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Postal Workers to Protest Privatization at More than 50 Staples Stores in 27 States on April 24

WASHINGTON – Thousands of members of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and community activists will engage in National Day of Action on Thursday, April 24, to protest the Postal Service’s sweetheart deal with Staples that is moving mail service into Staples stores. Events will be held at more than 50 Staples retail locations [PDF] across 27 states.

In October, the USPS announced a no-bid deal to open postal counters in more than 80 Staples stores. The U.S. Postal Service plans to expand this “pilot” project to Staples’ 1,500 stores nationwide.

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Staples employees, who work for low wages and meager benefits — and who have received minimal training — operate these unsecured postal counters.

Although Staples and the Postal Service have worked hard to keep the details of their arrangement a secret, the APWU recently obtained a heavily-redacted copy of the agreement. Despite the fact that many of the pages were blacked out, the document provides clear evidence that the Staples sweetheart deal will compromise the quality, security and reliability that consumers expect and deserve in the handling of their mail.

“The American people have a right to know that their mail is handled by highly-trained uniformed postal employees who have taken an oath to protect the sanctity of the mail and who are accountable to the people of the country — whether it’s at the Post Office or an office-supply store,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein.

Research shows that consumers have high regard for postal employees and are skeptical about the Staples deal, according to InfoTrends, which recently completed a report for the USPS Inspector General. Many postal customers, the firm reported, “were uncomfortable with co-location of Post Offices not staffed by USPS employees, such as with the Postal Service’s recent partnership with Staples stores.”

‘I want a real postal employee to handle my mail,’ said one woman from an urban location. ‘It’s like when you go in to a drug store to get a flu shot. You don’t want to get it from a regular Walgreen’s employee.’

An internal USPS document [PDF] makes clear that the goal of the program is to replace the good, living-wage jobs held by USPS employees with low-wage jobs in the private sector.

“But this isn’t just about postal jobs,” Dimondstein said. “Many people are outraged that a tremendous public asset is being turned over to a struggling private company.” Staples recently announced that it would close 225 stores by 2015.

“Staples makes business decisions based on the bottom line, not service to the people of the country,” Dimondstein said.

“As a nation, we need to decide what kind of Postal Service we want. Are we going to have a vibrant, modern, public mail system that serves all of the people, or are we going to let privatizers kill this great institution?” The APWU supports expanding postal service — by improving accessibility as well as the variety of services offered, he said.

Today’s National Day of Action follows protests by postal workers and community allies in Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Berkeley and other cities since January.

Many teachers, who regularly buy school supplies at Staples, have joined the APWU in protesting this attempt to privatize postal services. On April 28, the California Federation of Teachers will vote on a resolution asking their members to buy school supplies from other retailers. This will likely be the first of many similar actions by educators to boycott Staples. It’s estimated that 30 percent of Staples revenue comes from back-to-school sales.

For background information about the Stop Staples campaign, click here [PDF] and visit StopStaples.com.

A copy of the agreement between Staples and the USPS – heavily redacted [PDF] – is available on the APWU website, at www.apwu.org.

For additional background information, see these recent stories from the Huffington Post, New Republic and the Associated Press:

www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/15/postal-service-staples_n_5155270.html?1397597725

www.newrepublic.com/article/116968/usps-outsourcing-itself-staples

www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/01/19/postal-service-union-wrangle-over-staples-outlets/4647199/

Video: PMG discusses the future of the Postal Service

(KTVI) – The US Postal Service has been struggling over the past decade, losing billions of dollars because of the decline in mail volume and the rise of the internet and electronic mail. Now there are new strategies and new partnerships in place to keep the US Postal Service going.

Randi Naughton talked with US Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe about the future of the Postal Service.

Read more: US Postmaster General: The future of the Postal Service | FOX2now.com.

Video: Stabilizing the U.S. Postal Service

USPS is losing $5 billion per year. Now, a bill in the Senate could help the loss, but cause major changes for other federal workers.

Joe Davidson, Federal Diary columnist with The Washington Post, discussed how Congress plans to stabilize the USPS, with Capital Insider.

Read more: Stabilizing the U.S. Postal Service – Capital Insider | WJLA.com.

Video: Pittsburgh Residents Tired Of Mail Mix-Ups

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Jim Rietz can’t remember a time when he couldn’t rely on the U.S. Mail.

“You put something in the mail, you know it’s going to get there,” he said. “Somebody puts something in the mail, you know it’s going to come to you. It’s just one of those things you’ve always been able to count on.”

But for Rietz, that changed several months back. Days would pass when no mail came. Letters and checks that people had sent him never materialized. Distraught, he emailed all of his neighbors on Kinsman Street.

Read more: East End Residents Tired Of Mail Mix-Ups « CBS Pittsburgh.

APWU: Questions & Answers on Filling Residual Vacancies

APWU Web News Article #076-14, April 22, 2014

The APWU and USPS have agreed to two sets of Questions & Answers regarding the March 20 agreement on Filling Residual Vacancies [PDF], one for the Clerk Craft [PDF] and another for Maintenance Craft [PDF].

East St. Louis Post Office Supersivor Pleads Guilty To Stealing Packages

uspsoigThe United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today that Jane Johanna Emily, a/k/a Jane Moeller, 41, of St. Louis, Missouri, pled guilty in federal district court on April 22, 2014, to charges that she opened and stole packages from the U.S. Mail.

The federal grand jury charged Emily with Obstruction of Mail, Theft of U.S. Mail by a Postal Employee, and Opening of Mail. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and up to 3 years of supervised release. The sentencing hearing is set for August 8, 2014.

The case was investigated by agents of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Liam Coonan.

USPS responds to EcommerceBytes.com letter on tracking

From USPS News Link:

A recent Letter to the Editor at eCommerceBytes regarding USPS Tracking contained numerous statements that required a response.

In a reply, USPS set the record straight.

Claim: USPS charges customers who scan items at local Post Offices.

Truth: Every item accepted at the retail counter at a local Post Office that has a USPS Tracking number must be scanned, whether the customer requests it or not. However, Post Offices don’t charge customers to scan prepaid eBay packages.

Claim: There’s no tracking on delivery confirmation or signature confirmation until a package reaches its destination.

Truth: This is incorrect information. USPS replaced “Delivery Confirmation” last year with “USPS Tracking,” which better reflects end-to-end tracking from the acceptance of a package to final destination, including confirmation of delivery.

By the time a package leaves a processing site, it will have received at least two scans. The package will have received four more scan events by the time it’s delivered.

Claim: Packages at mail processing plants may not be scanned if barcodes aren’t visible.

Truth: This also is incorrect information. In some instances, if the barcode is not visible, the package will be re-oriented by hand. However, the majority of package mail volume is processed by equipment that scans 360 degrees and validates the barcode at the same time.

Show of Support for PA Mail Carrier Who Died After Fire

WILKES-BARRE – Mail carriers and other postal workers showed their support for a colleague who died after a house fire, at a memorial service on Monday.

Services were held at a Morris Funeral Home on North Main Street in Wilkes-Barre for Laurie Merritt.

Authorities said Merritt died from carbon monoxide poisoning last week after a fire at her home on Wyoming Street.

via Show of Support for Mail Carrier Who Died After Fire | WNEP.com.

Senator Announces Postal Service Improvements across North Dakota

My Approved PortraitsGrand Forks, ND- U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today announced that, as a result of her recent meeting with United States Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will be introducing Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) devices in six locations across North Dakota this week.

At her recent meeting with Donahoe, Heitkamp received commitments from USPS to improve mail delivery and standards in North Dakota. These included the implementation of mPOS devices, which allow USPS employees to process many simple transactions away from the counter, making it more convenient and efficient for customers to complete transactions.

“It’s no secret that mail delivery and service standards need to be improved in North Dakota and this is a positive step forward,” said Heitkamp. “Anything we can do to make the Postal Service work better for North Dakotans is a welcome development. The commitments I received from Postmaster General Donahoe are critical for folks across the state and I will keep pressing USPS to continue to follow through so that all the hard-working North Dakotans I hear from every day have the mail delivery and service standards they deserve.”

The new point of sale technology will be introduced in the following locations this week:

-          Bismarck – 220 E Rosser Ave, Room 112

-          Dickinson – 15 1st St. E

-          Fargo – 657 2nd Ave N

-          Minot – 117 5th Ave SW

-          Watford City – 212 2nd St. NE

-          Williston – 120 E Broadway

Heitkamp previously called on North Dakotans to share their stories as part of her Fix My Mail grassroots effort if they encountered extensive delivery times or had to deal with other problems with their postal service. Heitkamp will continue to present the stories to the USPS Postmaster General and the GAO. More than 100 North Dakotans have submitted stories to Heitkamp. Click here to submit stories.

In February, Heitkamp helped advance comprehensive postal reform out of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee after the panel adopted key changes she made to the legislation that will improve mail service in rural communities throughout North Dakota.

APWU: USPS Scheme Overturned: ‘Rescoring’ of Promotion Exams Violated Contract, Arbitrator Rules

apwulogoAPWU Web News Article #074-14, April 21, 2014

An outrageous management ploy was overturned on April 16, when an arbitrator ruled [PDF] that the USPS violated the contract when it retroactively changed the passing score on promotion eligibility exams in the summer of 2009, Maintenance Craft Director Steve Raymer has announced.

The rating of more than 600 APWU members were changed from eligible to ineligible, meaning that they could not be placed on Promotion Eligibility Registers (PERs).

The APWU alleged that the USPS violated Articles 5, 19 and 31 by unilaterally rescoring Exam 955 and by failing to provide the union with requested information related to the rescoring.

The APWU and the Postal Service had spent the previous year bargaining extensively over the development and implementation of the Exam 955, which was first rolled out in June 2009. The rescoring occurred after the Postal Service concluded that too many bargaining unit members were passing the exam, despite repeated assurances to the union during bargaining that the test had been validated and studied extensively. When the APWU learned of the rescoring, Raymer requested related information, which the Postal Service failed to provide on the grounds that the information was confidential.

Arbitrator Stephen B. Goldberg found that the Postal Services’ rescoring of the Exam 955 constituted a unilateral change, in violation of Articles 5 and 19 on the Collective Bargaining Agreement. He remanded the case to the parties to seek an appropriate remedy for the violation. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement on the remedy within 60 days, they can request that the arbitrator resolve the issue. Arbitrator Goldberg also found that the information sought by the union was not confidential, thereby making the Postal Service’s refusal to provide it a violation of Article 31. He ruled that the Postal Service must provide it to the union.

Discussions with the USPS on the remedy are ongoing, Raymer said, and he “remains optimistic that a full remedy will be reached.”

Locals whose members were impacted by the change in eligibility standards should gather all relevant facts in the event they will need to be sent to headquarters. This includes:

  • Yes or No: Did the individual miss a potential promotion opportunity due to the change in results?
  • Date(s) of relevant posting(s);
  • The individual’s original RMSS results;
  • The changed results;
  • After August 2009 any results of RMSS update attempts made and whether eligible or ineligible;
  • Any subsequent promotion with the effective date and occupational group identified.

“Remember, even if a grievance was previously filed, the information above is necessary to update the file,” Raymer said.