Pascual Ortiz
Executive Vice President e-mail
Outlook May / June 2019

Happy Summer!

“12 hours today! You’re doing a pivot on route such and such!” That’s the first thing you hear as you clock in at the time-clock. Today’s work floor can be demanding. Routes, truck assignments, pivots and all kind of technical jargon rule the airwaves all morning long. Some things have changed, yet others have remained the same. Letters and flats, once the heavy hitters, now get some serious competition from the parcel industry. That’s no small feat by the way. The country still relies on first class mail, even though the driving force of the postal service is adjusting to current times and technology.

The things that have changed are countless. The heavy hitters were once letters, flats and foot routes. The new heavy hitter is without a doubt, parcel delivery. In the past, there would be ten to twenty tubs of flats, and numerous trays of mail waiting to be cased up while parcel delivery and parcel volume were nearly a quarter of what they are today, sometimes quite less. (Hold your horses, my old-time brothers and sisters, I know you dealt with much more casing mail than I ever did. However, this happens to be my story and article though). There was so much mail to case up that you would tie your route down, send it out and stay behind to case up mail for the rest of the day. Only to tie it down again before you left for the day or get it ready for next day delivery. Things have changed quite a bit since then. Parcel delivery is slowly beginning to dominate the work day. The amount of parcels and parcel assignments in current times far supersedes what was available when I came on board in the late 90’s. There seems to always be a post-con of parcels waiting to be delivered at all times of the day, every day of the week.

Things that have remained the same are quite evident as well. The overwhelming pressure to perform hasn’t changed one bit. Huge expectations are routine. Carriers often come across a person who gives them the hardest time when submitting a PS Form 3996 for overtime and or help. Or maybe a route or truck assignment requires submitting a 3996 on a daily basis and you run into a supervisor that seems to want to nickel and dime you for every minute of approved overtime and or help.

The pressure to complete an assignment and a pivot is huge enough, never mind the parcels and or undelivered routes that still may need to be delivered when you return from finishing your assignment. Before you know it, you have a route, a pivot, and a ton of pressure to solve the management’s daily dilemma of staffing the operation. The pressure to do a ton of work, in a limited amount of time, has translated into what seems to be an unending and torturous adjustment of having to work six days a week, at twelve hours a pop. Rest days are cancelled excessively it seems since the peak season began and there appears to be no relief in sight. Frankly, I’m sick of it! I loathe the fact that our brothers and sisters are being dogged daily in both mental and physical capacities. How do we balance the appreciation of an abundance of work along with trying to have a real sense of purpose when it comes to enjoying the fruits of our labor on our day off?

One way to beat that is to try to remember to look at things in a practical manner. I know there is nothing easy about the kind of demand you are facing on the job. I beg to ask you “What’s your angle? How do you cope? What makes the pain or mental strains disappear?” I will offer some suggestions to help you see it in a different way.

Work safely. Don’t take shortcuts. Shortcuts never add up. They only lead to the unemployment line, or the Triage Unit in an E.R. Take your breaks. There are sixty six minutes total break time throughout the day. Take your comfort stops whenever needed. They happen to be unlimited. Hydrate consistently.

A couple of face rags always come in handy, especially on warm days. Treat your back, feet, tendons, and ligaments as if they are the only ones you own, because they actually are the only ones you own. Believe me, it hurts quite a bit to replace them. Treat your body and mind right. Don’t let the pressure get to you.

Do not allow anyone to force you to work at the heartrate speed of an Olympian athlete. It’s not that kind of race. Work at your own pace; simply put forth your best effort to make all possible deliveries. Practice the fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay motto. In doing so, you can’t go wrong. The public will love you and you will guarantee their business in the future.

Please feel free to reach out to me or to the rest of the team at the branch either by phone or email; we are here to help and more than happy to share information with the membership. Happy Summer everyone!

Outlook March / April 2019
I take great pleasure in congratulating President Charlie Heege and Recording Secretary Tony Ortiz on their re-election to the Branch 36 team. They have been working hard for letter carriers in Manhattan and the Bronx for a long time, so their reelection actually comes as no surprise to me. I would also like to congratulate Sonny Guadalupe and Danielle Smith who will be stepping into Harold and Pat’s positions. Each has earned this rite of passage and will follow in the same footsteps as their predecessors. Sonny and Danielle have worked hard for the membership in many different capacities for several years and are fully qualified to lead us into the future. Congratulations Sonny and Danielle!

I would like to thank all the members who attended the Installation of Officers; believe me, the support did not go unnoticed. We thank you all! The event was fantastic! NALC President Frederic V. Rolando personally installed, along with Regional Administrative Assistant Orlando Gonzalez of Cathedral Station, all 19 officers. New officers were installed and departing officers were celebrated. We are extremely appreciative of the joint efforts by the NALC and Orlando. The event was a happy occasion for everyone.

So many things have been happening and so much more is anticipated. Let’s go through some of the things headed our way such as Begin Tour Changes and Automated Delivery. One anticipation I hope you all are motivated by is the desire to contribute to the PAC fund which protects the rights and benefits of all letter carriers including YOURSELF

A huge problem throughout the branch stations has been staffing. It seems the service has been cancelling rest days since the holiday season began. There hasn’t been any relief since and nothing in sight for the foreseeable future. You must file grievances whether you are or aren’t on the Overtime Desired List. The lack of staff results in a negative cycle for letter carriers. One of the cycles is undeliverable mail. Sometimes mail doesn’t even hit the street. Other times, it comes back to the station because a carrier is unable to complete the work within a 12-hour timeframe. If mail comes back to the station undelivered, we must fill out the PS Form 1571. Management has been scheduling work that cannot be done in 12 hours due to the staffing issues. If you can’t finish the mail and if you have to bring it back, then you have to fill out the 1571! You can and will be disciplined for it if a supervisor decides to push that agenda. Another occurrence that can result is that you may have to answer to Federal Law Enforcement for failing to deliver mail. You definitely want a PS Form 1571 receipt to show the delay in mail was approved by a supervisor. Without it, you will have much explaining to do. It has happened and it not based on theory.
Begin Tour Changes
Delivery Operation reached out to President Heege in the last month looking to change begin tours for some of the Bronx Stations. Some remained at their original tour, others were advanced by a half of an hour and still others were told they would be monitored for the next thirty days to see how things would move forward. This tour change issue has a rich history and the ironic thing about this round of tour-change discussions is that the service did EVERYTHING in the Bronx the correct way, vastly different than the way they handled the Manhattan Stations. We await the grievances from the Bronx Stations, but at least there is no contention with respect to the manner in which the service attempts to bargain in good faith with the union because they totally botched that issue with Manhattan. Grievances await arbitration over that matter to resolve the issue.
Carrier Academy
The Carrier Academy has been updated. The significance behind that statement is that Sonny Guadalupe will be the one taking charge of that operation. That knowledge delivers the utmost confidence because he will ensure everything about the academy will be from the branch’s perspective. The branch knows training and information are of the utmost importance to new employees and how it leads to professional behavior and habits. There is nothing worse than a customer seeing someone who apparently is uneducated and doesn’t know what they are doing. There will be five parts to the academy: orientation, driver training, shadow day, carrier academy, and on the job training. The update is intended to focus on practice with casing mail, a revised On the Job Training Checklist, along with safety information regarding vehicle fires. We will be ensuring all of the aspects are properly covered and administered to our new members. If there are any issues or conflicts with the training, then it is imperative for the branch to be made aware of them. We cannot remedy a situation without knowledge of it. The updated carrier academy manuals are being printed and will be ready shortly.
Arrow Keys
A too frequent concern that has come to the branch’s attention in recent days has to do with arrow keys. Why is it that these keys continue to find themselves in the middle of controversy? In my opinion, there is nothing special about this key and about the only door it opens is Pandora’s, if it is not utilized properly. There is no reason these keys should be allowed to be taken out of a Registry Cage without being accounted for. The only thing you can get from having this key is a headache, assuming the OIG and or Inspection Service decide to dig in deep on this. It seems that keys have been allowed to go home with carriers on Saturdays when a carrier is assigned to work on Sunday/Amazon Prime and the key doesn’t make its way back to the station until the following Monday. I firmly believe that management officials who condone this behavior should be put up for removal simply for failing to respect the sanctity of the key and mail. A complacent behavior toward the service and its integrity (key procedure) is nothing to laugh about. If a grievance were filed, be it discipline or contract related, I would make sure to include the complacent supervisor’s name in the Remedy Box to be held just as accountable as the carrier. Do not take any key that is not accounted for and never take any key home, unless you enjoy problems.
Impaired Hearing
National has made an effort to ensure that hearing impaired employees are addressed properly and appropriate accommodations are made for the employee(s). National can be notified of an employee’s condition by opening NALC’s website at Hit the “MEMBERS ONLY” tab and register and sign into your profile. Once you sign in, then you would check off the box indicating that you want to be identified as deaf or hard of hearing. If appropriate accommodations are not being made for you, notify the union and/or your shop steward(s). We will do whatever is needed on a local level and we will forward any issues necessary on a national level.
Autonomous Vehicles
No, your eyes do not deceive you. The Postal Service has reached out to the national parties to inform them of testing and interest in autonomous vehicles (self-driving). The service is determined to eliminate carrier office time as much as possible, if not entirely. This notion is one they have lurking in some poor districts within the United States. The service would like for the vehicle to drive while the carrier sorts and delivers the mail. There hasn’t been any commitment to the vehicles with respect to daily carrier duties but they are definitely committed to exploring the idea as much as possible. The service is entertaining proposals. There are major concerns with this technology and how it pertains to the safety of letter carriers. We are sure national will be all over this issue in the right way if or when the service decides to move forward with it.
Although the concept isn’t new, the service is looking for new ways to force an office time reduction on our craft. The service is looking for a “caseless” environment. As silly as that may sound, they are trying really hard to get something like this program started. The idea is to separate office time from street time for routes by one person casing a route or for a few carriers to case routes for the entire station. This would then leave the street deliveries entirely to the other carriers who would begin their tour after the projected casing of their respective routes. The begin times for each route to be cased would be staggered and once the mail is cased up, then the case is broken down to then be set up for the next route to be cased. I might be overthinking this but I do recall that the carrier-case has to be broken down and set back up with the new labels, and the new labels would bring new case separations with it. How economical is it to break down and build up a case for as many times as there are routes within a station? If time is money then isn’t the service losing time and money on the breakdown and building of the next route? They seem determined to spend money on everyone else in the office except the letter carrier. This testing is taking place at eleven locations so far.
The NALC has an app available for mobile devices to track work hours. The work hour tracker was created so letter carriers can input particular data such as hours worked and the app is going to let the carrier know what his or her paycheck should look like. All of the particulars have not been released yet, but you should be on the lookout for this app so it can help you keep track of your pay. Many times we are so busy and overwhelmed with work that we don’t blink at our paychecks as long as it is in the right range. This app will help you anticipate the right amount of dollars according to the hours worked with your particular pay rate and step increases and so on. Right now the app is only available for Android devices. Open the search engine in your application program within your Android device and type in NALC work hour tracker app and you will be on your way. You have to register with the app and sync it with your member profile on the NALC website. The effort is certainly worth it once you know there is an app making sure you were paid the right amount of dollars for the right amount of work you do and at the right pay rate. It is a crying shame on postal management that we have a need for an app like this, but make sure you use it. The union is hard at work to ensure its members are protected in every possible way!
Phishing Scam
The Postal Service has modified its collection boxes in response to the scams that happen in the city. They have modified the mouth of the mailbox to a sliver. It isn’t as open and wide, making it difficult for anyone to extract mail from the box.
Mobile Delivery Devices (MDDs)
The postal service is currently testing two prototypes for new scanners. They look to be touchscreen devices. A major concern for the service is the battery life of the device along with the performance of the scanner’s battery in extreme cold weather conditions. It is unknown whether or not the device will have a camera on it. There are currently four test sites within the US. Feedback has been positive so far, although there have been some problems identified with the devices as well. We don’t know the specifics yet, but as soon as they are made available to us, we will share the information with you.

Brothers and sisters please remain safe in your deliveries and make sure to inform the union of any issues that are occurring within your station.

I would like to thank all members of Branch 36 for their unwavering loyalty to our team. We are all appreciative for the confidence and trust you have placed in each and every one of us.

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