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Bonus? What Bonus?
How craft employees should be rewarded for a job well done has been a problem for management. Back in the "good old days" of Employee Involvement, our local team tried to tackle the issue. One of the team members was the assistant postmaster, and the managers cowered in fear when he was there. It was fun to watch!
One of our EI suggestions was how to reward carriers for going above and beyond. After lengthy discussions, it was determined by the station's managers that if the overtime was held to a specific level, the carriers would be rewarded on one Friday a month with (drumroll, please) donuts!!! At which point, to his credit, the second-in-command said, "Why would anyone in their right mind give up overtime at $15.00 an hour (at that time) for a few donuts? I know I wouldn't!"
The other supervisors, realizing how silly the idea sounded, backtracked so fast it was like a old movie run in reverse. "Right, big guy." "I agree, boss." "Dumb idea, who thought of that anyway?" There were more heads nodding up and down in that room than in the hen house at feeding time.
I know the recent bonuses paid to management by the Postal Service has caused a lot of concern, especially for those bosses who thought it was a big secret. Counting the bonus that is "banked" for the next quarter, it actually averages about $5,000 per manager! (Thanks, Matty Rose, business agent for the Southeast Region, for getting that list to show how much each boss "earned.")*
Actually, I have no problems about bonuses. Big companies routinely give out bonuses to their managers and employees. For most large corporations, they give bonuses in the form of dividends to stockholders.
I also see nothing wrong with the Post Office giving out bonuses, (official USPS bonus motto -- "Two for me...none for you!") It's just that it would be nice if they also gave a bonus to the people that actually performed the work. Further, by keeping it a secret, with the bosses high-fiving each other in private and telling how they are going to spend the bonuses they earned off our backs, they showed in how much disdain they actually hold us sweaty craft workers.
The recent UPS strike resulted in a big increase in revenue for the post office and other delivery companies. FedEx gave their employees each a bonus averaging about $500. (The poor souls, having to lug those heavy envelopes around, one at a time!)
I also read that the post office is thinking of giving their managers yet another bonus averaging about $1,500 due to the increased business we received, in addition to hefty bonuses already paid. And what did we get at our station? (another drum roll) sandwiches!
This was part of a nationwide "Postal Employee Appreciation Day" that the USPS celebrated on that Friday. But no one at our station told us that. They brought everyone sub sandwiches from a local sub shop and made it sound like someone was digging into their personal pocket to give us a treat.
Don't buy the bunk that, as our managers told us, that union/ management contract rules prevent the giving of bonuses. And if it did, do you think NALC President Sombrotto would stand in the way if the Postmaster General (Runyon) decided to give every employee a cash bonus?
In their own clumsy way, management thought it was an ok thing to do, to give everyone a free lunch. But put into the context of the big picture, the one with the supervisors pocketing over $5,000 in cash, it tastes pretty stale. (Five grand can buy a lot of sandwiches.) After realizing what WE got, compared to what THEY got, you get the same feeling as when a kid that offers you their half-eaten ice cream cone (that you probably paid for) Yeecchh!
*Anyone wishing to get this information you can address an inquiry to: Elizabeth L. Smith, Manager Payroll Accounting Records USPS, Corporate Accounting 475 L'Enfant Plaza S.W., Washington, D.C. 20260-5243. Ask for specifics as to the post office/district, etc, and ensure the letter is captioned "Freedom of Information Request" (FOIA). Ask for the amount of the bonus (dollar amount) received by each member of management for the location requested. Regulations that are applicable can be found in Section 352 of the Administrative Support Manual.
ED NOTE: Paul is a member of NALC Branch No. 2550, Fort Lauderdale, FL. He was featured in the September, 1997 issue of the Postal Record, On the Record, page 16. He is a writer for his branch newsletter as well as a contributing reporter for Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, among other publications.