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The Big Squeeze
By Eric K. Jackson, Branch 725
I don’t know if you have noticed lately, but there seems to be a plan by management afoot to squeeze Letter Carriers bone dry. Some call it the “stuff” rolls down hill style of management. Well, it’s basically manifest management. These styles ask so much more of its employees than in most cases is humanly possible. And of course it works. If you tell someone facing 10 hours of work to be back in eight hours of course they won’t be back in eight. But a lot of carriers will come back anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour earlier than they should. Why, just to avoid the “Chinese water torture” of answering the daily questions of why. “It’s obvious you bleepedy bleep” say most carriers.
First came the window of operation excuse to limit carriers from working after 5:00 p.m. and thereby, limiting overtime. Not only does this “process” attempt to limit overtime, but all levels of management choosing that as one of their “goals” (which management uses to determine their PFP-Rating. Pay for Performance is the bonus system for management) helps to ensure that supervisors will pressure, intimidate, and place unrealistic expectations on the carriers. You see, since lower level management has to report all carriers out after 5:00 p.m., it pressures them to “make it happen”. In the end, they all benefit at bonus time. But it places a lot of stress on the letter carriers. Unfortunately, our brothers and sisters but into their 5:00p.m. goal as a “rule”. I’ve even heard stories of carriers risking discipline by clocking into the office and going back to deliver mail on the street. If that carrier happens to be involved in a motor vehicle accident or something similar, he most assuredly will be put up for removal. So, that “deal” won’t be able to be protected by that supervisor that you are “helping”. Some are running and skipping lunches and breaks just avoid the annoying questions from their supervisors.
Next came the change of start times. This is a reaction to management’s inability to get the mail to the offices on time. And in some cases, reactions to carriers exercising their rights to fill out P.S. form 3996s as a result of the late delivery of the mail by the trucks. So, if letter carriers on the ODL are starting at 8:30 A.M., and can only work until 5:00P.M. , that forces carriers not on the overtime desired list to work daily overtime (because the unrealistic expectations of DOIS ends up having everyone be forced to work overtime). This forces the Shop Stewards to submit grievances, not only to manage the ODL, but also to defend associated issues that arise as a result.
Then came the edict from upper management to schedule a certain percentage of routes open. The result (in my office) was in one week, carriers not on the ODL were forced to work their drop day while carrier on the ODL were not brought in to work their drop day. Local management now has to check with their POOMs daily to be micro-managed and told if they can bring in someone for overtime. The weak supervisors take heed and just do as their told. Other supervisors find creative ways to rectify these situations. People not on the ODL are being forced to work daily when other people want to work. This “atmosphere” perpetuates the daily violation of the contract.
As a result, most local management is adhering to the pressures of their bosses. They either are kiss buts and trying to get another job (what a surprise) or just afraid and scared of their own shadows. These people call the Union office and beg the President to do something. This is the same man burdened by your actions and cowardice and now you want HIS help. What local management is doing is taking the path of least resistance. Would they rather “whip you on the back” with intimidation, unrealistic expectations, and basically the lies of DOIS and maybe face grievances and complaints, or answer to people who they are in concert with with regards to bonuses and hold their future advancement in their hands. We all know that answer!
How do we combat the “Big Squeeze”? Well, we don’t have a choice. As letter carriers, our backs are against the wall. Years ago our national office sent out a route protection pamphlet to every carrier in the country. And that’s what we are talking about. We are the righteous ones (and always have been) in the situation. The only thing is, it appears that management has been taking a war type posture with us and we are the last ones to realize it! Protecting not only our routes, but our rights as well. That’s what every union member should be concerned about. People fought long and hard and hard to win the rights that we work under. It would be a shame if we just continue to give management back our rights. Well, by not protecting our routes with 3996’s and 1571’s, by working unsafely to “make time”, we just hurt ourselves. To the contrary, now we should be doing everything according to the M-39, M-41. It not only protects us; it’s the only way to go now. You know what they say “do it your way, you save money, do it managements way and you will make money” and save your job. The times have certainly changed brothers and sisters. Don’t be a victim of the “Big Squeeze”!
Eric K. Jackson
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