John H. Dirzius
An Orchestrated Plot
John H. Dirzius
Northeast Region Coordinator
(This article first appeared in the May/June 2013 edition of The American Postal Worker.)
There is little doubt that we are confronting challenges unlike any other time in our history. The Postal Service is continuing to excess our members out of their installations at an alarming rate.
Management justifies these actions by citing reports that always seem to show that window traffic and mail volumes no longer support the current level of staffing. Regardless of the facts and arguments presented by the union, management’s decisions on excessing are rarely overturned.
Over the past few years, under the Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) program, delivery units have been relocated from small offices into larger offices. As a result, employees have been excessed.
Recently we have been confronted with another downsizing program, known as the POStPlan. Under the POStPlan, instead of closing post offices, management offers customers the option of keeping offices open — but for just two, four or six hours per day.
Before cutting hours, the Postal Service schedules public meetings, supposedly to gather input from the community. But management usually holds the meetings in the lobbies of impacted offices – where there is insufficient room — and frequently conducts the meetings during the workday – so that few customers can attend and voice their concerns.
Part of a Pattern
These cutbacks are part of a pattern. Since 2011, management has aggressively moved forward with plans to consolidate mail processing plants, commonly known as Area Mail Processing (AMP). In order to consolidate and close plants, management has lowered USPS service standards and eliminated about 25 percent of overnight mail.
As this frontal attack on middle-class jobs continues, Congress has been unable or unwilling to correct the financial damage it caused when it enacted the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA). Without an immediate fix, those who seek to destroy the Postal Service and postal unions will continue to cite the negative financial impact of this legislation as a pretext to attack our jobs and privatize our industry.
Let’s not be fooled. There are some in Congress and in the business community who want to destroy the Postal Service. Late last year, a group of “industry thought leaders” published a proposal that calls for contracting out all postal functions except delivery. Pitney-Bowes funded a review of the proposal. Together with UPS, FedEx and others, the company stands to be major a beneficiary of the plan.
The only organization that stands between our demise and our survival is the American Postal Workers Union. My fellow regional coordinators — Sharyn Stone, Omar Gonzalez, Mike Gallagher, and Princella Vogel — and I stand in solidarity with you as we continue to confront the many challenges ahead.
New Customer Care Center
The USPS has selected Edison NJ as the site of the third and final Customer Care Center. In our current environment of constant excessing, closures and consolidations, this is welcome news for the APWU in the Northeast Region. Remember, this was work previously contracted out that has been returned to the APWU bargaining unit.
The centers, which serve as “call centers,” were negotiated as part of the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement. The other call centers are located in Los Angeles and Troy, MI.
The Edison center is scheduled to open June 2013. It will have a total complement of 325 new bargaining unit employees, including 204 Tier 1 Customer Care Agents (Level 4), 111 Tier 2 Customer Care Agents (Level 5), and 10 Lead Customer Care Agents (Level 6).
Seventy percent of the employees will be career employees and 30 percent will be rehabilitation-status employees. The duty assignments have been established with consecutive days off, using a mix of four 10-hour day schedules and five 8-hour day schedules. Each employee will receive two weeks of formal training on products and services, and one week of training on live calls in a training/coaching environment.
This is a perfect opportunity to show postal management that our members can do a better job of serving our customers than non-postal employees.
Support Bill Honoring Lenny
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) has introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to name the South Shore Annex postal facility in Staten Island after Lenny Montalto, an APWU member who lost his life on Oct. 29, 2012, trying to save his home from flooding during Hurricane Sandy. Please contact your member of Congress and ask him or her to support the bill (H.R. 181).
Montalto was a dedicated postal worker for more than 30 years, and served his co-workers as Secretary-Treasurer of the Staten Island Local.
Lenny and the local union leadership worked hard to oppose the Postal Service’s ill-conceived decision to close the Staten Island Processing & Distribution Center. We thank Congressman Grimm for his sponsorship of H.R. 181.