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Friday Message – August 21, 2020
It has certainly been a very busy week within the Postal Service and the Postal Service community at large. As I talked about last week, Postmaster General DeJoy announced a number of initiatives in an effort to bring the costs down within the organization and the restructuring. While we are currently moving forward with the restricting with delivery and mail processing and going from seven areas to four, many of the other initiatives that were put in place (removing machines, some retail hour reductions, and reducing of overtime) have been put on hold. As a matter of fact in those areas that had already instituted new retail hours by adding a lunch break, etc. those have been stopped and the offices should actually be restoring the original hours. What the PMG has said is that we will forego making these changes until after the election, since there was concern expressed about possible reductions in service leading up to an election that may well have a tremendous number of ballot applications and ballots that will be going through the mail.
Realize, however, that with the roll back on the removal of the machines (changes that I might add were put in place before Mr. DeJoy ever took office) and restoration, or continuance of retail hours the expectation regarding the use of overtime has not changed. If you need to use overtime and it is warranted based on your workload get whatever approval you need to use the overtime and get the mail delivered. Right now the Postal Service is under more scrutiny than it has been in my career as far as I know. As you are probably all aware Postmaster General DeJoy will be testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee today and before the House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday. You can rest assured that he will be facing some very tough questions about the changes that were implemented and also about what assurances Congress has that the USPS can meet the demand when it comes to delivering all of the ballots leading up to the election on November 3rd. If you are not able to watch the hearings, I am sure there will be extensive coverage in the media on what questions were asked and what the answers will be. Throughout all of this the most important thing that you as the Postmasters, Managers, and Supervisors in your offices can do is to stay focused on the mission of the Post Office. Make sure that you are getting all of the mail in your facility delivered; make sure you are dispatching all of the mail that is available every day and make sure that your employees are working safely. Now, perhaps more than ever, it is vital that you control those things that you have control over and do not let you, or the employees that work with you, get distracted by all of the other things that are going on both internally and externally as it relates to the Postal Service. And, as always, be proud of what you do each and every day for the American public. We are still having to deal with the issues related to COVID-19 and do not let your guard down in that area, either. Keeping yourself and the employees in your facility safe is of utmost importance.
Over this past week you have been hearing a lot about the efforts of Congress to come to the aid of the Postal Service and see that everything is done properly. You may have been contacted by someone from a Senator’s or a Representative’s office to participate in a press conference they may have been having in front of your office, or a neighboring office. Remember that you are bound by the Hatch Act when it comes to political activity and the best course of action in these situations is to politely decline the invitation. As frustrating as things might get sometimes, it is not worth putting your job in jeopardy by doing something that may seem innocent, that could however, come back to haunt you.
Tomorrow the United States House of Representatives will be having a rare August and even more rare Saturday session to consider a bill that was introduced by House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair, Carolyn Maloney. HR 8015 is called the Delivering for America Act. While we would support the part of the bill that calls for the Postal Service to receive a $25 Billion appropriation, there are other parts of the bill that dig much too deeply into the day to day operations of the Postal Service. There is a reason that the Postal Service is an independent agency within the government. Our leaders need to be able to make decisions and not be mandated as to what they can and cannot do by Congressional Action. All indications are that this bill will pass in the House tomorrow; however, it does not look like it will be passed in the Senate when it gets there. Our government relations team continues to work with leaders in the House and the Senate to help get a COVID relief package put together that will address the financial needs of the USPS in dealing with the costs of the COVID pandemic along with all of the other funding that may be part of such a bill. It is looking more and more like we will not see such a bill passed until sometime in the month of September. However, we have been surprised in the past. We will work to keep you as informed as possible as legislation is being introduced and we need you to contact your members of Congress.
As I said earlier, try to avoid all of the distractions that are out there and focus on your office and the employees that work there and getting the mail delivered. As always, if you are feeling overwhelmed and need to reach out, remember that EAP is a benefit that is available to you, your employees, and your families.
Thank you, stay safe and healthy, and have a good week!
Dan Heins, UPMA National President