|Delivering information when you need it most.
This was taken from Contract Talk, May 1987, The Postal Record, page 34.
Q: Management here just initiated something they call the "Carrier Commitment Program." A supervisor talks to each carrier and tries to get the carrier to sign a pledge to finish his or her route In a certain amount of time each day. Most of the carriers are upset and want me as the steward-to get the union to file a grievance.
I called the branch president, and he called the national business agent, but between them they thought there would be no use in filing a grievance, because there is no provision in the contract which prohibits management from trying to get a carrier to agree to promise to deliver a route in a certain amount of time. Isn't there anything the union can do?
A: There are lot of things the union can do. To see how many, it's only necessary to remember what the union is, and to assay the available tactics. The union isn't the national president, or even the national executive board, or your branch president. Those are just people who serve the union, as do you.
Instead, the union is the 290,000 current and former letter carriers who have banded together for mutual protection, and to promote the welfare of letter carriers past, present and future. In a very real sense, therefore, when the letter carriers in your station ask "Isn't there something the union can do?" they're asking "Isn't there something we can do?" The answer to that question is almost always affirmative, because working together creates a powerful-force.
The grievance-arbitration procedure is seen for what it is - just a small tool in the huge toolbox which is at our disposal. It's a very important tool, to be sure, and one which we've developed considerable skill in using, but it constitutes only one of the many ways we have to approach a problem.
You should question your station manager about the program. After you've gotten the answers, you should call a station meeting to talk about "Carrier Commitment," and tell them what you've learned. Find out what the carriers don't like about the program and, together, work out a common response.
Tell your station manager what the carriers had to say about management's plans. Simply letting him or her know that there's been a meeting will probably be enough to make the problem disappear because, in their hearts, most supervisors and managers understand that their destinies depend on our willingness to work with them, rather than the other way around. If your manager is one of the few who is as yet unenlightened, you and the other carriers in your station, working together, can give the manager a quick education.
The problem you've described - the "Carrier Commitment Program" - is one of those kind of problems that's been around forever. Since the beginning of time, workers have worked, and supervisors have tried to find new ways to get them to work harder. Some have used gimmicks, and some have used pressure. All have pushed until the workers said they were working as hard as they could. When the workers said it together, the supervisors heard what they were saying. All we have to remember is that we have a variety of ways of saying it, and that it has to be said together.