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Volume 2 - Fall 1999
Page 8

Tweeners

by Paul Gereffi
I get tired of beating the same old drum, but I’ll continue to do my Ringo routine as long the do-nuthin’ brigade keeps marching.

Another year, another round of bonuses. Oh, but if only those that deserved the bonuses got them. How little money would be paid! The few managers that know how to motivate their employees should be the ones that get the bonuses.

Instead, the “tweeners” get rewarded as much if not more than those managers that actually perform a function. Don’t know what a tweener is? It’s that shadowy group of supervisors who don’t actually run a zone, or manage a station, or direct employees in their duties by making assignments and covering vacancies. They’re not actually responsible for anything, their duties unclear, their purpose vague. They come in late, stay out of sight, and leave early, accountable to no one.

Know how to identify them? Look for that skirt that slides around the halls, sticking close to the wall, eyes looking down on an important piece of paper that’s being urgently transported to another office in the cozy confines of the Main Facility, (probably a menu for Chinese take-out!) Or that tie that struts through the zone, head turning and eyes blinking inquisitively like a bird just hatched, looking and feeling important, (but actually scouting for a place to wipe the powdered donut sugar off his mouth!) Or the group sitting cross-legged around a table, sipping coffee on those idiotic satellite telecasts, which has to be the least watched TV show since “My Mother The Car.”

Every office has at least one or two (can you name the ones in your station?) and the Main Facility is infested with them. At a pay of about $20 an hour, just imagine peeling off a Jackson each hour, every hour, and handing it to these do-nuthin’s. What a waste!

Things could change. The Washington Post reports that the Postal Service is looking at a loss in 1999, the first one in five years. Part of the problem is discounts given large mailers if they bar code their mail (DPS, anyone?). Postmaster General Henderson has acknowledged, according to the article, that the Postal Service has failed to capture the “anticipated savings” from these discounts (read: automation!) And finally, at the end of the article, Henderson says that management bonuses, which averaged 10.5 percent in 1998, will be eliminated if the Postal Service fails to make at least a $200 million profit.

Surprise! Automation isn’t working the way they thought it would. No kidding? Notice the story says nothing about letter carriers not doing their job. But guess who’s going to take it in the teeth if we lose money and the bosses don’t get their bonuses? We are!

Management will say nothing at gather rounds about the discount postage, or other reasons we might be losing market share, such as the increase in e-mail that has caused a $68 million drop in revenue in international mail. Instead, it will be the carriers that get blamed for the shortfall, and we’ll be told to hustle up. Just imagine the wrath of the manager that doesn’t get a bonus.

I have a challenge. Either make the do-nuthin tweeners work or get rid of them. Next time you see one, ask what they are doing, where they are going, what duty they are performing as they wander aimlessly. They’ll tell you that “I’m observing the carriers,” or “checking on the clerks.” Don’t believe it.

Trouble is, once we and the line supervisors catch on to the tweeners, management plays a shell game and shifts them to another station, where the whole fetid process starts all over again.

In Washington, Henderson has pledged to cut 500 positions from headquarters. That’s right, 500 tweeners being reassigned to actual postal duties (gasp!) In Fort Lauderdale, I challenge our Postmaster to eliminate one tweener from each of our ten or so stations, and fumigate the Main Facility to get rid of them there. At an average of $40-50,000 a year, that’s a saving of half a million dollars this fiscal year just in Fort Lauderdale. Now that’s a bonus I could live with!


Paul is a member of NALC Branch No. 2550, Fort Lauderdale, FL. He was featured in the September, 1997 issue of the Postal Record, On the Record, page 16. He is a writer for his branch newsletter as well as a contributing reporter for Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, among other publications.

E-mail: PGereffi@aol.com

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