(This article first appeared in the May-June 2018 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine)
By Clerk Craft Directors
Understaffing is the main reason service to our communities is decreasing and stress on the job is increasing. It is the reason the mail is delayed, the lines are long and overall service is deteriorating. Understaffing is the cause of most of the violations regarding supervisors doing craft work, crossing crafts, overtime, holiday scheduling, leave requests, staffing on the machines, etc.
The most enjoyable and effective solution to fight understaffing is educating the public about what it is and how it affects service to the community. It is surprisingly fun and empowering to tell our story to the public. The action can be small, with just a press release or media appearance, to large, like collecting signatures on petitions and informational picketing – street parties . These actions shine a light on the reasons service to the community is deteriorating.
Moreover, an event in one community can receive media coverage and then be amplified and spread nationwide. Imagine the added results if there was an informational picket every week by postal workers in different communities across the country.
Now is the time to publicly expose understaffing for the following reasons:
1) More Power Required to Stop Contract Violations
The Clerk Craft has been successful recently in winning large monetary settlements of $56 million, $36 million and $49.9 million, for violations of the contract at the highest levels of the Postal Service. However, despite these awards, the Postal Service continues to blatantly violate the contract at all levels of management. While we must increase our efforts to aggressively challenge management through the grievance procedure, it is clear we need to bring more power to the fight in order to change things.
2) Lobbying the PRC
The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) will rule on the important issue of the caps on postal pricing instituted in the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA). These unreasonable postage caps, the disastrous prefunding of retiree health care and the discounts to large mailers, significantly contributed to the inadequate revenue and the USPS cuts in staffing.
Recently, the PRC proposed a very small improvement in the current pricing system. Not surprisingly, large mailers are still lobbying against the proposal to keep their profits high. We cannot match the financial lobbying power of the Fortune 500s, but can lobby the public who can then influence decision-makers.
3) Stopping Cuts in Service and Disruption to Workers
The Postal Service is still planning consolidations, reversions and excessing, despite the poor service to our communities and the adverse impact on postal workers. By informing the public about the understaffing and its effect on service, we can slow and/or stop further cuts in service and disruption to employees.
4) Supporting National Negotiations
There are millions of Americans who rely upon and love the public Postal Service – and many who will become postal workers in the future. Historically, unions that achieved successful contract improvements had substantial public support. It is up to us to engage the public in the good fight for a better contract, better service and better jobs.
You do not have to be a steward or officer to participate. You just have to care about your job and the future of the Postal Service, and stand up at the same time as your fellow workers. Given the reasons described above, the number of postal workers who decide to step up will be a major factor for the future of the Postal Service and our lives as postal workers.
To make it easier to organize, the Clerk Craft will assist local and state organizations conducting public events (small or large) with background information, organizing support and media coverage.