Making Sense of Change in the Postal Service

Charlie Cash

September 18, 2023

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It is no secret that the Postal Service is making changes. One constant that I have experienced throughout my career with the USPS is that the Postal Service evolves and changes. I am a fourth-generation postal employee. When I was a young boy in the early 1970s, I have memories of my father taking me to the Post Office in Salt Lake City and seeing nothing but clerks sorting mail by hand in letter cases. Today, that building is full of automated machines. Automation has changed the Postal Service over the decades.

Today, the Postal Service is in a state of change. Mail type is shifting from letters and flats to parcels. Overall, all mail volume is down. But no matter the shift in mail type or decrease in volume, the public deserves a Postal Service that meets its universal service obligation, delivers mail on time, and functions as a true public service.

The current Postmaster General (PMG) is making decisions that are putting APWU-represented employees in a state of flux. He believes that his plan will increase volume (at least parcel volume), speed up parcel delivery (and therefore speed up all mail delivery), and put the USPS on a sounder financial footing. He is calling his plan “Network Modernization.”

As the PMG continues to push these changes, the APWU continues to demand that our contract is followed, that the Postal Service be transparent, and that the Postal Service allow the public to have input, and more.

As the PMG changes are implemented, the Postal Service has sought to excess employees from their installations to other offices. Your Regional Coordinators have led APWU efforts to minimize the impact and disruptions on those who could be excessed. Even in the face of postal management that uses tactics that at best can be described as inaccurate, Regional Coordinators have reduced the numbers of employees excessed overall. They prepare for each event and work relentlessly on your behalf.

We know that the Postal Service is not being fully transparent about their plans. Even though they do meet with the APWU at the national level regularly, they refuse to provide the most basic information we request. We have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to compel them to provide the information we have demanded.

For some of these network changes, the Postal Service is required to inform the public and allow their input on changes to the network. The Postal Service must follow guidelines outlined in the PO-408 manual. We have insisted that the Postal Service follow this manual. Of course, management pushed back against our demands. The Postal Service did eventually capitulate and agree that the PO-408 would be followed. But rather than follow the process, they chose to change the rules and make significant changes to the PO-408. After extensive review and coordination with our legal counsel, we have filed a national dispute on these changes.

Finally, it is important that your national officers get out and see these new facility types, talk to the workers at these new facilities, and learn all we can about the new facilities. Recently, we visited with the new Sortation and Delivery Center (S&DC) in Annapolis, MD. This was the first of our visits to the S&DCs that are currently operating around the country. National officers and headquarters staff are currently planning more visits to both the S&DCs and the Regional Processing and Distribution Centers as they come online.

Your union officers will continue to work hard during these changing times to protect your rights under the CBA, and to take the fight to the streets with our public allies to protect our right to an effective and efficient Postal Service.

Solidarity! ■

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