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Over the Coles
Above your Pay Grade - Move the Problem July 2009
Is the Union in Financial Trouble? Jan 2009
Queen of de Station, Fort Dodge Problems, Put the money on the table. Nov 2008
Goodybye Mr. Shipman
Join the Team, NALC Merger, Wall Street and the USPS Dec 2008
Whats Going On? July 2008
Over the Coles
By Lance Coles, Editor
The Postal Service is given the ability to behave like a corporation through recent legislation, and that is what they did – and it wasn’t for the betterment of the corporation (USPS)
The USPS corporation is telling their employees that mail volume is down, revenue is down, and overtime will have to be cut as well as jobs, but in the same breath the give 8 of the top postal officials pay raises around 39%.
Sounds just like corporate American. The company is in trouble, so lets reward those that put it there, with mega pay raises and perks.
Just because the new legislation allows the USPS to be more "competitive" and act like a private corporation, doesn’t mean they actually are one. The USPS still belongs to the public, and are part of the federal government.
Now congress, through the Postal Accountability act, has given the USPS board of governors the authority raise the pay of up to 12 USPS workers up to an amount "not to exceed 120 percent of the vice president’s total annual compensation". So they did!
So here is how this works. The districts are told to cut hours, so less mail can be worked, or there are less people at the window to help customers. The top 8 postal managers get massive pay increases – so they can have their pay somewhat competitive with private industry.
See the logic. Cut workers hours. Cut service to the public, and increase pay to a handful of good-ole’boys, so they can hang out with other overpaid CEO’s , and not feel inferior because they are paid less. That’s good business logic.
If these postal managers feel they are underpaid for their work, then they should do what our supervisors and managers tell us, when we bitch about the USPS – they say McDonalds is hiring.
If times are not good for the USPS, the managers responsible for putting it there should not be rewarded for their failures.
If these managers have any morals and dedication to the USPS they would refuse these pay increases, or leave and go work somewhere else where they can be overpaid, like most CEO’s.
This is really a sad day for the American public. They see another rate increase in postage on the horizon, yet the USPS is paying a hand full of managers double digit pay increases, all so these managers can fit in with other overpaid CEO’s.
Some in Washington isn’t listening to the American Public about all this change we want. It’s this kind of blatant division between the haves and have-nots.
At negotiation time, the USPS likes to compare Clerks in the USPS to a sales clerk at a clothing store, and not to the UPS worker. Quit speaking out of both sides of your mouth. If you want to be compared to competitive pay in the private sector, so do we.
I just hope the national officers for the APWU don’t jump on this bandwagon, and think they need a 39% pay raise. They have always argued that they need to be on a level playing field with the PMG – so I can only imagine that this will be on the convention floor this year,
Employee have thrown a piece of mail at another employee and they were disciplined. Others have done similar and faced the same dilemma – the threat of being fired or facing the inspectors for assault.
Just recently a supervisor threw a Kleenex box at a union steward, and nothing was done.
When asked why he threw the box at the steward the supervisor was reported to have said "Because I wanted to!"
Just another example of the double standards that apply to management.
If a craft employee had thrown this same box of tissues at the same supervisor, the employee would have been removed from the building, placed on emergency placement, issued a removal and face the interrogation of the postal inspectors or inspector generals office.
"Because I wanted to" There are many things that I have wanted to do over the 29 plus years here, but I did not do, for the fact that some insecure, power hungry manager wannabe will propose removal.
It never has been do as I do (supervisors) it has always been do as I say, no matter how stupid it is, or how wrong it is.
This whole – sky is falling mantra – has even taken another step where all it apparently takes to convict someone of a fireable action, it to say so. There is not need for witnesses, not need for evidence, just a statement by one employee, that something inappropriate happened, and the other person is fired.
I think they are trying to incorporate the Patriot Act into the Employee and Labor Relation Manual. So much for civil rights!
Of course if the USPS is able to continue these practices, they won’t have to worry about any early out programs – they will have most of the employees fired!
Queen of Denial –
If you are in the Hawkeye District and have had any thing to do with Family Medical Leave, you have dealt with the Queen of Denial.
Actually there could be two of them, but clearly there is the queen of queens when it comes to denial of FMLA.
The Unions – (NALC, Mailhandlers and APWU) are still fighting all the problems we are having in the district. If you have a problem with FMLA or with one of the coordinators.
The legislative page will offer you a lot info on legislative issues and stories of national and state interest.
Working Families Tool Kit offers you a lot of really good things. You can make professional flyers on many issues that have your state or local name on it. You have to sign up for this option, but it is easy.
The took kit also offers many other things that are more political, which we can run in our publications and not violate the Hatch Act.
You can also subscribe to Working Families daily Emails. This is a really good source of daily labor information.
The issue is – we have to get active! We can not sit back and blame an outdated law for our inactivity. The law has been changed, and we can now be much more active than in the past. Look for articles from other unions and the AFL-CIO, run them. Once the candidate of choice is selected, then use these other union’s articles to garner support within our own union.
Get out there and be a reporter. Cover an event and write about what went on and what was said – report!
You can to the APWU Legislative web page and find out what you can and can not do under the Hatch Act.
Be careful what you say!
By Lance Coles, Editor
I hate to make any one more paranoid that we all ready are - big brother is watching - but as a postal employee - on or off the clock - you are really restricted on what you can say in public.
Many of you probably have never had a reason to read section in the Employee and Labor Relations Manual (ELM) on conduct. (660)
Recently an employee in another state attended a public meeting where there was a discussion about the consolidation or moving of a postal facility out of the area. This employee addressed these issues at the meeting, and a few days later they were served notice of removal from the USPS for an obscure section in the ELM.Section 668.22 of the ELM states " Employees in active status will not engage in campaigns for or against changes in mail service. This regulation will not be construed to infringe on the rights to participate in labor organizations."
Basically what this is saying is that if you attend a meeting - regardless of how large, how public or how well reported, and you stand up - for or against - the USPS proposed changes you are placing your self in a position to be fired.
Here we are back to being second class citizens - but the fact remains that all it takes is one power hungry, over-zealous supervisor to get you fired for exercising what you thought were your constitutional rights.
If your area or office is facing USPS proposed changes, and you want to make your community and leaders aware, do so on behalf of the union or let your union officials make the media and public comments. It is not a guaranteed - get out of jail free card - but if you truly feel compelled to speak up, let them know you are here as a proud union member of your union and speaking on this issue with permission of the union. ( oh yeah let your local or state union know what you intend to say and to whom.)
This also goes for letters to the editor. If you write one, do so as a union member, with the union permission, or let the union do so.
It is really unfortunate that many of us do not have the right to speak up on injustice and wrongdoing. It may be that we will have to go through the "whistle blower" protection practice in order to get our voice heard - it's better than being fired!
Use the law and get ACTIVE!
By Lance Coles, Advisor
A few years ago Congress changed the Hatch Act law giving federal employees the ability to be more active in partisan politics.
We have been given more privileges than we had in the past and we need to take advantage of them.
I know you hear this every election year, but this is a very important year for politics. Unions and the working people of America have great opportunity to elect people who are labor friendly and people who will help change laws that will make it easier for union to grow and to bring back the middle class.
Just because the Hatch Act prohibits you from certain activities, it does allow you to do a lot.
One of the easiest ways to get political information into your publications is to cover a story. Go to a rally, a caucus, or primary. Write what the candidate said, or what went on. You are not bound by equal time, so you are not obligated to cover one party equal to another.
You can get articles from your State Federation of Labor or Central Body.
Another great source of information is through the AFL-CIO. Go to www.aflcio.org. Once you are on their web page you have several options, but the two most useful for politics is the Legislative Alerts Center and Working Families Tool Kits.
By Lance Coles, Editor, IPWU
Good Bye Mr. Shipman!
This is something you will probably not see too often – that is a union official praising someone in management.
There are adversaries out there that deserve praise – and have earned respect.
D. James Shipman is one of these people. He was the Manager of Human Resources for the Hawkeye District for many years.
I called him Mr. Shipman out of respect. He never asked for or demanded respect – he just earned it.
I asked him several times if he was ever going to retire – he would always tell me no – because he loved what he was doing. Lung cancer put an end to his desire and his life. Mr. Shipman died May, ??, 2008.
It was probably no surprise to those of us that knew him, that his smoking would play a part in his demise.
Mr. Shipman would walk in to a meeting room, with long lanky strides. No hurry, just confidence in himself, and respect to all in the room.
As a new steward, I thought I knew it all. I took on the best of them – with many ending in a yelling match, often within ear shot of others – i.e. Mr. Shipman.
Mr. Shipman would ask me into his office. He would quietly close the door. Patiently walk back to his flawlessly clean desk and sit down, all while I continued to rant and rave.
He sat back in his chair, and patiently waited for me to finish. He would then tell me his position, where I could find it, and how I was wrong – not just in my argument, but in my presentation.
This happened several time early in my career, and it was probably due to Mr. Shipman that I have lasted here this long.
I only saw him get angry once, and that was when he was trying to convince a postmaster, that he was not obligated to do what I and a grievant were asking for. He lost that argument – but he never lost his temper.
He came a long way from a clerk in Nebraska, through law school, to a manager in the USPS. He was well respected by the Postal Service in that he was often asked to be a part of their contract negotiation team. His decisions and memos, we along reaching and have played a major roll in shaping the union/management climate in the state of Iowa.
He was well respected by union officials from the newest steward to national officers. His opinion was respected, even if you disagreed with it.
There is no doubt that Mr. Shipman played an important part in shaping my life, I have been blessed to know him and even more blessed that I never had to be an arbitration advocate, across the table, from him.
He was dependable, reliable, and a classic – much like his old red Ford truck.
He will be missed, but not forgotten.
Thank you Mr. Shipman for all you have done for all of us.
Hey You Small Office clerks – you may be entitled to level 6
By Lance Coles, Editor
If you accept Bulk Mailings in your office, you may be entitled to level 6 pay and a level 6 job should be posted.
According to APWU National Officers, the upgrade of Bulk Mail Clerks to level 6 is applicable to all Sale and Service Associate, Services and Distribution Associates and all Lead Sales and Services Associates.
Effective March 16, 2006, any employee who performs these duties – "accepts, classifies, and computes the chargeable postage on second or third class mail matter or both." - will be performing Level 6 work
According to APWU President Burrus the USPS and APWU have also agreed that the ELM section dealing with "mixed duty assignments" is also applicable. ELM section 233.3 requires that a duty assignment be posted at the higher level when:
- "when a full-time employee is regularly scheduled every workday " to perform the higher level bulk mail duties, or:
- "When a full-time employee…performs the work of two separate positions in different grades...on intermittent days…the employee is placed in the position in which more than 50% of the time is spent. If the time is equally divided, the employee is placed in the higher grade position."
If the Clerk is accepting bulk mailings on a daily basis, regardless of the amount of time spent daily, the duty assignment should be posted as a newly established Level 6 LSSA.
If the SSA is accepting bulk mailings intermittently but at least 20 hours per week, the duty assignment should also be posted as a newly established Level 6 LSSA.
If the SSA is accepting bulk mailings intermittently but less than 20 hours per week, they should be paid higher level pay for time actually spent on the bulk mailings.
The clerks that qualify for this Level 6 position, or act as relief for this position are also entitled to the official two-week training program in Norman Oklahoma. Employees not working or relieving in a Bulk Mail Acceptance Unit, but are performing those duties 20 hours or more per week must also attend the official training program.
Those that work bulk mail less than 20 hours per week will receive the 8 full hours of training in the Business Mail Acceptance Training for Associate Offices Course 23201-09
If you believe the work you are doing in your office meets the criteria for these upgrades, you need to contact the union right away.