Delivering information when you need it most.

February 1998
Vol.1 No. 5 Page 7

It Is Accountability

by Bill O'Flaherty
ED NOTE: This item was sent to me via the Internet. My attempt to "write" back to the author was returned therefore we don't have our usual bio on this author. That given, I decided to run it, because, quite frankly, I agree with what others have said. If we don't write about it, it won't be known.

At any time you are reading this letter, and you think that it might be an overreaction consider this comment made by Joe Mahon, Vice President, Labor Relations, Retired, in the February 9, 1998 Federal Times:

"The system encourages lazy employees to receive overtime, he said, while fast, efficient employees are rewarded with more work." (New Labor Negotiator Stirs Hope, page 8).

Letter To The Editor:

First of all, let me express my appreciation and admiration for the excellent work you've done with "Contracts and Conflicts." Along with Spence Burton in California, you are making groundbreaking strides in providing information over the Internet.

On the less than possible side, there has been another fatality in the management's war against the crafts.

Shop Steward Robert Addison of Baker City, Oregon ended his own life in January of this year.

Reports written in the LaGrande Observer, and reported in the newsletter of the Washington State Association of Letter Carriers, indicate Addison was under incredible stress placed on him by the usual thuggery of misplaced management.

In a small eastern Oregon post office, experienced carriers with no history of anti-management activity were suddenly subjected to a rash of discipline, firings and harassment. Overwhelmed by his responsibilities, harassed, and disappointed by management's abuse of the grievance procedure, Addison succumbed to his depression.

Interviewed by the Observer, the NALC's Paul Price, assistant National Business Agent in Vancouver, Washington, pointed out that there was an incredible growth in grievances out of the Baker City office following a change in management tactics. Half the carriers in an 11-man office had left due to resignations, firings, etc.

Price said that phone calls to the business agent from Addison, desperately involved in trying to save people's jobs, often ended in tears.

One postal official, a representative of the Portland District, indicated that there was nothing "unusual" happening in Baker City.

Privately, a high-ranking representative out of the NBA's office told me that, as far as he was concerned, the Postal Service pulled the trigger that ended Addison's life.

Publicity about this tragedy had not been widespread. And details to the field have been very sketchy. Yet, there are conclusions that experienced stewards can easily draw.

The Postal Service remains a very sick organization. The abuse of power, always evident in these kinds of tragedies, is like some deadly virus that cripples and kills working people, while promotion-hungry, bonus-driven bureaucrats go on as if nothing has happened.

Supervisors have become little more then henchmen for their superiors, and the craftperson taking pride in the elements of courtesy, safety and accuracy, is seen as little more than a tool to be worn out and discarded.

Ineffective, too, has been our legalistic approach through the grievance procedure. What can a steward say to a letter carrier who has been unjustly disciplined, cruelly fired or just abused day-to-day? Hang in there?

What do we say to a carrier who has been harrassed and mistreated by a supervisor? We can file the grievance. But, we can't guarantee that the jerk won't get his bonus or his promotion. And, we can't hold responsible the upper-level bureaucrats that encourage and permit abuse to continue.

There has been a lot of hoopla about recent "Agreements" with management at the National level. However, to those of us in the field, it is still business as usual. We are failing to protect people like Bob Addison. This is the great tragedy our organization.

Back To Index
Previous Page Page 7 Index