As of Monday morning in San Juan, 568 Postmasters were registered for NAPUS’ 107th National Convention; total registration stood at 1,116. President Bob Rapoza welcomed everyone back to San Juan: 28 years ago, NAPUS held its first convention here. He thanked Convention Chair Reinaldo Ruiz and the Postmasters of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands for their hard work in organizing the convention.
Rapoza repeated his advice not to sweat the small stuff. He acknowledged these are tough times, but contended they would be even tougher without the good relationship NAPUS has with the League and NAPS. This working relationship continues to benefit Supervisors and Postmasters.
He thanked PM Retired President Paul Edd Butler for his organization’s continued support. Members of the Post Office Preservation Committee have been working hard to help save post offices.
Rapoza said NAPUS’ accomplishments should not be overshadowed in light of the Postal Service’s poor financial condition. NAPUS is seeking results—not recognition, he stressed. And he told convention attendees to continue to press Congress to resolve the Postal Service’s issues. “The negligence of Congress is making rural Americans second-class citizens,” he exclaimed.
He welcomed Postmaster General Pat Donahoe, who was addressing the convention via web cam from Washington, DC. The PMG had planned to be at the convention, but canceled at the last minute due to a meeting scheduled this afternoon at the White House.
Donahoe told Postmasters to worry about the things in their control and try to influence those things not in their control. He said the agency will be insolvent on Sept. 30. He is somewhat heartened by the administration’s 90-day reprieve, which, hopefully, will allow legislative changes to be put in place.
In addition to dealing with the retiree health prefunding requirement, there is going from six- to five-day delivery and getting back the $6.9 billion overpaid to FERS. A big announcement will be made this Thursday in regard to the agency’s processing network.
“We want a stable Postal Service going forward,” he said. “We need five-day delivery.”
He contends taking over the agency’s health insurance program will save money. “We know how to work with contractors,” he vowed. So working with a health insurance contractor would not be any different.
“I will do whatever I can to get the Postal Service back on firm financial footing,” he vowed. Admittedly, it is going to continue to require tough decisions.
The PMG had time to answer a few questions from the audience. In response to a question about finding landing spots for displaced Postmasters, Donahoe said he cannot make any guarantees on jobs; he said he would do his best.
Rep. Donna Christenson (D-VI) welcomed Postmasters to the convention. “We are a postal-dependent community,” she said. “Thank you for treating us equitably and fairly.” She said she will work to ensure the Postal Service remains viable. “There is much on your shoulders as you navigate these tough waters.”
Jesus Galvez, district manager of the Caribbean District, said the 2,800 employees of the Caribbean District welcome NAPUS to San Juan. He talked about some of the ways this district is unique. “But,” he affirmed, “no matter the setting of your office, you all carry the title of Postmaster.”
Kenneth McClintock-Hernández, Puerto Rico secretary of state, welcomed everyone to the “islands of enchantment.” “We are bi-cultural,” he acknowledged. “This is where the U.S. becomes the Caribbean.” He said he appreciates that the Postal Service treats Puerto Rico as a partner; it serves everyone on the islands. “The nation still needs the Postal Service as a function of the U.S. government,” he claimed.
Mayor Jorge Santini Padilla also gave convention attendees a warm welcome. “We are excited to have you with us,” he said. “Your fellow Americans welcome you.”
After his remarks, he participated in a pictorial cancellation ceremony. President Bob Rapoza, League President Mark Strong and NAPS President Louis Atkins joined him on stage for the ceremony.
Strong was the morning’s final speaker. “What a year we have had,” he commented. He, too, stressed the good working relationship the three management associations share. “We three figured out what was being done had to be done together.”
He said the organizations are going to have to adapt—whether they like it or not—and look toward the future. “We will continue to put Postmasters first,” he promised.
Strong also promised not to stand back and do nothing for rural America. Full-service post offices are more important to rural America than anywhere else. “They deserve a maximum degree of service and nothing else,” he insisted.