As we enter another round of collective bargaining, we find that external pressures may far outweigh our historical and recurring challenges with postal management. This is no small matter Sisters and Brothers and easily rises to the level of a clear and present danger to the rights and benefits we have fought for over decades of struggle. This is a real and credible threat to the family sustaining jobs we and future employees deserve. To be sure, this assault is not new, for as long as we can remember elements on Capitol Hill and in the private sector would like nothing more than to see the demise of the National Treasure that is the United States Postal Service. However, what makes this current offensive different is the unabashed disdain for all working people spewing from the White House. Some may scoff as we hear the bloviations of the crooked real estate scoundrel now occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., as he promises everything from tax reform for working class folks to a reanimation of the coal industry and a return to the industrial revolution. Notwithstanding these empty promises, the evidence is in and overwhelming on his vision of the future of the United States Postal Service.
I am sure it is no surprise to any mail handler, and there may be many reasons for the current climate on the work room floors of postal facilities across the nation, but morale is, without question, at an all time low. The toxic stew that is bubbling over in far too many instances can be traced, quite easily, back to the Nation’s capital and USPS Headquarters. Some might even suggest that this is a planned, deliberate effort on the part of the PMG and others to purposely destroy this critical institution. I personally do not subscribe. I believe the PMG, a career employee working her way up from a Carrier in Central PA to the top spot, believes, as we do, that the United States Postal Service simply must survive in something very close to its current form. General Brennan is not absolved from her responsibility however. This internal strife, whether deliberate or not, is very real Brothers and Sisters. No PHD is required to understand that many of the ailments that we now suffer from are inflicted by the very managers charged with… wait for it...managing. Staffing, or more accurately the lack thereof, is the first that comes to mind. Union representatives across the local are, and have been for quite some time, in a battle over virtually every job reversion and every failure to post the jobs that are desperately needed. I have written in this space previously about the disastrous Function 1 Scheduler, which has now, inexplicably, been renamed the Function 1 Review. (Much catchier wouldn’t you agree). Whatever its name, this theoretical boondoggle, designed by those that have never actually moved the mail, continues to confound us all, including operational managers. READ MORE
Preparing for management’s next act of stupidity at any level of the organization is no easy task Sisters and Brothers. Unfortunately, much of what we do, day in and day out, is to react to that stupidity. React to whatever part of the contract management has violated. This is the heart and soul of the grievance process, challenging within 14 days of our knowledge of the violation. This is how we defend against the wicked and the wayward in the ranks of management. And we certainly do not have to tell you that there is plenty to defend against. As you might expect, effectiveness is something we can only achieve if we are all in this together. We are fortunate to have dozens and dozens of stewards across this great Local who are waiting for the “What’s Next” so they can take the action they’re trained for to protect your rights whenever and wherever necessary. There are occasions however, that violations of the rights we have earned over decades of contentious struggle go unchallenged. This is exactly the point where those rights begin to erode. Our collective failure to push back on even the slightest infraction is the beginning of this insidious erosion. When we look the other way when managers or employees from other bargaining units perform our work, we feed this insatiable beast. When we are treated with less than the dignity and respect we deserve and say nothing, we feed this beast. We are of the fortunate few in this world that have the right to say something when those in management abuse their authority. Stand up Brothers and Sisters as this Union stands shoulder to shoulder with you!
Yeah, I know, you were screwed by the Union, and if you’ve been around for any time at all we’ve all been there. I get it, I have made these complaints myself in the past and I have certainly heard these complaints over the 30+ years in this Union. And I get it, people make mistakes, aren’t always honest, and are sometimes just friggin’ assh*%es. However, there is a good that drives this Union, and that good is greater and far outweighs any mistake ever made or misdeed ever committed. The sum of all we have ever done wrong can never match the decades of achievement and the workplace we would suffer without this Union.
While it is true that this Local enjoys one of the top enrollment rates in the entire nation, we still carry way too many non-members on the backs of those who get it. Those who reap all of the benefits this Union has fought for on the Local and National level. These collective bargaining achievements do not come for free or by accident, they are negotiated and plenty of resources are committed to the success of these negotiations. Yet still there are those that continue to take full advantage of the open shop laws for federal employees and contribute nothing, other than their complaints about how bad they got it. These are your co-workers, maybe even friends of yours who are happy to accept contractual raise after contractual raise, COLA after COLA, bid after bid, and do nothing to protect these benefits as though they are guaranteed for life. Well, I am here to tell you that these benefits are not guaranteed and now face the greatest threat we have ever seen with a White House that is hell bent on screwing Postal employees out of all the benefits we mistakenly take for granted. We need you to help enlist those non-members to join this fight and join it now. All hands on deck Brothers and Sisters, check your Union Bulletin Board or this web site for a list of non-members in your facility. Reach out to the ill-informed or misguided and urge them to join.
The White House Task Force Report on the Postal Service has finally been released, and just in time for the Holidays. The official title of this beauty is United States Postal Service: A Sustainable Path Forward, but for who! It will come as no surprise to anyone who is the least bit focused, that this document proposes one attack after another on the Mail Handlers Union and all of the other hard working men and women that make up the United States Postal Service. As described by our National Office,
“The Task Force’s recommendations include the following:
· Redefining and reducing the Postal Service’s Universal Service Obligation
· Reducing the number and density of Post Offices
· Reducing delivery frequencies
· Reducing door to door delivery
· Lowering Service Standards
· Raising rates for major e-commerce mailers
· Increasing subcontracting of mail processing operations
· Eliminating collective bargaining over the wages of postal employees
· Reducing the wages of postal employees
· Reducing pension or workers compensation benefits of postal employees.”
This is real and the alarm is sounding Brothers and Sisters. Perhaps it was naïve of us to believe that an opportunity existed for this report to provide a truly “sustainable path forward” for those who actually move the mail. Our hope that those at the top would consider the impact on good jobs for good people, in the end, appears to be really nothing more than fantasy. The opportunities described within the report too often go to the privateers out there looking to get a cut of the most lucrative segments of the Service we provide. Is the battle over? I say, hell no! But there is sure a lot of work in front of us. We have often described the importance of the political landscape when it comes to protecting the members of this great Union and this frontal attack on all of us is a perfect example. This, by no means, is a done deal, but it will take our full and collective political might to defeat the insidious proposals the White House has proffered. We will all have to hold accountable those who, pre-midterm election, promised to protect us against the exact BS contained in the report. The question we must ask is where do these “leaders” stand now? It would appear to some that we now have more friends on Capitol Hill than we did on November 5th, but we cannot afford to assume. The time will come when our collective voices must rise in unison to turn back those who wish to dismantle the Postal Service and in doing so, destroy us along with it.
READ THE FULL WH REPORT BELOW.
The battles we fight day in and day out on workroom floors, in grievance meetings, and in arbitration hearings across this local and across the country are obviously critically important to protecting the contractual rights we have struggled to gain over decades of collective bargaining. Our National partners, over those many years, have constructed terms and conditions that rival the best in organized labor. To be sure, at every opportunity we strive to improve upon those terms at all levels of the organization. This ability to bargain for better wages and working conditions is in real jeopardy Brothers & Sisters as we face an administration bent on taking from the working men and women of this nation to give even more to the very wealthiest among us. One need only review the recent actions of the President for evidence that he and his ilk aim to reduce our standard of living while they stuff their already obscenely bulging pockets. Read More
As many of you now know, the national parties have resolved a number of ongoing disputes with the signing of the Update of Regional Instruction (RI) 399 Procedures MOU. This agreement in its entirety is available for review on the National website @npmhu.org.
The MOU itself is seven pages in length and signed by NPMHU President Paul Hogrogian and APWU President Mark Dimondstein. At its core, the MOU proports to cure some of the major defects within the mechanism for resolving disputed work assignments along with giving the parties a fresh start in a procedure that currently finds some disputes decades old with no real hope they would see resolution in our lifetimes. Like all negotiated agreements there are aspects that benefit the craft and there are some, not so much. However, Brother Hogrogian has never shied away from the tough decision and has always put the mail handler membership ahead of all other considerations. It is clear to us that in this case the pros significantly outweigh the cons. The Union in negotiating this agreement with the APWU and Postal management has secured thousands of jobs that would have otherwise been in jeopardy. For those who see this as mere hyperbole, one need only review the recent history of the SPSS. The initial craft assignment of the Small Parcel Sorting System gave the entire operation to the mail handler craft only to see the employer change its position and give much of the work away. Prior to this historic agreement the risk of losing jobs on the mere whim of postal management was a very real and dangerous possibility. This risk has been neutralized and jobs saved. Read More
As we have previously reported, the Union has been successful in pushing back on the employer’s most recent proposed staffing cuts in both the South Jersey and Philadelphia Districts. We again thank the fine work of those representatives in the Trenton and South Jersey plants as well as those in the Philadelphia P&DC and the NDC in neutralizing the impacts to our members. Incredibly, we are now seeing an increase in the hiring of Mail Handler Assistants in the two Philly plants. As you all know, there are still many challenges ahead as the “F-U scheduler” retools to unnecessarily screw with the hours and drop days and ultimately the lives of mail handlers. While it appears that around the Local and really around the nation, management has taken their foot of the insanity pedal, we are not of the opinion that they have abandoned their irrational scheduler. This is certainly no time for us to rest as “sure as shootin’” we will be facing additional rounds of staffing and hours manipulation in the coming months. Much of the next wave of “weaponized incompetence” will be driven yet again by Postal Headquarters’ dire predications of cataclysmic drops in marketing mail volume and made up revenue forecasts.
Over the last several months we have reported management’s intention to reduce staffing in both the South Jersey District as well as the Philadelphia Metropolitan District, potentially affecting hundreds of bargaining unit members. Following a number of meetings with the employer, Local 308 and our Regional representatives were able to convince management to drastically reduce the impact if not eliminate it altogether. As many of you know, the impact to the Philadelphia NDC as well as the Philadelphia P&DC has been fully mitigated, meaning, aside from the few mail handlers that elected to reassign into the custodial craft, mail handlers are staying right where they are. Although not finalized, we expect the same for our Trenton facility and the South Jersey plant. There are certainly other challenges we will be facing in the coming weeks and months, specifically the continuing effect of the employer’s broken Function 1 Scheduler on the lives of mail handlers.
However, recent news out of both the Philly NDC as well as the Philly P&DC reveal how broken the F-1 really is. Read More Here
It is certainly no secret that the Service plans to cut staffing and realign schedules on a massive scale in 2018. We have written about the uncertainty we face and the potential impacts to mail handlers across the Local and across the country. As previously reported, we have four facilities that have been targeted for staffing cuts and involuntary reassignment of career mail handlers to other installations. This process requires the parties meet at the Regional level to discuss the impact and potential landing spots for those subject to involuntary reassignment. The Union has held the first two of the four scheduled with a follow-up meeting scheduled for the Philadelphia NDC. It should be noted that the employer has not been completely forthcoming with information requested by Local 308 and we have filed an unfair labor practice charge against the Philadelphia Metropolitan District. As reported to both the Philadelphia P&DC as well as the NDC, the meetings were held back to back on December 14th with the former much more productive than the latter. Read Full Report
The Postal Service has recently announced a number of impacts across Local 308 and across the nation for that matter, as they catapult headlong into their Function 1 driven fiasco. I have yet to meet the postal employee with two brain cells to rub together that thinks this is a good idea. But yet this is where we are headed… right into a crippling reduction in workforce, that will achieve nothing beyond extraordinary rates of overtime and a standard of service designed to keep the mail away from our customers for as long as possible. Our National leadership has met with their USPS counterparts on numerous occasions in an attempt to understand the madness the Post Master General now pursues. Of course, the reality of the mail processing work place seems to be lost on the “best and the brightest” in postal headquarters. Nationally we have filed an unfair labor practice charge, as the employer has failed to provide the Union with relevant information regarding the fatally flawed Function 1 process. Read More
The assault on Mail Handler bid duty assignments has begun and many have already felt the sting of management’s latest challenge to logic and the collective bargaining agreement. We have seen vacated bid duty assignments reverted over the last several months and have challenged those. But now an unprecedented elimination of occupied duty assignments has swept through the local and has impacted many across the nation. There is no discernible rhyme or reason to this most recent barrage, and currently there are more questions than answers on motive or the designed end game, if we are to assume there is any design here at all. Read More
Following a successfully bargained contract with new and improved rights for mail handlers, there is always a bit of a learning curve involved for both craft and management. Some would even argue that there are many in management that still don’t understand the previous National Agreement, never mind the new one, and already have a lot of catching up to do. I don’t disagree and would add that there is a likelihood that they’ll never get there and probably don’t want to. Notwithstanding their unwillingness to learn or comply, we are here, and definitely willing, to instruct through enforcement. Our National office has mailed a bound copy of the new National Agreement to each and every member. And yes, it is “mauve”. We encourage all Sisters and Brothers to review the National Agreement and keep it close, especially while at work as it contains changes that will affect your work lives and potentially your very livelihoods. The National office during its most recent meeting of the Local Unions conducted a one-day seminar on some of the most significant changes to the National Agreement. Your Local union intends to follow suit shortly and conduct a review of the new Agreement for Local Union officers and other Union representatives. READ MORE
Back Row: Harvey George, Shandra Fallen, Shakia Polk, Ryan Sharpe, Ryan Barna, Nick Campellone, Robert Garrido
Front Row: Danielle Hess, Chelsea Laudenslager, John Gibson, Ottina Fallz, Christine Warner, Vaughn Heym
Eve Parker, John Macey, John Gibson, Nick Campellone, Ken Colfer, Janelle Maurice, Barrie Bowens, Hynefah Dandy
Pink Short Sleeved - $10.00 each
Meet Your 115th Congress
As the National parties finalize the effective dates of many of the recently negotiated and now ratified contractual provisions, the wage increases effective November 26, 2016 (PP 25-16) and the September 2016 (PP 19-16) cost of living allowance have been implemented and will be reflected on your earnings statement for pay period four. The pay scale reflecting that increase is available on both the National and Local web sites for downloading @ www.npmhu.org and www.npmhu308.org respectively. In addition, the March cost of living allowance has been determined to be $333 annually or approximately $.16 per hour. This increase will take effect on Saturday March 4, 2017 and be reflected in the earnings statement for pay period six. The pay scale that will be in effect on March 4th is also now available on the aforementioned web sites. As you know, retroactive pay adjustments will be necessary for all of the wages earned between pay period 19-16 for the September COLA and from pay period 26-16 for the contractual increase. The exact pay in which those adjustments will be reflected has yet to be announced. If you have any questions regarding your retroactive calculation once it is reflected on your earnings statement please see your Union representative.
Read More of the President's Report
As reported by our National office, The 115th Congress has produced Postal legislation designed to provide the Service with the financial stability it so desperately needs and wrote
"...the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee introduced bi-partisan postal reform legislation. The lead sponsor was Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), but the legislation also is co-sponsored by Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Stephen Lynch (D-MA). Gerald Connolly (D-VA), and Dennis Ross (R-FL-15). This legislation (the Postal Reform Act of 2017, H.R. 756) is similar to legislation that was introduced last year in the 114th Congress. That prior legislation was passed by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, but never saw action on the full floor and died when Congress adjourned in December.
The NPMHU appreciates the hard work that Chairman Chaffetz, Ranking Member Cummings, and the other co-sponsors have done with respect to this legislation."
We have all probably heard the phrase “elections have consequences” at one point or another in our lives. There can be very little doubt that the 2016 Presidential Election, no matter what side of the political spectrum you may reside, will also result in “consequences” of one sort or another. It is without question that a seismic shift has occurred in the politics of the nation, and where that leads us, at this point, is anyone’s guess. What we do know is that our day to day struggles with the wayward and wicked in management will continue. And with that our right to stand up and challenge those transgressors shall not waiver. We also know that this Union, at both the Local and National levels, will continue to fight for improvements in the wages, benefits, and working conditions for all Mail Handlers. That this Union will continue the important work of securing comprehensive Postal legislation that protects the cornerstone of democracy that is the United States Postal Service. The work that you do is critically important to the Nation and we can never lose sight of that fact and more to the point, we can never let those in office lose sight of that fact.
The power of this great Union was on full display during our most recent National Convention which convened in Chicago, August 22nd through the 28th. Local 308’s delegation (Pictured with National President Paul Hogrogian and National Secretary-Treasurer Mark Gardner) included members of your Local Union Council along with Brother Quentin Seth from Delaware. Almost three hundred delegates from all fifty states attended the week-long event, which included important discussion and debate and ultimately voting over changes to our governing documents, the National and Uniform Local Union Constitutions. Details and photographs of each day’s activities are now available on line at npmhu.org
Held every four years, this year’s theme centered on you, the member, with your and our collective power at its focus, where it belongs. The Power of You is what fuels this great Union as we rely on each other to protect and enhance the rights we have fought so very hard for over decades of struggle. There was truly an unmistakable spirit of Unity, Democracy, & Strength that permeated the Convention as the delegates charted the course of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union for the next four years. The delegates also resoundingly endorsed Hillary Clinton for President of the United States in this year’s election. Read Full President's Report
For those of you who regularly attend your Branch meetings you have heard the phrase “this is pick and shovel work” and that there is no magic bullet that will end violations of the contract by the malignancies inside management. Defending a negotiated contract requires all shop stewards, and yes even members as well, to roll up their collective sleeves and exercise their legal right to challenge any and all contractual transgressions. The surest way to lose our right to challenge management is to stop asserting those rights.
There are times that repeat violations require repeat challenges and the filing of scores of grievances on the same issue. For example, rules governing temporary movement from your bid duty assignment. The Contract is not at all confusing or ambiguous regarding movement but management insists on ignoring this important right day in and day out in some facilities. It certainly can be frustrating, but all we ask is that you notify any Union representative certified to protect your rights and let them go after it. Some of our basic rights are sometimes ignored as a matter of convenience. Our job is a simple one, enforce the law and make wanton violations of our Agreement by management as inconvenient as possible.
Read More of the March-April President's Report
Over decades of hard fought collective bargaining, the NPMHU, along with the other Postal Unions, have achieved gains in job security, wages, and working conditions that sometimes go underappreciated or even unnoticed. The current contract contains more than 200 pages of protections and rights we all enjoy. Beyond the National Agreement there are countless additional agreements in the form of Memoranda of Understanding and arbitration decisions that expand and strengthen the rights we have. More than a few of these gains occurring before many current employees were hired, or for that matter, even born. For a significant majority of mail handlers we have always enjoyed the no lay-off protection (Article 6) and have no concept or ever experienced that which other Unions deal with on a regular basis. This right was not given to us out of the kindness of the employer’s heart but earned through tough bargaining. (Read More)
The power of collective bargaining is undeniable. Negotiating with the employer over wages, benefits, and working conditions is a diminishing right that fewer and fewer Americans enjoy. As we quickly approach negotiations with the United States Postal Service over the terms of our next contract, where there is obviously very much at stake as management attempts to strip current and future Mail Handlers of any hope of a living wage with benefits. We are, however, indeed fortunate Brothers and Sisters that we even have this opportunity and I am confident that our National partners will take full advantage of it. There are other important components to our rights as a vibrant and powerful collective bargaining entity. One such critical component is the right to be treated with respect and dignity in the workplace. Read More
As I have traveled the Local in recent weeks and meet face to face with our Brothers & Sisters, there seems to be a common theme described to me by the members I speak with. It is staffing, or more precisely the lack thereof. From Wilmington to Lehigh Valley, from Trenton to Lancaster, members describe, with very little deviation, the increasing pressures placed on them as management pushes more and more the default philosophy of “doing more with less”. To a large degree this policy has been driven by Headquarters management in Washington DC and trickled down through the Eastern Area, the three Districts within this Local’s jurisdiction, and then into the plants and tours. By now you’ve all heard of their Function 1 Scheduler, which proposes to “right-size” the workforce in mail processing facilities. We’ve spoken about this folly in the past so I won’t spend too much time on it here. In a nutshell, this “tool” is designed by a bunch of bean counters sitting in a windowless office somewhere in the basement of L’Enfant Plaza. Their fantastic goal is to staff each and every operation with the “optimum number of employees for maximum efficiency”. These bean counters, for the most part have never managed real mail processing and have no real concept of how the mail is actually moved. Read More
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