With all the good work many of you are doing out in the field on educating the public and getting the media to pay attention to the Mail Processing Facility Reviews, we are seeing more postal employees being contacted by the press for comment, etc. It has come to my attention that some areas are putting out the redundant “Guidelines for Handling Local Media Inquires”. Some are viewing this as a means to limit postal employees from talking to the press and silence them. Just to be clear, union leaders, union members, and postal employees can talk to the press —they just cannot convey in any way that they are speaking on behalf of the Postal Service or that they are giving an official position of the Postal Service. Rather, they should make sure that their comments are coming from a union leader, union member, or member of the community being affected.
We always advise that when employees do speak to the press that they do not identify themselves in such a manner that implies they are speaking as a representative for the Postal Service—this includes being in uniform or while on the clock. They can identify as a postal employee—but it is wise to clarify that they are not speaking on behalf of the Postal Service. If they are a union leader make sure they introduce themselves that way—say “My name is Charlie Cash, Industrial Relations Director for the American Postal Workers Union” or if they are a lay member of the union “My name is Charlie Cash and I am a member of the American Postal Workers Union Buffalo Local and a member of the community these plans are affecting” they then can share their feelings etc. (Please don’t have everyone introduce themselves as Charlie Cash—that was an example ðŸ˜Š). Again, it is always good to clarify that folks are not speaking on behalf of the Postal Service. The document that was circulated uses terms “It is imperative that one person speaks on behalf of the Postal Service…” and “If you are contacted by a media representative for official comment….” The policy is for “official” comment. Speaking as union representative, an employee with an opinion, a customer, member of the community, or union member is not speaking on behalf of the Postal Service or giving official comment. But please get the word out on how to identify to the press and don’t wear your uniform! If discipline is threatened or issued please let my office know. It is the wearing of the Postal Service official logo, uniform, or passing off as speaking as a representative as the Postal Service giving an official comment that leads to problems. Again, any employee can speak to the press—they just need to be educated on how to identify themselves and they should never do it while on the clock, working at the window, etc.
Feel free to share with the field.
Industrial Relations Director
American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO