District 5 Report

Emerald Coast Letter Carriers                                                                                                Dec. 10, 2016

By the time you read this article the Christmas Holidays will have past, but it still amazes me how little planning is made preparing for the holiday season rush by the Postal Service. They get bombarded with packages and wind up with no additional help, no extra vehicles and to make matters worse, they push our times back. The carriers start complaining about it, and it’s the usual thing every year. I remember my good friend Bob Henning always telling me, “You follow the instructions of the supervisor and move on You are getting paid, whatever amount of time it takes it takes” This is so true. A lack of planning on their part does not constitute an emergency on our part. We are the moving force and we deal with the hand that is dealt to us. Complaining will not get the mail delivered, or make management do what they should when it comes to planning for the holiday seasons. Many times in the past I have said that we to need think, before we act. Carriers are continuing to get in trouble, when it can be avoided. Making bad decisions only brings about discipline. I have always said to put the monkey on managements back and let them make the decision. Discipline is being issued for things that are clearly the carriers fault, and the union has to constantly try and get them out of trouble. We do not have a magic wand that we can wave and make it go away; eventually something is going to stick. If the steward asks for statements give it to them, it is important for you to give your side of the story. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Percy Smith, Jr.

Branch 4559

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Emerald Coast Letter Carriers                                                                                                   Nov.23,2016

I attempted to add a little humor to my article last month, I hope it worked. This article I am going to be a little more serious. Within the branch we are starting to see a lot of dissension among the carriers being shown towards carriers, management and even the union. Part of the reason I believe is due to carriers calling out sick or returning to their offices with their mail for that day and going home due to an illness they a claiming to have. I am not a doctor, so I don’t know whether or not you are ill. The only thing I do know is it is adding an additional burden on the other carriers having to pick up your load. I am seeing our friend Mr. Attitude returning to the offices again. Nowhere in your employment package does it say that you have to like your Postmaster, supervisor or 204-b, but you do have to respect their position. By no means am I turning to the Dark Side and agreeing with management, what I am saying that there are courses of action that you can take if management is not showing you dignity and respect. I have always said to be smart in your actions and you will prevail. I even had a carrier snitching on me to management, that’s when I knew things are getting bad. Fortunately for me the carrier was not successful in their attempt. The union is here to help and assist you in making sure your rights are protected. However there is a contract and sometimes that contract, may force you to work elsewhere other than your route, so let’s work together and check the attitude at the door.
Percy Smith, Jr
Branch 4559

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EMERALD COAST LETTER CARRIERS , Sept. 14, 2016

On many occasions the officers and stewards have attempted to advise the carriers in the branch of their rights and the protections they have under federal law. One of these protections is the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law protects you and your family in case of absences due to a medical condition that you or a family member may have causing you to be absent from work due to this condition or conditions. This information has been shared during our monthly meetings and during office stand ups. It appears that the information that is being shared is going unheeded. There has been an increase of fact findings concerning Unscheduled Absences. One of the first questions management is asking is “Do you have FMLA protections” and the majority of the answers are No. During the investigation it is discovered that there is a condition that involves the carrier or a family member, had they followed the suggestions of the officers of the branch we would not be in the conference room explaining their absence. The NALC has generated a form that is accepted by the Postal Service that is acceptable and much simpler to fill out than the form provided by the Department of Labor. It is strongly suggested that if you have a condition that you feel will qualify you for FMLA, then you should submit this form for your protection. Management has started to take a hard line on the Unscheduled Absences and have begun to issue discipline. Taking a few minutes to have your doctor complete the form will save you from a lot of headaches and unnecessary problems. The law is there to protect you so please use it.

Percy Smith, Jr.

Branch 4559

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EMERALD COAST LETTER CARRIERS , July 6, 2016

The CCA’s are our future; I have heard this many times, at Committee of Presidents Meetings, State and National Conventions, State Trainings and District Meetings. A lot of time it makes me think about when I was Casual; I worked with some seasoned- veterans that were always ready to help a young blood to be successful in the craft. Many years have gone by, and now we have the CCA’s (City Carriers Assistance) replacing the Casuals. Moving to today’s world. The rumor is they are supposed to be our help, but it appears that we (regulars) are helping them. I believe we should never forget where we came from. I try to help the CCA’s as much as possible, because of the past carriers assisting me. This is a difficult job; I have seen CCA’s leave, because they thought the JOB was easy and found out that it’s not. We all know this; in order for the CCA’s to be successful we have to help them like we were help. I have heard the Overtime carriers complain about helping them, but when you read the contract, it does not say CCA’s are excluded, it deals with overtime only. Whether the carrier they are assisting Non-OTDL, Work Assignment, Overtime or CCA’s, you signed up for overtime. Overtime is Overtime it has no color or definition. We have to realize that if you do not want the overtime, and then get off the list, but don’t base it on the CCA’s. We ALL have made mistakes and have learned from them. Let help the CCA’s and make sure they are around to be our future. The branch would like to give our condolences the Dey-Kissel and Lambert Families on their loss of Family members.

EMERALD COAST LETTER CARRIERS , April 10, 2015

Since the recent change to our starting times to report earlier management has envisioned their numbers improving vastly. Each day we hear “it is now x hour and you have all your mail, and you should be leaving in the next 45 minutes” Those thoughts are for a perfect time and a perfect situation. Many carriers in my office are starting to get frustrated with management constantly telling them that they should be out on the streets by now. We should   always be mindful that we are humans and not machine. Machines have no sense of time,

but we as humans do. We are well aware of our duties and what is expected of us to meet our appointed rounds.

Lately I have spent a lot time with carriers in our beloved conference room while management conducts fact- finding for not being regular in attendance. I find it interesting with the questions I am hearing management ask, I still have to remind carriers that they are expected to regular in attendance. Because there is 5 minute leeway in our contract, that does not give 5 minutes to be late-. It is for congestion at the clock, I have heard a lot of excuses as to why carriers were late or absence from work. I can tell you, that management doesn’t want to hear your excuses; they want you to be at work. It has been brought to my attention that CCA’s are being given their uniform vouchers to purchase uniforms upon completing their probation periods, but they are not purchasing their uniforms. I must remind you that you only have 14 days once you receive your voucher to purchase them so please do so. Congratulations to CCA Tammy Hassell on making regular.

Percy Smith, Jr.

Branch 4559

EMERALD COAST LETTER CARRIERS
It seems that management has a form or program for everything; you constantly see them looking at the computer screen or filling out some kind of form morning, noon and night. Besides their other duties and the computer, the boys up above are now sending additional instructions to lower management to check on the carriers, because according to their program the carrier(s) are not doing what they are supposed to be doing.
This is because that “All Seeing Eye Scanner” is just sending pings back to them letting them know where you are, how long you have been there and what you have delivered. During our monthly union meeting I have constantly encouraged the carriers to do their job the same way every day. You can’t go wrong with this method. The program lets management monitor you while you are on the street; it lets them know whether or not you are on schedule, late, etc. Recently several carriers were given 7 Days Suspension for being in one place to long. They had no prior discipline in their file. A simple discussion would have fixed the problem. As I always say “For every action, there is a reaction”. We will do, what we do, when we have to deal with craziness like this. Again I want to warn you all, please do your job the correct way, whether or not someone is riding with you or watching you from afar. I want to recognize a few people within the branch I would like to say “Thank You” to the following CCA’s Verna Frye-Clemons, Shaquita Coleman, Julie Wasil, and Tanya Puchalski for all their dedication and hard work and our condolences to Lee Watkins on the loss of his mother.
Percy Smith, Jr.
Branch 4559

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Emerald Coast, Florida

Recently the NALC sent the new Steward Information package for all stewards across the nation. It is to assist the new and old stewards with properly filing grievances and protecting carriers. During the many grievances I have file both contractually and for disciplinary actions by management, I have found the step of management determining whether or not discipline should be issued to be the most interesting in the process. In my area it is called a Fact-Finding; in other areas it is called many other things. The fact finding is supposed to assist management in determining whether or not discipline is necessary, in most cases, even if it’s not necessary they issue it anyway, they call it Corrective Action.

This process is where the carrier gets their chance to tell their side of the story, normally the steward informs the carrier to answer the question with a simple Yes or No, the carrier says okay and they proceed with investigation. Once the questioning begins, the Carriers starts suffering with the Runny Mouth or Too Much Information (TMI) symptoms. They tell more than what is being asked. Carriers should remember that during the investigation, management can use what you say against you, where you think you are helping yourself; you are only killing yourself by telling more than what they need to know. You should always follow the instructions your steward gives you prior to the meeting and stick with that. All too many times you will see what you have said in a negative way in a Step B Decision.

I want to give a Last Punch shout out to Mark and Donna Kissel who have decided to call it quits; I want to personally say Congratulations and enjoy your retirement journey.

Percy Smith Jr. Branch 4559

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Emerald Coast, Florida

Too many carriers are allowing management to tell them how much time they actually need. Carriers are reminded that management is using the information only from DOIS. You are the carrier assigned and only you know how much time it will take. Your only requirement is when you are of the opinion that you will need overtime you must fill out a 3996 right after the last receipt of mail. This includes parcels and accountables. When management insists on dictating your times then request to see your steward. When the decision is made to curtail mail, it is management’s responsibility to give you a 1571. If they don’t provide one then ask for one and be sure to get copies of both the 3996 and 1571 for your records.

Do not let management badger you about your times between MSP scans. There is no requirement that you must deliver mail between scans the same time every day. When you are called to the phone to talk to a customer take the time needed to respond. Some supervisors are telling carriers they are taking too much time for this. Do not let management tell you to move to code 743 when you work on the Edit book. This is a normal function of your regular duties.

Branch 4559 sends its condolences to Shirley Williams, Dan Betchel and Steve Orr on their loss of loved ones. Our thoughts are with you and your families.

Happy holidays to all NALC members and their families.

Percy Smith, Branch 4559

Emerald Coast, Florida ,  March 8, 2015

Many times good advice to the carriers from the union goes unheeded. Sometimes I know I may sound like a broken record, but when you look back on what has been said, if just a little thought is put into what has been shared there is a lot of truth to what advice has been given. Many times the union has advised the carriers to use the tools that they have available to protect themselves from management, but that is often ignored. When management instructs carriers to call back by 3 p.m., if they are not going to be back by 5 p.m. this is often ignored as well. All too often the carrier or carriers blame the supervisor for not being clear, but all too often it’s their own fault. Many times the stewards have told the carriers to follow the instructions first, and then file a grievance if they feel that the instructions were unjust.

Many times I have said to let management be the problem and not the carrier or carriers, but no one is listening, this has to stop, we have to be smarter than the average bear, when dealing with management. Discipline is on the rise, because we are not thinking first and using our heads. During fact findings the first question that is asked is “did you fill out a 3996, followed with did you call back by 3 p.m.”. The majority of times the carrier’s response is NO, which puts them in harm’s way for discipline. I have had numerous conversations with the Postmaster in an attempt to keep the carriers out of trouble, and I must say I have been successful on many occasion. Remember this “Please help me, help you.”

Percy Smith, Jr.

Branch 4559

Emerald Coast, Florida 2/8/15

All too often I have heard supervisors tell the carrier that” You will be charged with failing to follow instructions.” Recently I had a stand up with the carriers in my office trying to explain to them the importance of following the supervisor’s instructions first. The union cannot take any action against management, until the carrier follows the instructions and then requests to see a steward. The union has never told a carrier not to follow the instructions, unless it involves their health or safety. My philosophy has always been for “Every action there is a reaction”. You should never allow management the opportunity to get you, but to reverse it and allow us to get them. Sometimes the instructions are simple, but because the carrier doesn’t like it, they don’t want to follow the order. This is incorrect on the carriers part, if the instructions in your opinion will cost you time, always remember this, “You get paid by the minute” sooner or later management will figure it out.

Another issue that I am starting to see occur more often that I would like, is that carriers get upset with the supervisor’s instructions of carrying circulars out or carrying mail from another day that a carrier was unable to carry the previous day and the carrier tells the supervisor that they are going home. Be careful with what you ask for, if you used the word STRESS you may be bargaining for more than what you want. Just remember to think before acting, it’s always best.  Management can make your life real difficult because you used that forbidden word.

Branch 4559 wants to thank Paul Wright for being a faithful member and wish him much success in his retirement.

Percy Smith, Jr. Branch 4559

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        Safety should be the first concern of the Letter Carrier. From a simple vehicle check in the morning to driving the roads during peak travel times carriers have to be alert to their surroundings. The Post Office preaches safety first but when it really comes down to it making a 5 PM window has priority. It is up to us to ensure we are delivering in the safest manner possible. Management treats its runners with high regard but that immediately stops once you are in an accident then they forget who you are.

       One of our stations has had 21 accidents so far this year. We must be diligent in our driving habits for not only our own safety but our customer’s safety too. Please be sure to use the buddy system when checking your vehicle. Report all damage to the vehicle even though it may be difficult since many vehicles are in disrepair. Obey all traffic signs and use your seat belts and close doors as required. Remember, safety first for your own health and well being.

        Emotions some times get the better of us. With the stress of the job it is easy to let your emotions control your thinking. When things get tough, try to think before speaking. Tempers flair and it is easy to respond off the cuff but try to pause before responding. When management tries to push your buttons just pause and the best response is I want to see my steward. That is what the violence in the workplace statement is for.

        CCA’s are encouraged to attend union meetings to learn and to be updated on activities within NALC and the USPS. You might even get questions answered you might not get at work.

  Percy Smith, Branch 4559

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    Management is becoming much more aggressive when discussing route times. DOIS is causing more and more confrontations on the workroom floor. Management is pushing their DOIS times on the carriers. Do not argue with management. Tell them one time what you need and if they persist ask for your steward. The most important thing you can do is use the 3996, the 1571 and be sure to get your copy. This is escalating due to the pressure from the Area and District levels to make their magic (DOIS) numbers. Do not get confrontational with management.

     Management is now challenging carriers on return times and if you have to deliver part of another route they challenge the time it took you. Remember they are only using DOIS information. Just because one carrier can do part of a route in 1 hour does not mean you have to. If management tells you that you used unauthorized overtime, let your steward know so he or she can investigate. The union will become more active in pursuing grievances for violence in the workplace. You must be treated with dignity and respect no matter what.

      I want to remind all CCA’s to review the latest Memorandum of Understanding M-1834 concerning the conversion CCA’s to career positions. The branch has provided you with a copy, so please read it. It is to your benefit to stay informed.   

      You must notify management of any vehicle accident no matter how minor any damage is. Safety is still the number one concern for you and your job. Let’s be safe first and foremost. With the weather being as hot as it has been in our area, it very important to make sure you and hydrating yourself with plenty of fluids.

       Percy Smith, Branch 4559

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Since the conversions of TE’s to CCA’s, I have noticed a change in the attitudes of the new CCA’S. I have observed them failing to follow the rules that all carriers are required to follow due to the pressure management is placing on them. At the Committee of Presidents meetings that I attend there is a constant plea from the Branch Presidents to President Rolando to have USPS treats the CCA’S with the same dignity and respect and they are required show to any employee of the USPS, treat them as human beings and observe their rights. The Union has fought long and hard for the CCA’S to have rights while employed, such as access to the grievance procedures, uniform allowances, medical insurance and a retirement through the Mutual Benefit Association (MBA).These are privileges that CCA’s normally would not have as a TE, this is not a given as it appears that some of the CCA’s believe they are.

 The stewards have been trying to sign up the CCA’s and are hearing all types of excuses as to why they can’t join, but as soon they are in trouble the STEWARD is the first person they are hollering for. A CCA recently received a 7 day suspension and was asked to provide a statement on what happened involving the rear end accident they were involved in. They have yet to provide the statement needed to include in the file. The union is attempting to assist the carriers in making sure their rights are not violated and that they have access to the grievance procedure.  The CCA’S should be proud to join this outstanding organization and be willing to assist it in any way possible, I close by saying Help me , Help you.

                                                       Percy Smith, Branch 4559

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Emerald Coast, Florida

 

   Management at the local level is being instructed to report all carriers that use 10 minutes past their projected office time along with time after the projections: 15 minutes on street time, 10 minutes on loading time and 5 minutes in the office in the PM. These are all DOIS numbers and violate the DOIS memorandum. There is no requirement for you to estimate your leaving and return time. The 5 minute time in the office has been grieved in the past and management has been told there is no requirement for you to be out of the office in 5 minutes.

If management requires you to give any of these estimates let your steward know. USPS at the higher levels is telling the offices to do these times so they can meet their projected numbers. You must follow the instructions of your supervisor but you have the right to grieve through your steward.

You are required to use form 3996 to report that you will be unable to complete your route in the required 8 hours. That is the only requirement as far as reporting times. You are also required to use form 1571 when instructed to curtail mail. When you use either of these forms ask for a copy. Keep them for your records and if necessary give them to the steward. The union will not allow management by bullying or intimidation.

Form 1767 is used to report safety problems. Management is required to act on the hazard the same day and you get a copy of the form showing how the hazard will be abated. Use these forms when needed and do not allow management to intimidate you into making their numbers.

Percy Smith, Jr. President

Branch 4559

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Emerald Coast, Florida

 

Letter carriers are being pushed to make the DOIS numbers on a daily basis. Management is trying to hold you to a demonstrated performance based on a 1 day office count with no consideration for volume each day. Just because your demonstrated performance was 8 hours for a volume of 6000 pieces one day does not mean it will be the same the next.

Supervisors are telling carriers they have undertime. The only way they can say that is simply based on the DOIS numbers. You are the carrier on the route and you are the one who decides if you have undertime or not. Do not argue with management, just simply ask for a 3996 if needed. If management keeps telling you how much time you need then ask for a steward. There is a step 4 decision dealing with just this issue. If you work the same way every day then there is no reason for daily confrontations. Do not skip breaks and lunch just keep an even pace.

Management in some offices is placing CCA’s on the leave calendar. So if you are allowed 3 carriers off in your station and 2 regular carriers are on the calendar to be off, management places the CCA’s name on it and the carriers think the calendar is full. The DAS arbitration award states that CCA’s do not count against the regular carrier leave compliment.

Although we haven’t been informed, I have information that route inspections are coming to some offices this spring. It is important that you deliver the same way every day. Management is trying to capture time any way they can.

The branch would like to give their condolences to Rhonda Culberth on the passing of her Father in Law.

Percy Smith, Branch 4559

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The District office sent out instructions to all offices that effective November 30th all carrier start times would be changed to 9AM. This automatically caused carriers to be out after dark. Article 41 requires management to provide you with the equipment necessary to do your job. Management does not provide lights so you can see to deliver in the dark. Your safety is first. It is up to you to make the decision if you can or cannot safely deliver the mail. If you do bring mail back, be sure you fill out form 1571 and keep a copy; this protects you from disciplinary action.    There is no prohibition that we cannot deliver after dark however it does take longer to do it. An example is a carrier on a curbside route has to stop at the box, turn on the dome light, make the delivery then turn off the dome light go to the next stop and repeat the process. The same thing applies to walking routes. You cannot finger the mail due to it being dark so now you have to get under some light and sort through it before going to the next delivery. See your steward if you have a questions regarding safety after dark.

Carriers are being instructed to not use floats to take your mail to your vehicle. You must obey these instructions. If it takes you 2 or 3 trips and more time, be sure to put that on the 3996. This will give you proper time credit for when inspections start in the spring.

Branch 4559 sends its condolences to Jerry Milton whose brother passed away and we wish a speedy recovery to Charlie McClain

 

Percy Smith, Br. 4559

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Emerald Coast, Florida – December Report

    Carriers are reminded to report all accidents no matter how minor. There have been a few cases recently where a carrier twists an arm or leg or bumps a stationary object with the vehicle and they do not think it is serious. Later that twist gets worse or a customer calls that some stationary object was hit and now you are now looking at possible disciplinary action.

Management in our area is telling the CCA’s they must be off the street by 6:30. There is nothing in the contract requiring them to be off at a certain time.  Please let your stewards know if you are sent home and there was still work you could have performed. They must use CCA’s before forcing non OTDL carriers to work.  There is a perception on management’s part that CCA’s cannot put in for hold downs or that they can put in for hold downs but cannot case because they do not have casing experience.  See your steward.

With management changing start times to later and daylight savings time upon us, it is getting darker earlier. You are the person on the route that makes the determination if delivery in the dark is safe. There may be dogs, no lighting at all, tripping hazards etc. Be sure if you bring mail back to complete the form 1571 and turn it in. Be sure you get your copy before you leave. If management does not give you a copy, see your steward, this is for your protection.

Get well wishes to Charlie McClain and Scott Burger. The branch condolences are sent to Mark Kissel and his family on the passing of Mark’s father. Branch 4559 wishes all NALC members and their families a Happy Holiday Season.

 

Percy Smith, Branch 4559

Emerald Coast, Florida

   The other day I heard a supervisor discussing annual leave and how certain leave was going to be denied. The carrier informed me as to what the conversation was about and I told the carrier that the supervisor was wrong and had given incorrect information. After I explained the contract, I was then told I was being disrespectful. Respect is earned and not a given just because of your position.

Carriers are once again reminded that violations of the DOIS Memorandum should be reported to stewards when it happens. Carriers are not standing up to supervisors when confronted about their 3996’s. The following is language from the memorandum:

“The use of DOIS does not change the letter carrier’s reporting requirements outlined in section 131.4 of Handbook M-41, the supervisor’s scheduling responsibilities outlined in section 122 of Handbook M-39, or the letter carrier’s and supervisor’s responsibilities contained in Section 28 of Handbook M-41. DOIS projections are not the sole determinant of a carriers leaving or return time, or daily workload.”

Side bets are being made as to who will be ridden with for that day, because a carrier doesn’t meet percent to standards or management didn’t like the estimation the carrier submitted. Most of these come from local management being ordered by the District. Remember there is no requirement to meet any percent to standard goals management has concocted. Be sure to use the 3996 and 1571 and keep copies for your records. Report any harassment or bullying to your steward.

The branch is in discussions with management in all offices regarding carriers out after dark. We will advise every one of the results. Branch 4559 wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and lets all be safe out there.

 

Percy Smith, Branch

District 5 Chairman