May 2001

        pushpin[May 24th]

Get to Know your Postmaster General: John Potter
(Scott Hovanyetz for DMNews.com)

Following the appointment of Jack Potter as postmaster general, mailers wasted no time urging the new head of the U.S. Postal Service to work in favor of reform and against any rate increases. The U.S. Postal Service confirmed yesterday that Potter, chief operating officer at the USPS, will replace the retiring William Henderson as postmaster general.

Barely an hour after the announcement of Potter's appointment, mailer organizations were singing his praises but also issuing calls for Potter to board the postal-reform bandwagon. The Direct Marketing Association said it approved of the Board of Governors' choice of postmaster general and, in the same statement, invited Potter to join its reform efforts.

"Postal management must guide the postal service toward a more progressive era," said H. Robert Wientzen, DMA president. "We are confident that Potter's background qualifies him to lead the effort as the post office works to solve its present problems."

The Magazine Publishers of America welcomed Potter's appointment but urged the new postmaster general to avoid any further rate increases this year. The organization called on Potter to institute a hiring freeze, consolidate processing plants and borrow money instead.

"If these steps are implemented, there will be no need for the postal service to request another rate hike this year," said Nina Link, MPA president/CEO.

The USPS has increased postal rates twice this year, most recently approving an across-the-board increase of an average of 1.6 percent, effective July 1. The rate increases have spurred mailers to make heated calls for reform, and Rep. Danny Davis, D-IL, has introduced a resolution in Congress calling for the USPS to put off any further rate increase requests until after January.

Potter has earned the praise of the mailing industry for his knowledge of postal operations and experience with labor relations.

John Campanelli, president of R.R. Donnelley Logistics, Chicago, described Potter as a results-oriented executive whose strengths were well-suited for dealing with the USPS' biggest problems. Two of Potter's biggest challenges will be reducing the high cost of processing flat mail -- mail that exceeds the dimensions of letter-size mail -- and dealing with the postal unions, Campanelli said.

Potter's strength lies in his knowledge of the USPS' internal operations, so spending too much time on Capitol Hill lobbying for reform would be a mistake, Campanelli said. Instead, Potter could make many friends among mailers by instituting immediate reforms to boost the postal service's productivity.

"I think Jack ought to get those things into high gear as quickly as possible to forestall a rate increase in the short term," Campanelli said.

Potter will take over as postmaster general on June 1. Postal community sources in Washington predicted Potter's appointment last week.

In a statement, Potter said he was "humbled by this honor" and was looking forward to the challenges of running the postal service.

Potter, who will earn $161,200 as postmaster general, is a 23-year postal veteran and has been in his current position since Oct. 12. Before becoming chief operating officer, Potter served as the USPS senior vice president of labor relations.

Henderson, who announced in January that he would retire at the end of May, has been postmaster general since May 1998.

        pushpin[May 22th]

USPS Plan Weeds Out Unproductive Employees

"The U.S. Postal Service is being accused of violating federal laws by ousting injured workers. Dozens of postal employees across the country who were injured on the job and given new positions meeting their physical limitations allege they have been removed illegally because they could not return to their previous jobs."

Read Federal Times Staff Writer Tim Kauffman's entire article in Metro News.

        pushpin[May 20th]

Potter Next Postmaster General

It seems that the United States Postal Service Board of Governors will be naming current USPS Chief Operating Officer John Potter as the next Postmaster General in a noon announcement.

Potter will be replacing current Postmaster General William Henderson, who is leaving at the end of this month.

        pushpin[May 16th]

Early Retirement Hoax and Article 12 Issues

A USPS "Local NEWSBREAK" is circulating, announcing early retirement incentives for employees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). The announcement is a hoax. There is no USPS offer of early retirement. Employees who are considering retirement should disregard the announcement.

Postal management will be conducting local labor management meetings to discuss the implementation of the Article 12 Memorandum. Union officials are advised to refrain from reaching any agreement on the reassignment of clerk craft employees. Management is aware that they may not reduce a preference eligible in grade and the Memorandum does not fully satisfy rights under the Veterans Preference Act.

I am in the process of providing a forum to process MSPB appeals for displaced preference eligibles. More information on this subject will be made available next week.

William Burrus
Executive Vice President

        pushpin[May 16th]

OCR/BCS Section

Full-time employees in this section on Tour 1 are being pulled from combo primary to work machines in their bid section (Level 4) while casuals and PTFs are being kept in combo (Level 5.) The Union requests that management comply with Article 25 in this situation. They claim they are investigating and will "get back to us."

        pushpin[May 16th]

Manual Bids?

Postal management let it drop that they hope to create manual bids for clerks on
Tours 1 and 3. No specifics beyond throwing for city carriers were provided.

        pushpin[May 16th]

Building #2 Staffing Report

Building #2 SPBS staffing is on the chopping block. Management intends to eliminate Tour 1 SPBS clerk bids, and move the second class and third class prep operations to the GMF workfloor. They intend to place these sections in the area currently occupied by FSM881 machine #8.

        pushpin[May 15th]

APWU Arbitration Process Starts

The union has received the list of nine arbitrators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), and over the next two weeks we will be reviewing the record of each of the arbitrators whose names have been submitted. After the conclusion of the review process, APWU and USPS will begin the striking process of unacceptable arbitrators. Each side will alternately strike until only one arbitrator remains, who will be selected as the neutral arbitrator to serve in interest arbitration. It is expected that this process will be completed within the next three weeks; and upon its conclusion, interest arbitration will begin.

The union is completing its preparations for the interest arbitration. Our wage demands are increases equaling 13.5% over a 30-month contract. The union also intends to advance the unresolved non-economic working conditions identified below:

In addition, the union will be seeking to continue all rights and benefits included in the 1998 national agreement not modified by the proposals identified above.

Bill Burrus
Executive Vice President

        pushpin[May 10th]

Postal Service to Raise Rates in July

On May 8th, the Postal Board of Governors announced that a rate increase on average of 1.6% across the board will become effective July 1, 2001.

The rate for basic presorted flats will rise from $0.319 a piece to $0.322, an increase of less than 1%. The cost of mailing basic automated flats is increasing 1%, from $0.275 a piece to $0.278. The per-piece mailing cost for automated 3/5 flats will rise 1.2%, from $0.236 to $0.239. And the basic enhanced carrier route rate for flats is increasing 1.1%, from $0.176 to $0.178.

The Board of Governors' chairman, Robert Rider added that "The governors reluctantly decided to adjust rates to make up for a $975 million shortfall. We found that this increase adds essential revenue– the rates are going to be adjusted only to the extent that costs match revenue."

There have been warnings for the past few months that postal management was pushing the Board of Governors for another rate increase over the summer, and the mailing industry fears that this increase will not keep another rate case from being presented later this year.

Bob Wientzen, President of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) says "...this negates a significant amount of effort that we and many others made to carefully present a case for not granting the Postal Service these dollars. Now there's an arbitrary decision to overturn the PRC's careful deliberations. But my biggest disappointment is that the Postal Service seems bent on increasing rates as a way of meeting its revenue shortfall rather than cutting costs." [our emphasis]

        pushpin[May 7th]

Try this for some amusement...

Economy.com's website The Dismal Scientist has a small spot in the right column of their home page titled Gasoline Prices.

So what, you say? Well, this is where you can enter your zip code and see what the average price for each of the three grades of gasoline is in your area, and also how they compare to the national average.

Pittsburgh, it looks like we're doing better than we thought!
If you'd like to try it out, click on over to The Dismal Scientist
and have your zip code ready!

        pushpin[May 4th]

Postal Service Agrees to $2.4 million settlement in REC site case

The York, PA Daily Record reported on Wednesday that the US Postal Service had agreed to a $2.4 million settlement in a case involving 234 employees of Dyncorp, a contractor that had provided remote encoding services to the USPS. When the agency decided to have the work done instead by career postal employees, it advised the Dyncorp staff to apply for the jobs. The plaintiffs in the suit claimed that they were improperly denied employment based on disabilities, and that the USPS violated the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

About $400,000 of the settlement will go to lawyers. The USPS also agreed to provide training in disability requirements to district and staff in the Allegheny Area.

        pushpin[May 4th]

Saved grade available for AFSM-100 impacted employees.

The APWU has a copy of the bulletin available here.

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