(This article was first reported in the September 2017, Local Newsletter)
Written by: Mike Wright Director of Associate Offices of APWU, SJAL #0526
Hopefully the membership has had an enjoyable and safe summer, however, if you work in an Associate Office (AO), like myself, it’s been stressful. Clerks, carriers, and custodians in every office that I have spoken to have all had the same concern, “We need more clerks!” Unfortunately, there’s no relief in sight.
I attended the State Convention in Atlantic City in June and the news is bleak. Upper management wants to eliminate 12,000 to 16,000 jobs nationwide depending on the source. Anyone retiring or separating from service is having their job reverted along with many people in jobs that are being abolished. Long story short, Management on the national level is panicking due to the APWU converting over 47,000 PSEs nationwide. When the PSE position was created, management intended to create a part-time workforce in the long run; most Postmasters & Supervisors do not want to convert people to career. I know this message has been out many times before, but we need to protect our jobs. We can do this by:
- making the right moves on the clock
- making sure it’s our clerks performing our daily duties
- making sure it’s our custodians doing the landscaping
- letting the Union know when none of these are happening with statements and grievances.
Also in Atlantic City, I had a chance to attend a class on dealing with the Postal Inspectors/OIG. Most of us haven’t dealt with them and, if we’re fortunate, will never have to deal with these agents. Personally, I have. It’s never a good situation. Some of the topics discussed, were the rights of an employee in these scenarios and what is contractually required by the employee in these situations.
We are not required to write statements, at any level. We are required to cooperate with investigations as outlined in the ELM 665.12. We’re also not required to take a polygraph. Management cannot bring a steward into an interrogation if they make this mistake there is a Weingarten Global Settlement in which any information given during the said investigation, cannot be used.
I also had the opportunity to observe a Function 4 audit in Mt. Laurel in June, which I was informed happened to be the last Level 3 (multiple day) Function 4 audit any time soon. The team informed me that clerks took leave on Tuesday rather than complete their full tour leaving work there. I watched as the UBBM went from three containers that had to be checked and verified up to five, then to seven the last day of the audit. By leaving bargaining unit work behind and taking leave it shows, on paper, that there isn’t a need for as many full time employees.
Another concern in Mt. Laurel was that employees are unaware of the correct functions when it comes to swiping. This goes back to my first paragraph in which we need to protect our jobs. I can understand the newer employees not being familiar with the function codes. Unfortunately, we have some senior employees in the district, who will not be bothered about making the proper moves until it’s too late.
One way to help our LDC 48 score, in the impacted DUO’d offices (those that have lost their carriers) or any office in general, is to make sure we’re scanning anything with a barcode that enters our facility “Arrived at Unit”. This includes the PS Form 3811 (green cards). We also need to make it a habit of giving the undeliverable accountables (Forwards, UTF, ANK, etc.) to a window clerk, who should run it through the RSS as “Numbered Mail Pick-up” then “Undeliverable”. This will help the WOS numbers. These practices add up and help us in our fight, which we were told is the worst attack on clerks in 20-25 years.
Many offices in our local have been identified for excessing, however until a clerk leaves the facility, there is no grievance. For example, clerk Jones gets a Notice of Involuntary Reassignment on June 1st and must find a new position by October 1st. There are four months in-between where something could change that could impact the staffing (i.e. a senior clerk retiring). Primarily, the excessed clerk is the person who feels the brunt in these situations, but it also impacts the overall staffing in general; which is already likely short-handed. The PTFs and PSEs are also impacted. Their hours, if done properly, are greatly reduced. In the case with some PSEs, they are separated from service. Even-though on paper it is one or more clerks being involuntarily reassigned, everyone is affected.
We’re also getting reports about Amazon Sunday operations. This has resulted that I have begun making visits again. I started this initiative back in 2015 and have kept management on their toes regarding purposely short staffing. It was quiet for a while, but it seems to be an issue again. We have gotten wind about violations in Vineland and caught them red-handed in Mt. Laurel. SURPRISE! If anyone other than a clerk is distributing mail on Sunday (RCAs, CCAs, management) email me immediately of the incident at: email@example.com
This also applies for morning operations in the AOs. We can’t complain about being short-staffed and then let management and other crafts do our work for us. I know I beat the complacency drum often, but it seems unless we visit the AO in-person most of the violations go unreported. We need to speak up and protect the work that’s ours.
Finally, I’d like to speak on the August South Jersey District Labor Management (SJLM) meeting. We had brought up the 2016 TACS settlement and how it is only being performed in about 10% of our offices. The new District Manager (who actually showed up unlike the previous one who was here a total of three months) will work with labor to try and get the TACS responsibilities returned rightfully to the LSAAs (T7s) and I will follow up on this at the November SJLM Meeting. We also wanted to address an incident in Millville, which we believe was trying to be swept under the rug in which a supervisor forcefully took money out of a SSAs hands. Upon hearing this, I blew up and began emailing everyone on the issue. After an investigation that took almost two-weeks, even with statements from the clerk and the SSA who was working alongside them, the POOM decided the incident never happened. I presented statements at the SJLM from two employees (one who was not part of the POOM’s “thorough” investigation) who witnessed the incident. After bringing all my statements and emails and wanting answers of what management’s “thorough” investigation consisted of, the POOM (who has been at every District LM meeting in the last two years) was mysteriously absent. However, the new District Manager stated that there is an ongoing investigation of the investigation. Hopefully, the truth of both the incident and the shoddy investigation will come to light even though personally, I’m not holding my breath. The former POOM, who as of this article has been moved to another POOM group, thus rewarding the action of not properly investigating the issue.