Helen Amill
Editor of the Outlook
Outlook November / December 2019

Bits and Pieces Part 2

The Holiday Season is fast approaching and we all know what that means! Rest days cancelled, mandatory overtime and the CCA and Overtime Desired Lists being maximized.

It is important that all letter carriers make sure they make all their hits with their time badges and keep track of the hours they work to ensure they receive the proper pay. To assist letter carriers concerning this matter, the Postal Service has added an additional link on light blue which allows carriers to see the hours worked daily and one week at a time. All you need to do is log into light blue and look for the link that says virtual timecard, and then hit “I Agree.” All the hours you have worked for the week will be displayed. This link assists carriers in seeing any errors in their time for that particular week. With this new link, carriers now have the opportunity to notify their shop steward or their supervisor before the pay period is over if corrections need to be made.

Light blue also allows you to enter leave requests without using your phone to call ERMS. To use this link, you would log into light blue and go onto the eLRA link, and answer the questions you would normally answer if you called ERMS. You read the questions and check the circle that says yes or no, depending on which one applies. When I used this link, I found it to be easier than calling ERMS on the phone.

Another subject I would like to touch base on is something that was brought to my attention concerning attendance. Management is informing carriers that if a carrier has three (3) latenesses, then it is considered one (1) absence. After three (3) absences in a ninety (90) day period, management then has the right for disciplinary action to be taken. Nowhere, I repeat, nowhere in the National Agreement or any one of the Handbooks or Manuals does that language ever appear. As usual, management is making up their own policies to justify their own means. If management tries to fool you with this language, ask them to show you where they are getting their information. Ask them to show you where it states that in the National Agreement, as well as the Handbooks and Manuals. Management will not be able to provide it to you because it doesn’t exist. Don’t allow management to fool you with their false policies. Always ask your shop steward to find out if what you are being told by management is correct.

In closing, I would like to wish everyone a very happy, healthy and blessed Holiday Season!

Outlook September / October 2019

Bits and Pieces

hope everyone had a wonderful summer. Sooner than you think we will be well into the Holiday Season. All of us know what that means - rest days cancelled, drafting carriers and mandatory overtime; as I mentioned in my previous article, “Knowledge is Power.” With that being said, there are a few things we need to remember when management drafts employees to work on the Holiday. The LMOU section 13 identifies the pecking order management must follow when carriers are needed to work their holiday or their designated holiday. The LMOU section 13 informs management of the order they must follow when selecting employees to work on a holiday.

LMOU ITEM 13 - THE METHOD OF SELECTING EMPLOYEES TO WORK ON A HOLIDAY: The employer shall post a notice on the Tuesday preceding the service week in which the holiday falls, listing the number of employees required to work.
The method of selecting employees to work on a holiday shall be according to the following order:
1. Volunteers of full and part time regular employees by assignment in order of seniority on a rotating basis;
2. City Carrier Assistants;
3. Full and part time regular employees by assignment in order of inverse seniority on a rotation basis;
4. Volunteers of full and part time regular employees from the other assignments in order of seniority on a rotating basis;
5. Full employees from other assignments by inverse seniority on a rotating basis.
Assignment (Section) will be identified by the “overtime desired” list.
Lists will be kept in seniority order within stations so that all carriers will be treated equally on working holidays in rotation when less than the number of scheduled carriers are required.

WHETHER “OVERTIME DESIRED” LISTS IN ARTICLE 8 SHALL BE BY SECTION - First: If they do not have volunteers and draft carriers to work, they must draft from the junior person up.
Knowing the pecking order in advance will aide carriers in understanding their contractual rights, if they are required to work on their holiday or their designated holiday.
Uniforms: many carriers are having difficulty receiving uniform vouchers. Management claims that they do not know how to enter the information into the system, in order for carriers to receive their vouchers. Some stations are issuing the vouchers to the carriers yet failing to pay the vendors for their uniforms. The end result is that letter carriers are not wearing the proper uniforms while performing their duties. If anyone is experiencing either of these issues, they need to inform their shop stewards so a grievance can be submitted on their behalf

Article 26 UNIFORMS AND WORK CLOTHES states in part: All employees who are required to wear uniforms or work clothes shall be furnished uniforms or work clothes or shall be reimbursed for purchases of authorized items from duly licensed vendors.
Article 26.2 of the National Agreement 2016-2019, provides the annual allowance eligible employees should receive. Effective May 21, 2019 the annual allowance for all eligible employees shall increase from present $452.00 per annum to $464.00 per annum. The increase shall become effective on the employee’s anniversary date.
Due to the changing times, it is now more important than ever that all letter carriers are wearing postal regulated uniforms so they can be identified as employees of the United States Postal Service. If you are having difficulty receiving your uniform allowance or not receiving your uniform due to management’s failure to pay the vendors, inform your shop steward/stewards immediately so they can initiate a grievance on your behalf.

Outlook July / August 2019

Coping with Life’s Pressures

On a daily basis, we are hearing more and more reports of verbal and physical altercations between family members, co-workers, and the general public. What is causing this disturbance in behavior? One word comes to mind, “Pressure.” We are all well aware that pressure can set into motion a domino effect on one’s emotions and reactions towards others in their daily lives. Pressure quite frequently leads to stress, anxiety and overall depression.

Pressures in life come in many different forms and each one can have an extreme impact on an individual’s life and the particular way they react to those added burdens. There are a variety of reasons for feeling overwhelmed. Some reasons can cause anxiety disorders and depression or debilitating and terrifying fears about things in general. Many people with anxiety and depression understand that their thoughts are not rational; but still they can’t help themselves.

Those who experience anxiety and depression feel they are alone and that no one understands the agonizing fears they encounter each and every day. Things that may not bother most people can cause deep disturbance in others. Worries about making decent wages, working long hours, dealing with stress at work, or having a difficult family life can cause a profound effect on their general well-being. The pressures take their toll.

How can you identify the symptoms of anxiety and depression and what can you do if you are experiencing either one?

These are signs that a person may suffer from an anxiety disorder and/or depression: Constant irrational fear and worry are typical. Physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, fatigue, headaches, hot flashes, sweating, abdominal pain, and difficulty breathing have all been noted as symptoms. Insomnia, changes in eating (whether too much or too little), difficulty with memory, decision making, concentration, and constant feelings of sadness or worthlessness are all indications as well. Feeling tired, cranky and suffering from panic attacks has also been experienced.

If you or someone you know is dealing with any of these symptoms, the first thing to remember is you are not alone. There are numerous individuals, from all walks of life, who feel the same way you do. Many doctors believe consuming the proper food and getting enough rest has a great impact on an individual both mentally and physically.

There are also other ways to deal with anxiety and depression. For example, meditation and exercising helps tremendously during episodes of anxiety and depression. Talking to someone you can trust is also very important, whether you turn to a family member, counselor, spiritual leader or trusted friend. It is important to reach out for help when you feel overwhelmed and faced with pressure. Sometimes you need an outside source to help you put things into the proper perspective. Sometimes your doctor may recommend taking medication for a short period of time to ease the burden of anxiety.

Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However if that anxiety becomes overwhelming, it is wise to seek out someone for help. Consult your doctor and ask if a change in the way you eat and sleep would be a beneficial step in recovery.

If someone you know is experiencing anxiety let them know they are not alone and offer that much needed assistance. The Postal Service has counselors available to assist you not only with anxiety and depression, but with all other stressful situations as well. Don’t wait for the pressure to build and become unbearable or cause worry and unhealthy thoughts. There are ways to cope with life’s pressures. The Postal Service provides assistance for any who may need it. The phone number is 1-800-327-4968 or 1-800-EAP-4YOU

Outlook May / June 2019
Tidbits of Information
I would like to impress on all carriers the importance of writing a statement when your shop steward is initiating a grievance on your behalf. Many carriers react in a variety of ways when asked to write a statement. Some show total disrespect towards their shop steward by arguing, screaming and demanding to know why it is necessary to write one. Others agree to write a statement; yet never present one to the steward because of their fear of retaliation.

Carrier statements are vital to the Grievance process. This is an important step and the carrier’s opportunity to explain their side of the story. This step is instrumental in helping the steward defend and/or to provide them with important information to prove a violation was committed. Let’s give our stewards the ammunition needed to stand up to management’s attacks on letter carriers and initiate a successful grievance to stop the nonsense.

Carriers are constantly asking their shop stewards about the status of their grievances and demanding to know why it takes such a long time before they receive an answer. I believe it is helpful for all carriers to understand the steps a grievance goes through before being resolved. The following is a list of the steps in the Grievance process.
Step 1: A grievance is initiated on the carrier’s behalf; the shop steward then has 14 days to address the grievance with the Supervisor at the Informal Step A.
Step 2: If the grievance is not resolved it gets turned over to the Hearing Officer, who has 7 days to address the grievance with the Station Manager.
Step 3: If the grievance does not get resolved at this level; it then goes to the Dispute Resolution Team, who has 14 days to address the grievance with the Management Dispute Resolution Team member.
Step 4: If the grievance does not get resolved at that level, it is sent to the Impasse Review Team which could take 7 or more days to be resolved. If the case does not get settled at this level it is scheduled for Arbitration. During this step, it could possibly take months for the case to finally be heard.

Some grievances get resolved right away; others may take months before the union receives a resolution for the grievance. It is human nature to want an answer immediately, especially when it concerns discipline or pay adjustments. However, once the grievance leaves the shop steward’s hands carriers need to exercise patience and wait until the case is adjudicated. It is helpful for all letter carriers to know the workings of the grievance procedure to avoid misjudging their shop steward and thinking they are not being represented properly. As I mentioned in previous articles, knowledge is power.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a healthy and safe summer.

Outlook March / April 2019
Unfamiliar Terminology
I would like to offer my congratulations to the Charlie Heege/Pascual Ortiz Team. I am honored to remain in the position of Editor of the Outlook and look forward to serving with the new team by assisting them in keeping our members updated with the changing times.

As letter carriers we are faced with daily pressures from management. We receive countless instructions from management on how to deliver the mail and the amount of time it will take us to case up and deliver our routes. All the while, management knowingly is trying to squeeze a ten (10) hour day into eight (8) hours. These instructions are coming from supervisors and managers who have never delivered mail before.

Management oftentimes instructs carriers with unfamiliar terminologies and in turn causes unnecessary stress on the work floor. I wanted to address some of the phrases which management uses daily, so as carriers we can better understand what they are instructing us to do.

Letter carriers hear announcements on the loud speaker informing them that it is uptime. Many carriers assumed this meant all the mail on the carrier’s route, including parcels, should be cased and the carriers should be ready to tie down their carts and hit the street. What exactly does uptime mean? Simply put, management is informing carriers it is a call that all the residual mail has been cased in the hot case. Carriers are expected to make a final sweep of the hot case as well as the parcels.

Another phrase we are bombarded with is percent to standard. This means letter carriers should be casing 18 letters or 8 flats per minute. This is the formula management uses to estimate our leaving and return time for delivery. It is important to remember these calculations do not include the number of parcels carrier routes receive on a daily basis. Letter carriers should keep track of how much mail and parcels they receive on any given day. If extra time is needed to complete your assignment, you must document all this information on your

PS Form 3996 in order to inform management that you either need overtime or assistance.

To add insult to injury, management is always instructing carriers according to the DOIS report that they are projected to return in eight (8) hours, regardless of how much mail or packages they are taking out. Remember, DOIS is only an estimated time for leaving and returning from the street. Management wants to pressure carriers to do ten (10) hours of work in eight hours. Sad to say there are some letter carriers who give up their lunch and two breaks to run through their route in order to return in eight (8) hours, regardless of the volume of mail and packages. This not only hurts the carrier doing it, but it also hurts the station. How many of us are asked by management, “Why do you take overtime when other carriers do it in eight hours?”

What should you do if you are given these instructions and you know it would be impossible to complete your assignment in eight (8) hours? Carriers must fill out a PS Form 3996 documenting the amount of letters that were cased, how many trays of DPS the route received, and the parcel count. It must also include the estimated time it would take to walk and return from your route. Keep a copy for yourself, so you have proof that you asked for assistance or overtime.

Remember management cannot deny you a PS Form 3996 or a copy of the form for that matter. Even if management denies your PS Form 3996, it still is evidence that you informed them prior to leaving that you would not complete your assignment in the instructed time given.

It is important for all letter carriers to understand exactly what management is instructing us to do on a daily basis. If you are unsure of the terminology, do not hesitate to ask them to explain what they are instructing you to do. Knowledge is power!

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