Waste Management

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(This article appears in the September-October 2013 edition of The American Postal Worker.)

Sharyn M. Stone, Central Region Coordinator

In the January-February issue, the regional coordinator’s article addressed the Postmaster General’s DRIVE (Delivering, Results, Innovation, Value, and Efficiency) program and what management was planning for you — including more consolidations, post office centralizations, duty assignment adjustments (abolishments, reversions), and excessing of employees.

Yet months later, none of the predicted value and efficiency has come to fruition — just the negative impact on employees and service.

All the disruption you are currently experiencing is a direct result of the Postmaster General’s Office of Strategic Planning’s Decision Analysis Report (DAR), which triggers operational changes that your local district manager and postmaster carry out. The local managers have no control over and very little to say about the decisions.

Members often fail to realize that top-level management officials, no matter their level of competence, are making decisions that change operations and the work life of employees. The high-level managers rely on area, district and local managers to get their projects done.

At every union-management meeting about Article 12, which governs excessing, the union challenges the accuracy of the figures, the reasoning and the results of a notification to excess. The meetings are more perfunctory than productive. Management inevitability will ask, “What does the union want us to do?” My answer is, “You should have asked that before you screwed it up. Now the union must do damage control and you must follow the contract as agreed by the parties.”

Failing to See or Choosing to Ignore

Believe it or not, the PMG’s Executive Team makes a bi-weekly review of all their projects. Yet they apparently failed to anticipate that their cuts would result in $3.5 billion worth of overtime use last year. Postmasters schedule overtime in violation of the contract and further violate employees’ rights by canceling vacations, citing an emergency, when in actuality they are unable to cover the absences because of deep cuts in staffing. (By the way, that’s not a valid reason to cancel an employee’s approved vacation.)

They fail to see — or choose to ignore — their supervisors and managers performing more and more bargaining unit work — and the additional cost that will result from contract violations.

They fail to see — or choose to ignore — excessed employees reassigned and then detailed right back to their former office, costing the USPS out-of-schedule pay and mileage payments. They overlook employees being detailed and transported to other offices to work because management has moved the operations out of the employees’ home office prior to finding a legitimate landing spot within the required 50-mile radius. These employees normally spend more time in route than they do working. Employees are detailed to offices outside the 50- mile radius, stay in hotels, and are reimbursed for expenses. Are any of these costs added to the bottom line for moving operations?

When Will They Ever Learn?

Believe it or not, DRIVE is supposed to save the Postal Service approximately $20 billion a year by September 2014. Not without more of that funny math!

Recent reviews of the process exposed management’s failure to audit and control their projects. On paper they may be saving money, but report after report, study after study — including those conducted by the Postal Regulatory Commission and the USPS Office of Inspector General — say that many of the projects lack transparency, process and controls. I’m just saying…

What’s a Brother or Sister to Do?

Union members, if you have not done so already, contact your congressional representatives, regardless of party, and let them know how management’s mess affects your/ their communities and service — not just your job.

Provide the information requested by Executive Vice President Greg Bell. In a June letter to local and state presidents, he asked for information about changes to “Critical Acceptance and Entry Times” for First Class Mail.

It’s about saving the most trusted agency of the federal government that delivers to every address and protects the mail as it serves all.

My fellow coordinators, Omar Gonzalez, Mike Gallagher, John Dirzius, Princella Vogel, and I sincerely ask that you don’t buy into management’s claims and blame the union for mismanagement and contract violations at the highest levels.

First, you are the union. Second, your union is the only entity in the Postal Service fighting for you and we will continue to do so!

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