the daily news digest of the postal world since 1998


Video: USPS will quit shredding children's books

Tucson News Now


(WMC-TV) – One of Tennessee’s senators is stepping in to stop the U.S. Postal Service from shredding thousands of books donated to the Books from Birth Program.

The program sends books to children across the state of Tennessee. But in February, Action News 5 learned USPS was shredding books because it can no longer afford to hang onto books that get returned due to a change of addresses.

Read more: USPS will quit shredding children's books – Tucson News Now.


Audio: PRC Chair Ruth Goldway discusses the Annual Compliance Determination with Postcom's Gene Del Polito

From PostCom:

Join PostCom President Gene Del Polito and Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Ruth Goldway in a discussion about the PRC’s recent issuance of its Annual Compliance Determination.

Click here to download the interview as an .mp3 file, or click the play button below to listen online.

Association for Postal Commerce.


APWU VP responds to NAPA privatization report

Greg Bell
Executive Vice President

(This article will appear in the May/June 2013 edition of The American Postal Worker.)

gregbellThe National Academy of Public Administration, an organization chartered by Congress to provide advice to government leaders, recently evaluated a proposal to privatize all postal operations except delivery and concluded the idea “merits serious consideration. The original privatization proposal, which I wrote about in the March-April issue of The American Postal Worker, was written by a group of self-described “postal industry thought leaders.”

The panel’s conclusion gives a sense of legitimacy to privatization, which up to now has been dismissed as extreme.

Although the review by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) doesn’t quite endorse the proposal to privatize everything but delivery, it gives a sense of legitimacy to the concept, which up to now has been dismissed as extreme.

While the NAPA report is supposed to provide an independent review of the privatization proposal, it was financed in part by a contribution from Pitney-Bowes, one of the largest pre-sort companies in the country. Pitney-Bowes owns more than 40 mail processing centers and stands to be a major beneficiary if mail processing operations are contracted out to the private sector.

It’s worth noting that NAPA conducted a similar study in 1982 and came to a very different conclusion: Breaking up the Postal Service “is not in the national interest,” NAPA wrote at the time.

The recent NAPA review acknowledges that there are a number of important factors that the proposal failed to address, such as the retiree health benefit pre-funding obligation, and stresses that “a number of issues need to be further explored before any implementation of the concept can, or should, be attempted.”

On the other hand, the NAPA paper points out that the Postal Service is already privatizing many operations through the use of “work-sharing” discounts.

The study notes that the value of mail processing and transportation completed by private companies is estimated at $17 billion annually. While some portray this astounding figure as operating costs avoided by the Postal Service, in many cases the discounts are so big that the Postal Service loses money on the deal. In 2008 the Postal Regulatory Commission concluded that many discounts exceeded the costs avoided. And while the Postal Service has lost revenue, private mail sorters have made healthy profits.

The NAPA review notes that if privatization of all operations other than delivery was fully implemented, several “bargaining units would be negatively impacted.” NAPA acknowledges that several people interviewed for the review concluded that “cost savings will be realized mainly from replacing union labor with non-union labor.”

Driving a Wedge Between Unions

The proposal to privatize everything but delivery also puts a wedge between the postal unions — it invokes a divide-and-conquer strategy that seeks to reduce opposition to the plan by seeming to protect the work of one group of employees, Letter Carriers, while targeting employees engaged in mail processing, transportation and other activities.

We’ve seen similar divide-and-conquer strategies used in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and elsewhere in an attempt to cause division between public- and private-sector unions. The Postal Service frequently uses this strategy to divide postal unions.

In an ironic twist, however, the NAPA study recommends “evaluating the merits of the contention that the delivery function should remain a role for the Postal Service.” In other words, why not contract out the whole kit-and-caboodle, including delivery?

The union principle that An Injury to One is an Injury to All is as true today as it ever was.



Video: Mail carrier hospitalized after vicious dog attack in Missouri

KMOV — Police said a United States Postal worker was hospitalized after she was attacked by a dog in Florissant on Saturday.According to USPS, the letter carrier said she was walking past a house in the 1600 block of Fernbrook when a Mastiff-Boxer mix attacked her.The victim said during the attack, the dog tore into her leg, causing nerve damage. The woman also sufferered bite wounds to her arms. She was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

Read more: Mail carrier hospitalized after vicious dog attack in St. Louis County | St. Louis.


Video: Man Arrested for Firing on Postal Worker with BB Gun

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A suspect armed with a BB gun fired at a U.S. Postal Service truck in Mission Valley, San Diego Friday afternoon, police confirmed.

The incident happened around 3:15 p.m. in the 1900 block of Camino De La Reina.

A U.S. postal worker was at a mailbox when one of the windows of his vehicle was shot out according to officials.

Read more: Man Arrested for Firing on Postal Worker with BB Gun | NBC Bay Area.


APWU Wins Huge Arbitration For Clerks in Small Offices

apwulogoThe union won a major arbitration victory on March 29, when Arbitrator Shyam Das issued a long-awaited decision that will affect Clerk Craft jobs in small post offices. The ruling settles a long-simmering dispute about the amount of bargaining unit work postmasters and supervisors may perform in Level 18-and-below offices.

“This decision will mean more hours for the clerks who work in small offices and more Clerk Craft jobs,” said APWU President Cliff Guffey.

Arbitrator Das upheld the union’s position, ruling that an agreement between the union and management sets absolute limits on the number of hours postmasters may perform bargaining unit work (BUW) in small offices. A “Global Settlement” that was included in the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement, says postmasters may perform up to 15 hours of bargaining unit work in Level 18 post offices and up to 25 hours in Level 15 and Level 16 offices.

During bargaining, when the agreement was struck, the APWU proposed language stipulating that, “All time the supervisor or Postmaster spends staffing the window during the day will be counted towards the permissible BUW limits.”  The USPS agreed.

The union clearly stated during negotiations that if the window is open for business, it is being staffed. If the person staffing the window is a postmaster, all time the window is open must count against the limits, regardless of other tasks the postmaster performs during that time.

After agreeing to the language in negotiations, the USPS took the position at headquarters, in the field and at the arbitration hearing that what management intended was not “all time” staffing the window but rather “earned time” or “actual time” working the window, as reported by the postmasters and supervisors  themselves.  “All time spent staffing the window” didn’t mean what it said, management asserted.

The arbitrator rejected management’s arguments, ruling that “All time the supervisor or Postmaster spends staffing the window . . . applies to all time the supervisor or postmaster is covering the window, which, in the absence of a clerk, includes all time the window is open.”

“This is a major win for the APWU and especially for clerks who work in small offices where postmasters have been improperly taking work from our members for years,” said Industrial Relations Director Mike Morris. “The task ahead is to enforce the agreement. We will leave no stone unturned to make sure that happens.”

President Guffey praised the ruling. “We want to thank the officers and members who supported the union through this protracted fight,” he said.  “Many union officers and staffers assisted in researching, preparing and presenting this case. They did an outstanding job.”

Another disputed section of the Global Settlement dealt with offices that were downgraded under the Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) program after Nov. 21, 2010.  The arbitrator ruled that the APWU agreed to an exception for offices without a clerk that are downgraded to Level 13 or-below offices.  “This very narrow exception should not work to the detriment of any bargaining unit employees, because it only applies to offices that have no clerks,” Morris said.

“This award sets the table for our challenge to POStPlan, which was another full frontal attack on our union and especially on clerks in small offices,” he said.  A hearing on that dispute is scheduled before Arbitrator Stephen B. Goldberg on April 16 and 17.

“The POStPlan is next,” Morris said. “Stay tuned.”



BJ's apologizes for flyer that 'missed the mark'

BJflyerBJ’s apologizes for flyer that ‘missed the mark’: The CEO of BJ’s Wholesale Club has sent a letter apologizing for a mailing that began hitting post offices across the country this week. The mailing was apparently intended to acquire new customers and contained some humor directed at letter carriers. “While the message was supposed to be humorous, we may have missed the mark,” BJ’s President and CEO Laura Sen wrote. “We apologize to the U.S. Postal Service and mail carriers for any offense or misunderstanding caused by our mailer message.” The 15 states targeted by the mailer are Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia. Click here to see the flyer, and click here to read the apology letter.

NALC | The National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO.


Massachusetts postal contractor employee pleads guilty to mail theft: losses could total a million dollars

inspectorBOSTON – A Braintree man was convicted today of stealing credit cards from a mail-sorting facility and using them to commit fraud.

Gerald K. Acholonu, 32, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Richard G. Stearns to credit card fraud and theft of mail. Sentencing is scheduled for June 25, 2013. Acholonu faces between 48 and 57 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture, and a fine.

From August 2010 through May 2011, Acholonu worked at a company that sorted the mail by ZIP code between the mail’s unloading at Logan Airport and its transportation around New England by the Postal Service. In late April 2011, Acholonu was spotted leaving his employer’s restroom with a tray of U.S. mail. Investigators then searched the trash from his residence and found 11 stolen Discover credit cards and evidence that Acholonu was using or planning to use the Discover customers’ identities by setting up telephone accounts in their names. Investigators also obtained surveillance photographs from ATMs indicating that Acholonu had used some of the cards to withdraw money. In his plea agreement, the parties agreed that all told, there were more than 250 victims and the loss totaled between $400,000 and $1 million.


Maryland rural carrier sent to prison for workers comp fraud


Greenbelt, Maryland – Chief U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced Darlene M. Altvater, age 48, of Mechanicsville, Maryland, late yesterday to five months in prison, followed by five months home detention and three years of supervised release, for two counts of making false statements to obtain federal disability benefits. Chief Judge Chasanow also ordered Altvater to pay restitution, with the exact amount still to be determined. Read More


Google to test local same day delivery service

Amazon is trying it, and so are are Walmart and the US Postal Service- and now, Google is entering the same-day delivery market, at least on a limited, trial basis:

Today we’re starting a new experiment, Google Shopping Express. It’s a local delivery service that we hope will make it possible for you to get the items you order online the same day, and at a low cost. It’s incredibly early days and so the service is only available to a small number of people in the Bay Area.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area (in the city of San Francisco, and the Peninsula from San Mateo to San Jose) and would like to help test this new initiative, please sign up here. We’re still working out our long-term pricing plan but early testers will get six months of free, unlimited same-day delivery. The pilot will expand as we work out the kinks, so please stay tuned.

Initially the service will deliver orders from Target, Walgreens, Staples, American Eagle and Toys“R”Us/Babies“R”Us, along with a few local merchants.

Calling all SF Bay Area residents: help test our new local, same-day delivery service | Google Commerce.