Saving the Post Office From the Post Office

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Saving the Post Office From the Post Office – PART 1 & 2
by Denny Belden of PEN’s Belden Factor

PART ONE – November 2014

Hello Brothers and Sisters!  Well, we have a PM General who is selling off the Post Office slowly but surely and even though we hear about some post offices closing in the news, it alarms me at how historic post offices, in historic buildings, are being sold in the name of saving the Postal Service by our PMG playing whack-a-mole with plant and post office closures.

Here is just a minor list of closings or sell-offs:

“Historic  Berkeley  Post Office under contract to be sold”…”100 year old building…An email from the city attorney to the city council-leaked to the Berkeley Daily Planet-sets out a process for an eventual lawsuit against the Postal Service.”

Carriers can be disciplined for discussing controversial subjects with customers because Management doesn’t want any carrier possibly upsetting a customer, or placing the Postal Service in a bad light.  However, our grand PMG Scrooge can upset the public so much that they are leveling lawsuits against the post office, not only in Berkeley, but around the country.  And for what, a few million dollars?  Really, what is a few million in the really big picture?

Let’s look at the big picture for a moment, as I digress a moment here…The 5 Billion dollar PER YEAR, I repeat…PER YEAR, pre-funding the health benefits for carriers, projected 75 years into the future, is the financial killer for the Postal Service.  Ask yourself how can any business survive when each fiscal year they START 5 BILLION IN THE HOLE!?   And they are supposed to pay that before they make the first dollar to run their operation?  The Postal Service is mandated to pre-fund the Health Benefits of carriers …(pay attention to this!)…that are NOT EVEN BORN YET!

Now you see the absurdity of this action leveled upon the USPS by the Legislative Branch of our Government.  Now, remember these are the same idiots (no I’m not talking about management now…) that can’t get anything done for the good of the country because they won’t compromise on anything and have the lowest approval rating of any House and Senate in History.  Even the Do-Nothing Congress from the past did more than these knuckleheads, that represent us now, and that is both on Republicans and Democrats!

“Historic York, PA post office to become event venue”…in July, 2013, the building sold for $350,000 to a developer.  The city council was concerned because the developer owed thousands in back property taxes and back sewer and refuse fees. The building is over 100 years old.

Whoa, guess the PMG is not very discriminating who he’ll sell the Post Office to!  And only for $350,000 for an historic building?  Why wasn’t it auctioned?  Wouldn’t that have driven the price up if it had to be sold?

Speaking of absurdities…(no, not talking about management yet…) how do you make sense of our almost vacant Mid-FL plant?  We own that property, at least that is what I have been told by people higher up in the “idiots with ties” ranks (now I am talking about our management!).  We own that, yet they decide to make Tampa the District HQs where they are leasing the buildings and property.  Now we have the albatross of a mail plant, mostly gathering dust, while we pay for 2 places.  Now who is going to buy an old Postal Plant.  Gee, I thought Orlando was centrally located, which means is “sort of” equidistant from all places, and would have been ideal for District HQs…but NOOOOO!

It makes better sense to make Tampa the HQ’s of the SunCoast District.  It was the Southeast Region, but since it is Tampa, it is the SunCoast…which SunToasts my rear!… on all the jobs taken away from the clerk craft and the downsizing of the whole Postal Organization.  I think I will no longer use Service in the Postal Organization’s name.  We all know service has been tossed out the window and is the last thing on local management’s mind when you are delivering mail.

The service we once had, is now replaced by curbline mailboxes, CBUs, and especially the sneaky way they established CBUs  into the businesses.

The owner of a number of buildings on my old route had signed to allow the CBUs because it was put to him that he had no choice.  Just sign here and we will find the best spot to put the CBUs in.  Of course, I was on vacation at the time this happened.  Just a mere coincidence?  Hmmm….

Once the building owner  talked to me how he didn’t want those CBUs and asked me why the Post Office was making him do this,  I let him know they were supposed to let him know it was a voluntary action and he did not have to agree.  He stated he thought he had no choice and signed the paper, which was the “voluntary” order (he showed it to me).  At no time was it put to him that he had a choice and could take time to decide.  He was ticked off, I was ticked off, and all the tenants were ticked off.  Not one of them wanted the CBUs!

The CBUs were put in so quickly he had no time to call and refuse them.  They were standing in his parking lot a couple days later. Well, so much for going in and talking about customer connect to businesses, I soon found out I didn’t even know some tenants had moved and others were moving in.  The building owner now has little respect for the PO and will throw that manglement representative out on his ear!

Some of the new carriers may have never even carried park and loop routes before.  Those of us that came into the Organization in the 60’s, 70’s, and most of the 80’s know what park and loop routes are all about.

It was rare to have a curbline route then and most of the carriers then liked the park and loop routes.  We didn’t have a choice really…but you got to know your customers and they got to know you.

Those customers would wait for you with a glass of cold ice tea, or meet you at the door with something baked especially for you at Christmas time!   Ask the veteran carriers… you knew everyone back then and had the time to listen to them when there was a problem with their mail delivery , had some type of mail issue, or were concerned because they hadn’t seen you in two days.

Some would mail their Hold order to the post office with your name on it because they knew you would take extra special care with their mail… Then came DPS & FSS.. which made it so you couldn’t pull everyone’s mail out because you didn’t know if they had any mail till you hit the street, and the relief carrier just delivered everything he had, thinking you had pulled everything out.

We had insert cards for the relief carriers to read, but most got lost, or delivered, and in manglement’s great wisdom, said we had to throw all of them out!  Ah, what happened to the good ole days!  (Hey Canfield, who would ever think we had good old days! Sorry, another ancient carrier (number 1-seniority in Orlando) that came in 4 months before my fossilized time…)

Service?  DPS…learn to read upside down, despite a memorandum that states they are not to put mail in the DPS machines upside down…no suite numbers?  put it in front of the building so the carrier by default, is now handling 4 bundles, or sorts the mail out in the back of the LLV before delivery, which I did…carriers will fix it!  FSS…no problem let’s now have double the issues and bundles to deal with…along with FSS machine breakdowns…leaving much later and an idiot asking if you can take a piece while you are leaving 2 hrs later!…Break down the red plums on the street, don’t even take them out of the hamper…when a Step 4 decision clearly states they are to be broken into bundles in the office…CCAs…RUN!…RUN!…RUN!…manglement instructions to all new employees…then threaten them with discipline to “keep them in line!”…CCAs becoming 204bs instructing 20 yr, 30 yr, and 40 yr carriers what to do, when they don’t even know what size postal diaper they wear!….Service?  The “idiot in the tie” telling you how much undertime you have while you look at an overflowing hamper of parcels while your average parcels on the sheet says “4”….Here take a pivot off a route, deliver everything, and be back in 8…WTF?…Service?  May their proctologist poke them in the eye while giving them their next prostate exam!

Saving the Post Office From the Post Office – PART 2

More on the sale of PO’s….”Save the Berkeley Post Office” has a great article on how the Postal Service has been flouting the intention of preservation laws and ignoring the recommendations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Max Burman, New York City Lens: The sale of the Bronx General Post Office has split local opinion as gentrification looms.  South Bronx residents have, it seems, been left feeling like mere bystanders in the process and it is this lack of involvement, and the sense of powerlessness that goes along with it, which seem to have driven local apprehension. Built in 1935 and designated as a city landmark in 1976, the vast four-story mail center stands as the largest of 29 Depression-era post offices in the city, according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission…and occupies an entire block on the Bronx’ main thoroughfare, the Grand Concourse. “The USPS has disregarded the voices of the Bronx community, elected officials, historic preservationists, and their own employees — all of whom opposed this process and this sale,” said Congressman Jose Serrano, who represents the district.

Wow…another public relations winner there PMG Scrooge!  Angering everyone seems to be the goal here…must be something in the ELM somewhere about that…. here it is Chapter 6-Conduct:

667.12 Engaging in Campaigns for Changes in Mail Service Employees in active status must not engage in campaigns for or against changes in mail service. This regulation must not be construed to infringe on the rights to participate in labor organizations.

 667.16 Controversies With the Public Employees must not engage in controversies with customers, railway employees, airline employees, or other members of the public while on duty or on federal property.

I know carriers who have been disciplined for the one or the other section above.  Controversy can be anything management claims it is…changes in mode of delivery (that’s the CBU changes I was talking about), plant closings and post office closings (how many had the stand-up that said we weren’t allowed to talk to anyone about post office closure and  to refer them to the “idiots in the ties” in the station …really, the ones that can’t figure how to make a schedule, are going to be spokesman on plant closings?).

I can hear it now, “What plant, we have no plants here! Just a maintenance guy to mow the lawn… and what?…doh!”

Anyway, I don’t level these charges at PMG Scrooge, but to make you think a bit about how some things are twisted to use against you.  Now, you might ask….how do these closings affect me…I’m a carrier?

The sales of the Post Offices do affect you…clerk reductions….so how is the parcel pitching going in the mornings?  Getting your parcels right away?  Do you get your AM accountables prior to pulling down and able to put in on your 3996, like the handbooks tell you to do?  No final receipt of mail without the accountables!  Always a smiling cheerful clerk to check you in during PM check-in…like the handbooks mandate they do?

All this employee reduction affects you.  Did you know that years ago they had a clerk that sorted the PM mail when you came back to the office?… none of the carriers did this…at all.  You just handed it to the PM clerk and he/she sorted the station mail for the outgoing truck!  Ain’t that right Canfield! (Someone wake him up, will you?)  So what’s next?

Now they are trying to move into Wal-Mart.  First, they partnered with Staples for doing things like a Post Office with minimum wage employees.   This effectively eliminates clerks who are properly trained to do that job.  This is where some high school, or college kid, would be paid minimum wage to do work that a clerk has been trained to do.   That’s jobs lost, while outsourcing the work…I bet even a CCA would like to do that work inside air conditioning at Staples during the summer months…

So, you may think that’s not so bad, right?  Let me ask you, do you treat your job as a career, and something you will work at, for years, take care of your customers, even going out of your way for them?  Do you think a high school or college kid would have the same care as you do?…for minimum wage?  It’s a lot easier to ask ,“Want fries with that?”…for the same minimum wage, than to put up with the heat, rain, cold… putting up with the stoopidvisors that  lack any common sense!  I’m sure that has to be a pre-requisite to become one, why else would you accept?  Limbo Land…Bottom of the hill in supervision, so everything rolls down-hill, on them, and now not a single carrier trusts them, because of the dark clouds that hover above both their faces!  But…I digress….

These stores are part of the USPS Approved Shippers program, which consists of stores that can also offer FedEx, UPS , DHL, and anything else they want.  They make a profit by charging a fee on top of what the Postal Ser…uh, Organization would charge.

Now they are partnering with Wal-Mart.  Another major retailer that will be offering our services at a higher price…and I’m sure somehow we, the carriers, will hear about it and somehow be blamed for it!  All the while, our illustrious leader is encouraging customers to do business at places other than at our own Post Offices.  Boy, that’s one way to help us stay afloat, eh, Scrooge?  Hey I’m sinking…toss me an anchor will you?  Thanks….glub, glub!

You might ask, why should you care about clerks?  It’s simple, if they reduce the clerk craft to bare minimum (if they haven’t already), and can outsource clerk duties to another company willing to pay minimum wage, who do you think they will attack next?  Carriers!…and they already are…you know it, and I know it.

Take for instance…Since when does manglement make your calls for you?  Or, at least try to.  The National Agreement and Handbooks say you, and only you, makes your calls, not an “idiot in a tie”.  You should know your rights and make your own call and stick to your call, that you know is right.  If they hand you relief, ask for a 3996 to put down OT, if it will take you into OT.  DON’T BE INTIMIDATED!!!!…they are counting that you will be…and they will be the bullies, but only if you allow them to be!  Ask to see your Steward and document the time you do so!  Remember, though, always know the Iron Rule, “OBEY NOW, GRIEVE LATER!!”  Always follow instructions first, then grieve the issue.  Now, back to PO sales….

Historic Peter Stuyvestant post office to be demolished…Another Houston post office to close and relocate…Historic post office, built in 1937, in Richmond, VA for sale…Historic Somerville post office sold to rock music promoter Don Law…It goes on and on.  Sickening isn’t it?

Your future now depends on the CCAs.  Don’t be shy to show the CCAs ways to make their job easier.  And CCAs, don’t be shy on taking advice from us old dudes…like Canfield & Simmons!   We’ve done everything you have done…including working Sundays…delivering special delivery…before many of you were even born.  (Remember that Canfield!…Canfield…somebody wake him up!)

We did routes that were all walking routes and there were no CBUs.  We’ve carried satchels on loops that were 35 lbs because they actually weighed them before we went out of the office!  (Go ahead, try to get 35 lbs in your satchel…we had to tie on bundles of mail on the end straps to make it 35 lbs!  Did you know they still can do that?   We were dispatched all over the city on a daily basis, just as many of you are doing now, we were never assigned to a station until we made regular…so learn from us…don’t make mistakes that we can save you from.  Ask to talk to the senior carrier and the senior carrier should talk to the CCAs.  Pass on some helpful hints…

We are not called a Union just because we wanted to be at the back of the alphabet…When the group that I came in with, went out to the stations to work, the veteran carriers would tell us their shortcuts, what duplicate numbers to watch for, and where the dogs were.  They helped us out and we listened.  Too many now just don’t want to take time to listen…but the ones that do…know their rights and their job duties.

I had one carrier tell me the dogs are easy,  “it’s the people on the route you gotta watch out for!”  He told me of one lady who chased him with a 2X4 and beat his jeep because he didn’t have her social security check that day…and the day he was caught in a shootout across the roadway he was delivering…same route.  I was nervous the whole day!

Well, ‘bout wore out my computer keys on this one, so I will say till next time…Boycott Staples & Wal-Mart (biggest anti-Union retailer there is) and don’t buy anything from anyone named Donahoe!  United we Stand, divided we beg.

Be Strong! Be Informed! Be Union!

Denny Belden
Retired (Finally!)

Anybody wake-up Canfield yet…?

One Response to "Saving the Post Office From the Post Office"

  1. Me   November 6, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Great, article.. I guess that’s why PO was only putting one clerk at the counter, so people get mad and go elsewhere. They already had a deal with Staples… big problem is, 3 Staples employees are slower than 1 Clerk at the PO… They are minimum wage, don’t care about your package/letter or if it gets delivered… I see a lot more packages/letters never getting to their destination if you ship from Staples/Walmart…

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