Alvin S. Gant Scholarship
2019-2020 School Year
Deadline is May 3, 2019
Happy Holidays Local 302
Much has happened since our last newsletter in June 2018. The last of the pending excessing events at the Richmond NDC was cancelled, and along with it the withholding at nearby facilities. This paved the way for MHAs to be converted into the many residual vacancies throughout the Local. Not only is this a tremendous opportunity for our long-term MHAs to be converted to career Full-Time Regulars, it opens the door for more MHAs to be hired and bring much needed help to many facilities that have experienced extended mandated overtime. New employee retention and attraction has been big problem for the USPS throughout Local 302’s jurisdiction. With the falling unemployment rate, the rising minimum wage and continued abuses by Postal management, a lot of new employees find that they can get better entry-level jobs elsewhere. This situation is further complicated by the exorbitant cost of living in the Bay Area, where management must bus in labor and farm out mail to cheaper areas during the Christmas mailing season. If you have any friends or family members who are unemployed, tell them to check out the “Careers” link at the bottom of USPS.com. In the meantime, please remember that Management is limited to working non-ODL employees 6 days a week and 10 hours a day outside of December. Overtime Desired List employees (and non-ODL in December) can be required to work 7 days, 12 hours a day. The 12 hours a day includes your lunch break, so Management can only involuntarily require you to work 11.5 hours a day with a 30 minute lunch break. Of course, you can work longer if you and management agree.
Local 302 has 2 new officers! I would like to thank Anthony Dering for agreeing to take on the San Jose Branch President position and David Santos for accepting the Fresno Branch president position. Having served as a BP for 6 years, I can assure you that it is a difficult job and I ask that you please support them in their efforts to police our contract and keep your Union strong!
Local 302 is continuing to maintain our grievance arbitration log. Since our last newsletter, Local 302 advocates Fernando Matta, Shawn Dalton and I have arbitrated many grievances, and settled countless more. Local 302 Technical Assistant, Shawn Dalton, effectively eliminated our Arbitration backlog, and we have managed to get most of our new arbitration cases heard or settled in a year or less. This is extremely difficult, as Management is prone to use several stalling tactics to avoid paying grievances. However, we are close to resolving some long standing issues.
Part of the resolution of these cases is the June 26 Memorandum of Understanding on RI399. The RI399 process is the dispute resolution process of jurisdictional issues between the mail handler and clerk crafts. This process is sarcastically referred to as the “Black Hole”, and we are pleased we will finally get resolution of cases that, in some situations, are decades old. As part of this RI399 MOU, four one-day trainings with representatives across the country from the APWU, NPMHU and USPS Management were conducted in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Management paid for 2 representatives from each craft in a facility with an RI399 inventory to attend one of these 4 training dates. 19 representatives from Local 302 attended the first training on establishing new inventories in our facilities. We are currently in the process of negotiating these inventories in every facility where mail handlers work.
In June, we conducted our annual shop steward training in Reno, Nevada. National trainers June Harris, Local 306 President and Central Region Vice President and Pervous (Andy B.) Badilishamwalimu, Local 310 President conducted training on defending discipline of our members. We were also joined by our Western Regional Vice President and Local 316 President Don Sneesby and Western Regional Contract Administration Director Don Gonzales. Gonzo gave our stewards some excellent feedback on how we can do even better with our step 3 appeals to his level.
In July we held our Local 302 picnic at the California State Fair, where we were joined by National President, Paul Hogrogian, and Western VP, Don Sneesby. National President Hogrogian and VP Sneesby were gracious enough to stay an extra day and perform site visits at Local 302’s facilities in Sacramento, NDC, Oakland and San Francisco. We are extremely grateful to President Hogrogian for the great job he is doing as NPMHU National President, and that he took time out of his busy schedule to visit our members on the workroom floor in 4 facilities! I have great respect for the job done by President Hogrogian, National Secretary-Treasurer, Tim Dwyer, and all of our National Executive Board and National CAD staff in Washington, DC. The work they do is imperative to protect our livelihood, and you can see more of what they do at www.npmhu.org.
Local 302 officers Juanita Contreras, Tony Bell, Chrystal Wilson and I traveled to Washington DC in August for our Semi-Annual Meeting of the Local Unions (SAMLU). We joined other officers from throughout the Nation where we were given comprehensive briefings on the state of our National Union and participated in a pre-bargaining workshop for our next Collective Bargaining Agreement. Our current National Agreement expires on September 20, 2019, and we will begin formal negotiations for the successor agreement in June 2019. President Hogrogian is asking all members for bargaining proposals for the Field Negotiating Committee to consider this February. I am proud to have been selected by President Hogrogian to serve on this committee. The 2019 Bargaining Proposal Form is contained in the newsletter and our National and Local websites. I urge you to submit any bargaining proposals you may have by January 18, 2019.
In September, our National Trainers came out to Oakland to conduct a new shop steward training. Eastern Regional Vice President and Local 308 President John Gibson and Southern Regional Vice-President and Local 318 Florida State Executive Board member Lawrence Sapp conducted a thorough two-day training for new (or returning) stewards. We are exceptionally grateful to our Union brothers and sisters of LIUNA Local 304 in Oakland to afford us space to conduct this training. We are always looking for more conscientious Union members to step up and become shop stewards. If you have ever thought of becoming a shop steward, NOW IS THE TIME!
On October 8, I joined members of the NRLCA, APWU and NLRC for a “U.S. Mail IS NOT FOR SALE” rally in downtown Sacramento. Similar rallies were held throughout the Nation to oppose privatization of the USPS. While Congress has been largely inactive with the recent elections, we must continue to fight for legislation that will allow the USPS to stay viable and financially stable, while still providing fair wages and benefits for all of our Union brothers and sisters. NPMHU will be sending representatives to Washington, DC next June to lobby our senators and house representatives to support legislation that will protect our jobs and benefits.
Recently there were many explosive devices mailed through the USPS to political targets. Luckily, none of these devices detonated and no one was harmed. Two such devices were discovered by our fellow postal workers at the Primary Mail Annex in Burlingame, CA. The facility was shut down and evacuated at two different times, and the devices were safely removed by the authorities. Going forward, it is important that we attend the safety talks issued by Management so we can help identify and avoid future threats. If you are not receiving these stand ups, or feel that Management is not taking your safety seriously on any issue - let a steward know. We have safety committees and meetings in every facility of our Local, and we strive to increase the safety and security of our members.
We have hosted numerous retirements recently, and many of you have told us of your plans to retire soon. I want to remind everyone that we would like to help celebrate this momentous occasion with you. In addition to providing a jacket and a watch, we would like to host a work celebration for our members and their peers on the job. Just let me or your Branch President know so we can coordinate. I also encourage our members to consult with a retirement consultant for more information.
Scholarship season is coming. The Union Plus scholarship application is due by January 31, 2019, and can be found at www.unionplus.org. The 2019 NPMHU Arthur Vallone scholarship and the Local 302 Alvin S. Gant scholarship should both be announced in January. We will make that information available on our bulletin boards and website.
We have had several meetings since our last newsletter. Our bylaws require that we have a meeting in every branch each quarter. I encourage you to attend these meetings, you will be provided with a free meal, Local 302 logo gear and most importantly: information on what is going on in your branch and Union! This is also your opportunity to speak with your Branch President, stewards and Local President to provide us feedback on what we can do to stay strong and improve our Union. In addition to the quarterly branch meetings, we conduct general membership meetings twice a year where you can meet with your Local 302 Executive Board. The schedule for all of these meetings is on your bulletin board and the Local 302 website www.npmhulocal302.org. This website is an incredible wealth of information that contains branch and officer information, meeting calendar, meeting minutes, Treasurer report financial information, branch information like Local MOUs, shop steward certifications, and much, much more. Special thanks to recently retired San Francisco QWL Coordinator Jeanette Amador who maintains the website, publishes this newsletter and holds everything in our office together.
June 21, 2018
Trump proposes privatizing USPS
Donald Trump today introduced a wide ranging proposal to reorganize the federal government, including privatizing the US Postal Service. Despite having lost the popular vote by a wide margin, Trump apparently feels he has a mandate to fundamentally reshape major American institutions- and the post office is one of his targets.
While the Trump regime has established a “task force” to investigate the USPS, based on false claims by Trump that the agency was subsidizing postage rates for Amazon, it looks like the task force’s recommendation is already a forgone conclusion: privatization.
The Trump proposal mentions the possibility of a “sustainable business model” for a public postal service, but the only concrete proposal it offers is privatization, with significant reductions in service, and postal workers’ pay and benefits:
A private postal operator that delivers mail fewer days per week and to more central locations (not door delivery) would operate at substantially lower costs. A private entity would also have greater ability to adjust product pricing in response to changes in demand or operating costs. Freeing USPS to more fully negotiate pay and benefits rather than prescribing participation in costly Federal personnel benefit programs, and allowing it to follow private sector practices in compensation and labor relations, could further reduce costs.
Postal workers currently enjoy relatively good compensation and working condition thanks to collective bargaining agreements. But it’s worth pointing out that those agreements exist only because of provisions in the original law establishing the USPS that require the USPS to bargain with its unions, and submit disputes to binding arbitration.
With Trump in the White House and a GOP majority doing his bidding on Capitol Hill, those requirements could disappear tomorrow.
Here are Trump’s proposals:
Restructure the Postal Service
Summary of Proposal: This proposal would restructure the United States Postal System to return it to a sustainable business model or prepare it for future conversion from a Government agency into a privately-held corporation. Like many European nations, the United States could privatize its postal operator while maintaining strong regulatory oversight to ensure fair competition and reasonable prices for customers. The President’s Task Force on the United States Postal System will make recommendations on reforms towards this goal in August 2018.
When the United States Postal Service (USPS) was created out of the Post Office Department in 1970, the Congress tasked it with binding the Nation together through correspondence; half a century later, that role has been increasingly supplanted by less expensive digital alternatives. USPS has extremely high fixed costs as a result of relatively generous employee benefits combined with a universal service obligation that is understood to require mail carriers to visit over 150 million addresses six days per week. Historically, this level of service was supported by a high volume of mail. Despite significant decline in volume in the internet age, the size of the delivery network has continued to grow to meet expectations of the current operating structure. USPS can no longer support the obligations created by its enormous infrastructure and personnel requirements. USPS already has over $100 billion in unfunded liabilities, a capital investment backlog, has posted losses for over a decade, and has no clear path to profitability without reform. A new model that adequately finances USPS while meeting the needs of rural and urban communities, large mailers, and small businesses is needed.
A privatized Postal Service would have a substantially lower cost structure, be able to adapt to changing customer needs and make business decisions free from political interference, and have access to private capital markets to fund operational improvements without burdening taxpayers. The private operation would be incentivized to innovate and improve services to Americans in every community.
WHAT WE’RE PROPOSING AND WHY IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO
This proposal would restructure USPS by aligning revenues and expenses to restore a sustainable business model and possibly prepare it for future conversion from a Government agency into a privately-held corporation. Like many European nations, the United States could privatize its postal operator while maintaining strong regulatory oversight to ensure fair competition and reasonable prices for customers.
A private Postal Service with independence from congressional mandates could more flexibly manage the decline of First-Class mail while continuing to provide needed services to American communities.
REFORM PLAN AND REORGANIZATION RECOMMENDATIONS
Profitability and Privatization: Considerations for the Future of USPS
In 2017, USPS experienced faster than expected declines in both First-Class Mail and Marketing Mail. First-Class Mail has declined 40 percent since 2001. Marketing mail is more stable, down only 10 percent since 2001, but is incredibly sensitive to price and market downturns. At the same time, USPS has continued to grow its package delivery business, particularly the last-mile delivery that is relatively cheaper for them because of the huge fixed network they must maintain to support mail delivery. However, the revenues from lower-margin package delivery and other competitive products cannot replace declining revenue from the market-dominant (monopoly) products in the long-run. This year, USPS continued its six-year string of defaults and for the first time defaulted on pension-related payments rather than just health benefit prepayments. USPS’s current model is unsustainable. Major changes are needed in how the Postal Service is financed and the level of service Americans should expect from their universal service operator.
One successful model of Postal reform internationally has been to transition to a model of private management and private or shared ownership. USPS is caught between a mandate to operate like a business but with the expenses and political oversight of a public agency. A private postal operator that delivers mail fewer days per week and to more central locations (not door delivery) would operate at substantially lower costs. A private entity would also have greater ability to adjust product pricing in response to changes in demand or operating costs. Freeing USPS to more fully negotiate pay and benefits rather than prescribing participation in costly Federal personnel benefit programs, and allowing it to follow private sector practices in compensation and labor relations, could further reduce costs.
A privatized Postal Service could be structured like an investor-owned utility and continue to be regulated by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), a successor agency, or another Federal regulator such as the Federal Trade Commission, consistent with the existing models of privatization in Europe. Even with continued regulation, a privatized Postal Service would be more insulated from politics and more likely to succeed as a financially-viable business. A private entity would also have access to private capital markets to raise money for needed improvements like new vehicles without burdening taxpayers with additional liabilities.
USPS privatization through an initial public offering (IPO) or sale to another entity would require the implementation of significant reforms prior to sale to show a possible path to profitability. Most foreign posts that have been privatized have been profitable at the time of the sale. In contrast, USPS has lost over $65 billion since the last recession and recorded a $2.7 billion loss last fiscal year. To reach profitability, most international postal operations have gone through significant restructuring, including shrinking their physical and personnel footprints. In some cases, foreign governments have had to absorb legacy retirement liabilities in order to prepare a postal operator for sale. The existing unfunded liabilities
in USPS’s retirement programs total more than $100 billion. USPS owes an additional $15 billion to Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank and has further liabilities to the Department of Labor’s Workers Compensation program. According to the Postal Service’s own estimates, the Agency is insolvent, with liabilities exceeding assets by more than $120 billion.
DELIVERING GOVERNMENT SOLUTIONS IN THE 21ST 70 CENTURY
Forthcoming Recommendations by the Task Force on the United States Postal System
To address these major issues and identify solutions, possibly including private ownership, the President has issued Executive Order 13829: Task Force on the United States Postal System. The Task Force will conduct a thorough evaluation of the operations and finances of the Postal Service and make recommendations for reform consistent with this reorganization proposal. The Task Force will examine:
1. The expansion and pricing of the package delivery market and the USPS’s role in competitive markets;
2. The decline in mail volume and its implications for USPS self-financing and the USPS monopoly over letter delivery and mailboxes;
3. The definition of the ‘‘universal service obligation’’ in light of changes in technology, e-commerce, marketing practices, and customer needs;
4. The USPS role in the U.S. economy and in rural areas, communities, and small towns; and
5. The state of the USPS business model, workforce, operations, costs, and pricing.
The recommendations will include administrative and legislative reforms to the United States postal system that promote our Nation’s commerce and communication without shifting additional costs to taxpayers. The report will be available by August 10, 2018.
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DEADLINE: MARCH 15, 2019
June 26, 2018
NPMHU, APWU and USPS Reach Agreement to Update RI-399 Dispute Resolution Procedures
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