Filed under: postal, postal news, press releases, usdoj, window clerks
ALBUQUERQUE (August 18, 2011) – This afternoon, a United States District Judge sentenced Yolanda Vallejos, a 48-year-old resident of Albuquerque, to a two-month term of imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release for her conviction for theft of federal government property. Vallejos also was ordered to pay $97,025.44 in restitution to the United States Postal Service (USPS), the victim of Vallejo’s’ criminal conduct. Vallejos is required to surrender to a federal correctional institution to be designated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons within 60 days. Read more
MARY MADER, age 48, a resident of Harahan, LA, was charged today in a one-count bill of information with misappropriation of postal funds relating to the U. S. Postal Service, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to the bill of information, from approximately July 1, 2008 through July 14, 2010, while employed as a U. S. Postal Service employee, MADER converted to her own use, approximately $114,363.25 which came into her control during the performance of her duties.
If convicted, MADER faces a maximum term of imprisonment of ten (10) years, a $250,000.00 fine, and three (3) years of supervised release.
U. S. Attorney Letten reiterated that the bill of information is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by the United States Postal Service, Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Sharan E. Lieberman
Update regarding USPS Retail Survey Lacks Privacy Act Safeguards?
The POS Identification Number “was only used at the aggregated level. The survey has now been discontinued.” Meaning? Yet two days later, it is still online and working. If you leave your POS ID # blank, it states: “Text Response is Required.” There is still no ‘Privacy Act Notice.’ Typical postal double-speak?
From: USPSEmployees @ usps.gov
To: doncheney @ xxxx.com
Date: Thu, 20 May 2010 05:36:47 -0500
Subject: FW: USPS Retail Employee Survey Lacks Privacy Act Safeguards
Good morning Mr. Cheney,
We appreciate your patience while your inquiry was being investigated. The Retail Employee Survey was never reviewed or approved by the Privacy office. The POS Identification Number was not pulled into the survey results and was only used at the aggregated level. The survey has now been discontinued.
Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.
USPS Privacy Office
From: Don Cheney [mailto:doncheney @ xxxx.com]
Sent: Friday, April 16, 2010 4:18 PM
To: PRIVACY OFFICE
Subject: USPS Retail Employee Survey Lacks Privacy Act Safeguards
Some USPS managers are requiring all window clerks to answer an online survey regardless of how many hours they work the window. I clicked on the link, https://USPSLSSA.questionpro.com, and didn’t see a valid ‘Privacy Act Notice.’ Specifically, content items b, c, d, and e listed in section 3-2.2.b.1 for a ‘Privacy Act Notice’ are missing. Since the retail clerks have to enter their POS ID, they are personally identifiable and should receive a ‘Privacy Act Notice.’ Did your office approve this online survey?
Handbook AS-353 Guide to Privacy, the Freedom of Information Act, and Records Management
3-2.2 Privacy Notice
The following describes privacy notice requirements.
a. General. When the Postal Service asks customers, employees, or other individuals to provide information about themselves and that information is maintained in a system of records, the Postal Service must provide an appropriate privacy notice. The Privacy Office must approve all new forms (hard copy and electronic) that collect customer, employee, or other individuals’ information. This includes hard copy and electronic forms, new forms, and forms scheduled for revision and reprinting.
b. Content. The privacy notice must contain the following information:
1. For individual consumers, employees, or other individuals, the privacy notice must explain:
a. The reason the information is being collected.
b. Whether providing it is mandatory or voluntary, and the effects of not providing it.
c. The disclosures (known as routine uses) that may be made of the information.
d. Which statute or executive order authorizes the collection.
Exhibit 3-2.2 Procedures to Provide a Privacy Notice
For employees, a privacy notice that meets the content requirement of section 3-2.2b must be available on the screen near where data is collected.
The postal service is currently considering several changes that will impact Clerk Craft employees and customers.
The USPS intends to test a new Retail Network prototype at the L’Enfant Plaza office in Washington, DC. The pilot will include a complete renovation of the unit, with plans to add split counters to make interaction between retail clerks and customers easier; swivel computer screens to enable Sales and Service Associates (SSAs) to work on either side of the split counter; and customer-accessible screens in the lobby to facilitate self check-out,much like the do-it-yourself registers in grocery stores and other retail venues.
Management also is considering the use of handheld signature tablet devices, to facilitate customers’ signing for accountable and express mail. The proposed changes at the Washington, DC test site are different than those that are currently being tested in Schaumberg, IL. The Schaumberg test focuses more on non-postal services, such as such as offering copying services and renting conference rooms.
Standardizing LSSA Duties
Another change being considered by the Postal Service is an attempt to standardize Lead Sales and Service Associate (LSSA) duties in order to more closely mirror the position description. Currently, the role of LSSAs varies from city to city, and in some areas management is underutilizing this important position.
The official “functional purpose” of the LSSA is to “work alone or provide technical direction to one or more clerks assigned to sales activities,” and to “review the work [of the clerks] for accuracy.” This basic description is vague in specific job activity, which leaves room for different interpretations, and functions that vary by location. Some of the more important duties of LSSAs are to:
- Give technical guidance to other retail employees;
- Forecast and maintain stamp inventory;
- Prepare and consolidate bank deposits;
- Prepare and maintain accounting records;
- Examine and ensure the integrity of security containers related to fixed credit;
- Report lack of conformity with security regulations;
- Conduct or witness transfer of fixed credit between employees;
- Assist in physical accounting of stock;
- Maintain adequate supplies of materials required for the operation of the unit;
- Accept and verify redeemed stamps, and prepare and submit stock for destruction;
- Monitor the workload of the retail unit to assist in appropriate staffing and scheduling, such as lunches, breaks, etc;
- Provide leadership necessary for SSAs to perform their daily functions;
- Instruct and advise individual employees in correct financial and retail sales procedures, and,
Perform additional SSA duties.
The union and management have a mutual interest in ensuring that this higher-level position is utilized in a uniform manner at all retail units. In order to achieve this goal, the USPS is considering the distribution of an “LSSA Workload Survey” that is currently being reviewed by the union. According to the USPS, the purpose of the survey is to collect data that will assist in standardizing the duties of LSSAs and gain information on interaction between LSSAs and other retail clerks, as well as with customers.
In the current retail environment, it is more important than ever that the union takes a pro-active approach to protecting bargaining unit work.
Postal Employee Fired 5-Days Before Christmas
Just an overview of the letter below:
The Walnut Creek (CA) Post Office changed 16 mail processing jobs of the most senior employees to window/distribution clerks (Sales, Service & Distribution Associates). The employees were told after becoming senior bidders on the re-posted duty assignments that passing window training will be a requirement in order to retain their jobs.
The fired employee was not awarded any of the re-posted duty assigments as the senior bidder until two days (November 20, 2009) after she was given a “Notice of Removal” on November 18, 2009 for failing to meet the qualifications of her position. She attended window training during the week of October 19-23, 2009.
Briefly Postal Employees are scheduled for window training if in part: (1) Employees are PTFs (2) Full-Time Regular senior bidders on duty assignments with window duties. None of the aforementioned reasons applied to this employee. The employee according to the contract was still considered an unassigned mail processing clerk with no requirement to pass window training.
Management has taken the position that employee “volunteered” for window training and failed so her removal from the Postal Service effective December 20, 2009 still stands. The employee’s 27 years of service means nothing but a number.
The letter below is from Postal Employee Surbjit Khatkar:
In the beginning when my supervisors xxxx and xxxx asked if anybody wanted to go for window training , nobody volunteered. As no one wanted to go, I volunteered first, and they agreed to send me for SSA window training. That time I had no bid assignment and never received any notification that I was a senior bidder on any bid assignment. I started my training on Oct. 19, 2009 while I received my notification for bid (MO-50B) assignment on Nov. 20, 2009.
No one explained that if I did not pass the test, I will be removed from Post Office. If I had known such a harsh consequence of not passing the exam, I could have waited for my turn (I was the senior of employees awaiting window training).
I did not know that taking the window exam required a sufficient computer knowledge. I’ve worked in mail processing my entire postal career. I had to ask for help from instructor to show me how to use computer/ mouse to write my answers at appropriate places, while my clock was still ticking. Shockingly, I did not pass the exam, absolutely due to lack of computer knowledge.
Most shocking and disgraceful thing is that after performing my job in an excellent way for 27 years, I did not get even second chance to pass this exam; while in the past, 6-7 people in my facility had been granted second and sometimes third chances to pass the window training exam.
I volunteered to help management and this is how they repay me?
From APWU Tri County First Area Local (Media, Pennsylvania)
Sharon Young, a Sales and Service Associate at the Norristown Post Office, has been issued a Letter of Suspension following an incident with a customer who complained that Ms. Young did not assist her with filling out more than 100 customs forms for parcels the customer was mailing to Japan.
All Sales and Service Associates have received training instructions from postal management not to fill out forms for customers, and to provide the forms to the customers and ask them to step back to the front of the line when the forms are completed. The training instructions concerning international customs forms stem from regulations posted in the International Mail Manual. However, the Norristown Post Office management decided to skip over several levels of discipline and contradict Postal Handbooks and Manuals in an effort to “keep the customer happy.” The Tri County First Area Local Chief Steward for Norristown is assisting Ms. Young with grievances regarding the suspension and accompanying harassment.
From the USPS Office of Inspector General
Fraudulent workers’ compensation claims make up a small percentage of the total claims submitted by Postal Service employees. But they can cost the Postal Service thousands of dollars in long-term costs. So, when a tip on a suspect claim is reported to the OIG, our Special Agents investigate.
This was the case when a postal supervisor observed one of his employees, a Sales and Service Associate, working as a cashier at a home improvement store. Second jobs are not uncommon, especially in these economic times. But this employee was unable to work her postal job due to a claimed on-the-job injury to her right knee in March 2008. So, while gathering a home improvement store paycheck starting in April 2008, she was also receiving workers’ compensation payments – – 75% of her postal salary – tax-free!
OIG Special Agents found that the postal employee deceived her treating physician about her work capabilities and told the doctor the Postal Service had no “limited duty” work available. When the true information was provide to the physician, he immediately returned the employee to work full duty without medical restrictions. The Department of Labor terminated her benefits and the Postal Service avoided the potential cost of $1,103,149 in future OWCP compensation payments. The postal employee’s story doesn’t end there. She was fired from her job. A federal Grand Jury indicted her and a jury convicted her of making false statements and mail fraud. She is facing up to 25 years in prison at sentencing. She has got to be asking herself, “Was it worth it?”
If you suspect workers’ compensation fraud by a Postal Service employee, contact us at 1-888-USPS-OIG.
On February 12, 2009 NAPUS filed reply comments with the Postal Regulatory Commission in response to a document that the Commission Public Representative submitted in early February. In this February 2cd document, the Representative suggested that the USPS privatize “most of the Postal Service’s tens of thousands of retail offices…”. NAPUS questioned the wisdom of privatization, in which the PRC’s own analysis concluded that only $586 million would be saved with the closure of every small Post Office. NAPUS believes that such action would compromise universal service to rural areas, without doing much to improve the economic sustainability of the United States Postal Service.
More from NAPUS on same issue…
NAPUS filed Reply Comments with the Postal Regulatory Commission, in response to a document that the Commission Public Representative submitted in early February. The link to NAPUS’ comments at the PRC website is http://www.prc.gov/Docs/62/62263/ACR2008ReplyComment.pdf.
In the February 2 document, the Representative suggested that the USPS privatize “most of the Postal Service’s tens of thousands of retail offices …” The PRC proceeding, in which the Public Representative was participating, concerned the Postal Service’s 2008 Annual Compliance Report.
In our reply comments, we took a multi-pronged approach to rebut the Public Representative’s position. Based upon the extensive hearing record produced by PRC, as part of its Universal Service Obligation and the final report, NAPUS challenged the Representative’s credibility as actually representing the “public.” The PRC found that Post Offices are vital to the universal service network. In our reply comments, we pointed out that privatizing Post Offices would be contrary to established law, which maintains that closing or consolidating post offices solely for economic reasons is prohibited. A privatized retail facility can be closed or consolidated without community input or prior notification. Finally, we questioned the wisdom of privatization, in light of the fact the PRC’s own analysis concluded that only $586 million would be saved with the closure of every small Post Office. NAPUS believes that such a draconian action would compromise universal service to rural areas, without doing much to improve the economic sustainability of the USPS.
Conclusion of NAPUS comments filed with PRC
Post Offices are the bedrock of the United States Postal Service’s universal service obligation. Our Founding Fathers recognized this fact, when they explicitly referenced the establishment of Post Offices in the U.S. Constitution. In our times, far-flung towns across this Nation understand the economic and societal importance of their Post Offices, sustaining their viability and sense of community. A facility without protection against arbitrary termination, devoid of qualified postal management, and lacking essential postal services to which communities are entitled fails to satisfy this Nation’s obligation to provide universal mail service. In sum, post office privatization does not reflect the public’s views about the Postal Service. Yes, now is the time for action. Enough is enough! Now that the management associations have vehemently spoken out against the individual and organizational bullying of employees, I believe, it is critical that the management associations also work in concert with the four national postal unions to help ensure that dramatic and lasting action is implemented to improve the postal culture. One way of making this a reality is for the three management associations and four union organizations to reach agreement on how to enlist the support of Congress to reform the postal culture and then act on it. Congress will be more apt to listen and act quickly if they all “speak” with one voice.
In an article posted by “The Consumerist” on September 21, 2008, it stated in part :
Postal employees have been ordered to upsell pricey express or priority mail services to anyone sending anything more than a letter, according to an anonymous tipster. The directive comes straight from Washington to help combat the Post Office’s $1.1 billion operating deficit. To avoid the upsell, specifically ask if there is a cheaper way to ship your package.
Here is some additional information on the issue submitted by a PostalReporter.com reader:
Mystery Shop Offices,
Attached is a 5 page comparison chart that shows the current mystery shop questions compared to the FY 09 requirements that will take effect October 1st, 2008.
Realistically there are very few changes to the program that we have not already been coaching, teaching, training, and should have been enforcing for the last 3 years.
I’ve outlined below some of the most noticeable evaluation changes, please print a copy of this message and the attached report and use this for the next 3 weeks mandatory Retail Standup Talks. Keep in mind many of the requirements aren’t changing such as the associate needing to offer Express & Priority and explain features of both, suggesting Insurance and Delcon and explaining both, etc. the below highlights are in addition to the current practices.
Mystery Shopper FY 09 Highlights/Enhancements:
* Express MUST be offered & explained first, pause and then recommend Priority Mail (you’ll loose 10 points if Express is not offered 1st)
* You MUST say Express comes with Insurance and Tracking
* You MUST NOT suggest Parcel Post (if the associate suggests PP you will loose 7 points)
* You can NO LONGER offer to explain the Special Services, every Special Service that is offered must be explained
* Now you must explain features of EVERY additional item you offer for purchase: example
(“do you need any stamps today, we have a new Classic Car series that just came out this week”, “would you like a book of the Forever stamps they are valued at a 1 oz letter rate no matter what the price maybe” “do you need any shipping supplies for the upcoming holidays”, “would you be interesting in learning about our PO Box rentals, they provide added protection and security for your mail”etc.)
That’s it……these are the biggest differences…..the only thing we haven’t previously required the associates to do was explain the additional item for purchase; the rest of the changes are minor tweaking of what we’ve already been doing.
The upcoming year is going to be lean and mean, we no longer can be complacent with our requirements your associates performance and productivity are being measured like never before and ultimately it’s up to the local management to ensure compliance.
We’ve got to mentally change our/their perception of what we are being paid to do. If employees feel these position requirements are too difficult for them to perform they need to consider a change in their career path, the window position requirements are going to continue to get more demanding just like the rest of the organization.
From the National League of Postmasters:
Postal Service meeting on POVs and a pilot program that is slated to go nationwide soon – the SSA Revenue Goals System.
Postal Service representatives met yesterday with leaders of Napus and the League. While the stated purpose of the meeting was to discuss the liability of Postmasters and other postal employees while using their privately owned vehicles (POVs) to conduct postal business, part of the meeting was used to discuss a pilot program that will be pushed out to the field soon.
The discussion which centered around the use of POV was lively and touched upon the different scenarios in which Postmasters and others might be in the situation where the use of a POV may be possible and how employees would be covered by insurance in the event of an accident. Part of the discussion dealt with the differences in insurance from state to state and company to company. Though no agreement was reached in the meeting, through the healthy exchange of ideas, a couple of courses of action were decided upon. The League is optimistic that something good will come from this meeting regarding the use of POVs.
Postal Headquarters representatives briefed the Postmaster organizations on a pilot program that is slated to go nationwide soon. Called the SSA Revenue Goals System, the process will track the retail performance of Sales and Service Associates (SSAs) at offices on the POS system. The system will generate a daily report on the retail performance that will be made available to Postmasters and supervisors. In turn, Postmasters and supervisors will be able to share the information with the SSAs during morning huddles to let them know where they stand as far as helping their post office or station reach retail revenue goals. According to Postal Headquarters, the pilot has shown that the SSAs like the system as it engages them in the day-to-day operation of their offices. The APWU apparently has supported the efforts. The greatest concern to the Postmaster organizations was the additional workload to an often already overloaded Postmaster or supervisor. We were assured that the input was minimal, but the return should be large. Time will tell how effective the program will be.