Dealing with the OIG

As a steward, at some point, we all will be in the unique situation of dealing with the Postal Inspectors or Office of Inspector General (OIG). As intimidating as it sounds, the contract gives (us the stewards), the right to represent the members once they (the member) enacts their Weingarten Rights. At this point, the grievance procedure starts. As the member has to comply and participate with any investigation of the OIG, the OIG has to follow and comply with the contract once the member requests a shop steward. Below, are some points brought to us by Mike Wright to better inform us on things to be aware about if approached by the OIG or if you’re the representing steward for a member. The first two (2) on the list point out the types of inspectors and for what reasons they would show up at a location.

  • Postal Inspectors (PIS), specifically mail theft
  • Office of Inspector General (OIG), on-duty narcotics, falsification by employees, OWCP fraud
  • OIG must comply with Article 17.3, polygraphs are voluntary
  • OIG has no right to influence grievance procedure, management must do an independent review
  • Miranda Rights, involves custodial interrogation, advise counsel, try to advise grievant not to speak to you (the steward) on details of the investigation. Steward can be obligated to testify against grievant.
  • Garrity Rights, involves non-custodial interrogation, employee cannot be threatened for not choosing between self incrimination or job forfeiture
  • Kalkine Rights, non-custodial, employee will not be prosecuted but will have to cooperate even if it means job forfeiture, grants immunity from prosecuted, must be in writing
  • Weingarten, non-custodial, employee has a reasonable belief that discipline will be the outcome of the interview, has right to representation, employee must make request for said representation
  • OIG, PIS can give false or misleading facts to help get needed information out of an employee
  • Employee must make the request for Union representation, management cannot bring a steward to an interrogation. Weingarten, global settlement, whatever information gathered during the said investigation cannot be used.

If you have any further questions about dealing with the PIS/OIG, feel free to request/contact your local steward or call your local business agent.

Organizing to Save Your Local Post Office

(This article first appeared in the July-August 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine) By Executive Vice President Debby Szeredy

Picture this scenario… your manager posts a formal notification stating the USPS’ intention to move your post office to an industrial park, or a carrier annex, or some other inconvenient and out-of-way location.

Maybe the posting says days and hours of operation will be cut, or the office will close indefinitely (suspended), or it will be closed and consolidated with an office in another neighborhood or town, or your office will be shuttered permanently. Perhaps the Postal Service proposes to substitute the closing office with a village post office or rural letter carriers or a retailer selling stamps.

Such possible outcomes will adversely affect a neighborhood or community. Access to postal services for the community becomes limited and inconvenient while stable jobs with decent wages and benefits disappear.

Mobilize Your Community

The Postal Reorganization Act states that the Postal Service “shall provide prompt, reliable and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities.”

So how does the Postal Service get away with taking these services from everyday citizens who depend on their post office? They do it when the community is unaware of their right to fight back.   

The Postal Service is required to notify the public and all patrons when there is a proposal to close, suspend, cut hours or relocate a facility. The notice should contain a date, time and location for a public meeting. Notice must be posted two weeks before the scheduled meeting date.

If the location, date and time are not best for the community, you have the right to request the meeting be rescheduled to a location and time that allows individuals and businesses to be present, raise concerns and ask questions of the Postal Service.

Make your voices heard. Get your city council involved to help find an adequate space and time for the meeting.

For your convenience, a sample letter asking to reschedule the meeting can be found in the booklet Organizing to Save the Post Office. It can be found on the Vice President’s web page, under “Resources,” at

The booklet also contains pointers about organizing your community to fight closures and other reductions of postal services. It has advice and tactics about reaching out to the public, building arguments to continue the local post office services and it details the appeal process to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC).

Getting Out the Message

Community residents and businesses should know these public meetings are important and require their participation.

Be prepared to contact politicians, community groups, businesses and individuals. Educate them about the proposal and the process. Time limits are short. Anyone making written comments to the Postal Service must do so within 60 days from the day it posted notice of its proposed action. Once the Postal Service posts its final decision, any appeal to the PRC must be done within 30 days.

Doing the Heavy Lifting

The booklet Organizing to Save the Post Office is full of ideas and tools for analyzing proposals, suggesting alternatives and actions to publicly oppose closures. They include:

  • Building alliances with politicians, businesses and community groups;
  • Doing your own survey of residents;
  • Circulating petitions;
  • Writing letters to the editor to local papers;
  • Making requests for information from the Postal Service;
  • Setting up your own community meetings;
  • Asking the Postal Service to meet – in addition to the public meeting – with various business, community groups and politicians.

Available Resources

The Vice President’s web page on has many other resources to help your fight against a closure in your community.

  • If your post office is a historical site, there are additional considerations. Download Preserving Historic Post Offices for more information.
  • The Postal Service may also be obligated to do an environmental impact study. Look at Handbook RE-6 Revision: Facilities Environmental Guide and Handbook PO-101.
  • Use Planning Town Hall Meetings to set up a meeting in your community.

There are success stories. Not all post offices get closed or consolidated. Don’t give up your right to a neighborhood post office in your city or town!

‘All for One and One for All!’

(This article first appeared in the July-August 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine)
By President Mark Dimondstein

The Three Musketeers must have belonged to the “Musketeers Union” with their rallying cry “All for one and one for all!” That captures the essence of union solidarity.

So does the recent APWU-led informational picket in Barre, Vermont.

Barre is a rural Vermont town of some 9,000 people, with a deep union history rooted in the struggle of immigrant granite workers in the once-thriving granite industry of New England.

As with so many towns and neighborhoods, the Barre post office is an integral part of the community. The office consists of eight clerks and one maintenance employee, as well as city and rural letter carriers. As with postal employees around the country, they are skilled, well-trained and perform their jobs with dedication and pride. They are union-strong with 90 percent of the employees organized.

So why were 100 APWU activists (including yours truly), letter carriers, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) members, the Vermont Workers Center, the state and local AFL-CIO and faith-based community allies out in force?

Because “Workers Deserve Respect!” – whether we are working in the largest or smallest postal facility. This slogan has multiple meanings: Workers deserve to make living wages for the wealth we create and the services we provide. Workers deserve to have decent health care coverage. Workers deserve quality time-off with family and friends. Workers deserve a dignified retirement.

And yes, workers deserve and demand safe and decent working conditions, free from management abuse and harassment. The postal workers of Barre have not been afforded these basic rights. Workers are berated by management in front of customers. Union rights are ignored and union representatives belittled. Management snubs their noses at grievance settlements. Poor staffing by management adds stress to the employees and undermines service to the customers.

Northeast Regional Coordinator John Dirzius and APWU National Business Agents have attempted to address this problem for over two years, with no positive results from higher-level management.

Enough is enough! Tyrannical management has got to go!

A large percentage of our clerk members work in small towns like Barre, from sea to shining sea, from the northern border to the southern border of our vast country. There are many post offices staffed by a handful of employees. Without the strength in numbers of larger facilities, it is harder for workers to resist and stand strong. Barre Local President Nancy Rowland and the other postal workers are doing just that. I commend their resolve and fighting spirit.

In my many years in the post office, I saw many good supervisors and managers who cared about our service to the people and treated workers with respect. I also witnessed far too many abusive managers. More frustrating is that we, as well as the other postal unions, have rarely found a way to force upper management to hold their managers accountable.

Unfortunately, the abusive atmosphere in Barre, Vermont, is not an isolated incident. However, the APWU just sent a powerful message – No postal worker represented by the APWU is alone. An injury to one is an injury to all. We demand that abusive managers be removed and postal workers be able to perform our work and mission free of intimidation, harassment and abuse.

The Barre action underscores that we will take to the streets when necessary. (Hats off to Brother Dirzius for leading the charge.) Solidarity is what won the Stop Staples fight. Solidarity is what produces strong union contracts. Solidarity – “All for one and one for all!” – is the path forward to hold management accountable. Solidarity forever!