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August 28, 2020 transcript of From The President's Desk

Posted by Frank Augustosky on 08/28/20

Greetings everyone!

Welcome to the August edition of From the President’s Desk!

We are aware that nothing ever stays the same, but we are currently seeing changes going on like we have rarely seen in the history of the United States Postal Service.    I am hearing that there continues to be more and more changes that are being thrust on the field with additional reports being added on a regular basis.    As I am sure most of you are aware, there was a task force put together a number of years ago to deal with the number of emails we were receiving, the number of meetings that were being held and redundant reports.    While that task force made some great recommendations to Postal leadership in how to deal with all those areas, we were never able to get those changes fully implemented and those of you in the field continue to suffer to this day.   Now we appear, not only to have slipped back to where we were before the task force meetings, but what I am hearing is that especially in the area of redundant reports it may well be worse than ever.   With that in mind, I am gathering information from different areas of the country to present some good hard data to Postal Service Headquarters to see what can be done for the short term and the long term to address these issues.    With the new reporting structure that is being implemented at Headquarters and in the field, there are from time to times questions of who these issues should be taken to; however, my direct contacts have not changed and I will push this forward.

Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone that is still suffering the effects of the Coronavirus and now we especially remember those that are affected by the wildfires in California and the western portions of the country.    Additionally, with Hurricane Laura hitting the Gulf coast it appears that the recovery in those areas could take a very long time and our prayers go out to everyone that is affected.   We realize that with the pandemic still in place that it makes some of the recovery efforts even more challenging.    On behalf of UPMA, I would like to wish you all the best now and as you move forward through this.

This coming Monday and Tuesday, August 31st and September 1st, your National Executive Board will be holding one of the three face to face meetings that are called for in the National Bylaws.    With everything going on in the country and with some of our members unable to attend for various reasons, we are planning to have a ZOOM connection available for the board members to vote and participate and for other individuals not on the board to observe should they so choose.    The call in/log in information for the ZOOM will be posted on our website, later today, when we have all of the logistics worked out with the company that will be providing the feed for this meeting for us.   With a meeting of this length and the size of the room we will be in we had to go to an outside vendor to provide these services for us.    We will be meeting from 8 AM to 4:30 PM on Monday and from 8:00 AM to approximately noon on Tuesday.   All those times are Eastern Daylight Time.   During this meeting the Board will have the opportunity to hear from the new Chief Retail and Delivery Officer, Kristin Seaver in the morning and from the Vice President of Labor Relations, Doug Tulino in the afternoon.    For many of us, this is the first time we will have an opportunity to hear from Ms. Seaver.    Both Kristin and Doug will be making presentations and then taking questions from the board.

As I talked about in my Friday message this week, I have been consulting with Labor Relations at Postal Service Headquarters regarding the issue of annual leave carry over.   Since the COVID-19 pandemic became an issue in the United States and consequently in the Postal Service a number of individuals have contacted me concerned that because of a lack of staffing they may not be able to take annual leave and may be in danger of losing some leave at the end of the year.    While a final decision has not been rendered by the Postal Service at this time, I am expecting a letter in the next week, or so.  That letter will outline what the parameters will be for 2020.  It is my understanding from my conversations with Headquarters that individuals will be allowed an additional amount of annual to be carried over this year and for you to be allowed to sell back additional leave after the first of the year when that process opens up.   Once the letter is received, we will post it on the website, and I will make sure that I share what the exact numbers are for the carry over and the sell back options.    The Postal Service recognizes that these are extraordinary times and they call for making some changes in our long-term process and requirements.

Earlier this week I sent a report to the UPMA National Executive Board regarding developments with the National Convention and outlining some recommendations regarding allowing chapters to use alternative formats for holding a chapter convention.   That report is posted in the resources section on the national website    One of the items that is talked about in the report is the issue of the National Convention.    For safety and health reasons the National Executive Board voted unanimously on June 2, 2020 to postpone the convention that was scheduled to start on August 1st with the first business session scheduled for August 3rd to a later date when hopefully the COVID pandemic situation will have improved.  After that vote I consulted with our National Parliamentarian, John Galera and John and I worked with the National Registered Parliamentarian that we have been utilizing, Mr. Thomas Balch, regarding what the proper procedure was to carry out the wishes of the board to postpone the convention.    After some extensive research on the matter, Mr. Galera and Mr. Balch gave me an opinion on how that postponement could happen.   Their opinion stated that the convention would need to be opened on August 3rd by as few as two people and a resolution introduced that would allow the National Executive Board to set a later date for the convention.    So, on August 3rd while I was in St. Louis for a meeting with the staff at the hotel in planning for our National Convention later in the year I met with our National Secretary-Treasurer, Jim Maher and another member at large from Illinois and opened the convention and passed that resolution.    There have been accusations made that this was somehow done to circumvent the will of the membership.   I can tell you it was done to carry out the will of the membership as spoken on their behalf by their elected representatives on the National Executive Board.   As was outlined by the parliamentarians, had we not taken this action it would be impossible for the Executive Board to set a later date.   Some have questioned why this was not publicized.   It was not publicized in the interest of safety and because in my mind it was just a procedural issue that we needed to have done to move the organization forward.    With the restrictions in St. Louis at that time it would not have been possible to have a gathering of any group larger than even twenty five people and since we only needed two (or in this case we had 3) I decided not to have anyone else take a safety risk or incur the expense of coming to a meeting that I knew would last about five minutes total.   I realize now that not informing the board prior to the opening of the convention may have been a mistake; however, at the time I thought I was doing the right thing and that the communication to the board was not necessary since I was using the opinion of the parliamentarians to move the organization forward toward a convention.   I just want to say given the concerns that I hear expressed by many of our members on a regular basis regarding safety and health, and the situation in St. Louis at the time, I would most likely do just what I did in this case if a similar decision needed to be made.

Thank you for watching and I look forward to addressing you again next month.