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April 16, 2021 Update from Dan Heins, UPMA National President

Posted by Frank Augustosky on 04/16/21

Friday Message – April 16, 2021

VERA – Every week I continue to get a number of calls regarding whether, or not, there will be a VERA offering for Postmasters, Managers, or Supervisors.   Anything is possible but I believe that the VERA offerings will continue to be limited to those individuals that may have their job duties changed as a result of the new Area and District restructuring.    If you are a District employee in one of the support functions I know that you have a lot of questions as to what is going to happen, especially in those cases where there are two, or more, people doing the same job in a now consolidated district.    I have been assured that our leadership at the Headquarters level is taking a long hard look at how the staffing in these positions will work and what positions may be available to those that would in essence be displaced by the merging of two districts.   As an organization the Postal Service has always done everything, they could to make sure, if at all possible, that there would be landing sites for everyone that wants to continue working and is not taking either the VERA or retiring.   As has happened in past when we have had these types of situations if you are one of the displaced individuals you may not be able to stay in your current position.   Also, the position that is available to you may not exactly be the position you want; however, you should be able to find a place in the organization where you can put your knowledge and expertise to good use, and you can see what doors may open up for you in the future if you just work through this current situation.  

Employee Retention – I am sure all of you are aware that one of the areas of focus for our Postmaster General and for the Postal Service as a whole is employee retention.    There is nothing more frustrating than waiting weeks (or in some cases months) to hire someone and get them in the door and then to have them walk out the door just as fast as they came in.    Central Area Vice President, Krista Finazzo, has been detailed to headquarters to work on an initiative that is dedicated to this very issue.   I had the opportunity earlier this week to be briefed on the progress of this initiative and what some of their plans are to address this growing concern going forward.    Many of the retention strategies that are being looked at are still in the planning stages and need additional approval from the leadership at headquarters, but things are going forward.   Krista and the team are planning to implement pilot projects in a couple of different areas to see what can be done to help retain our new hires.   For many of you I know you are thinking, well, if they just did away with Fast Track Hiring it would end our problems.    The issues with retention go way beyond the Fast Track Hiring, although I continue to share concerns about that process with headquarters personnel and they are looking at some options for modification of that program, as well.   Keep in mind that Fast Track Hiring did reduce the number of days, on average, to hire individuals.   It created other obstacles or didn’t address obstacles that existed but it did help to reduce the number of days, overall, to onboard applicants.  In the meantime, we need to find a way to make the positions we hire individuals for as attractive as possible and we want to help them see the long-term benefits of continuing their employment and having a career with the USPS.    As more information becomes available on these initiatives it will be shared.   The staffing shortages that we are experiencing because of COVID-19, are just exacerbated that much more when we finally get some future career employees on board and then they walk away from the position.   If we as UPMA members can help the Postmaster General to fix employee retention, it reduces many hiring activities and job vacancies which allows you, as leaders, to develop a consistent and stable workforce.  A workforce that may be your replacement someday.

Pay Talks – As I have reported previously, next Thursday marks the forty fifth day since the announcement was made that the NALC had ratified their contract.   According to the Federal Code and Title 39, of that code, forty-five days is the maximum amount of time that the USPS has to deliver a proposed package to us here at UPMA.    In my conversations with my representatives from Headquarters I fully expect that they will indeed meet that Thursday deadline and we can begin the formal pay consultation process.   The goal of both sides in this consultation process is to have a new package in place by the end of July.   At the very least, I would like to be able to release the details either at our National Convention, or right before we arrive in Ohio for the August 14-20, National Convention.

COVID-19 - As more and more people get vaccinated; I just want to caution you about letting your guard down.    Even if we have been vaccinated, we need to make sure we are taking the necessary precautions to protect ourselves and others.   Always be mindful of the other persons feelings on this issue.   Even though you may be comfortable with shaking hands, or hugging, the other person may not and I encourage you all to respect everyone wishes.  

Thank you,

Dan Heins
UPMA National President