(This article first appeared in the May-June 2018 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine)
By Industrial Relations Director Vance Zimmerman
Are you engaged?” Those are the words the Postal Service is using to get you to take their newest survey. The 2016 Postal Pulse survey showed the USPS what we already knew: Your work environment is not good; your supervisors treat you poorly and morale is low.
So, what has the Postal Service done in the last year? Have things improved since the survey was first put out and found that the USPS ranked low in every category? The USPS created “Ambassadors” to go and train managers, so they could then train supervisors to “engage” the employees – and that “engagement” would make the workplace better.
The reality is, the steps the Postal Service took to make the workplace “more engaging” are meaningless. You still have difficult supervisors and you are having more demanded of you, putting your health and safety at risk. Staff is being reduced, people are being excessed and morale is being decimated.
Management now is trying to get you to become “more engaged” – meaning they want you to return their surveys. They have pitted you against each other by giving awards and cute designations to units that return all their surveys. Don’t do it!
The Postal Pulse and Employee Engagement initiatives are not your friend. Participation in these programs will not fix the issues. Postal management has not listened to your direct pleas to your supervisors, either in your grievances or in meetings at the local, area and national level. Only collectively, demanding compliance of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and speaking in one voice, will we force management to change their ways. Stand united – and do not be fooled by these "wolves in sheep’s clothing" initiatives created to divide us.
Postal management promised not to use the survey against us – but they already are by pitting work units against each other, giving those who have at least 75% participation a sticker as a reward or throwing a little party for the units who “participate.” In the past, management surveys have been used against us in contract negotiations and interest arbitration. With 2018 being a negotiation year, it is possible the survey results will be used against us at the bargaining table.
They ask people to join focus groups and participate in management-initiated events to make the work place more “engaging.” These are not sanctioned nor approved by the union. They were not negotiated and use of them violates the union’s right as the sole representative of the bargaining unit employees under Article 1. Don’t do it!
We have a negotiated grievance process and a negotiated labor-management cooperation process in place to address these issues. Management needs to start following our contract, dealing with the grievances already filed and making sure the hostile frontline supervisors are dealt with. Your union knows the “pulse”of those we represent. If a local supervisor or manager cannot see the problems without a survey, then they are part of the problem.
Get Fired Up and Ready to Go!
Don’t forget that contract negotiations open June 26! We have been continually preparing for them since early 2017. Make no mistake, these negotiations will be challenging, but we are prepared to go in and fight. You deserve a good contract and we will be doing all we can to deliver you one.
However, these are challenging times. Public perception may not be on our side because of unfair, and sometimes inaccurate, media coverage. Hopefully, you are participating in our contract campaign. When called upon, we need you to wear a sticker, a T-shirt or maybe attend a rally. Whatever you can do to show management we are united in our fight for a good contract is welcome.
Our contract campaign can generate leverage and help change public perception. So, are you Fired Up and Ready to Go? Because we are Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow.