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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.

OIG: USPS doesn’t even know how many historic properties it owns

Screenshot 2014-04-22 at 7.05.53 AMThe US Postal Service’s Inspector General has released a report criticizing the way the USPS cares for the historic buildings and works of art it is responsible for. The OIG report comes on the heels of another critical assessment of USPS practices by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation last week. Here’s the OIG’s summary of its findings:

WHAT THE OIG FOUND:

The Postal Service did not know how many historic properties it owned or what it cost to preserve them, as required by the National Historic Preservation Act. It did not report the status of historic artwork to the National Museum of American Art, as required by Postal Service Handbook RE-6, Facilities and Environmental Guide, when it sold 10 historic post offices.

The Postal Service did not collaborate with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to improve its compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act and did not submit its 2011 status report to the council. The council could help the Postal Service establish covenants to protect historic features and help secure covenant holders to monitor compliance with those covenants. Also, the council could help review public requests to participate in the preservation process. The Postal Service could also use the U.S. General Services Administration — which employs experienced real estate and historical preservation professionals — to assist in the preservation process.

The vice president, Facilities, who approves funding for the relocation of retail services and disposal, also issues the final determination letter after reviewing appeals raised during the process. This gives the appearance of bias. Three of the nine relocations were
appealed and he denied all three appeals.

The Postal Service appropriately applied relocation procedures rather than discontinuance procedures for all
nine properties we reviewed. However, officials did not post the public meeting notification 7 days in advance for one property, as required, and could not show documentation that it met the relocation requirements for two properties.

Read the full report (.pdf file).

Video: Postal Worker Caught On Cam Throwing Packages

Jill and Tarry Smith installed video cameras at their home, not knowing they’d catch this: a US Postal worker throwing packages onto their driveway.

The postal worker was caught throwing packages on the homeowner’s drive-way Saturday morning. In the video, you can hear the packages hit the ground.

Jill checked the surveillance video when she found her packages strewn across the driveway.

Read more: Postal Worker Caught On Cam Throwing Packages | LEX18.com.

Round Global Sea Surface Temperatures Forever stamp to be issued tomorrow

seatemp

From the Postal Bulletin:

On April 22, 2014, in Washington, DC, the U.S. Postal Service® will issue the Global: Sea Surface Temperatures Forever® International rate stamp, in one design, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) pane of 10 stamps (Item 116900).

The stamp will go on sale nationwide April 22, 2014.

The U.S. Postal Service® introduces Global: Sea Surface Temperatures, a new Forever international rate stamp. Issued at the $1.15 price that went into effect January 26, 2014, this Global Forever stamp can be used to mail a 1-ounce letter to any country to which First-Class Mail International® service is available. As with all Global Forever stamps, this stamp will have a postage value equivalent to the price of a single-piece First-Class Mail International 1-ounce machinable letter in effect at the time of use.

This round stamp features a visual representation of our planet’s sea surface temperatures. It shows the Earth with North America at the center and parts of South America, Asia, and Europe just visible on the edges, surrounded by vivid bands of color throughout the oceans. The image is one frame in a 1,460-frame animation created from the output of a computer model of Earth’s climate by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. Art director William J. Gicker designed the stamp.

To learn more about the stories behind the stamps, visit http://uspsstamps.com.

Special Dedication Postmarks

Only the following pictorial postmark is permitted for the Global: Sea Surface Temperatures stamp. The word “Station” or the abbreviation “STA” is required somewhere in the design, because it will be a temporary station.

How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark

Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, at The Postal Store® website at http://www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

Global: Sea Surface Temperatures Stamp
Special Events
PO Box 92282
Washington, DC 20090-2282

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers have to pay five cents each. All orders must be postmarked by June 21, 2014.

How to Order First-Day Covers

The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog, online at http://usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-782-6724. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-782-6724 or writing to:

U.S. Postal Service
Catalog Request
PO Box 219014
Kansas City, MO 64121-9014

Philatelic Products

There are eight philatelic products for this stamp issue:

n 116906*, Press Sheet with Die cut, $57.50 (print quantity of 2,500).

n 116908*, Press sheet without Die cut, $57.50 (print quantity of 2,500).

n 116910*, Keepsake (booklet and random Digital Color Postmark), $13.95.

n 116916*, First-Day Cover, $1.59.

n 116921*, Digital Color Postmarks, $2.30.

n 116924*, Framed Art, $39.95.

n 116930*, Ceremony Program, $6.95.

n 116931*, Stamped Deck Card, $0.95.

Video: Linn’s Stamp News Monday Morning Brief- Jenny locket, Tom of Finland

Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses a few significant events in the stamp world last week and what to look for in the coming week.

This week’s stories for April 21, 2014, include:

• Jenny Invert "locket copy" heads to auction

• Ashbrook photo archives

• Tom of Finland stamps in September

• Scott catalogue update

• Earth Day and the Global Forever stamp

Maine PMR pleads guilty to theft of postal funds

uspsoigBangor, Maine: United States Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II announced that NicoleDumond, 33, of Greenbush, Maine, pled guilty today in U.S. District Court to stealing postalfunds.

According to court records, between November 2012 and January 2013, Dumond was employed by the U.S. Postal Service as Postmaster Relief in Greenbush, Maine. Postmaster Relief performs as a relief or leave replacement during the absence of a postmaster. In that capacity, Dumond stole over $1,000 she received from customers for money orders and postage stamps.

Dumond faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or both. She will be sentenced after completion of a pre-sentence report by the United States Probation Office.

The investigation was conducted by the Office of Inspector General of the United States Postal Service.

Video: Thieves Targeting South Florida Mailboxes for Tax Refunds

The United States Postal Service says thieves are getting into mailboxes using counterfeit keys to steal tax returns.

In a video obtained exclusively by NBC 6, U.S. postal inspectors said William Gomez is seen inside a Coral Gables apartment building using an unauthorized key to gain access to the mailboxes.

via Thieves Targeting South Florida Mailboxes for Tax Refunds | NBC 6 South Florida.

USPS responds to wing-nut hysteria over ammo “hoarding”

Screenshot 2014-04-19 at 7.56.03 AMIn January the US Postal Service announced on the Federal Business Opportunities web site that it was planning to buy “assorted small arms ammunition”. People who know anything about the USPS wouldn’t have been particularly surprised about the announcement, given that the USPS has a sizable armed police force, the Postal Inspection Service. But right wing commentators quickly went, well, postal about the news: “USPS ANNOUNCES GIANT AMMO PURCHASE” crowed WND.com. The fact that no quantities were specified in the solicitation wasn’t mentioned.

The claims were so outlandish that even one anti-gun control site felt the need to debunk it. In February, gunssavelives.net carried a post pointing out that the USPS “contains within its organization the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the country – The United States Postal Inspection Service.” The post continues:

So the Postal Service has most likely been purchasing “assorted small arms ammunition” for over 200 years. The department has over 1,000 armed agents. Fourteen USPIS agents have been killed in the line of duty.

Move along, nothing to see here.

But conspiracy theories continued to make the rounds. This past week, Newsmax.com, the most popular right wing extremist news site carried the news. (Newsmax may be popular, but it’s apparently a bit slow on the uptake). While the story made passing reference to the Inspection Service, it also pushed a new theory- that the USPS was trying to drive up the price of ammunition.

Finally this week the USPS issued a statement denying the bizarre story:

U.S. Postal Service PR manager sets the record straight on 4-15-14 Newsmax.com article that USPS hoards ammunition.

The U.S. Postal Service is not hoarding ammunition. The Postal Service Inspection Service is a law enforcement agency and its Inspectors carry firearms. Periodically, the Inspection Service must purchase ammunition for activities like firearms training, required annual firing range qualifications and for duty. As the Postal Service’s primary law enforcement arm, the Inspection Service is a highly specialized, professional organization, which performs investigative and security functions essential to a stable and sound postal system and the security of the U.S. Mail. The Postal Inspection Service has a proud and successful record of fighting criminals who misuse postal services and products to defraud, endanger or otherwise threaten the American public.

Dave Partenheimer
Manager, Media Relations
U.S. Postal Service

The USPS statement probably won’t carry much weight with the committed gun nuts out there, but on the bright side, the conspiracy theory seems to be confined to the usual lunatic fringe outlets like Newsmax and Fox News.

If there is a conspiracy behind all the hysteria, the real culprit is probably the gun lobby itself. The big gun companies that underwrite the NRA and the rest of the so-called “second amendment advocate” groups are the only ones who would profit from all this. Like the fella said, “follow the money”! Smith and Wesson are no doubt laughing all the way to the bank!

Video: Mail Pallets Fall Off Truck On Hollywood Boulevard

HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com) — Several pallets of United States mail fell off a truck in Hollywood overnight.

The Los Angeles Police Department received a call just before 3 a.m. about a mail truck driving along Hollywood Boulevard with its doors open.

Officers responded to the scene and guarded the six mail pallets until postal workers arrived.

Read more: Mail Pallets Fall Off Truck In Hollywood « CBS Los Angeles.