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PDF Editor FAQ

Who would I contact to file a grievance/complaint against both the NALC and USPS, for forcing me to resign while on a flexible/reduced (pt) schedule (approved by doctor/FMLA)?

Your best course of action is to contact your congressman (just contact one congressman) and have them ask what is the USPS practice for dealing with … insert your issue.Your congressman can not override anything. But, they can get the USPS guidelines so you can easily see if they are treating you fairly. Then you have a basis for further EEO, Merit pritect

What changes should the Biden-Harris Administration make immediately to the USPS? Should the federal government give up on treating the Postal Service as a semi-private company and return it to an essential public service?

I’m an attorney with the USPS and have been there for 17 years. So I’ll give you an insider’s thoughts. I speak only for myself - I am not authorized to speak for the USPS and am not doing so.To your specific question, the USPS is considered “quasi-governmental” basically because we are not taxpayer funded (but we are certainly part of the US Government and not private), and also because we are subject to many laws that private employers are subject to, such as the private employer FMLA regulations. Likewise, we are and always have been an essential public service. So when you ask if the USPS should be returned to an “essential public service,” if you mean to ask should we be fully funded by tax money, then in my opinion, no. It’s way too expensive and not necessary. I’ll address a few items below in that regard.To start, let me say that I’m neither a fan of the new PMG, although I do not believe he is the partisan hack he is made out to be, nor do I believe the USPS is perfect. But I must take issue with Mr. La Fleur’s comments in his answer alleging that the Agency is in a choke hold by “bloated unions and union pensions,” and what appears to be his implication that the workforce is not diverse. (I’ll leave the following four years to rebut Mr. LaFleur’s belief that Biden and Harris will be harmful and instead show that they and a democrat-led Congress will do much good, including getting the pandemic under control and vaccines out to everyone, address climate change, racial oppression, gun control, women’s and reproductive rights, immigration, prison reform, healthcare, etc., and address the enormous mess created by Traitor Trump and his insurrectionist GOP enablers.)On the diversity issue, the USPS has over 600,000 employees. We are from just about every race, religion, creed, gender and national origin. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a more diverse workforce.In that vein, the post offices and facilities in each state mirror the population of those states. So, at worst, if you have a mostly white or black or Spanish or Asian population in a particular area, you will find that at the postal facilities. But that’s a function of the available employee pool, not any anti-diversity hiring practice.Note too that we are the second highest employer of military members after the military itself, and have a very high population of disabled workers.As for the union issue, we don’t pay union pensions. The unions, of which there are several - the chief ones being the APWU that represents the window clerks and others, the NPMHU that represents mail handlers, and the NALC and NRLCA that represent city and rural mail carriers, take care of their own officers’ salaries and pensions from union work (as opposed to USPS employment).I do agree that our labor contracts hamstring management in the ability to manage in the most effective manner possible. That however is true of any unionized workforce and it is balanced by the need to keep management from running roughshod over the employees who have no bargaining power without a collective organization behind them. I’m not a union supporter (I’m a defense attorney and have spent my career defending against employee and union claims), but especially in the US Government that has so much power, you need unions or employees would be abused. Not out of evil intent - just out of the reality of harried managers trying to get the job done and stretching people as far as they can go, and then some, and firing people rather than having the patience to address problems, provide mentoring, training, etc.Which brings me to the real problems - lack of resources and an outdated business model. You can’t turn the USPS loose to be a profit making machine because, given its size and reach, we would put everyone else - UPS, FEDEX, couriers, mailers (those companies that send advertisements and the like for businesses), every mom and pop shop, etc. - pretty much everyone in the mail industry, out of business.So what’s to be done? Well, most of our huge costs aside from salaries come from retirement funding (that has been in the news a lot over the last 10 years - the USPS is the only company in the US that has to prefund retiree benefits and it’s about $5B per year. We simply don’t have the money and have defaulted on that obligation for years now); healthcare costs; and OWCP (workers’ comp) and paid leave, as well as equipment, facilities, and the vehicle fleet.For retirement, Congress simply needs to pass a law doing away with the pre-funding. It’s simply impossible for the USPS to pay it, and unnecessary.On healthcare, the USPS has proposed to Congress that retiree healthcare be part of the Medicare system. You can take issue with this, but it’s a sensible approach and relieves the USPS of much of the retiree healthcare burden.Healthcare for active employees is another matter. The USPS has proposed being able to run its own healthcare plan. Many see that as a bad idea because asking an already overburdened Agency to take on such a complex idea is arguably less than ideal. I saw this at a small company I worked for years ago. The only way to do it right is to turn over much of the work to consultants and experts in the field, and then you wind up with enormous costs in that regard and you really don’t have the kind of control you want anyway as those outsiders will claim they will tailor a plan for you but really they can only run things the way they know how, not how you want it to be.To me, a better option is Medicare for all and, honestly, for the whole country. But we are many years form that. Biden likely will try to add a public option to the ACA (Obamacare), and perhaps that can be offered to the USPS and federal agencies regardless of whether it becomes available to everyone. I’m honestly not sure if it would help costs or not, but it likely would create less expensive options including a Medicare option. Here’s a good summary by the Harvard Business review (they think public option is much better than Medicare for all.). The Case for the Public Option Over Medicare for All.Regarding OWCP and paid leave, the USPS spends over $3B per year on those things. Workers’ comp. in particular is a widely abused program. It’s too detailed to get into here, but at its core the program, which handles benefits for millions of federal employees, simply has nowhere near the resources needed to make sure only legit claims are processed, fraud is weeded out, and people get back to full duty work whenever possible. I would advocate for an overhaul of that system, but that’s a massive undertaking not high on any politician’s to-do list.What I would like to see then is more flexibility for the USPS to be able to address the “missing workforce” - the 15% of people who don’t show up each day for legit and non-legit reasons (health, earned leave emergency), and the high number of people who can’t do the job they were hired to do, due to injury or illness, and thus receive reasonable accommodation under the ADA (that is supposed to be assistance that enables people to do the essential functions of the job effectively, but often winds up with a much less efficient employee), “light duty” available under most of our labor contracts or “limited duty” for those injured on the job, both of which allow employees to do only what they can, within their restrictions, so not their entire jobs.The USPS is quite constrained by the ADA, labor contracts and FECA (workers’ comp law), as to how to deal with those situations, and, long story short, it wreaks havoc on trying to get the mail processed and delivered for the nation each day.The “fix” is also quite complex but one simple one would be for the USPS to be allowed to use work-restricted employees where and when needed, regardless of union, job level, or any other characterization, within their physical and mental abilities. There is plenty of work - but we generally can’t “cross crafts” (assign someone in one union work that falls under a different union), or move people to different facilities where work exists (it’s allowed but only under a tortuous process that is almost always grieved under the labor contracts because people hate leaving their home office). If we could pretty much everyone who has restrictions due to physical or mental ailments could be employed fully and more effectively. (This would be a complex undertaking requiring a very different, more agile type of management style and resource allocation than the USPS or most any other federal agency currently employs. But it’s certainly doable. Just takes a different mindset.)In that vein, the grievance process is arguably out of control too. It is simply too easy and too protected for unions to grieve everything and anything. Again, I do believe unions are needed, and they would claim everything they grieve is for good reason, but given the tens of thousands of grievances that are settled each year for innocuous language like “we all agree to follow the rules and treat everyone with dignity and respect,” it’s obvious they are not.One simple solution - all union activity should be on the union’s dime. Then they would need to assess what actions are really worth bringing and which are not. Those on the union side would say that would chill the grievance process and undermine workers’ rights under their contracts. I think it would make the grievance process more efficient and streamlined, without taking away the right to grieve. Again, though, far too complex a topic to cover fully in a forum like this.As an aside, another avenue of redress for employees is our EEO system. In a nutshell, employees can bring an “EEO claim,” alleging discrimination for literally anything they don’t like. We get about 20,000 claims per year, many of which just parrot grievances or complain about otherwise legitimate management actions such as issuing discipline for misconduct. The cost is very high on running the EEO program, but one simple answer is to put a small filing fee on each complaint, maybe $25. Currently it’s free to file so why wouldn’t you? (And employees are allowed “official time” to process their claim, so they are basically paid to sue the USPS or nay other federal agency at which they work.) A fee would likely wipe out the vast majority of “grievance” and illegitimate claims, and leave the serious ones where, for example, actual sexual harassment or racial or disability discrimination might have occurred.There’s nothing inherently wrong with a filing fee and it would not chill the EEO process. In the U.S., people have to pay a filing fee for almost any type of lawsuit, even in small claims. EEO claims should be no different.Turning to equipment, facilities and the vehicle fleet, Congress could easily address those costs if it wanted to, including providing clean energy vehicles and government owned properties (the USPS leases many of its 30,000 or so facilities). If not, then the USPS has to be allowed to get its other costs under control to be able to afford its infrastructure.This is tip of the iceberg, of course. In the end we’re talking about a massive federal agency tasked with delivering the nation’s mail which in turn keeps the economy humming which is turn fuels the global economy. It’s quite difficult to make a huge bureaucracy efficient, but that does not make it inherently evil or beyond improvement.In fact, the USPS had proposed several solutions to Congress, some discussed above, and those are a great starting point for Biden and Congress because no one knows the USPS better than the USPS. In that vein, many people would like to see the USPS offer basic banking services (it has done that in the past), which would give underprivileged and underserved communities reasonable financial services and likely put the horrible “payday loan” and cash advance industry out of business, all while bringing in money for the USPS. That seems like a win-win.Congress would certainly want input from all the constituents, not just the USPS of course - the mailers, the unions, employees, and consumer groups. But ”fixing” the USPS has been worked on for many years now, Congress has many proposals from the USPS and others, and it can be done if there’s the political will to do it. (Note that I ignored privatization. That’s simple not viable. There’s no way a private company can deliver mail to every part of the country, from Pensacola in Florida to Bangor in Maine, Camden in New Jersey to Seattle in Washington, Oahu in Hawaii to Juneau n Alaska, etc.., in a cost-effective manner and still turn a profit. So, unless you want to pay $15.00 to mail a letter, or tell remote and rural communities to forget mail service, forget that.)

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