Karla Navas
Director of Education
Outlook July / August 2019

Egregious Violation

Questions amongst fellow letter carriers regarding management’s blatant disregard and repeated violations towards our National Agreement seemed to ring out simultaneously and with overall frustration and disbelief in my presence recently. It didn’t actually come as a surprise to me because I too, have felt this same annoyance with management over the years. Still, I had to remind myself that privileged people sometimes don’t act appropriately and unfortunately for letter carriers, U.S.P.S. management is no exception to that rule.

In our institution, management under Article 3 has the right to manage. However, one must wonder, are they doing it properly? Sad to say (in my own experience), 9 out of 10 times they are not. Let me give you one typical scenario: its summertime and lots of carriers are on vacation when management suddenly decides to cancel rest days. Chances are in doing so, at least 1 out of 3 different groups of carriers will be affected by this cancellation. The Non-ODL Carrier that was forced to come in on their day off or pivoted on their scheduled day to work, or the ODL and CCA carriers that do not get maximized for their hours of work causing a violation of Article 8.5.D

Lately, I grieved and mutually resolved (3) violations of Article 8.5.D, to the point where ONE letter carrier on the ODL was awarded a total of $600.00. In case, you think there may be a typo, I did mean “SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS”! Let it be known, this carrier did not receive this settlement in their favor from grieving a violation of Article 8, one or two times. This carrier has gotten this resolved to their benefit because of the repetitive and egregious violation by management’s own doing.

Although, I can relate and understand that out of frustration, we often ask ourselves, “Why does management do this?” or “When will they get it?” The one question I would like to hear more often is, “Am I going to allow management to get away with it?” Keep in mind that this letter carrier was able to get this resolved to their benefit because of their knowledge, persistence, and overall determination to not allow management to violate our Contractual Rights.

Do not just complain, or grow tired and weary, rather make management’s decisions a hard pill for them to swallow. Carriers have the right to file grievances and make a point. It does not end because management says it ends. If they do not abide by our National Agreement, we, the letter carriers, must have the final say. Communicate well with your shop steward and ask for help and guidance in filing a grievance! As always, knowledge is power, I wish you all a safe summer and leave you with this little bit of information:

Did you know Article 8.5.D states that BEFORE requiring a NON-ODL carrier to work overtime on a non-scheduled day (your day off) OR off your own assignment, management MUST seek to use a carrier from the Overtime Desire List, EVEN if the ODL carrier would then be working penalty overtime? If you were unaware of this fact you can reference this relevant information in the JCAM.

You are the United States Postal Service’s biggest asset, do not allow what others think or may think stop you from seeking help and guidance. Call 1-800-EAP-4YOU.
Outlook May / June 2019


Unionism: The policies and practices of labor unions, particularly those concerned with protecting and furthering the rights of workers.

The need for the Postal Service and how it all began with: “Let us bind these people together to us with a chain that can never be broken.” - George Washington

1782: Serious concern for our country’s first president, at the time he spoke these words was that the United States was geographically too wide to govern. The customs, opinions and laws of each state were very different and each jealously guarded their rights and powers.

President George Washington’s quote shows understanding of America’s unstable situation and this was what started his vision for a development of a national postal service as a way to bind America together, into a unified nation. Unfortunately, the operation of the post office lead by Benjamin Franklin, the first postmaster general, provided little comfort to those Americans worried about their country’s future. Stagecoaches and post riders were too unreliable, theft was common, and postage rates were too high.

1794: The post office is officially established as a permanent part of the federal government and authorized the appointment of this country’s first letter carriers.

1863: Free city delivery was instituted in large cities as a product of the Civil War due to long lines of citizens anxiously waiting at the post office to see if there where any letters from husbands, relatives or friends fighting the war. On July 1, 1863 when the savage battle of Gettysburg began a total of 449 modern letter carriers began to walk the streets of 49 cities. The inauguration of free city delivery in 1863 is the marking point in history of the modern letter carrier, but most importantly it indirectly marks the beginning of the history of the NALC.

Almost immediately after July 1, 1863, local associations of letter carriers started to grow in cities across the country. New York being one of the founding letter carrier associations (had to proudly point that out, of course). The organizations started as mutual benefit societies and social clubs which quickly led letter carrier associations to expand their roles. In doing so, they saw improvements in working conditions by asking for help from local politicians for problems that could not be resolved locally. Letter Carrier Associations would then elect or appoint delegates and send them to Washington D.C to lobby their senators and representatives. By taking these initiatives they demonstrated letter carriers’ DETERMINATION to improve THEIR working conditions.

Now that a small portion of the history of letter carriers and the NALC has been established, I would like to personally share what lead me to my topic of unionism. The late John Springman is the one person who stands out clearly with my own introduction into unionism. My interactions with him at first seemed harsh. He was direct and there was no sugar-coating with John. The very first thing he said to me was, “I understand you will be a Shop Steward for Coop City Station, but I want you to know you must make it to the membership meetings.” It seemed simple enough, but I didn’t see the full picture in that moment or the impact that can be made by attending the meetings.

At membership meetings, I realized others were having the same issues and hardships that I had experienced for myself. Favoritism, unfairness and disrespect were commonplace in some Manhattan and Bronx installations it seemed. The light bulb moment happens to new stewards when they realize we are all in this together, fighting to protect and defend our contractual rights. Realizing, too, that there was a genuine concern and support from fellow union officers within the branch helped tremendously. They were ready to fight and stop such harsh realities that carriers face each and every day.

As a steward, I became involved in many other ways; I helped with the food drive and witnessed firsthand whole communities giving what they could of themselves simply to help replenish food pantries for others in their communities. I had heartfelt moments, like when I ran across a homeless man who exchanged bottles and donated those tickets to the cause. Imagine someone with so little offering to buy a can of food for someone else in need.
I attended conventions and witnessed brother/sisterhood at its very best. Something as simple as the letter carrier cheer brought me such joy. Do you happen to know what that cheer is? “Hip-Hip, Hooray!” How simple and cheerful, yet so meaningful to all. I became a part of all of this and so much more. Not to mention the bonding with my co-workers at Coop City Station. The bonding came whenever I brought back information and shared it with my fellow carriers. It helped to strengthen them individually and collectively. That bond grew within us and eventually we all came to the realization that we are a family, dysfunctional at times, but a family nonetheless. We know we face the same struggles and SHOULD fight the same fight.

Sadly, in my early years as a letter carrier, I witnessed and felt the frustrations that some carriers dealt with because of hostile work environments. Management’s constant punitive, abusive and disrespectful behavior ran wild and got the best of some carriers. While other carriers worked even harder to “befriend” management to try and guarantee an easier day and simply overlooked the unfairness dealt to others on the workfloor. That to me just goes against our history of DETERMINATION and the fight to improve our own working conditions.

Scenario 1: Time to shed some light. What can be gained by a carrier trying to befriend management? Here is the scenario, it’s before Begin Tour and carriers are already busy boxing up mail off the clock. Why? That is setting a standard and a domino effect is needlessly set into motion. The result is the complete workfloor flow and the routes do not get the appropriate count for the time it actually took to case the route. Therefore, you shortchange yourself and the expectancy of how your route is to be worked. Managers see you and don’t say anything, but do you know why they remain silent? Let me tell you why, it is because it’s for their benefit. Those numbers give them an edge, an advantage. Do not give management an open door to pounce, by boxing up off the clock. If this is allowed to happen at any station, grievances should be filed. It is a big no-no! If one or two carriers do this, what is the sense of sticking together and fighting for a fair day’s pay? What is worse is that in management’s eyes, those boxing up off the clock are viewed as good, hard working carriers and those sticking by our contractual rights are seen as the ones “milking it.” It sets a tone for division when it should be the total opposite. We are stronger in numbers and we should set the bar at unity and equality, not division.

Scenario 2: There is an issue between management and a letter carrier, and an argument breaks out. The supervisor approaches you to ask if you will write a statement. Do you? Number one, you have the right to refuse to do so. Why would you ever volunteer? Number two, regardless of your personal interaction with the carrier why would you side with management and give them the upper hand and try to negatively impact the livelihood of another co-worker? Why? Where does your loyalty lie?

In any of the two scenarios, by siding with management or trying to work in their favor, it will never be guaranteed that you will be exempt from disciplinary action. Who do you think will be on your side, should this unfortunate turn of events happen to you? Who will fight the fight for you? Let me tell you, it is your shop steward and the brothers and sisters that are all about unionism, fairness and equality, that’s who!

Lastly, Brotherhood/Sisterhood means that no matter what, we will be there for each other, unconditionally. That’s who we are!

Outlook March / April 2019
Guys, 4-1-1 in the Swing Room!
For me this is how it all began. Communication is key and this statement could not be more true. I have learned that when organizational information fails to reach its intended recipients, the entire organization can suffer and this can place our carriers at a disadvantage. Keeping this in mind, there are three types of communications skills I would like to discuss in the hopes of helping all members in the ongoing growth and development of our careers and relationships.

Verbal Communication is the process of expressing information or ideas by word of mouth. Let’s be mindful of how we share information and the importance of relaying it to one another. As a Shop Steward in Coop City Station, it all began for me by gathering the carriers in the swing room to simply share information of what I was learning in the General Membership Meetings, and mentioning specific topics that affected the carriers as they arose within our station. Because as you all know, knowledge is power. Useful advice for all shop stewards: the more you equip your carriers with wisdom, the more confident they will be to stand up and perform the duties that are rightfully expected of them!

Visual Communication, did you know one of the most important ways that people communicate and share information is by using symbols and imagery? How much better would it be for all of our members to have a go to place with a wealth of information at our fingertips as needed within the station? I mean we don’t all have the same working schedules, and with that being said, (in case your station does not have one already) I strongly advise that a Union board display important information such as the USPS National Emergency Hotline number (1-888-363-7462), Seniority list, Overtime desired list, Vacation batch, Flash Notices from our branch, etc. We will only benefit and it will keep us all on the same page and prevemt management from violating our rights.

Non-verbal Communication involves anything besides words, such as gestures, actions, facial expressions, body language and other aspects of your physical appearance, that when seen communicate something. To all my awesome saucy Letter Carriers and CCA’s, continue to show up to work, dress the part and perform to the best of your ability. These simple actions will communicate pride in who you are and what you represent. In turn, it will make it less likely you’ll have unwanted attention from management.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I would like to congratulate and thank my fellow officers of the Charlie Heege and Pascual Ortiz Slate for the honor to further join in the fight of representing my brothers and sisters of Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36 as a part time officer and Director of Education.

A huge thank you is in order for my Coop City Station and family for their trust and support as a Shop Steward throughout the years. To all my brothers and sisters, I look forward to working with you and helping to ensure a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s pay.

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