities Readiness Initiative that would have letter carriers on the front line to deliver needed materials in case of chemical or biological attack. Also let your representative know that you support House Resolution 31 which would restore service standards that were effective prior to July 1, 2012. USPS citizens deserve to have a Postal Service that guarantees fast, efficient delivery for all Americans. This cut in service was a direct result of the government’s mismanagement of the pre funding issue. Congress needs to reverse this slash and cut mentally that is driving the mailing community further toward the e-commerce market. Remind your representative that the Postal service employees over 500,000 people, including being the second largest employer of veterans. Is your career and future with the USPS worth an hour of your time to write a letter and encourage your friends and family to do so? It may not seem like a lot but if all letter carriers would write just one letter asking their representatives to do these things it could become quickly an avalanche of a powerful movement. I have given you an outline of what to say and who to say it to. Now is the time for letter carriers to act to ensure future job security before it is too late.
Mark Beach, VP Branch 78
Shortly after convention several new memorandum of understanding were signed between the Postal Service and the NALC to address issues.
Memorandum M-01892 addresses the issue of city carrier assistants that have been on the rolls for an extended period of time. The parties agree that any CCA’s in offices of 200 work years or more that CCA’s with 30 months or more of relative standing on September 1, 2018 will be converted to full time regular status. CCA’s in offices below 200 work years with 30 months of relative standing on September 1, 2018 will be will be converted to Part time flexible status. This is great news for our CCA”s in the smaller offices that will now be able to be placed on the pay scale, sign up for health care and retirement, sign up for acation, and earn both sick leave and annual.
Memorandum M-01893 The "Hold in Place" rule will be rescinded. City letter carriers affected by this action will receive their step increases as scheduled prior to being held in place and have their pay calculated retroactive to the time they should have received their step increase(s). As of November 24, 2018, there will be no promotions within the city letter carrier craft. Instead, carrier technicians will be paid additional compensation equivalent to 2.1 percent of the employee's applicable hourly rate for all paid hours. The ELM will be modified to reflect this understanding.
Memorandum M-01894 finally resolves the disputed issue of the retroactive CCA Holidays. The memorandum states the following: Employees who were on the rolls as CCAs on Christmas day 2016 (December 25), New Year’s Day 2017 (January 1), Memorial Day 2017 (May 29) and independence day 2017 (July 4) and remain on the rolls as a CCA or career letter carrier as of the date of this agreement (7/28/18), will receive holiday pay pursuant to article 11.8 of the 2016-2019 National Agreement.
Memorandum M-01895 Addresses the issue of former CCA’s who have not received their retroactive pay for CCA time when they were converted to career status during the pay period. CCA with conversion dates prior to 2/18/17 who did not receive their retroactive pay on 2/23/18 will receive a lump sum of $50 dollars less taxes. CCA with conversion dates between 2/1817 & 5/27/18 who did not receive retroactive pay on 2/23/18 will receive a lump sum of $100.00 less taxes. Former CCA with a conversion date after May 27, 2017 will receive a lump sum of $150.00 less taxes if they did not receive not receive retroactive pay on 2/23/18.
Memorandum M-01896 To determine the number of years and employee served as a T.E. the total days an employee served will be divided by 360. The Postal Service will recalculate the time and make any necessary adjustments within 60 days of the signing of this resolve which was 7/27/2018.
These memorandums are a direct result of your union dues at work. It shows that without the union management would treat their younger employees even worse than what they do. This major overhaul for former transitional employees and City Carrier Assistants has turned into a huge disaster for the Postal Service and has soured many of our younger employees with their employer and some with the union. Thank you to all the CCA’s and T.E’s that “hung in there” and waited patiently. Your frustration was warranted and justified; hopefully these issues will now be resolved soon. These memorandums can be found on the NALC National website and the Material Resources Handbook. Become informed, get involved and help the union become stronger. United we stand divided we will fall.
Vice President, Mark Beach
Greetings and salutations from your M.B.A/NALC Health Benefits Representative Ramon
Lawson. 2018 has flown by. In my first 9 months on the job I have learned a lot. I have been to
trainings, received information and spoken with people about how great the NALC Health Plan
is. I am truly grateful for all the help I have received and knowledge I have gained.
Our weight loss challenge was a success. We had nine participants: Mark Beach, Todd
Hornyak, Ramon Lawson, Myron Miller, Allan Moore Sr., Gary Porter, Rod Robinson, Don
Shephard and Chuck Snyder. First place was $140 and second place was $40. The first place
winner was Ramon Lawson and Don Shephard came in second. Our challenge goal is to
educate on healthy food alternatives. Most participants ate a lot of fruits and salads during the
challenge. I believe eating healthy increases energy and helps us to live long and productive
lives. Look out for our next challenge which will be sometime in the beginning of 2019.
Open season for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHB) is from November 12,
2018 through December 10, 2018. During this time you are able to choose health, dental and
vision insurances. You can stay with the plans you have or you can change plans if you like.
The union has information on the NALC Health Plan, you can got to OPM.GOV to compare the
NALC plan to other plans. Information will be available on OPM.GOV in the first week of
With this position I have dual roles. I also am responsible for informing my fellow union
members about our Mutual Benefit Association (MBA) program. Our MBA offers term and whole
life insurance policies. For CCA’s the MBA offers a savings option that can convert to TSP when
they become career. For more information about the MBA, please contact me at the union hall,
or stop by and pick up some information. I look forward to hearing from you.
Lastly, I would like to take a moment to thank all of you for the hard work you do every day
delivering the mail to our customers. Without your hard work and dedication there would be no
NALC. You are the backbone and lifeline of this organization. Thank you and keep up the good
Yours in Solidarity,
NALC Buckeye Branch 78
MBA/NALC Health Benefits Representative
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.
This article first published April 2002
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.
This article was first published May 2002, I thought it was of relevance to the current CCA's
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?
Me: So, would you break your hold-down to carry the worst route in the station?
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.
This article was first published December 2001
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?
This article was first published in April 2002
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.
The article was first published in the Branch Bulletin September 2012
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!!!