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August 1998
Vol. 1 No. 11 Page 7

Who Really Is Your Boss?

by Jim Minton
Iwas standing in my front yard this morning (Sunday, a week before the convention). My neighbor came out and we spoke of things including unions and what they mean. He sells and installs phone systems and many of his subcontractors and follow-up work is union work (IBEW) I assume.

He had nothing to say but praise for their work. He notes the same job done by non- union workers and clearly sees the quality difference. Union work is better. Is ours? I tend to think so and I have worked to impress this work ethic on my fellow carriers.

Some of the methods of instilling the highest quality of work from these carriers, while maintaining our hard-earned rights is something we all need to think about. It is easy if you look at it from our boss's point of view:

Who really is your boss?

Not the fella in the shirt and tie or that gal in the skirt.

That person knows so little about your job and would never ever want to do that for a living.

That person only gets hacked when you call in sick and are not able to case and carry your mail.

That person says "hi" to you only out of courtesy if that at all and could care less if he or she ever saw you outside the work setting.

If you accomplish everything you are expected to do, that person would only walk by you on their way to dump on the carrier next to you because the homeowners association for their neighborhood sent out circulars to that route only making it the only one needing overtime.

Your boss is:

The patron who sees your work every day in the mail that is properly delivered and on those occasions that they are out when you come by they can even see you doing what you do best. You make their lives function.

You come by faithfully and play a role in their lives that they would terribly miss if you stopped.

Important business, helpful ads and cherished cards and letters from loved ones are brought to them by you.

You can pick up and deliver their outgoing treasures too with the full expectation by them that it will be handled with professional and courteous care. They know what you do and how you fight the elements of the day and are grateful.

They miss you if they note you are not there each day. Often they ask your replacement where you are and show concern if they are told you are ill. (I see this while doing a split for someone sick)

They care for you.

The patron is the one who does give you that real "hi" greeting, glad to see you and willing to smile at the opportunity to see you. You are a part of their life. When you get the opportunity to talk to them, they are usually so happy to share a bit of today with you.

You provide them the level of service they expect and they often thank you for your efforts. You notice this often when you go to the door with a package. It's your job, but they are honestly thankful you came. You may notice this at holiday time as they greet you with hot chocolate while on your rounds. You notice how they accept you and respect you.

When I think of who my boss is, I have hundreds of bosses at hundreds of addresses. I work for them each day and have to satisfy each of their needs.

If I work to do my best at that, I have done my job. I don't have to break my back rushing and having an accident. That is not productive in the long run.

Work, good work, dedicated work, and efficient work provided to my real bosses usually keeps those paper bosses off my backside.

I take pride in my efforts as a unionized worker. I get good pay and benefits that I earn as a union worker. I know it is the union that fought hard to win the pay and benefits I enjoy.

The few that are not in the union, I notice care little about their work, their fellow worker, or their real employer, the public.

I often see them care so about the paper boss that gives them their paycheck every other Friday, but they really miss the point.

Kissing tusch is not the same as providing good work. Too bad the paper bosses, the ones who say they are our bosses, never see it that way. Sometimes I look at the laziest of carriers and see more effort put out by them on their worst day then I see out of our paper bosses on their best.

I know who pays my way. The patrons when they send out mail and pay the postage, which is, still the best bargain in the world. I know and every National Association of Letter Carriers member should know and be proud of the work they do.

As a union activist, I must lead by example and instill these thoughts in the fellow carriers I work with. I actually care about them and the quality of work they provide. I defend them when they are wrong, but work with them to make sure they are the best they can be.

None of this stops me from being a good steward and working for the best environment for all carriers though. I do not wear a management tie and do not do their job for them.

What is their job anyway? To pay us, to provide us a vehicle and to see we are offered overtime opportunities when they exist.

Anything else? I know not what. I have a lot more respect for my fellow carriers who do the real work. It is important that we all have respect for our fellow carriers and we all respect our real bosses, the patrons we serve.

Jim is a 20 year postal veteran and member of the NALC.


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