Melinda Hammond
Director of City Delivery
Outlook November / December 2019

It’s Your Time

How many of you are aware of how much breaktime you are actually permitted? How many of you take your break when you are due for one? How many of you take a full lunch break including that wash up or take your full wash up at the end of the day?

Letter Carriers are entitled to two paid 10-minute rest breaks during an eight- hour workday. One of those breaks is typically in the morning while you are still in the office. I have noticed a lot of carries still casing mail, separating packages, tying out their routes when their break is called. Why? Why are you giving money back to the post office which was negotiated for carriers in our contract? We fought so hard to get this money and we must to try to keep it.

Why put added pressure on yourself to perform the work based on management’s expectations? Your body needs to rest periodically in order to keep you moving in stride. It’s no wonder you are exhausted at the end of the day when you don’t take your lunch break, or take 15 minutes instead of 30, or work while you are eating, with sometimes no break at all. We must all realize that we are not paid for our lunch break. When we work during our lunchtime, we are actually working for free.

What about that 10-minute break during your last relay box or at the last hour of the workday? If you’re a combo or parcel post driver, do you take a break at that time? Many of us don’t. Don’t let management’s expectations override your contractual rights. Page 41-28 of the Joint Contract Administration Manual (JCAM) explains: National Arbitrator Britton ruled that the Postal Service must ensure that all employees stop working during an office break. Contractual breaks must be observed and cannot be waived by employees (H4N-3D-C 9419, December 22, 1988, C-08555).

Item 1 of the Bronx and Manhattan Local Memorandum of Understanding states: The letter carriers will be granted a 8-minute wash-up period prior to lunch, and a 8-minute wash-up period prior to completion of tour.

How many of you are aware of the fact that our wash-up time was reduced because we weren’t using it? I must remind all shop stewards, if you notice carriers are not breaking in the office, step up and remind them of all the things they are losing. Inform that carrier of the importance of utilizing their breaks, the amount of money they are giving back, the loss of route time, the toll on their health and the contractual rights that were hard earned for them being violated. Most of all, don’t forget to use the bathroom because you are human after all, and have a right to relieve yourself when necessary.

Shop Stewards, don’t forget to file a grievance for the office time that management fails to enforce. They want to enforce everything else, so why not this?

Outlook September / October 2019

My Brother’s Keeper?

Am I my brother’s keeper? How would you answer this question? Let’s delve into this notion and what it possibly means as brothers and sisters of Branch 36.

Most of us have our own assignment. When we go on vacation, we hope to come back to our route and find it exactly as we left it. If we do not, we are highly disappointed and frustrated. Who can we blame, who does it all fall upon? Most likely, it is the CCA who was holding down the route. They are new and each one has their own way of delivering mail. We see them picking up bad habits, taking advice from the wrong person (including management), or just trying to figure out how to do the job with very little direction.

So, am I my brother’s keeper? I would say yes! Why? Because they need guidance the same way we all did when we arrived at our stations. If you see them struggling, you should ask is there something wrong or how can I help you? You should explain to them what they should do if they need a day off or if they are sick and need to go home (fill out a 3971). Let them know how to handle the mail when they bring it back from the street (i.e. explaining the 3M case, the throw back case, where to put the waste and what waste looks like). Most important is explaining the importance of filling out a 1571 (undeliverable mail form) regarding mail they couldn’t deliver for various reasons.

If they are going to deliver an end on your route, take that extra time to explain where the route book is located, what it contains and how to use that information. Explain how a Hold Down works. How they work the same schedule (begin tour) as the regular and have the same day off (but they still have to come in if scheduled and can be placed on another route on their day off). That is for the duration and ends when the regular carrier hits back on his/her route. You should explain to them the importance of knowing their shop steward, and having an open line of communication with that steward at all times.

You may say this is a lot, but it’s not. When you are ready to retire, who will be here to do the job and fund your pension? They will! They need to fund our pensions the same way we are working for those who retired before us.
Let’s all take a moment to ask that new person with the title CCA the following: how are things going, do you need help or need to talk about something you don’t understand? Remember, a little goes a long way. Yes, I know some CCAs can be difficult. But we should have patience because, after all, they are our future.

Outlook July / August 2019

Pace Yourself

We are now well into the swing of our summer peak vacation season, a time when pivoting is at its highest point. Some carriers are good with it, others are not. The ODL and CCA’s are being maxed out and then some. One question I am always asked is, “How much do they expect you to do in one day?” My answer is, “If you go out and deliver your route, half of another route and packages within an eight hour timeframe, management will require more time of you.” That is especially true if you are a CCA. CCAs can be expected to work up to eleven and a half hours in any given day. Pacing yourself is key and the practical thing to do; there aren’t any set standards on the street. If you’re working, what can management say to you? They cannot force you to put speed before safety.

If you are on a hold down, you are responsible for maintaining your route. You set your own street standard by demonstrating the time it takes to deliver the route based on your specific preparation and pace. Remember, what you do now will affect you later.

When you become a regular carrier and the route you are holding down is completed in seven hours, pace yourself. Take your lunch and your ten-minute break before your last relay/last hour of delivery. Also take a few minutes to read page four of the M-41, specifically Section 121.12. Make sure you are taking time in the office as well. Don’t leave your change of address labels or address verifications lying around the office. That is office time you are missing out on. Get credit for everything.

“Yes” you do have a maximum, and “No” management does not care. It is up to you to make them care. You determine how much you do in any given day. If you are forced to go over your eleven and a half hours (CCA), file a grievance. Notify your shop steward and help solidify your case with a statement the day that it happens or the very next day. That’s the way to fight back and get your point across.
For safety reasons when it’s hot outside, carriers should never “run” their route, especially in the summertime. Otherwise, you may find yourself suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stress. A steady pace is much better for your mind and body

Outlook May / June 2019
Food Drive
WOW, WOW, WOW… I am in awe of what we can accomplish when we work together. The carriers of Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36 have done it once again. We started this food drive with high hopes of surpassing last year’s huge accomplishment of 119,000 pounds of food. I am more than proud to say, we did it! You guys all did an amazing job. We procured 140,806 pounds of food thanks to our carriers’ open hearts and determined minds.

Letter carriers serve their communities in more ways than just delivering the mail. So when you pass by the local food pantry in your neighborhood, feel the pride in knowing that we are more than just letter carriers who deliver the mail. We also help deliver a much-needed service to our communities. I thank you all for joining this great cause. Many people don’t know where their next meal is coming from, but thanks to all of you, there will be more food on their tables this year.

Special thanks to my partner Tayry Vega for all of her help. She was great in getting the message out and distributing the t-shirts. We also had help capturing the spirit of giving, thanks to James Graham of Fordham Station and his wonderful work on station pictures. Kiran Jackson from FDR and Anthony McDaniel from Old Chelsea stations also busied themselves by helping to break down the cards for delivery. I would also like to thank all of the shop stewards for their hard work in this whole process. I am well aware that there is no “I” in Team! Thank you all!

On another note, spring is here and the summer is fast approaching. Section 112.4 of the M-41 states you should conduct your work in a safe manner so as not to endanger yourself or others. With that being said, it is your sole responsibility to make sure you work in a safe manner. Remember, management is watching every move you make and just waiting for you to be their example. Don’t be their example!

Be mindful when using your phone while driving. When getting out of the driver seat, take your key with you even if it is for just a second. Don’t let that one second be your last. Kids will be out and about, so watch your speed limit, crosswalks and look out for loose bouncing balls. Safety always comes first and Section 112.4 of the M-41 gives you the right and responsibility to act accordingly.

Outlook March / April 2019
Food Drive
This year’s NALC National Food Drive is the byproduct of a tradition of community service exhibited repeatedly by members of the letter carrier unions across the country over many years. This is our 27th year of going into the very same communities that we serve daily. We show our customers by example that we offer a valuable service aside from trusted mail delivery and it comes in the form of our National Food Drive.

As we all know the Food Drive is held each year on the second Saturday in May (May 11th this year), and this event couldn’t have come at a better time. Food banks have suggested that it should be held in the spring, when the food supplies donated during the winter holidays start to run low.

There is a common misconception that the only people who need food are the homeless. Anyone can lose their job or be down on their luck and require help at any given time. Some of you may even know people who work full time but are just getting by because of their low-paying wages and require assistance.

As we all know, this year the government was shut down for 35 days. We were fortunate that we did not have to worry about being out of work or at work and not receiving a paycheck at the end of the pay period. But those individuals and families who had to suffer through it had to find ways to make it work. One helpful way came through food banks and that is where we all come in. This is a perfect example of why we have our Annual Food Drive.

Year after year, we come to your station and explain the importance of donating a non-perishable item. Branch 36 covers the Bronx and Manhattan and the food we collect services those same areas. Thank you for all you help because without out you, the brothers and sisters of Branch 36, we would not be able to assist many families in need.

Our Food Drive kick off will be held at the West Side Campaign Against Hunger located at 263 West 86th Street. Come celebrate with us and witness for yourselves how we deliver more than just the mail.

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