(This article first appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By Clerk Division Director Clint Burelson
As a result of the Clerk Craft’s win in the Sales Retention Team dispute, the USPS recently sent checks to eligible employees as part of the $36 million remedy for the USPS violations when they failed to post new duty assignments in the sites with Sales Retention Teams. The Clerk Craft’s win of $49.9 million in the Postmaster Relief (PMR) dispute should be coming out to eligible employees later this year. Part of the delay in paying employees is getting accurate information from the Postal Service.
Part-Time Flexible (PTF) and Postal Support Employee (PSE) Conversions
Given USPS’s current lack of excessing plans, which could change in the near future, now is the time to convert PTFs to regular and PSEs to career. It is difficult to convert once excessing and the withholding of jobs occurs.
Notably, the USPS asked us at the national level to convert PSEs to unassigned/unencumbered without any residual vacancies for much of last year. Despite some concerns, we support converting PSEs as fast as possible. Over 1,000 PSEs have been converted to career in this way.
Trump Task Force
The Clerk Craft, and all of the APWU, is under attack in the Trump Task Force report released on Dec. 4, 2018. The Trump Administration paid the Mitre Corporation $1.6 million for the report, which relies upon, and largely supports, the interest of the large mailers. One of their first steps is to “redefine” the universal service obligation (USO) in order to reduce service. Somewhat surprisingly, the report acknowledges the role of the large mailers in allowing slower delivery:
The Task Force’s outreach with major mailers revealed that geographic coverage, predictability on timing of delivery, and six-day delivery are more important than the speed of delivery. Mailers can, in many cases, adjust drop-off dates to accommodate slower or faster delivery.
Here are the broad recommendations of the Trump Task Force in two sentences:
The Task Force believes that the USPS must operate in a more cost-efficient manner by exercising discretion to lower service standards and to increase the use of third parties through additional work sharing and the use of third party processing and logistics providers. In addition, as postal employees are part of the U.S. federal civil service, their wages and benefits should be aligned to comparable U.S. federal employee groups, including aligning their ability to collectively bargain for wages and benefits with other federal employees.
The Task Force recommends reducing service to the public, increasing discounts/contracting out/privatization, and dismantling the power of postal worker organizations. The Postal Service has already been doing this, but there is a provision in the report that takes the recommended privatization a step further:
The Task Force recommends that the USPS explore franchising the mailbox as a means of generating revenue. This could be done by retaining the mailbox monopoly and allowing regulated access, for a fee, to certified private companies. These “franchisees” would be granted access to the mailbox for the delivery of mail and small parcels.
This would open the mailbox for anyone to deliver for a fee. If implemented, this would be a gift to FedEx, UPS, and Amazon. Mailbox franchising, like the postage discounts to large mailers, would be another way to privatize operations without transferring ownership to another entity.
It is not surprising that the richest .01 percent of the population want to use their power to benefit themselves. What is surprising is that the 99.9 percent of us allow the .01 percent to control the USPS and our society. Show that you are not going to take it anymore by showing up for union meetings, becoming an active union member, an active citizen, and otherwise fight today for a better tomorrow.