Questions & Answers
On Filling Residual Vacancies
(04/22/14) The APWU and USPS have agreed to two sets of Questions & Answers regarding the March 20 agreement on Filling Residual Vacancies [PDF], one for the Clerk Craft [PDF] and another for Maintenance Craft.
USPS Withdraws Challenge,
Count Toward Desirable Duty Assignments
Converted Unencumbered Regulars
To be Assigned to Residual Vacancies
(03/10/14) The Postal Service has withdrawn a challenge to provisions in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that require management to post newly created duty assignments using all available work hours — including hours worked by Postal Support Employees, Clerk Craft officers report. “I am happy to announce this dispute has been resolved,” said Assistant Clerk Director Lamont Brooks. “All available work hours, including those worked by PSEs, can be used to create desirable duty assignments.”
Arm Yourself With Knowledge
Clerk Division Director
(This article appears in the March/April 2014 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
An important part of building our power is arming ourselves with knowledge. But if we rely only on the corporate-owned media, we are likely to receive a heavy dose of misinformation along with analysis that is biased in favor of big business. We will end up feeling like overpaid, selfish people who are trying to stop progress. And this flawed understanding will tempt us to accept a weak contract and an uncertain future.
On the other hand, a review of just a few source documents shows that corporate interests — including those who own the media — are pushing the Postal Service, Congress, and others to implement changes that benefit themselves at the expense of postal workers and the communities we serve.
Because we work for the USPS, we are uniquely positioned to fight for good jobs and a strong, public Postal Service that serves every member of our community.
To do that, we must be armed with knowledge. If you are interested in contributing to a group effort to analyze documents, study the “mailing industry,” and learn about our adversaries, please contact Clerk Craft Secretary Geoff Knowles or (202) 842-4220.
Here are a few places to begin gathering the information necessary to fight the battles ahead. We encourage all members to check out these important resources.
Save the Post Office
(www.savethepostoffice.com) - This website is run by Steve Hutkins, a literature professor at New York University, with additional commentary by Mark Jamison, a former postmaster. The quality and quantity of information about the dismantling of the USPS is outstanding. The website is a must-read for understanding what’s happening to the Postal Service.
Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee
(http://1.usa.gov/1o1h6JI) - This USPS committee provides a forum for large mailers to advise management about how to run the Postal Service in ways that benefit them. By reviewing the minutes of meetings and presentations made to the committee, postal workers can see the influence these companies wield. Members of MTAC include Time Warner, Newspaper Association of America, UPS, FedEx, Bank of America, AT&T, Pitney Bowes, QuadGraphics, and much more.
USPS Office of Inspector General
(www.uspsoig.gov) - The OIG conducts many studies on postal matters, such as consolidation, retirement, workers compensation, etc. Although they don’t generally share our perspective, the reports often contain valuable information that is not available elsewhere. The OIG’s findings are often cited as justification for policy changes and legislative proposals. For example, the OIG has issued several reports on workers injured on the job; Congress is considering legislation that would force injured workers to retire as soon as they become eligible and cut their benefits.
Government Accountability Office
(www.gao.gov) - GAO reports are valuable for the same reason OIG reports are. At the prompting of corporate-friendly congressmen like Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the GAO has been aggressively recommending the “downsizing” of the USPS and the reduction of benefits for postal workers.
Postal Regulatory Commission
(www.prc.gov) - The PRC website has many important documents, including reports the USPS is required to periodically provide. The “Postal Service Active Employee Statistical Summary,” which is organized by pay period, breaks down the workforce by craft, work code, state, age, gender, union, retirement plan, TSP participation, and more. The report for Pay Period 2-2014 shows a shocking loss of 43,825 Career Clerk Craft jobs in the last four years and an increase of more than 21,569 non-career jobs.
Other data reveals that more than 189,000 postal employees have outstanding loans from their Thrift Savings Plan, which indicates that many postal workers are struggling financially. The data also shows that 88,228 employees age 60 or older are currently working for the USPS.
USPS (www.usps.com) - With a little digging, you can uncover management’s long-term plans on this site. The Postal Service’s most recent strategic plan, dated April 16, 2013, calls for fewer than 250 mail processing facilities (down from 673 in 2006) and for “shifting transactions to alternative access.” Management’s goal is to “increase alternate access retail revenue from 40% to 60%,” using retail chains like Staples to handle transactions.
Alternative Access = Privatization
“Shifting transactions to alternative access” is privatization. Moreover, the USPS has been privatizing for years. The shift of mail processing work to pre-sort companies began in 1976. In addition, a recent notice from the USPS reveals that the Postal Service plans to contract out the sorting of non-machineable parcels to UPS, which is also privatization.
Reading the Postal Service plans and other documents helps us understand what our employer has in store for us. Armed with a deeper knowledge, we can educate our co-workers, friends and family — along with the general public — about the cause of the Postal Service’s “crisis” and how to strengthen it without targeting workers or service.