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agers to remove themselves from the room, that he wanted to meet with the union heads first, and we spent some time with him.
But he wants to have a private meeting with me after July 6. I am looking forward to it because I want to explain to him what rural letter carriers are about. We are on an evaluation system and we get the work done. We serve rural America. We go everywhere. We are concerned about our service and we love our customers. We want our customers to love us.
If he comes in and he does what a lot of people think he is going to do, and that is cut down on supervision, that won't impact the rural letter carriers like it will the other people, unless somewhere he cuts down on supervision that gets the mail to us. If we can't get the mail to us, we can't give the service to the people.
Whenever he makes a cut, if he does, I hope he looks at where he makes a cut, because one time the Postal Service made a cut and they made it with the window clerks. And when they did that, that stopped the service to the people. The people got unhappy. They had a right to. We have to keep our customers happy.
Mr. HAYES. So you are looking forward to a session with him? Mr. BROWN. Yes, sir. Mr. HAYES. All right. Has any member of your staff anything to add?
Mr. BROWN. I would like to comment on one other, if I can. I am hoping Ken, here, who you know, Ken Parmelee, can set up a meeting so I can have a lunch with some of the Board of Governors. I would like to explain to them the evaluation system of the rural letter carriers.
The reason why, is every time they show a report, every branch of the Postal Service is declining, except rural letter carriers. We are continuing to grow. We will have a mail count in September. After that mail count, it will show we are growing. It is because of the way we are paid and the hours that we are working. We give to the Service and we do the work for the Service.
Mr. HAYES. So, Mr. Parmelee, you are concentrating on setting up that meeting? Mr. PARMELEE. Yes, sir. Mr. HAYES. Any other comments?
All right. Let me say thank you for your testimony and your patience, and we will be working together to try to solve these problems. Thank you very much.
Mr. BROWN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
(Whereupon, at 12:45 p.m., the committee was recessed, to reconvene at 2 p.m., the same day.)
Mr. HAYES. Good afternoon, the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service will come to order. This afternoon we will hear from representatives of the groups which manage postal facilities. The postmasters and supervisors are to be commended for their dedication to the future of the Postal Service. Without their participation, the system would not work.
Our first witness is Mr. Rubin Handelman, president of the National Association of Postal Supervisors. I would like to congratulate Rubin on his recently announced retirement.
Mr. HANDELMAN. Thank you.
Mr. HAYES. Although I have only chaired this subcommittee for 3 years, I have benefited from your knowledge and experience, and that of your staff. I congratulate you on your 49 years with the Postal Service, including 6 years at the helm of this organization. He has been a champion for his organization.
Rubin has been a part of the Washington scene for the past 16 years. His honesty and intelligence is irreplaceable, and I wish you good health and a happy retirement.
Mr. HANDELMAN. Thank you.
Mr. HAYES. So we will begin with you, Mr. Clay. I will recognize the chairman of the full committee.
Chairman CLAY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Before we begin this afternoon I would like to also extend my special recognition of Mr. Rubin Handelman and the other witness that we have today. This will be the last time that Rubin will appear before us. I know that I speak for the entire committee, Democrats and Republicans, in wishing you a pleasant and peace ful and a long retirement.
We will all miss your counsel and your fellowship, postal supervisors will miss your leadership, the Postmaster General will miss your expertise, the Washington Postal community will miss your friendship.
You said recently, and I quote, “Postal people are the best you will find anywhere, in any Government agency or private agency. You are right, and you exemplify the best of the best. So good luck to you in your retirement.
It is also a pleasure, Mr. Chairman, to see Ted Valliere here this afternoon. We all hope for your recovery and that it is complete and rapid.
We hope to learn from the assessment today of field managers and supervisors in the Postal Service. Costs are rising, productivity is falling, service is slowing and morale is slipping. So we all must ask people like Ted and Rubin what can be done; what is being done, and I look forward to the testimony today from both of the gentlemen, and, if time will permit, I will remain.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
FROM THE STATE OF MISSOURI
This will be the last time that Rubin Handelman will appear before us. I know that I speak for the entire committee in wishing you a pleasant, peaceful and a long retirement. We will all miss your counsel. Postal suervisors well miss your leadership. The Post Service will miss your expertise. The Washington postal community will miss your friendship. You have said recently, “Postal people are the best you'll find anywhere, in any Government agency or private agency." You are right, and you exemplify the best of the best. Good luck.
It is also a pleasure to see Ted Valliere here this afternoon. We hope that your recovery is complete and rapid.
We hope to learn the assessment of field managers and supervisors in the Postal Service. Costs are rising. Productivity is falling. Service is slowing. And, morale is slipping. What can be done? What is being done? I look forward to your testimony.
Mr. HAYES. Mr. Handelman, I hope the good things that you have heard did not affect you in the same way that it affected the mosquito when he flew in the nudest colony. There was so much good stuff at his disposal he didn't know where to begin, but I will give you the chance.
STATEMENT OF RUBIN HANDELMAN, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL AS
SOCIATION OF POSTAL SUPERVISORS; ACCOMPANIED BY BOB McLEAN, EDITOR/LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL, NAPS
Mr. HANDELMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you Mr. Clay.
Mr. Chairman, my name is Rubin Handelman, and I am president of the National Association of Postal Supervisors. Joining me today is our staff person who handles legislation, Bob McLean.
Today, I am testifying on behalf of over 43,000 active supervisors and 3,000 retired postal supervisors and managers. Because I will be retiring this September, this is my final opportunity to testify before this committee, so you will forgive me if I take a minute or two more than usual.
In the interest of time, I will, however, only read a portion of my written testimony and would ask that the entire text be entered into the record.
Mr. HAYES. Without objection, your request is granted.
Every year before testifying at these oversight hearings, I review my comments from the previous year. Many of my criticisms from 1991 remain valid in 1992. Today, I would like to look at the future of the Postal Service and of postal supervisors because, as several committee members have suggested, the decisions made by senior postal managers today will determine whether there is still a U.S. Postal Service in 10 years.
That is not an exaggeration, and I concur completely with their assessment.
In this environment, a concern for postal supervisors or a possible threat to them is our relationship with senior Postal management. Some who are members of the committee may not know that when Congress drafted the Postal Reorganization Act in 1970, it included language in section 39 U.S.C. 100(4)(b) guaranteeing the organization which represents supervisors, which is NAPS, a role in the management of the new U.S. Postal Service. We were granted consultive rights but, unfortunately, with the passing of each year, the value of that language has decreased.
Since 1986, when the Postal Service was reorganized into divisions, national policies have become an endangered species. We now have national guidelines that may be interpreted 73 different ways, supposedly so that local conditions may be taken into consideration.
Mr. Chairman, postal operations differ to a degree from one division to another, but the differences are not so great that personnel policies, which are usually what our consultive meetings are about, should be interpreted 73 different ways.
Here is a typical scenario. A problem develops because of a new policy or action is taken in an office or division. A local officer at
tempts to address their concerns about the problem or policy, but local managers either refuse to meet with their NAPS officers or our officers are given nothing more than lip service.
If no help is received in this region, we in Washington attempt to address the issue with Postal Service headquarters. These days, we are usually told that local management must be given flexibility and headquarters is not in the business of resolving local problems.
What are we supposed to do? Postal Service believes it has technically complied with title 39, but little or no action has been taken.
In remarkably candid conversations with some of the highest postal managers recently, it has become clear most of them see NAPS and our monthly consultive sessions as a nuisance, a place where petty problems, unworthy of their time, are brought up for resolution. Responsibilities for attending the sessions has even been pushed down one level of management.
The Postal Service must establish some national policies in Washington, especially staffing policies, and then they must make their local managers work with, not against, first-line supervisors and managers. Otherwise, they can expect to meet with NAPS' national officers month after month after month on local problems. Congress gave us national consultive rights, not regional or divisional consultive rights.
A parallel problem has developed on several occasions recently where longstanding policies agreed to by U.S. Postal Service managers and NAPS officers at the national level are being ignored. These actions are contrary to those suggested by Deputy Postmaster General Mike Coughlin, who had said reductions prompted by the Postal Service's financial condition would be from the top down.
For the record, let me say first that NAPS is not fighting automation. We know that supervisory positions will be eliminated because of automation and that such reductions are not only inevitable but necessary for the financial security of the Postal Service.
We understand the deficit projected for next year, but people in the field have given and given and given until it hurts. Supervisors want to do a good job, they want to provide good service, but we continually reduce our ability to deliver the mail. Meanwhile, we make no cuts at headquarters or in the regions.
Some of the actions taken by managers around the country recently seemed to be poorly disguised attempts to dramatically reduce budgets before the arrival of a new Postmaster General. I am worried about the results of such actions. For all our talk about concern for employee stress, we seem unconcerned about the level of stress placed on supervisors who are being thrown out of their jobs with no indication of what their future responsibilities will be, no indication of whether or not they will be relocated to a new type of position, new work location, or both.
The response from U.S. Postal Service headquarters officials has been to do nothing. The initial response tells me that, once again, headquarters plans to give free rein to the field. For the record, we are committed to doing anything and everything to ensure the continuation of a universal mail delivery system, but we will not stand by and idly watch managers who use this threat to the system,
which is a poorly disguised use for removing policies they have found too inconvenient to follow.
For the record, if field managers decide to take actions that violate previous agreements with U.S. Postal Service headquarters, and headquarters officials continue being timid when it comes to getting involved in regional or divisional policies, it may be time to seek a change in the law.
NAPS has successfully fought back several attempts in recent years by some of our members who want to sue the Postal Service for not following title 39. If the Postal Service continues its abuse of supervisors, instead of making them part of an organization which claims to be committed to participatory management and quality management, I am not sure the next generation of supervisors and NAPS officers will be as conciliatory as I have been, and I won't blame them for taking whatever actions they believe are necessary.
Mr. Chairman, with the support of supervisors, the Postal Service can excel, but how well can it function or survive without that support? That is not intended to sound immodest or a threat; it will just be the natural consequence if things don't change. The same should be said about the natural consequences of actions in the field.
In the past year, the number of postal employees killed on the job has been staggering. In part, this is because the Postal Service is a reflection of an increasingly violent society, but some of the violence in the workplace is because of the pressure of the shrinking Postal workforce. Supervisors have been the victims of most of this violence and they have been the source of some of this violence.
Some of these incidents were truly unavoidable but some are caused by pressure applied by management. Again, for some new members of the committee, supervisors do not make policy, they implement it. If a supervisor is rewarded for being heavyhanded and abusive, why should he or she change to another style of management? You need only look at Royal Oak, where some of the supervisors were extremely unpopular among NAPS members.
But I don't blame the ill-advised supervisors who received excellent scores on their merits and bonuses for their actions; I blame those who set the tone for the management of that facility and those who, when warned of the problems developing there, simply pointed to the bottom line and said, what is the problem.
If you will forgive two cliches, talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. If the Postal Service is to survive a $2 billion projected deficit, to survive incidents like that in Royal Oak, we need actions that indicate clearly what the future direction of the Postal Service should and will be.
My advice is clean house, Mr. Runyon, until the remaining managers get the message, until they understand what the future direction is for this grand institution, which has been my employer for the past 49 years. You set the policy, we will follow it. But get it right the first time. I don't think we will get a second chance.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for your time, thank you for your interest, and thank you for the many courtesies you and the committee members have extended to me over the past 16 years. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.