2011 August - postalnews blog

Archive for August, 2011

Maryland MVS driver gets 6 months in jail for mail theft

The following information was released by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland:

U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake, sentenced James M. Russell, age 49, of Brandywine, Maryland, today to six months in prison, followed by six months of home detention and two years of supervised release, for theft of mail while he was employed by the U.S. Postal Service. Judge Blake also ordered Russell to perform 100 hours of community service.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Joanne Yarbrough of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General.

Joanne Yarbrough, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General said, "Postal Service employees hold a position of public trust and the large majority of employees, with few exceptions, take this responsibility very seriously. Unfortunately, in this case, that trust was broken. The Office of Inspector General will continue to aggressively investigate complaints of mail theft and serious misconduct by Postal Service employees."

According to court documents, from October 1998 until his arrest on November 9, 2010, Russell worked as a motor vehicle operator for the U.S. Postal Service. His duties included off-loading mail containers from his vehicle to the facility where the mail was being delivered, which gave him access to areas of the workroom floor at the Northwood Station post office. Following several days of surveillance where Russell was seen stealing parcels from carrier hampers, taking them to his truck, then dumping the remnants of the packages in a dumpster or wooded area near the Northwood Station post office, Russell was arrested and suspended without pay.

Further investigation and review of surveillance video over the year for which it was available showed that on at least 50 occasions, since early November 2009, Russell had been entering the workroom floor at the Northwood Station when no other postal employees were around, rifling through mail carrier hampers and selecting parcels that looked like they might contain something of value. Russell was seen on the video placing those parcels into white Postal Service flat boxes or in his coat and then leaving the station. Between July 30, 2009 and November 2010, more than 200 identifiable remnants of parcels were recovered from the same dump area where postal agents saw Russell dump parcels in November 2010. Video surveillance also showed Russell’s work truck slowing and stopping near the dump site on multiple occasions. The packaging and invoices recovered indicate the type of items stolen included DVDs, CDs, books, jewelry, and other items shipped in small parcels.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General for its work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Kristi N. O’Malley, who prosecuted the case.

Vermont postmaster keeps mail moving despite Irene

From WCAX TV, Burlington:

Mother Nature may have knocked out phone service and power to these communities, but she can’t stop the postal service."There is no incoming mail at all because no truck can get to that post office," Gaysville postmaster Kelly Roberts said.So Roberts hikes 8 miles a day through these hills collecting outgoing mail. Her dedication opens communication with the outside world."Well hey, mail must go through. Absolutely," she said.

via Isolated Vt communities rely on ATVs – WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-.

APWU: Locations Announced for 740 New Jobs in the Motor Vehicle Craft

From the American Postal Workers Union:

In accordance with the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement, the USPS has agreed to establish 740 new assignments in Vehicle Maintenance Facilities. A list provided to the union on Aug. 30 specifies the locations for the new positions and indicates whether they are Level 8, 9, or 10 Automotive Technician or Lead Technician positions.

Under the terms of the contract, the new jobs are being created so that members of the APWU bargaining unit can perform work that was previously done by contractors.

“This is good news for the APWU,” said Motor Vehicle Service Craft Director Bob Pritchard.

“Locals should immediately submit information request forms asking local management what subcontracted duties will be brought in-house to provide work for the individuals assigned to the new jobs,” he said. “That is the only way to ensure these new jobs are being posted properly.

“If additional positions are needed because of general understaffing, additional jobs — beyond 740 on the list — should be posted.”

11-096-mvsjobs-110830

NALC joins with other unions to picket Issa's district office on Thursday

The San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council (CLC) has unanimously voted to picket Congressman Darrel Issa’s main district office in Vista, California (just north of San Diego) on Thursday, Sept 1.

NALC President Fredric Rolando has decided to make this a much larger action, and he has sent out a statewide E-Activist. The NALC will be joining several other unions and the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council to personally protest Issa’s failure to represent working families and his continuing attacks to destroy the United States Postal Service.

Deputy PMG to customers: "We aren't going away"

From USPS News Link:

With potential USPS insolvency in the news, approximately 200 Southern California mailing industry leaders gathered in Anaheim to hear DPMG Ron Stroman discuss the state of the Postal Service.

Stroman expressed optimism while emphasizing the need for change: “The decisions we make today will determine our future 10 years from now.”

He congratulated attending Pacific Area Vice President Drew Aliperto and area district leaders for their successful efforts to improve service and reduce costs, but stressed the decline in First-Class Mail volume makes congressional action essential to the Postal Service’s fiscal health.

Stroman reiterated the need for Congress to resolve the mandate to pre-fund Retiree Health Benefits by $5.5 billion annually, allow USPS to access its overpayment to the Federal Employees Retirement System and give USPS authority to determine delivery frequency. He also discussed proposals such as reducing the workforce and accelerating consolidation of the processing network.

“I’m here to remind you how important you are in sharing our message with your customers and with decision-makers,” Stroman declared. “We aren’t going away, we’re making the tough decisions and there’s a bright future ahead if we pull together.”

USPS keeping an eye on Hurricane Irene

WILMINGTON, NC — The U.S. Postal Service is preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Irene by advising customers that normal service operations in the path of the storm may be affected in the event of unsafe conditions such as high winds, flooding, or impassable roads.

Regular postal operations are expected to be in effect for today, Aug. 26, and possibly Aug. 27. Depending on local conditions, some Post Offices may temporarily close their lobbies as Hurricane Irene makes landfall. The Postal Service is preparing for Irene’s arrival by advising customers to deposit outgoing mail today to ensure timely processing of mail destined for delivery outside the local area. If roads become impassable or unsafe for travel, mail delivery services may be curtailed, and mail collection schedules from mail collection boxes could be suspended.

Postal Service employees in North Carolina will be working around-the-clock to secure the mail, postal facilities and equipment in advance of the arrival of Hurricane Irene.

The Postal Service will make plans to suspend services in the event a mandatory evacuation order is issued by local, state, or federal emergency management officials. Customer service operations in any area covered by a mandatory evacuation order will be suspended, including mail processing, mail delivery, scheduled collection of mail from mail collection boxes, bulk mail acceptance, Post Office box service and retail Post Office lobby services. Drop shipment appointments for commercial mailers will also be suspended at closed facilities.

For the latest information on USPS service updates, check:

http://about.usps.com/news/service-alerts/welcome.htm.

Postal Service employees in the area are being advised to check for changes to their scheduled work reporting status by contacting the USPS National Emergency Notification Hotline to determine if any special instructions have been issued. The toll-free USPS National Emergency Notification Hotline for U.S. Postal Service employees is: 1-888-363-7462.

Additional information regarding postal operations within specific ZIP Code areas will be issued by the U.S. Postal Service as necessary.

RICHMOND, VA – The U.S. Postal Service is preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Irene by advising customers that normal service operations in the path of the storm may be affected in the event of unsafe conditions such as high winds, flooding, or impassable roads. The Capital Metro Area of the Postal Service is closely monitoring the movement of Hurricane Irene as it makes its way up the coast. The storm is not predicted to reach the Virginia area until Saturday afternoon. As a result, USPS operations in the area are expected to proceed normally throughout the weekend.

“We give every consideration to safety,” said USPS Richmond District Manager Jacob Cheeks. “We will ensure that each Post Office is safe for our customers, and we will make sure that our Postal employees are not in harm’s way while performing their duties. We are keeping a close eye on the situation and will continue to do so throughout this weekend.”

Depending on local conditions, some Post Offices may temporarily close their lobbies as Hurricane Irene makes landfall. The Postal Service is preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Irene by advising customers to deposit outgoing mail today or tomorrow to ensure timely processing of mail destined for delivery outside the local area. If roads become impassable or unsafe for travel, mail delivery services may be curtailed, and mail collection schedules from mail collection boxes could be suspended.

The Postal Service will make plans to suspend services in the event a mandatory evacuation order is issued by local, state, or federal emergency management officials. Customer service operations in any area covered by a mandatory evacuation order will be suspended, including mail processing, mail delivery, scheduled collection of mail from mail collection boxes, bulk mail acceptance, Post Office box service and retail Post Office lobby services. Drop shipment appointments for commercial mailers will also be suspended at closed facilities

Postal Service employees in the Virginia area are being advised to check for changes to their scheduled work reporting status by contacting the USPS National Emergency Notification Hotline to determine if any special instructions have been issued. The toll-free USPS National Emergency Notification Hotline for U.S. Postal Service employees is: 1-888-363-7462.

Additional information regarding postal operations within specific ZIP Code areas will be issued by the U.S. Postal Service as necessary.

via USPS keeping an eye on Hurricane Irene.

Missouri postmaster gets prison in $3.8 million fraud scheme

The following information was released by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District Of Missouri:

The United States Attorney’s Office announced that Teresa Tremusini, Festus Postmaster, was sentenced to 24 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release. In June she was convicted of two felony counts of receipt of illegal gratuities. The owner of SG Print and Mail, an SG Print and Mail employee and one Postal employee previously entered guilty pleas in the $3.8 million scheme.

According to court documents and testimony presented at trial, Robert Scott Gray defrauded the U.S. Postal Service by falsely claiming stamps were used on bulk mailings and by concealing documentation of mailings from the Postal Service to avoid payment.

Teresa Tremusini became Postmaster of the Festus, Missouri, Post Office in December 2005. Robert Scott Gray was President and Owner of SG Print and Mail, Inc. Michael A. Jones was an employee of the U.S. Postal Service. Donna Beckman was an employee of SG Print and Mail from January 2005 to September 2007. Her duties included the preparation of the U.S. Postal Service paperwork that accompanied bulk mailings by SG Print and Mail.

SG Print and Mail provided direct mail services to clients. A client would contract with SG Print and Mail to perform a direct mailing, for example, of 30,000 mail pieces. Typically SG Print and Mail contracted with a printer to print the mail pieces. SG Print and Mail would then prepare the direct mailing by placing addresses on each mail piece and sorting the mail pieces by address/zip code for bulk mailing.

Between January 2005 and December 2006, Robert Scott Gray directed Donna Beckman to lie about the number of pre-canceled stamps that they used and to falsify the Postal forms describing how many they had used. Additionally, Gray paid Teresa Tremusini $20,000, payable in two cashier’s checks in August 2006, and in January 2007 paid Michael Jones $10,000 cash. These payments were in return for the approval of bulk mail postal forms.

The loss to the U.S. Postal Service for these schemes was a total of approximately $3.8 million.

TERESA TREMUSINI, St. Louis, Missouri, was convicted of on two felony counts of receipt of illegal gratuities on Friday, June 3, 2011. She appeared today for sentencing before United States District Judge Rodney W. Sippel.

Robert Scott Gray, Fenton, MO, pled guilty in April to five felony counts of mail fraud, four felony counts of making false statements and three felony counts of giving an illegal gratuity, and is scheduled for sentencing September 30th.

Michael A. Jones, Pacific, MO, pled guilty in March to one felony count of receipt of illegal gratuity, and was sentenced in June to two years of probation.

Donna Beckman pled guilty earlier this year to two felony counts of mail fraud and was sentenced to three years probation, 80 hours of community service, along with $2.8 million restitution.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Carrie Costantin is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

USPS: No Excessing for Failure to Bid on NTFT Jobs

The USPS has instructed Area Labor Relations Managers that employees may not be excessed because they fail to bid on Non-Traditional Full-Time (NTFT) duty assignments. The notice was sent in response to union allegations that management is trying to force senior employees to resign or retire by threatening to reassign them outside of their bid office if they don’t bid on non-traditional jobs.

In an e-mail message to the field, the Area Manager for Labor Relations wrote, “APWU President Cliff Guffey has informed us that he has received reports from union representatives in the field that some managers have told employees that they will be excessed if they fail to bid on NTFT duty assignments.” NTFT assignments can range from 30 hours per week to 48 hours per week.

“If LR [Labor Relations] becomes aware of situations involving this allegation please ensure they are investigated and properly handled,” the message continued. “We have advised Mr. Guffey that of course, employees have the right to bid on posted duty assignments of their choosing and no employee may be excessed for failing to bid on any NTFT job.”

An article on the union’s Web site on Aug. 25, said Guffey believes management is trying to force senior employees to resign or retire by threatening to excess them. “If you work in an office with junior employees, they must be excessed from the office before you, whether or not they occupy non-traditional schedules,” he said.

“So don’t be intimidated to quit, and don’t be coerced into bidding on a non-traditional assignment unless you want it,” Guffey advised.

“I am pleased with management’s written response,” the union president said. “I look forward to hearing from our members that it is being adhered to in the field.”

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21st Century Postal Worker Exchange for Messages of General Union Business.

Congressman: USPS Continues to Run Out Clock on Sioux City

Washington, D.C.- Congressman Steve King (R-IA) today released the following statement regarding the meeting held in Sioux City between city and community leaders and representatives of the United States Postal Service regarding the Postal Service’s plans to move Sioux City’s mail processing operations to Sioux Falls.

"Today, city and community leaders in Sioux City were finally given an opportunity to ask questions about the proposed move of Sioux City’s mail processing operations and to discuss the rationale used to justify it – but only after the Postal Service withdrew its original request that participants agree to keep the details of the meeting secret. And although meeting participants were able to view the data used by the Postal Service to support the move, that data was not released to the community as the Postmaster General had promised.

The Postal Service did share some information about the kind of proposal needed to keep Sioux City’s processing plant open. However, city and community leaders should have been given this information months ago. I will continue to work with Sioux City’s leaders to develop a competitive counter proposal, but it is clear that the Postal Service’s continued stall tactics throughout this process were designed to ensure that there would be little time remaining to do so."

via Factiva.

USPS Year to Date Loss: $1.7 billion + PAEA = $7 billion

The US Postal Service year to date financial loss now stands at just under $7 billion, with the vast majority of it due to the Congressionally mandated prefunding of potential future postal retiree’s health benefits.

The USPS continues to show the prefunding as an expense, despite the fact that the PMG has already made clear that he has no intention of actually making the payment.

The damage inflicted by the prefunding comes on top of sharp drops in mail volume. First class mail in July was down 9% from the same period last year (SPLY), while standard mail, which had been on the rise, was down almost 5% from last year. As a result, overall USPS revenue was also down by 5% from SPLY.

The USPS did a good job matching employee work hours to the decline in mail volume- both declined by about 6.6% from SPLY- but employee compensation, including wages, benefits, workers comp, etc., declined by just 3.8%, falling short of the decline in revenue.

USPS Preliminary Financial Information. Unaudited