September 2021 Update
Well, there’s at least one thing ringing true from last months column. “This is an extraordinarily busy time for the Membership and their Representatives. I don’t expect things will be slowing down in the near future.” Much of this activity has been related to the conversion MOU, the filling of duty assignments, and the inability to recruit and retain new employees. Add to that continuing cases of COVID-19 infection, the implementation of the Postal Support Annex, ongoing grievance activity, and preparation for the FEHBP Open Season. To be sure, “game-on” remains the order of the day in Local 323.
Regarding the conversion MOU, the conversion process and the creation of new duty assignments (bids) has been mostly completed. There remains some grievance activity related to the bids and one Branch is still hiring directly into full-time regular career positions. There are only a handful of direct hires remaining before the requirements of the conversion MOU are satisfied. This direct hiring is unprecedented. At no time prior to the most recent MOU has anyone attained full-time career status without having previously served as a part-time flexible or Mail Handler Assistant.
Recruitment and retention continue to be a problem even with direct career hiring. The labor market is tight, many companies are hiring at wage levels equal to or higher than the Postal Service, any many people are not willing to accept the working conditions. The prospect of having a job at the Postal Service is not what it once was. In addition, supervisors have been separating people during their probation for what I would call trivial reasons. There seems to be little if any desire within the managerial culture to create an environment with a goal of facilitating productive employees.
The separations during probation are troubling because the Union’s ability to address these situations is restricted as a matter of contract. If you are serving a probationary period be careful. The philosophy of managing is easy if you dislike the employees has reasserted itself with a vengeance, particularly among newly created supervisors.
Incidents of COVID infections continue to be reported in the Postal workplace. I receive an email every day listing the COVID cases within the MN-ND District. COVID-19 has not gone away, and the Postal Service has reinstituted the mask policy nation-wide. Please, have respect for your health, the health of your family, and the health of your coworkers. 34 Mail Handlers have already died from COVID-19 across the country.
The implementation of the Postal Support Annex (PSA) is ongoing. The Representatives of the NDC Branch have been, and will remain, fully engaged on all issues related to this facility. I have attended several meeting concerning the PSA and will continue to assist the NDC Branch as the process continues.
The road that lies ahead contains many challenges; and I ask every Member to support and help their Officers and Stewards in the Branches. Participate in your Union. There can be no Union without you.