This Too Shall Pass, We Must Persevere
(This article first appeared in the January-February 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
As I am writing this article, our national elections have just finished. The candidate our union endorsed for U. S. President did not prevail, and there were few gains in the House and Senate.
Beyond being extremely disappointed on many levels, I am concerned about the future of workers in our country and the future of the Postal Service, in particular. We all should be. It’s time to double down. Clearly, we did not elect a lot people who champion our issues or even some of our causes. Our fight is now more difficult, but just as compelling as before.
If anyone is up to the challenges ahead, it is the American Postal Workers Union. Union is “u” and “i,” together. We do not have much of a choice. We have numerous battles ahead and we can’t be discouraged. Rest and recover if you must, but never quit. We must persevere!
Congratulations to All
Our installation of national officers was Nov. 5, 2016. Congratulations to all elected, re-elected, and unopposed officers. I am looking forward to the next three years. Much love, thanks and appreciation to all outgoing and retiring officers.
As we celebrate all of the Postal Support Employees (PSEs) who have converted to full-time, we must be mindful of employees with retreat rights. Employees who were excessed – in many cases several years ago – still have active retreat rights to their former office. Some were reassigned 10 years ago.
Many times, local officers change and the Postal Service is not aware. You cannot count on management to always keep track. We have always told employees to keep a copy of their retreat rights and provide a copy to the local, as well as management. You must be vigilant to ensure you are provided your retreat rights.
Employees excessed outside of the installation request (by form) retreat rights at the time they are reassigned. Employees excessed across crafts within the installation are retreated automatically by seniority. The two groups are combined locally and the seniors of the group are returned. Employees excessed outside the installation have an option to return. Employees excessed outside the craft but within the installation do not have an option unless they were reassigned to the Maintenance Craft. For those cases, their automatic return can be waived.
If someone feels their rights have been violated, they should contact their local and, if necessary, their regional coordinator for assistance.
There are no new excessing/reassignments impacts right now in the Central Region. There are, however, some unresolved issues. We are dealing with those. There is no action on the cancelled/deferred Area Mail Processing (AMP) study, which is good news. The USPS still has major concerns meeting service standards and minimum staffing.
In some cases, installations where excessing has occurred are being “repurposed” (a USPS word). Equipment is deployed or built and now excessed employees will be offered retreat – in some cases after two years. In most cases, the AMP was never completed, but the employees were reassigned. The USPS does not seem to be able to decide what to do, and while they experiment employees pay the price.
Complaints from offices about workroom harassment and mis-treatment of employees are at an all-time high, including sexual harassment. Some offices are being investigated and workfloor environment surveys are being performed.
We are in contact with way too many offices with similar complaints. The issues were discussed at the area level. Locals that are unable to resolve these issues should reach out to their regional coordinator. My compadres, Omar Gonzalez in the West, John Dirzius in the Northeast, Mike Gallagher in the East, and Kennith Beasley in the South, and I will assist you in your efforts.
All About Us
President Dimondstein recently stated that over 50 percent of our membership is eligible to retire. That is a very sobering thought. Our survival as a knowledgeable and effective organization depends heavily on our ability to get others involved. Even on a small scale, we all have something to offer.
Coordinator Gallagher addressed activism in our last issue, but it cannot be said enough. Maybe someone reading this will get involved. I started out as a child (okay, maybe not). I became a member of our local’s entertainment committee and after some time I became chairman of that committee. I thought I had arrived. After the recording secretary of our local left I was appointed to that position, which meant I had to be at meetings to take the minutes. I learned from our local president and from being involved. The rest is history.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the education and support I received from Post Office Women for Equal Rights (POWER). Ultimately, I was elected local president when our then-president decided not to run again. I was trained and served as an advocate, until becoming Central Region Coordinator in 2001.
Every member should be involved. Take part in a one-time event or come to a local meeting. There should not be a member who has not been on at least one picket line. There is a place and a purpose for all, no matter how small or how limited your time may be. Everyone bring one. We are all good at something. It is critical to our growth and survival. We cannot allow ourselves to be threatened by someone’s knowledge, ability, or interest.
It’s your union, too.