Mail Handlers Local 323

Representing Mail Handlers and MHAs working for the United States Postal Service

Local President's Page

August 2020 Update

There are times when so much is going on that I don’t know where to start.  Sometimes I begin with a broad overview of current issues, which then turns to specifics.  While that approached has been appropriate at times, there have also been single topic columns which have gone into some detail.  The latter usually involved major issues like contracts.  I’ve been criticized for going too far at times and it’s been suggested that I write too rigidly for general consumption.  Both criticisms are probably well founded. There are paths on which I tread lightly because I know I’ll go too far; and some topics are just inherently rigid. 


My objective has always been to share the view from my chair with the Members who put me in that chair.  I strive to share this view as completely as possible and there have been times I’ve been brutally candid.  The opinions I’ve expressed have always considered the potential effect any issue may have on the Mail Handler Membership.  Still, my opinions are no better than anyone else’s; they come from one Mail Handler, in one Local Union, who’s just been in a position for quite a long time.  To be sure, I’ve acquired many dents, scratches, and miles, during more than two decades as your Local President.  Well, on August 1st, the odometer turned over again.  That’s the day the Officers of Local 323 began their three-year term of service to the Members.


There have been some changes in our Officer positions.  Kathy Schultz retired (in case you haven’t heard) and Dean Abatte moved from Recording Secretary to Vice President.  He also continues to serve as the Minneapolis Branch President.  Brian Newhouse from the St. Paul Branch has moved into the Recording Secretary position.  John Frey has embarked on his eighth term as Treasurer, Shane Ryden is continuing to serve as MN State Executive Board Member, and Brock Engstrom continues to serve as ND State Executive Board Member.  Brock has also moved into the position of Fargo Branch President.  Mike Straiton and Edward Yun continue serving the Members of the NDC Branch and St. Paul Branch as their respective Branch Presidents.  I would like to thank everyone for stepping forward to serve the Membership during these difficult times.  Additionally, I would like to wish former Fargo Branch President Gary Tollefsrud the best as he finishes his Mail Handler career.


The oath of office was administered by National President Paul Hogrogian via Zoom.  Some of the Officers participated on Zoom, and others gathered in the conference room at the office.  There was little, if any fanfare, just the oath of office and a feeling of let’s get to work.  We hit the ground running on August 20th with a meeting of the Local Union Council. During this meeting, your Officers covered current issues and began looking toward our efforts in the future.


We don’t know what the future holds for us, either as Mail Handlers or as Postal employees. This is true whether we look at the next three years or a longer time frame.  I’m not going down that road, at least not today. That may be an area where I'd go too far.  Suffice it to say that I find some happenings of the past few weeks very troubling.  At the risk of sounding alarmist (again), I worry the adversities of our past will pale in comparison to those that lie ahead.  We’ll see what the future holds, and we’ll face that future together.  Once again the dented, scratched, high mileage, old beater is ready to roll.