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January 1998
Vol.1 No. 4 Page 5

All People Are Responsible For Their Actions

by Mark Nickerson
I firmly believe that all people are responsible for their actions and that no excuse is sufficient to explain why postal employees react violently and murder their coworkers. However, our union must make this issue a major concern in the upcoming contract negotiations.

We must insist that the reputation the Postal Service has earned is not detrimental to the overall success. Postal hierarchy must except that the number of incidents related to violence is not a coincidence. We do not have a proportional or acceptable level of workplace violence.

This point excepted, management must look at itself not the workers to find a solution to this growing problem. It must commit itself to a more productive and less stressful workplace. This must be addressed as part of the contract and not a memorandum.

This subject is just as much germane to the welfare of the employees as any other covered by the contract. In fact this subject is one that the members are greatly concerned about.

I think Thom is correct when he attributes the level of workplace harassment to the bonus program. Of course as rational people we recognize that when management is driven by greed the only way to reap the reward is to try to force people to accomplish more in less time. The result is an angry, resentful employee.

Postal unions cannot condone or endorse this system. Undoubtedly, if the workers were made a part of this system they would follow human nature, and greed would destroy the unions.

I wonder though why Postmaster General Marvin Runyon has made a point of expressing to the public that he would like to give all employees a bonus and is not allowed to by the unions? Why is he unable to place this surplus of money that he would like to give to the employees in a recreational fund? A fund that could support office picnics and parties as well as sponsoring teams in sporting events.

Managements' flaw in its relationship with postal workers can be defined by the CustomerPerfect program. Next Column

It claims one of the three voices is the Voice of the Employee. Nothing could be further from the truth, the employee has absolutely no voice. Instead only the negative aspects associated with the job are bean counted (accidents) manifesting into increased discipline in the workplace.

This program reminds me of a political group that names itself " People for the Environment" having a political agenda to increase the logging of old growth forests. Only when management accepts that employees have a vested interest in the welfare of this organization will our workplace violence issues begin to dissipate.

This cannot be a hard concept for management to grasp since it claims to be trying to take the post office into the future, making it competitive in the marketplace. If this is truly Runyon's position he would except the fact the unions are here to stay. He would work with them to create an acceptable solution to the violence.

If he refuses it will show that he does not hold the welfare of this institution as sacred. The surest way to destroy the post office is to destroy the public trust. When public trust is destroyed the Postal Service will be in the optimum position for those who would like to privatize it.

I have always felt that Runyon's goal was to privatize the Postal Service, and have himself ready to appropriate the most productive piece of the postal pie.

Considering all of this it raise an intriguing question that I will leave you with.

When the Postmaster General implements a policy that is detrimental to the welfare of this institution should we be able to grieve that action?

I think we should and I would be interested in hearing Runyons' arguments against it.

Mark Nickerson has been with the post office for four years. Mark has been a Shop Steward for three of those four years in Puyallup, WA
for NALC Branch 1484.


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