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- Retirees Luncheon, April 15, 2010
September 16, 2010
Injured Carriers Beware!
National Reassessment Process,
phase 2, or thinning the herd!
By Karen Schuler, Secretary-Treasurer
If you have been injured on the job, beware! The postal service in the San Francisco District is in phase 2 of the National reassessment Process (NRP). If you are not familiar with it, you will be soon. This process is focussed on reviewing all rehabilitation and limited duty assignments. In phase 2 of this process a team of management members from operations, medical, labor relations and injury compensation functions, called the 'cluster' (or NRP Team) are in the process of finding and identifying work, and placing the injured employees with medical restrictions into these assignments.
Maximum medical improvement
This is the Search Process: They identify the grouping of the injured employees by what they call the maximum medical improvement (MMI). It has been divided into 2 categories, one where a person has reached MMI within 1 year, and another where MMI has been reached in more than 1 year. It is the position of the postal legal department that they owe more to the people that have been seriously injured.
In the search process, they identify the work that is available, what they call "necessary work". It could be a lobby director, passports, redbooks etc. The busy work, which they call it, such as answering the phones, second notices, etc., that limited duty carriers might have been doing for the clerks will be going back to the bid assignments. Managers and supervisors will identify the necessary work and it will be sent to a higher level manager for approval that will be defined and discussed. The outcome of this is to list all the indentified work available. They will no longer be making work for the limited duty carriers.
Bid assignments with resrtictions
There are also carriers on bid assignments working with restrictions, doing core duties, that will be going through this process as well. Any carrier with any restrictions will be going through this process. If you have an on the job injury it is important to make sure you have an open claim and current medical documentation. This is the deal: if you have an injury and you don't have any activity within 180 days, the Department of Labor closes your or any claim that has 6 months of no activity.
The goal of the reassessment process is to review anyone with residual injuries. Then, in the initial search, they will be making a reasonable effort to identify potential modified positions for all MMI less than 1 year within the "local Commuting Area", which could be at the maximum of 50 miles. Then they search for carriers with MMI of more than 1 year within the local commuting area. The NRP team makes a list and they discuss the status of all MMI employees. This ends the process of the search.
Job offer process
Then they go into the Job Offer Process: The NRP team submits the proposed duties for approval. Then they set up a schedule to discuss and present the Rehabilitation Modified Position offer. They notify the union and the employee, which will include a 14 day advance notification to the carrier, from the district NRP team. Then they put the job offer on the table and the carriers have 14 days to respond to the offer. Two weeks after that, they follow up to make sure they have gotten a response to the offer. When an offer is accepted, Injury Compensation coordinates with the new installation head to finalize the details of reporting time and the report to duty date. Then, at the final step of the reassessment process, they will end up with a small number of employees that they are unable to find work for. In San Diego they ended up with approximately 50 employees out of 600 in this category - No Work Available (NWA). these employees will have to undergo a Rehabilitation Reemployement-Reassignment Position offer. The NRP team is claiming about only 10 employees in an Diego ended up being not employable and they got a CA-7 and a CA-2 and were shown the door. There were numerous grievances and arbitrations pending and the outcome is still not settled.
One of the steps throughout this process is that the Postal Inspectors and/or the Office of Inspector general (OIG) may get involved. This should come as no surprise to any of the stewards or officers at this branch, with an alarming rate of removals claiming OWCP fraud. You can go on the website of the OIG (www.OIG.gov) in which they justify their jobs by the cost avoidance factor - the money they save by removing the carrier in future OWCP costs. I believe it's roughly 1 million dollars in pay and benefits for 1 employee over a 20 year period. At this time, if you are an injured carrier with any type of medical limitations, or you are receiving money from OWCP, you might be under the scrutiny of the OIG. Quarter 1, 2007 resulted in 369 investigations, 15 arrests, 11 indictments, 8 convictions, and 42 employees removed. Do I have your attention now?
Ounce of prevention
My grandmother used to tell me an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Now I know what she meant. If you do not see the relevency of the NRP and the OIG, let me explain a few things. They can charge somebody and make it stick, let's say, for example, you were violating your own doctor's medical restrictions, or maybe you could have misrepresented your ability to work. You were found guilty of these charges and were removed from your job; this would be cost avoidance for the postal service. They wouldn't have to pay you or your benefits. It could also release them from being obligated to provide work or OWCP. There is also the possibility of criminal prosecution in a fraudulent claim. I do not intend to frighten anyone or make you paranoid, but I assure you the OIG are out in full force and this is how they justify their jobs. On their website they state for the fiscal year 2007 (FY 2007) the postal service paid $972 million dollars in chargeback to the Department of Labor and estimate the future cost of workers compensation to be $7.8 billion. With the decline in mail volume, the postal service is commited to cutting costs and this is one of the ways they are doing it. As an officer for the Branch, I feel obligated to share this information to share this information with the membership, and I know you will do the right thing by following your doctor's orders. Do not put yourself in the position of fighting for your job. With the economy as it is, there are not many good paying jobs out there. Please protect your future.
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