Helen Amill
Editor of the Outlook
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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