So Close Yet So Far
As much as things seem to change, they also seem to remain the same. Things have been moving along in the right direction for many of us in recent days as far as the pandemic is concerned. Unfortunately, the current surge in cases has interrupted a seamless transition from the pandemic-to-normal times.
Our plan is to hold the Annual Letter Carrier’s Dinner Dance this year at Marina Del Rey on November 14, 2021. Hopefully, we can all remain healthy, and rising numbers don’t put us in a position to have to shut down social events and places of gathering again. That would be simply awful for everyone.
Masks have been a point of debate since the beginning of COVID’s abrupt intrusion into our lives and continue to be today. Not too long ago, the Postal Service made a pivot in direction with regards to their mask policy. It’s impossible to make everyone happy. Some employees were happy, some were not.
The New York District 1 reacted to the Postal Service’s change in mask mandate by creating its own policy, which was in direct contrast to Washington DC’s instructions. The New York District sided with an air of caution, instead of fully embracing the shift in policy from DC. New York 1 wanted employees to continue to wear masks, but it seems that thought fizzled away quickly. We haven’t heard much about implementing that idea, but at least they tried.
We applauded the district’s decision to continue the policy of using masks. That took what we call “cojones” in Spanish. That word can take on many meanings in Spanish, but for the record, I’m talking about nerves. It took nerves of steel to go against Doug Tulino. I don’t always have something really good to say about management, but I will give credit where credit is due. Thank you for trying, New York 1. We see you!
Certain things are standard operating procedures that haven’t been before. I now wash my hands every time I have an opportunity and not only when I thought I’d need to do it. I wash my hands as soon as I can when I leave my home and enter any other space that has a restroom. It’s like clockwork now.
When I get to work, I wash my hands. I’m sure we’ve all developed habits similar to this in one way or another. I hope so!
Now isn’t the time to get lax about any good habits that we may have developed over the last eighteen months. Policy doesn’t dictate whether or not I wear a mask for my own protection in certain areas. It should not for any of us either. Try not to let your guard down simply because policies are being reversed and because numbers may be on a downward spiral. Vaccines don’t prevent anyone from passing it onto someone else; and unfortunately, there are many people out there who have decided not to be vaccinated. My heart isn’t cold enough to disregard anyone’s life, regardless of what that person may or may not do or believe in. We all bleed red.
Change of Management
The Bronx has a new Postmaster. I hope this doesn’t mean anything too drastic for letter carriers. Concerns about uniforms and attendance have been the biggest whispers that I’ve heard out there as far as the new PM is concerned. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that things remain the same rather than ones becoming tedious and unnecessarily drawn out. That is rarely good for business. Money and problems don’t mix where I come from. Let’s see, in time all things will be revealed.
I was half right about something in the previous article, I mentioned that the New York District was looking to attack and take away our wash-up time. That was half accurate due to a last minute, thirteenth hour move they decided to make. I have to admit, what I have to admit!
At the last minute, the New York District Leadership decided not to appeal the wash-up issue to arbitration. The Outlook had already been completed and on its way to distribution. There was no way to backtrack part of my article at this point and there was no way to anticipate such a move from the Postal Service, especially when there was so much contention amongst the parties as we each dug in deep to defend our positions. The Postal Service wanted to essentially take away the wash-up. The union wasn’t even trying to hear this from them! This is the first time I’ve witnessed a struggle between the parties over a topic, which was then let go so easily by the service. They did let the issue go, which could have been forced into arbitration, even though I’m confident we weren’t going to be in an unfavorable position as a craft or as a union.
The pandemic has created a bad scenario for arbitration. Fortunately, things are opening up at a more rapid pace and travel is opening up as well. Many arbitrators were reluctant to travel on a plane or train to attend hearings. Virtual hearings can be substituted, but it’s never the same, especially for critical issues that require in-person testimony and verifiable credibility of that testimony by all appropriate measures.
Order of Business
Critical disciplinary cases take precedence over contractual cases and get placed in front of the line. Unfortunately, important contractual issues have been delayed. The panels of arbitrators as a whole were addressed by National in 1st Vice President Lew Drass’ article in the Postal Record last month.
We look forward to all employees being guaranteed early vacation planning. We’ve appealed this issue in arbitration and hope for a resolution before vacation planning begins in November. All employees should be entitled to vacation planning with their friends and loved ones, especially with the hard work you all do throughout the year and have continued to do throughout the pandemic.
Begin Tour Payments
Some Bronx Station tours were changed unjustly and those cases were delayed by the pandemic. We want those station to return to their original begin tours. There’s a proven precedent of past practice where management is obligated to discuss these tour changes with Branch 36 in a particular fashion.
There have been plenty of conversions to go around lately. Many of them have been CCAs converting to PTFs, and some have been PTFs converting to full-time career employees. Mixed conversions have taken place just about every pay period, with the exception of a few since the twenty-four-month agreement went into effect. The New York District was pushing to make as many full-time Regulars as possible even before that. Kudos to them on that! There were many pay periods in the beginning of the year where employees in both Installations were making it to full-time status. We will notify everyone as we become notified.
Upcoming Events - Annual Retiree Bruch
The Annual Retiree Brunch is still scheduled to take place on September 12th. Many people have RSVP’d and plan to be in attendance. We look forward to celebrating the legacy of our retired members, and to showing our appreciation for our remaining members who continue to be active with letter carrier issues. Branch 36 has no intention of cancelling this event. However, this event will remain on the calendar and subject to local regulations.
45th Annual Vincent R. Sombrotto Letter Carriers’ Dance
Our Annual Dinner Dance is still scheduled to be held on November 14th. We look forward to celebrating with all our members and their families. We will be at Marina Del Rey in the Tremont Section of The Bronx. There are no plans to cancel this event, however, it too shall remain tentative to local regulations and pandemic safety concerns.
I hope you all enjoyed your summer months and able to enjoy the Choice Vacation Weeks that you all deserve and work so hard for throughout the year(s). I hope that you all had a great Fourth of July, and may your summer end with a fabulous Labor Day celebration!