Omar M. Gonzalez
The DRIVE to Change USPS in 2013
Omar M. Gonzalez
Western Region Coordinator
(This article first appeared in the January/February 2013 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
While our status quo Congress grapples with the postal crisis it created and we bid farewell to our retiring brothers and sisters, we must double-down and deal with postal management’s DRIVE to change the Postal Service.
The Postmaster General’s DRIVE program (Delivering Results, Innovation, Value and Efficiency) focuses on changing the USPS. The DRIVE program for 2013 outlines 36 components that are connected in one way or another to your job. At least 10 directly impact you and your family’s livelihood. They include:
Network Optimization – This program will continue the Board of Governors’ quest to consolidate plants and downsize the workforce. While consolidations have been going on since 2006, the PMG is going to escalate efforts to dispose of vehicles, equipment, property, and employees.
Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) – The centralization of post offices, branches and stations will hasten the relocation of Letter Carriers. DUO impacts clerks and custodial employees and will lead to more disruptions locally, because employees do not follow the work. (Don’t be fooled by the current moratoriums.)
Labor Costs – The PMG has assigned his top contract manager to fully implement management’s interpretations of the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement, with the goal of saving billions of dollars in labor costs. All crafts will be impacted. Postal management will go wild making work-floor changes, operational adjustments and duty-assignment alterations, causing major disruptions to the 2013 streamlined workforce.
HR Compliance – Ill and injured workers will experience an even more aggressive attack on Workers’ Compensation rights and benefits. Management will push for legislative authority to create a postal workers’ compensation program separate from the Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP).
Dispute Resolution – Management says it will attempt to identify policies that generate grievances and implement problem-solving processes. (Amazing! Managers who blatantly violate the contract and laugh at grievances until they are forced to pay for violations are a major cause of grievances.) Under DRIVE, postal management will select the top five districts in each area that generate grievances, and will supposedly work at eliminating the source of the problems.
Facility Management – The USPS will escalate the termination of leases and sell post office buildings, which are often beautiful Depression-era offices or Main Street USA branches. The effort to cut costs by reducing square footage use will translate into more worker disruptions.
Access Optimization – The Postal Service will seek to provide the public with more alternatives to post offices in an effort to reduce costs. This translates into greater privatization of the Postal Service.
Workforce Optimization – This component seeks to redefine the structure and mix of workers and calendar staffing changes. The intent is to create road maps for Districts and Areas to target staffing reductions in a more expedient manner.
Postal Health Plan – This long-time goal will be a main focus of the Postal Service’s legislative effort. Getting Congress to authorize the creation of a postal health plan outside of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan is a main goal. If successful, management will attempt to re-negotiate with the unions over health care benefits.
Employee Engagement – This is supposed to be an effort to improve employee work methods, but the focus is on cost savings, productivity, the “customer experience,” and of all things – employee morale. Usually, management’s efforts are meant to speed up workers and to do more with fewer workers. As you can see, management’s efforts in 2013 will be more of the same. The Postal Service’s DRIVE is Dastardly, Regressive, Insidiously Vindictive on Employees. The union must and will step up to the plate!
New Year, Renewed Battles
America’s re-election of President Barack Obama and votes for Congress translate into more work ahead. Each of us must step up in the coming months to protect our livelihood and our families. We can expect:
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), who is relentless in his effort to drastically downsize the Postal Service and end real collective bargaining, will probably retain his position as chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Along with his allies in management and corporate America, he will continue his quest for privatization. Only you and your union can prevent further erosion of the USPS.
Major workforce migrations in February, May and August will disrupt the work/home life of thousands of postal workers. Despite the exodus of our retiring co-workers, management will attempt to gut even more work hours at the expense of service.
There will be more national, regional and local-level disputes over the application and interpretation of our contract. The Collective Bargaining Agreement has value in terms of job security, flexibility and productivity. We will draw a line and fight to protect our interests and make our sacrifices under this contract meaningful.
We secured the White House and the Senate, but that will not be enough this year. We must still work hard to secure real postal reform that protects service, our livelihood and a precious American institution, our U.S. Postal Service.
Along with Regional Coordinators Sharyn Stone, Michael Gallagher, John Dirzius and Princella Vogel, I thank and congratulate all those who worked on and voted in the recent elections. We also urge all of you to step up to the plate, hit that ball, and score one for you, your union, your family and your country.