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April 1998
Vol. 1 No. 7 Page 7

Cheating, Dishonesty, Falsification
Anything Else?

by David Elliott
By now I would imagine most everyone has had an opportunity to read the Statement and Directive issued last month to all Postal Service PCES executives nationwide, from Postal Service Headquarters. For those of you who have not, it is printed below.
VOE Directive to all PCES executives

Whether it is meaningful, or meaningless, is of course a matter of opinion. One thing it seems to indicate, is what appears to be an obvious reference to, and an even more obvious "unspoken admission", that the United States Postal Service has indeed been manipulating, and knowingly violating its contractual agreements with the labor unions.

While few of us who have been in the Postal Service for any length of time would find this terribly surprising, this "unspoken" admission of guilt does seem to indicate a possible "new line of thinking" by the upper echelon of USPS management. Whether or not this translates into them actually abiding by, or honoring the Labor Contracts, remains to be seen of course. The statements contained in this directive are quite clear and concise, and leave little or nothing to "interpretation" by local, and lower level postal managers.

Let us now see if the level 16-18-20-24-etc. postmasters and managers can figure out a way to "disagree" with their bosses -- the people who are supposed to be calling the shots, but continue to deliberately violate the contracts and MOU's as they have been doing for years now, and with near impunity!

If I were a steward, with any of the postal unions, I would include and incorporate this directive as an addendum, with any and all contractual violation grievances. I would want to see how they can "mis-interpret" these clear instructions from their superiors. And, if they do, and get by with it without any discipline being issued to them. If that happens it will be proof that the directive is indeed meaningless!

A most interesting aspect of this statement, are the definitive remarks pertaining to managers who attempt to circumvent these instructions. It would almost appear they (the authors of the directive) were indicating there would be accountability for managers, and real, actual discipline, for managers who continue the practice of ignoring the contracts when it suits their fancy.

This, in itself, would be the single most important step that any new incoming regime of postal management could accomplish. But only, if it is indeed actually serious about improving labor relations within the Postal Service.

Let us never forget, that with hardly any exceptions, the problems existent within the labor climate of the Postal Service are created, and are caused, by postal management (not the crafts) not following the rules. Cheating when it suits its fancy, resorting to dishonesty when it improves its position, falsification, when it will increase its chances of being rewarded financially, (EVA bonuses) and out and out lying, when it is to its advantage to do so.

Not that the crafts are completely without fault in all of these areas. We have our share of cheats, crooks, and dishonest people. It is simply that the crafts are obviously not in a position to gain all that much from such actions, and rarely is a craft person in a position to affect anyone other than themselves, by "breaking the rules."

Whether the new Postmaster General is Mr. (William) Henderson, Executive Vice President, Mr. (Michael) Coughlin, or someone else, is irrelevant. If this "joint" statement of the Chief Operating Officers of the USPS is true, and sincere, and is carried forward, without being allowed to be "watered down" or altered, or ignored by "up and coming" managers at the Area, District, and local levels, it could be the most significant breakthrough in Labor Relations within the Postal Service since the inception of collective bargaining. Additionally, I believe that it also would constitute the salvation of the U.S. Postal Service as we know it. Without something of this magnitude occurring, it is just a matter of time before the whole operation goes down the tubes, is privatized, and is sold off piecemeal to the highest bidder.

I loved the response of one of my fellow window clerks, an old gentleman with whom I've worked for many years. After viewing "some" of the "CustomerPerfect" video (we weren't given all of it, even though I'm sure the District was told we were . . . EVA, don't you know!) he said that "his" level of commitment to good customer service, would match "their" level of commitment to good customer service, any day in the week.

Source: David Elliott is a 38 year employee of the Postal Service. He is window clerk at the Simi Valley, CA post office David can be reached at This article was posted earlier on Postal Talk and subsequently run in The Summit City Mailbag, monthly publication of Summit City Branch No. 116, Fort Wayne, IN Thom Green, Editor.

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