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Local President's Page

Jeff Larsen

April 2020 Update

We are certainly dealing with some extreme situations.  The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our lives in the workplace and at home.  Daily, we hear dire predictions concerning the future of the Postal Service, as well as some troubling proposals supposedly intended to remedy the situation.  And, we have begun implementing the recently ratified 2019 National Agreement.  It is definitely “game on” and throughout Local 323, the Members, Representatives, and Officers, continue to step up to the plate.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has required significant changes in the workplace.   The National Union has negotiated some Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in response to the situation.  These include an expanded criterion for dependent care and an exception period for the MHA percentage which will provide additional staffing.  Congress has enacted several pieces of legislation which have provided benefits to those impacted by COVID-19, both in and out of the workplace.  The flow of information has been robust.  Information is being sent by the National Union and disseminated to each Branch office as soon as it is received.  In fact, on several occasions your Representatives have provided management at the installation level with more current information. 

 

On the legislative and political front, both the National and Local Unions continue a coordinated outreach to members of Congress.  I recently sent letters to the entire Minnesota Congressional Delegation requesting their help in securing the relief and reform needed for the Postal Service.  ND State Executive Board Member Brock Engstrom sent similar letters to the North Dakota Congressional Delegation.  We have also been involved in calls to Capitol Hill and web-based activities such as, town halls, Zoom meetings, and emails.  I have never felt particularly comfortable addressing Postal issues through email; it just does not sit well with me.  Ironically, and despite sending actual letters, all the responses received from our Congressional Delegation have so far been via email.  I guess that’s just the reality of today’s environment.  An item currently pending in Congress concerns providing hazard pay to Postal employees.  The Union wholeheartedly supports hazard pay and we have voiced our opinion accordingly.   

 

The 2019 National Agreement was overwhelmingly ratified by the Membership.  I was quite happy to see this result.  Would you really want to be without a contract under the present circumstances?  Certainly not.  Contract administration, the filing and processing of grievances, and work floor representation continue moving forward.  In addition, implementation of the 2019 National Agreement is underway and on schedule.

 

The well-being of the Membership is always our focus as a Labor Union.  This is true regardless of whether that well-being concerns health, economics, or contractual rights.  We currently find ourselves in a fast-moving environment and we are often required to adapt quickly.  Your Representatives are focused, determined, and remain committed to our principle that, “The Union is an essential service to the Members.”

 

JL