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January 28, 2021 transcript of From The President's Desk

Posted by Frank Augustosky on 01/28/21

Greetings everyone!

Welcome to the January edition of From the President’s Desk.  When I addressed you last month you were still in the midst of PEAK season with no end in sight.   Well, for the most part we have gotten through PEAK and into the new calendar year, but from what I am hearing things have not really gotten any easier.   Yes, the number of packages might be down but there are still a lot of packages in the system because of everything COVID related.    That coupled with the fact that the COVID cases do not seem to be decreasing at this point continues to add frustration with staffing levels and the ability to move the mail continues to be a challenge.   I am very hopeful that when we finally get the vaccine out there in the workforce and the general public and we can move beyond the infection rates that we currently have that things will actually get better.    I am sure that we are hopeful that we will be able to turn the corner from the pandemic sooner, rather than later, and move forward to a more steady way of life.   I have heard many people say they want us to get to a new “normal”.   I do not think there is any way that we will be able to define what “normal” is for some time to come, like I said earlier, I just want things to smooth out so we can get on with life.

Earlier in January the UPMA Pay Talks Team held our first meeting to start laying the groundwork for the issues we will want to take forward when Pay Talks actually begin with the Postal Service.   Right now, we are waiting for the final ratification of the NALC Contract and the official notification from Headquarters that talks can begin.   The team met to get some issues hammered out and a strategy put in place so that we are all on the same page as we move forward.   It is only about every three to five years that we have this opportunity to officially deal with issues of pay and benefits, so we want to make sure that we are putting our best foot forward.   During the pay talk process (and obviously now leading up to it) there is not a lot of information that can be shared regarding the issues that we are discussing.   As we get into the process and obviously when we do have a final package, I will make sure that information gets shared with all of you.  I want to thank those of you that contacted the team with ideas regarding issues you believed should be part of the final pay package request.

Your National Executive Board will be meeting here in the Washington, DC area on February 20th and 21st.   This is the meeting that would have been held in conjunction with the Legislative Summit; however, even with the Summit postponed, we decided that we would go ahead with the board meeting as planned.    If you have issues that you would like to see discussed at this meeting be sure to get in touch with a member of the National Executive Board so that they can bring those items forward for discussion.   We will be meeting all day Saturday, February 20th and until approximately noon on Sunday, February 21st.    The board will be meeting at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.

Here at the National Office we continue to get a number of calls, emails and text messages asking when the Voluntary Early Retirement Authorization (VERA) that was approved by the Office of Personnel Management will be offered.    Let me try my best to clear up a few questions regarding this issue.   When the Postal Service first announced the restructuring that was going to take place with changes in the number of Postal Areas and the restructuring of Processing and Logistics, the announcement was made that they were going to apply for the ability to offer a VER, if they decided one was necessary.    At one time we thought that announcement might come as early as December.   Right now we are waiting for the final word on what the restructuring of the Districts might look like across the country.    I expect that announcement will be made within the next couple of weeks.   Once that announcement is made and those changes are in effect and the Postal Service has the time necessary to review the impacts on the organization, it is at that time that a decision on VER will probably be made.   I expect that at that same time is probably when the Postal Service will look at relaxing the hiring/promotional freeze that is currently in place for EAS employees.    The way it is looking it could be late spring, or early summer, before any final decisions are made and then we do not know what those decisions might be.   As always, I will do my best to keep you informed as the changes happen and as we move forward.   It is unfortunate that we do not have more definitive information but that is what we have for now.

There have also been a number of questions raised about the 2021 Goals and the NPA and PFP matrix.   You should also see information on this program rolled out to the field in the next couple of weeks.   Headquarters is in the process of putting the final package together and once it is approved, it will be communicated to everyone.

Since we are so limited in our ability to do face to face meetings and trainings, we will be offering you opportunities throughout the year to receive information that the education committee feels is warranted.   We will be offering these sessions via WebEx in partnership with FedPoint.   The first session will be held on Thursday, February 11 at 7:30 PM Eastern Time and the second will be on Thursday, February 18th at 9:00 PM Eastern Time.   The topic for February will be the PS Form 150 and how that applies to the level of your office and when it should be reviewed.   The information on joining the sessions will be on our national website, and you should be able to just click on a link to join the meeting.   The two meetings will actually have the same content.

In closing, I want to remind you all to stay safe, wear your masks and wash you hands, or use hand sanitizer and continue to maintain your social distancing.   And, as always, I thank each and every one of you for all that you do for the American public!    It is very much appreciated.