Who’s More Concerned?
I recently attended a District Labor-Management meeting with a very interesting agenda: Locals, for the most part, were concerned with what were traditionally considered managerial concerns, not labor issues. All of their complaints were legitimate and reflect a deep concern about our industry’s viability, which makes one wonder: Who’s more concerned about the future of the Postal Service?
One local discussed how the USPS is being ripped off by customers using the “Click and Ship” program: A customer can intentionally undervalue the weight and corresponding cost of mailing a product using Automated Postal Centers (APCs) or large collection boxes. If a postal employee isn’t required to check postage before bringing it to the mail processing area, the USPS loses a great deal of money. The local union representative described specific examples of radical revenue loss because the Postal Service failed to establish a check-and- balance system.
Another local union complained about the long wait in lines due to management’s poor scheduling of window clerks, leading to customer frustration. They outlined a better plan for staffing the windows.
Still another local discussed containers of standard mail that should have been sorted to carrier route at the Processing & Distribution Center, but instead was received in the office as a five-digit sortation. The mail was clearly marked showing a delivery date the same day it arrived in the office. Regardless, the manager ordered employees to ship the containers back to the plant for sortation to the carrier route.
The containers of mail — now sorted to the carrier routes — arrived back in the office two days later and missed the deadline for delivery. The local insisted that the clerical staff in the office could have manually sorted the mail with a little overtime and met the deadline for delivery for the customer. Another local discussed a recent article written by a major mailer that appeared in a local newspaper. The mailer explained that the company was no longer going to use the Postal Service; instead, the firm announced it would put mail in plastic bags and throw it into people’s driveways, because the company could not rely on the USPS to provide timely delivery.
All of the locals’ concerns were well-founded and make it clear that the Postal Service needs much better managerial oversight. The loss of customers, the decline in revenue, and inappropriate discounts to major mailers add up to a recipe for disaster. Management must immediately re-evaluate its system from top to bottom in order to ensure that our industry can get back on sound financial footing.
Bill Sullivan, Former APWU Southern Region Coordinator