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March 20, 2020 transcript of From The Presidents Desk

Posted by Frank Augustosky on 03/20/20

Greetings everyone!

Welcome to the March edition of “From the President’s Desk”.  

On March 6th, I had the opportunity to attend an event in the Capitol Visitors Center that was sponsored by the Lexington Institute entitled “Capitol Hill Postal Reform Conference.”    Thanks to Joel Riethmiller from our Government Relations Team for attending with me.    The event included twelve different speakers who addressed the issues dealing with the need for the Postal Reform and the fact that it needs to happen sooner rather than later.   The speakers included the Postmaster General; the OIG, Tammy Whitcomb; Anna Moller Boivie, who was from Denmark; Mark Dimondstein, from the APWU; John Hatton the Director of Legislative Issues with NARFE; Michael Plunkett from the Association of Postal Commerce; Dr. Peter Navarro who is an assistant to President Trump; Kenneth John a Senior Analyst for the US Government Accountability Office; Dr. Robert Shapiro who is the chairman of Sonecon; Paul Steidler a Senior Fellow at the Lexington Institute; David Williams the Vice Chair of the Postal Board of Governors; and Robert Taub, the Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission.   There were several of the speakers that said that Congress needs to take the time now to put together a Postal Reform package that makes sense and that will help to sustain the agency now and into the future.      The moderator stated that they had over forty Congressional staff members present and that the Lexington Institute felt it was a very pertinent and worthwhile message for them to hear because they are the individuals who, with their bosses, will move legislation forward when it does happen.

Once again, those of you that were at the Legislative Summit left with a feeling that perhaps we can get something moving and get some meaningful reform passed in Congress and get it sent to President Trump for his signature.    While we were optimistic, on our Legislative and PAC Chair telecoms that we had on Wednesday evening it was pointed out that with the much needed focus on the Coronavirus pandemic, the chances of something happening this year are probably not too great.   As with everything else, what happens down the road is not known to us, or to anyone else for that matter so we just need to move along as best we can and if something changes with the pandemic that we are there to share our message.   

With that said, however, most of you are probably aware that Congress and President Trump are looking for ways to stimulate the economy.   With that in mind, our Government Relations Team of Chris, Joel and Brian are working to get more focus on the bills that have been introduced that would either eliminate, or reform, the laws regarding the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) that unjustly penalize Civil Service retirees.    We are going at it from the standpoint that by eliminating these provisions Congress could put more money into the hands of our current retirees that are in the Civil Service group and the future retirees that are Civil Service when they retire.   We are hoping that taking this approach will have the effect of getting more traction for these bills.     To that end we sent a letter to Ways and Means Committee Chair, Richard Neal, who has introduced one of the bills to encourage action.    We then sent a copy of that letter that we sent to Mr. Neal to all the members of the House of Representatives.    We will continue to focus our efforts and will be sending a similar appeal for action to the Senate, as well.   If you want to see a copy of the letter click the following link, Letter to Ways and Means Committee Chair, Richard Neal.

With everything that is going on in the United States and the world with the Coronavirus I cannot say enough how important it is that each and every one of you take the necessary precautions to, if possible, keep yourselves, your family and your friends from contracting the virus.    We have gotten reports here at the national office about the shortage of cleaning supplies, wipes and hand sanitizer that exists and what to do about those shortages.    What we have been telling the individuals contacting us is to remain in communication about your needs with your District Safety Office, your District Human Resource Manager, and all the way to the District Manager, if necessary.    I know that the Postal Service is doing their best to address the issues as they come up but with the ever-changing landscape it is very difficult to stay ahead of this.    I can tell you this is certainly an unprecedented situation in my 39-year career with the Postal Service.    Again, keep your eyes and ears open for changing requirements and conditions and make sure that you work to keep your employees as safe and as informed as possible.    I hope and pray that none of you contract the virus and if you do that it is a mild case and you recover quickly.

In looking at all of the reports that are coming out and all of the changes and closures that businesses throughout the country are making, I have made a decision that we will be taking steps to protect those of us that work here at the national office.    As of tomorrow, March 21, 2020, the national office will remain open, but we will have limited staff on site.    Normally, for the time being, there will be one person on site during normal business hours, Monday through Friday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM with varying times for lunch breaks, of course.    The remainder of the staff, including me, will be teleworking and will be available on our cell phones, or via email if you need to reach us.   So, if you call the national office and do not get an answer, you can either leave a message, or you can reach out to us via cell phone numbers, or email, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.   At this time, we have no way of knowing how long this will last, but we will send out messaging and keep you up to date with postings on the website as the situation changes.

Yesterday morning I received a forwarded email from Edmund Carley that dealt with a Postmaster from the state of Pennsylvania.    The Postmaster had been on a route inspection and was impressed with how many people came out of their homes to thank the mail carrier for being there for them.    The Postmaster stated she was going to print out the Postal Service’s Mission Statement and give it to all of her employees to help them understand how the job that they do each and every day does affect and have an effect on what goes on in our country. The U.S POSTAL SERVICE MISSION STATEMENT says: The Postal service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people.  It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities.  Thank You for your dedication to our Mission.
I share this only to let each and everyone of you know how very proud I am to be your president and how proud I am of the dedication and commitment that each and every one of you shows on a daily basis when against all odds, you make sure that the customers are served and that the nation truly is “bound together” by the Postal Service.    It makes me honored and humbled to be an employee of the organization that is the most trusted brand in the country and all of you should feel that same pride.   I know you work over and above every day and you need to know how much that is appreciated.

Thank you for listening and I look forward to talking with you again next month.

Daniel M. Heins
National President
United Postmasters and Managers of America