mark beach

March 2019 - Article by VP Mark Beach

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.

January 2019 - Article by VP Mark Beach

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.

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!

November 2018 - Article by VP Mark Beach

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.

October 2018 - Article by VP Mark Beach

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.

September 2018 - Article by VP Mark Beach

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