A trend has developed lately that is very disturbing. It seems that postal employees, and our wages have become the whipping post of USPS management, Congress and the media.
They howl and groan that labor costs in the USPS are 80% of USPS expenses. Basically, the public perception of us has been destroyed by our own employer and the media and all of the postal pundits. They all believe a unionized work force should no longer be allowed in the USPS. We have all heard it, "The unions are destroying the USPS", or USPS employees make (blah $$$ blah) more than private sector employees. Dont you just love that every blow hard in the country that is upset over a 2 cent price increase gets to add their "2 cents" on livelihoods. They are sitting in their fat cushy chairs pounding out anti union and labor venom without knowing a single thing about what we do.
Now we have the Potter, um sorry, Carper bill that has been introduced in Congress that would undermine the very nature of collective bargaining. This bill is basically a copy and paste of every single thing Potter wants to do, and it would eliminate any kind of Congressional oversight. This is right up Potter's alley. In fact he has hailed this as the bill that would bring the USPS into the 21st Century. This bill also includes a provision that would "require" an arbitrator to use the USPS financial situation as a guideline for issuing their decisions. This provision is "union busting" at its best. If this provision gets enacted into law, no longer will we "negotiate" with the USPS. We will play football where the opponent gets to start the game with a huge lead. Long ago, the USPS agreed to binding arbitration if agreements could not be reached with their unions, and now, they no longer want to play. They can't get an arbitrator to agree to gut hard working employees as much as they would like, so now they will just sidestep the process that they agreed was fair in the beginning, and try to get Congress to give them what they want.
All of this really comes as no surprise. In this day and age of corporate greed and corruption in the world, it kind of just seems normal doesnt it? We have watched middle class lives be destroyed by corrupt and greedy Corporations in the last several years. One difference here though, the USPS is not a corporation. We are a quasi independent federal agency that was started to bind the nation together through communication. Sure times have changed, we have lost volume to internet and other electronic communications, but I know I still see myself as a public servant to my customers. How can an organization whose business is "service" work to eliminate "service" and expect to survive. Sure our labor costs are high, because we are a "service" industry. It is our product, it is all we have to sell. But, the leaders of the USPS no longer subscribe to this philosophy. They want to be a full fledged Corporation, where the chase of profits and numbers guide every move they make. The Enron culture has taken hold and the media and pundits are along for the ride.
Lets take a look at some of the "Enron" type activities that have come out of USPS Headquarters in the recent past:
1. Here is a 2009 GAO report about management spending.. which clearly shows there is no recession at L'Enfant Plaza.
2. PRC report where the USPS is quietly closing stations without going through the proper legal process
3. FSS and IMB and the USPS sales are not working like intended and are not realizing the cost savings the USPS touted in the beginning, although, even with these reports, they still tell us how well they are working.
4. We have a few instances where time cards have been falsified..
6. PMG Pay and Bonus was probed by Congress.. All of this while the USPS is in dire financial straits..
7. Then we have the Bernstock affair.. where he was giving no bid contracts to his buddies.
8. IG audit find 800 million in unnecessary costs..
9. Ex-postal executives return for high-pay contracts
10. All the while reporting a 7.7 billion dollar loss for FY 2010
Not to mention all of the OSHA safety violations..
Now I realize some of these links are from last year, but they serve my purpose of showing a series of continuing Enron like practices that come from the USPS all the while begging for 5 day delivery, and trying to change laws instead of doing the right thing and continuing the collective bargaining relationship they have had with their unions for years.
Now some would say, well, that may be how you see it, but you are a postal employee and you are biased. Damn right I am biased. How you see things depends on where you are standing.. These unethical practices affect me and my livelihood directly. My paycheck depends on the whims of Congress and USPS management. Im no expert, nor am I a pundit, or even a manager. I am a craft worker in the USPS who works my butt off every single day to provide service to the American people.
I am a postal employee who watches the moves of USPS management with a disbelief that they have lost their way. I shake my head as I realize that they are no longer "Postal Employees", they are "Politicians" and "CEOs". I find myself at a loss of words when my customers ask me what is going on the Postal Service. I try to keep myself from being sarcastic and cynical when the USPS tells me they care about my livelihood and my safety. And finally, I am mad because they have changed my view of the organization I work for. What used to be a sense of pride in the USPS has become a sense of cynicism and the reality that I am only a number to them.
You may say, wow, at least be glad you have a job.. Yes, I am glad I have a job, but it is not the same company I started working for 13 years ago. As I watch the USPS use their weight to make sure they accomplish gutting my paycheck and my benefits as much as they possibly can, I do find it hard to look the other way and jump for joy that I am allowed to work for them.
So, I will continue to do my job and provide the best possible customer service I can. I will wait with worry for whatever chunk of my life they will take away from me next. I will continue to listen to every blow hard postal pundit in the nation demonize me for enjoying my paycheck and benefits for which I have bargained for and achieved through years of work.
But there are some things I will not do. I will not feel guilty for the things I have achieved through my loyalty and hard work. I will not feel guilty for having a union that bargains for me with my employer. I will NOT just take everything with the attitude that I am lucky to have a job. I will NOT hide in a corner and not voice my displeasure in the greedy culture of the USPS, and I will NOT stop trying to spread the truth of what this organization has become. And I will NOT willingly give back anything I have earned without a fight.
NEVER feel guilty for what we have achieved, and NEVER let them make you feel lucky to work for them. We agreed to work for them and they agreed to pay us. Plain and simple. There is NOTHING wrong with making a middle class paycheck and NOTHING wrong with enjoying the benefits we have bargained for.
While we may be at the whim of Congress and USPS management and their Enron like culture, we do not have to sit silent and cowering. Keep the faith, and keep the fight going.
When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him whose?