American Postal Workers Union . Fayetteville, Arkansas Local
March 5, 1999
FROM THE PRESIDENT
Wouldn't you question the sanity of a person who buys a new Mercedes -- then
as soon as it's driven off the lot proceeds to abuse it? Like a madman,
reckless he drives, constantly breaking speed limits, pushing it faster and
faster. Yet never is the oil changed, never does the guy check the radiator.
He even cusses when it runs out of fuel! Ramming the Mercedes against
anything on the side of the road, he prides himself in having a driving style
matching Cruella Deville's. Isn't long before the poor car (though top of the
line) dented beyond recognition, begins knocking; black smoke pours out its
exhaust pipe like a car from the wrong side of the tracks. Pitiful auto
can't function anymore, so what does its "proud" owner do? He searches its
old registration and VIN number to discover any insignificant "discrepancies"
which [in his mind] could justify demanding the car be scrapped and a new
Mercedes awarded free of charge. Note: he doesn't investigate for
"discrepancies" before or at purchase or during warranty period -- only after
burning several thousand miles. Alas, does he bargain fairly? (The "good
businessman" he is, the owner wants to get full use before shipping it off to
That's what happens when amateurish, unprincipled managers destroy the lives
of their employees while trying to assert authority at any cost and burning up
any productivity left in them. Does one even question the source of
"disgruntledness"? Spin doctors on the other side may claim the "union" made
them unhappy or "labor" corrupted their thinking. But the truth is the best
of the best who at one time produced the most have been turned into sad,
mental scrapheaps, then discarded like some piece of refuse, even if there was
no union around to supposedly make them that way. Why then?
(1) They were not valued as employees.
(2) They were not treated with dignity and respect; they were not recognized
as human beings.
(3) Their creative and innovative ideas to improve the work, workplace and
products were stifled.
(4) Their input was silenced (not only unappreciated, but forbidden).
(5) They were turned out to pasture as soon as their supervisors determined
their "usefulness" was spent.
What is the value of a human life? $10,000? $100,000? $1,000,000?
$1,000,000,000? To raise an average child in America costs parents $500,000,
and that's not including the braces and wedding! The Postal Service invests
thousands for every person hired, so there must be some value placed on the
employee at the onset. But the problem is not with the initial investment --
It's what happens after!
The Cincinnati APWU editor recently wrote:, "To big business, we are not quite
`people.' We're raw material," tritely labeled by corporate bureaucrats as
"Human Resources." (I guess you were wondering where on earth they came up
with that name!) So, when a part of the machinery ("human resources") wears
out, you simply replace it. Most important to these "Human Resources"
bureaucrats are their charts and graphs depicting where the "numbers" stand,
depending of course on what the game of the month being played by their
superiors may be. One month it may be OEE, the next month OOE-EIO or some
other foolish corporate game wizardry, complete with pretentious title and
warped logic.... Nothing to do with true efficiency or productivity, mind you.
It's a game -- Dilbert's alive!
The error is in their perception. Once the concept is fully embedded in the
mind that workers are no more than machinery, they can in "good conscience"
justify insensitive actions. Machinery has no emotions, no families, no lives
outside the workplace walls.
Autocratic management style begins with this concept. It says, "My way or the
highway for you, buddy! If you don't like the job, don't let the door hit you
on the way out." There are always plenty of hungry people to take your place.
Whatever makes you feel dispensable, whatever belittles you and makes you
miserable, whatever makes you see your life as insignificant -- that's what
autocrats want to throw at you! Their speciality is creating a paper trail to
dangle over your head, intimidating and threatening you. Don't ever believe
for a minute that if you do your job well, the company will take care of you,
because they won't! But there's another side: With diligence, be proud and
do a good job, not to make an impression on the boss, but to gain that sense
of self-worth and accomplishment. Do a good job because of that grandma
receiving her letter from some long, lost relative. Do a good job because you
love the Postal Service, despite its faults and failures. Do a good job
because you love your country, even with Uncle Sam's warts and past scandals
now coming to light. No one can destroy your dignity but yourself.
However much turmoil faced in the past, we are now privileged to have a
current management staff who seem to really care, who show effort to treat us
with dignity. Is it just my imagination, or did someone throw us 3 Christmas
pizza parties plus another day of holiday treats enough to feed an army? Does
some manager greet the people with a sincere smile, a friendly joke, or a kind
word? Someone out there is changing our oil, checking the tires and filling
up the tank; this is a pleasant change. And we should show our appreciation.
Your union is here to make the workplace better and we're committed to doing
GRIEVANCE APPEALED TO ARBITRATION (Class Action - Level 4 to 5 Automation)
USPS regional management has denied step 3 grievance (class action,
automation, level 4 to 5). Bob Kessler, NBA, has appealed to step 4 for
arbitration. USPS in letter stated reason for denial was that Fayetteville's
automation clerks do not perform level 5 duties, which is a crock! Fargo,
North Dakota automation clerks only weighed a fraction of their mail going to
machines, whereas most of our level 4 clerks weigh up to 100%, besides
entering computer sortplan information, meeting specific dispatches, and
performing other level 5 tasks.
Frank Fickle, Vickie Alves, and I met with Postmaster OIC and Plant Manager
Lee Thompson in Civil Service Room at MPO on Dickson Street Friday afternoon,
February 5th. Both sides were conciliatory. I can't think of anything in
particular which we disagreed on.
Blackburn reported that Little Rock is going to study Bulk Mailing offices at
Dickson and Plant before anything is decided; there was talk of closing down
Dickson, but nothing is in concrete. They said Little Rock will consider
"Attendance" was briefly discussed. I suggested bringing Washington Regional
Medical Center Sleep Disorder Center in for safety talks which would help
attendance by giving workers remedies to some sleep problems. Since lack of
sleep is one of the main causes people get sick, it would stand to reason if
sleep deprivation is remedied, absenteeism would drop. Plant Manager said she
will make arrangements to bring sleep center to plant for talks and special
meeting. She said she will provide refreshments to employees who would like
to attend a special (off-the-clock) sleep seminar and that regular safety
talks with WRMC and medical people would be planned, not only concentrating on
sleep deprivation but other medical problems and practical safety issues as
I also talked about other positive ways to improve attendance by showing
special VCR tapes from USPS on how to cope with boredom and other problems
(personal conflict, depression, stress, etc.). I told the group assembled
that there were "positive" ways to improve attendance without having to revert
to "negative" discipline that actually doesn't do the trick anyway.
Language on the workroom floor was brought up. We pretty much agreed that
employees and supervisors shouldn't curse or talk loud in anger. Lee assured
us it was a two-way street, that supervisors would be under same policy. I
mentioned that supervisors should invite workers into private office when
discussing sensitive matters (unofficial), even if they aren't loud. I also
emphasized to Blackburn and Thompson that I didn't want to see double-standard
where workers get the axe while supervisors get off the hook or get their
We also discussed contacting City of Fayetteville about installing new signal
light on 15th and Morningside for traffic going to/from Plant. Lee agreed to
contact Mayor Hanna.
Other issues discussed: Belt for Priority Area and new facility on northside
of town finished in 15 - 18 months
Our next Labor-Management meeting is scheduled for Friday, May 7, 2:00 p.m. at
Jake has our website looking great! It has sections for newsletter, minutes,
LMOU, Local Constitution, Legal Defense Fund, cartoons, message board, etc.
We might be a small Local, but we're mighty proud!
Office is now ready as a research, counseling and document center. We're
planning on having computer installed in office by first of April. Thanks go
to Lee for providing space and to John Davis for providing laser printer and
scanner on loan.
Note to officers, stewards, alternates: Please be sure to check your mail
slots in office daily.
Vickie, John and I attended State Meeting at Hot Springs February 11-13. LMOU
was main topic; classes were very informative -- conducted by Carl Casillas
and Bob Kessler, NBAs. I was selected to be state delegate to Tri-State
Convention in Davenport, Iowa, March 25-27. It will be an honor to represent
Arkansas and our Fayetteville Local. National President Moe Biller may be
there and I will attempt to discuss our legal situation down here in
Fayetteville. On trip home from Hot Springs, I hit a deer on I- 540 causing
extensive damage to car, but Vickie and I are fine. (She's a real "dear.")
LMOU NEGOTIATING TEAM
Jake Lamkins, Randall Woodlee, John Davis and I will be LMOU Negotiating Team.
We have not been provided date certain for its beginning; we are preparing for
negotiations in the meantime.
LAWSUIT and LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
The former postmaster has sued the four national postal unions and six local
union leaders for $2 million. At first, legal counsel to national APWU stated
they were unable to provide financial and legal assistance to the individuals'
part of the suit, but now President Moe Biller has stepped in and pledged his
support and APWU's insurance company approved coverage to local leaders.
During the interim, we set up a "Legal Defense Fund" and have received support
from all over the country. The LDF will continue building, since as yet we
don't know the outcome of the motion to dismiss nor if the national's
insurance policy will cover all aspects of the suit.
We send a THANK YOU to all for their commitment to the cause and financial
support. Special thanks to National President Moe Biller for personally
stepping in to fully support our Local leaders. The spirit of unionism lives!
Please be at next meeting Sunday, March 21st at 1:00 p.m. There is much to
discuss and we need your input.
THE LAMKINS LETTER
Life and history are replete with incidents and actions that are inexplicable.
Efforts to understand many things are doomed to failure. As an example, I've
compiled a list of facts related to Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy that leave
one flabbergasted. There are far too many similarities for it to be
coincidence. As for what it means, your guess is as good as any other.
- Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
- John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946
- Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
- John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.
- The names Lincoln and Kennedy each contain seven letters.
- Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.
- Both wives lost their children while living in the White House.
- Both wives were present when their husband was shot.
- Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.
- Both were shot in the head.
- Both had their elections contested.
- Lincoln's secretary was named Kennedy.
- Kennedy's secretary was named Lincoln.
- Each secretary warned their president not to go where they were shot.
- Both were assassinated by Southerners.
- Both were succeeded by Southern Democrats who had served in the US Senate.
- Both successors were named Johnson and their names contain 13 letters.
- Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
- Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.
- John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.
- Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.
- Both assassins were known by their three names.
- Both names comprise fifteen letters.
- Booth ran from a theatre and was caught in a warehouse.
- Oswald ran from a warehouse and was caught in a theatre.
- Booth and Oswald were both assassinated before their trials.
- Kennedy and Lincoln were carried to their funerals on the same caisson.
So, as we ponder the meaning of some of the things going on today, perhaps it
will help if we accept the fact we will just never know for sure why some
things are the way they are.
March & April
American Postal Workers Union . Fayetteville Arkansas Local
February 1, 1999
FROM THE PRESIDENT
The place is Los Angeles. The year? (To be disclosed later in article.) A
supervisor is observed by all postal employees gravitating toward the gorgeous
female newly-hire PTF working city cases. He hangs around her case night
after night (like a dog) carrying on casual conversation. "You say you're
from Kansas City? Both my parents were born in Kansas City," the sup mentions
as he leans conspicuously closer to the PTF. Every other clerk in the
facility is required to case one tray per 23 minutes, but for some reason the
foxy babe is excused from that yardstick. Fact is, she doesn't know the
scheme and others must "refresh" her memory. Unabated, the sup continues his
amorous chitchat with the young lady.
"Where does 2900 Roteford go?" she asks. "Try throwing it to 33," another
clerk generously responds (hoping to gain the nod of approval from the
charmed, captivated supervisor).
No one would bother mentioning blatant favoritism, save for the fact the sup
turns around and requires others to perform par speed with accuracy. When
Hank finishes his tray, the supervisor snaps, "Chinaski, I timed you on that
tray. It took you 28 minutes!" Never factoring into account that Hank's tray
consisted mostly of postcards, the sup threatens discipline. Although Hank
completes other trays in just 7 minutes because of the letters' thicker
properties, his past achievements go unrecognized. Obviously the supervisor
has it out for Chinaski and ends up issuing a disciplinary form.
Meanwhile the young female who never learned the scheme in the first place
gets away with casing one tray per 40 minutes..... that is, 40 minutes with
clerks on all sides assisting.
What year did this take place? 1999? No. Try 30 years earlier: 1969 in L.A.
This episode is from a novel published in 1971 by Charles Bukowski based on
his research of the post office in California in the 1960s. (Post Office,
Charles Bukowski, 1971, Black Sparrow Press, Santa Rosa, California)
But the similarities are timeless -- Favoritism is an incurable scourge.
Whether it's `69 or `99, this type injustice persists. Some workers are
favored for one reason or another on the workroom floor and the result is
economic disparity, unequal treatment and unfairness. In turn, all these
moral deficiencies lead to potential conflict; "favoritism" is not a
victimless crime. Managers are not the only ones to blame; unions have also
displayed favoritism by catering to a few on the "inside circle."
A pretty face (be it male or female) is many times the focus of favoritism,
but not exclusively so. An employee may be a chronic troublemaker who
receives favors just to silence or calm his/her discontent. His/her absences
and tardies may be overlooked while others get the axe. Or he/she may be
inefficient and unproductive, so management assigns that person to easier,
higher-level tasks as a remedy. The pattern may be, "The dog who growls the
loudest, gets the biggest bone -- (the cushy job)." Indeed, this is
"favoritism" because it overlooks others who play by the rules, seldomly
complain, do a good job, but still are rarely or never offered better
opportunities, changes of schedule to more desirable hours, higher-level, or
some other privilege.
As I see it, at present there are several cases of "favoritism" that need
correcting. The union will do what it can to expose such conditions --
bringing them to management's attention. That's one reason we're here.
However, the Contract alone cannot cover all bases, and management is not to
blame for everything. They may not in every case even be intentionally
favoring one employee over the other; history shows us it just happens in many
instances. We as individuals must do our part to bring it to light. Absence
of rotations, inequitable OT, granting of schedule changes while denying
others unreasonably, high proportionality in hiring casuals related by blood,
affection or marriage to those in "favor" with the boss (nepotism), ignoring
some employees who desire to work higher-level jobs voluntarily while
consistently placing others into those jobs without hesitation......these are
some of the issues and forms of "favoritism" your union is addressing.
If you're aware or are presently experiencing what you believe is unfairness
or the butt-end of "favoritism," please contact Vickie or me. Or see your
A Labor-Management meeting is scheduled for January 29, the first one in 2 1/2
years. Postmaster Blackburn set this up at our request. We appreciate the
LMOU negotiations start the last week of February. We are working on
scheduling it at present.
Vickie Alves, John Davis and I will be attending the state convention February
11-13 in Hot Springs. The focus at the meeting will be LMOU negotiations.
John Davis is heading for San Diego March 3 for the National Maintenance Craft
Convention. It will be an honor for Fayetteville to be represented.
The union office is now set up and filing system is in process of being
established. Thank you-s to Vickie, Gini, Jake and John for their help on
this project. Thanks to Brian Center who helped move cabinets and furniture
into office. Thank you to Lee Thompson for providing space for new office.
VCR tape of steward training seminar held December 12, 1998 is now available
to stewards, officers and alternates. Thank you, Chris Curlee, for
videotaping seminar. Thank you, State President Dennis Taff for teaching
class and permitting us to tape session for all time. Please check it out so
we'll know who has it. Educational resources for stewards are being collected
and arranged on office shelves for your convenience.
The next meeting coming up Sunday, February 21st is important. I'm asking all
of you to be there. Let's work together as we face new challenges for the
future. United we stand; divided we fall.
Your Brother in Union Solidarity,
THE LAMKINS LETTER
CHANGES FOUND IN THE NEW AGREEMENT
A survey of the new language (marked in bold print) in the recently ratified
Agreement turned up these items.
Art.7, page 10 & 11: Now 15%cap within a district in any accounting period
(ex.3 & 4) and 5.9% cap nationally. Sets up monetary settlement for some
violations. Previous language had a 6.6% cap nationally in any accounting
period (ex. 3 & 4) with no district cap. The national cap in the fiscal year
was 5.6% before this Agreement.
New language both helps and hurts - it just depends on where you fall in the
tables. Art.9, page 16-17 and MOU, page 157, state that new progression steps
will be uniform in time and pay and to be in place by June 19, 1999.
Art.9, page 17 notes that there will be 4 COLAs in this Agreement based on
Consumer Price Index figures from January and July of the years 1999 and 2000.
Art.15, pages 51-57, has new language to speed up the processes involved in
resolving cases. I hope for all our sakes it helps.
Art.16, page 60, states that under some circumstances suspensions cannot be
implemented until a grievance filed on the matter has been decided.
Art.26, page 72, has raised the amounts allowed for uniforms.
SENIORITY TIE BREAKER
This one is a surprise to me. Art. 37, page 87, has reversed the (C) and (D)
tiebreakers. The old language said (C) was total postal career service within
the installation and (D) was total postal career service in the clerk craft
with the installation. That is reversed in the new language so that clerk
craft service takes precedence over total career service - both within the
installation. It's not retroactive so it will not effect established
MOU, pages 156-157
New rules spell out more clearly penalties for violations of the overtime
rules. Using employees not on the OTDL can now result in monetary penalties
under some circumstances.
SELL BACK ANNUAL LEAVE
MOU, page 158
You can sell back excess annual leave if you have max-ed out the carryover and
fulfill certain other requirements.
PTF RE-ASSIGNMENT OPPORTUNITIES
MOU, pages 159-160
PTFs off probation in offices of less than 100 career clerk craft employees
will be given the opportunity to transfer to offices with more than 100 career
clerk craft employees. There are several conditions. This will help PTFs in
smaller offices who don't have much chance of "going regular" to get in larger
offices where it's more likely to happen.
JT CONTRACT INTERPRETATION MANUAL
MOU, page 163. This manual will be very helpful and should be completed
within 90 days of signing the Agreement. It will spell out what various
sections mean in an easy to understand format.
MOU, page 165. Changes in Articles 15 and 16 which deal mainly with
grievances and discipline will not be come effective until 6 months after
ratification so that representatives can be trained in the new language.
MOU, page 165. There can be a one time purge of letters of warning from
personnel files if several conditions are satisfied. See the MOU for
Article 37, pages 101-102. There will now be a single merged PTF roll. PTFs
will not be required to convert to regular jobs for which they are not
currently qualified or at a lower level.
We must finalize our plans for these important talks at the next business
meeting, Feb.21st. Please try to attend and help out. There will be LMOU
training furnished at the State Convention being held next month. Review our
LMOU and Article 30 of the Agreement and give the Negotiating Committee some
feedback at the meeting.
Even if you're on the right track, you'll still get run over if you just sit
A POSTAL JOKE
A postal worker passed away and went to heaven. Arriving at the pearly gates,
St. Peter said, "Come on in, I'll show you around." Walking through the
gates, the man noticed clocks everywhere. It appeared heaven was nothing but
a clock warehouse.
Disappointed, the man asked, "St. Peter, what's the deal? Why are all these
clocks in heaven?"
"The clocks keep track of things on Earth," St. Peter replied. "There is one
clock for each person. Every time that person tells a lie, the clock moves
one minute. For instance, this clock belongs to Sam. He is a used car
salesman. He must be closing a deal because it's moving. This clock over
here belongs to Widow Mary. It hasn't moved in years."
"I'm curious," asked the man, "Where is the clock for our postmaster?"
"Above you. We use it for a ceiling fan."
-- Reprinted from FRONT LINES, APWU newspaper
Wishing Speedy Recovery
To Gisela, wife of Karl Neumann
Wishing You the Best
To Chris Curlee undergoing physical tests
Darrell Wayne Barnes (Barney)
and Debra Irene Jones
to be wed
Saturday, March 6, 1999
First Pentecostal Church, Springtown
Reception following in Fellowship Hall
February - March