Delivering information when you need it most.

Volume 2 - Fall 1999
Page 7

Was There A Motion For An
Electronic Information Officer?

by Thom Green
No there was not a motion to have an electronic information officer elected to the National union. However, there was plenty of talk about creating the position. Why? well mostly because many believe that it would be better to have someone in this position as an elected official. He or she then becomes answerable to the membership.

Anyone who is "hired" or appointed by our national officers for whatever reason, answers to the Executive Board. Sometimes this is good. However, in the instance of election of a Vice President or Director of Information Systems, I believe that this person would be in charge of developing our Information Systems network without the "private" shackles of our Executive Board holding them down.

In one of my Branch Items in the Postal Record last year I suggested that we push to get a position of this type in place. Those who agreed with me and others did not succeed.

But we did not quit.

However, we have created a "web" of sorts of members who have become adept at getting the information out. In essence this effort, without any approval needed by National, is doing what I believe that elected official should be doing.

Frankly, and I know many have said this, but it bears repeating again, Kathy Higgins' work on the Carrier Connection is the best example of what we want to see done with this network. But, it is not a finale to our cries. It is only the beginning.

If we are to reconsider our previous recommendation, we need to begin planning now. And, it is not something that can be put together haphazardly. It needs to be thought out, studied, and prepared properly.

Along with setting up a readily available network of information that is accessible to all the members of the National Association of Letter Carriers, I think this person should see to it that our NBA's are equipped with up-to-date hardware and software. Their offices should be networked to the National in Washington and to each other. There should be an internal email system from each office giving them access to immediate information from each other. Who knows, this may exist now and we just aren't aware of it.

Also, I believe that our NBAs and Regional Administrative Assistants should be equipped with laptop computers, portable printers, scanners, and the like. This would make it possible for them to tap into any information database that is available for them when they need it while they are in the field.

They should also have all of the latest and most used software that is in place today. In other words they should be using essentially the same software suites as what the Postal Service is using. We need to keep on par with the Service and we aren't doing that.

Two years ago when the "NALC Netters" put in their push for this to happen, it was met with resistance then by our National and it is met with resistance now by our National. One thing that President Sombrotto has said to those who have written to him about our interests is that there aren't as many union officers, stewards and members using computers then as we thought. Well, that maybe so then, but what about now.

Let's twist this a little.

During our Interest Arbitration that just completed we pushed hard for all letter carriers to be converted to level 6. Why? Because we believe we have earned it and are working harder now more than ever. But, when we presented this argument to the arbitration panel we used the background that four years ago we almost got it but the arbitrator said there weren't enough areas involved in automation -- the time wasn't right. This time around we said that the system is as complete as it is going to be.

Well, my friends, I believe there are more letter carrier union members using computers now more than ever and the time has come for us to move into the next century by taking advantage of the electronic marvels we have come to know on a daily basis. We need an elected national officer who is in charge of an information network that would benefit all letter carriers and not just a small few.

You decide what to do. This is your union. It is your information you are asking to have access to. It is your right to be able to obtain this information so when necessary to defend yourself against a management that wants to "clean house", you can be comfortable knowing you can get what you want when you want it.

Brother Green is a 26 year member of Summit City Branch No. 116, Fort Wayne, IN. He is editor of The Summit City Mailbag, and a union steward at the Hazelwood Station, Fort Wayne.


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