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Mr. HAYES. Thank you, Mr. Runyon. To begin the questioning-I meant Mr. Handelman.

Mr. HANDELMAN. That is all right.
Mr. HAYES. You mentioned Runyon and that was on my mind.
Mr. HANDELMAN. Thanks for the promotion, anyway.


POSTAL SUPERVISORS Mr. Chairman, my name is Rubin Handelman, and I am president of the National Association of Postal Supervisors. Today I am testifying on behalf of over 43,000 active and 3,000 retired postal supervisors and managers. Because I will be retiring at our convention this August, this is my final opportunity to testify before this committee, which has been so helpful to postal supervisors in the years I have been worked in Washington as a NAPS resident officer.

Every year before testifying at these oversight hearings, I customarily review my comments from the previous year. Regrettably, I must report that many of my criti. cisms from 1991 remain valid in 1992. But rather than focus on a few specific concerns, I'd instead like to take a more far reaching look at the future of the Postal Service, and the future of postal supervisors. In the last 2 weeks of oversight hearings several of the committee members have suggested that the decisions made by senior postal managers today will determine whether there is still a U.S. Postal Service in 10 years. That is no exaggeration and I concur completely with their assessment. My fellow NAPS officers and I may, in a cynical moment, refer to the Postal Service's “annual crisis,” sometimes caused by rate increases, more recently caused by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Acts which, perhaps as much as anything, have threatened the future of the institution. But my concerns today are not the usual ones.

Here is the environment in which we are working. Alternate delivery is no longer a theory, it's a reality for a growing number of former postal customers. Projected deficits are no longer measured in the millions, but in the billions almost $2 billion in fiscal year 1993. Competition in expedited services will become more intense than ever, as competitors like Federal Express and United Parcel Service, desperate for profits in the face of fax machines and modems, try to infringe on the legal protections assigned to the Postal Service in the Postal Reorganization Act. Postal Service revenue is well below plan, in part because of the recession, but I believe primarily because the Postal Rate Commission saw fit to reduce the proposed 30 cent firstclass stamp to a 29-cent stamp. The increases they placed on third-class mail have driven away many customers and caused others to significantly reduce the number of mailings they make each year.

Your letter of invitation to this hearing requested our thoughts on the report of the Joint Task Force on Postal Ratemaking, and on the proposals contained in the General Accounting Office's report, “Pricing Postal Services in a Competitive Environment” NAPS has not been actively involved in the ratesetting process in the past, and I won't offer specific comments on either of these reports. I would encourage members of this committee, as I have encouraged postal Service management, to listen closely to our customers' comments. If there is one criticism heard oftenand loudly-from our customers, especially our major mailers, it is that they want the Postal Service to listen more often, to consider more carefully their recommendations. The Competitiveness Task Force initiated by former Postmaster General Tony Frank is a step in that direction.

Beyond that I will only comment that NAPS' general reaction to the task force's recommendation is a positive one. Mailers we have spoken with indicate they would prefer smaller, annual increases to the staggering increases announced, on average in the past decade, every 3 years. While I am concerned about the complaints we will get from the general public about annual increases, we can expect such treatment regardless of how frequently prices go up. It will not be easy to take, but if our major mailers consider it a more sensible, manageable approach, we support it.

A larger concern for postal supervisors, or a larger threat to them, is my primary focus today. When Congress drafted the Postal Reorganization Act in 1970, it includ. ed language in section 39 U.S.C. 1004b guaranteeing the organization which repre sents supervisors a role in the management of the new U.S. Postal Service. We were granted consultative rights, outlined in very detailed language, at the national level. Unfortunately, with the passing of each year, the value of that language has de creased. Since 1986 when the Postal Service was reorganized into divisions, now numbering 73, national policies have become an endangered species. We have national guidelines that may be interpreted as many as 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 because of such factors as geography, population, the age of postal facilities and the types of mailers served. The differences are not so great that personnel policies, which are usually what our consultative meetings are about, should be interpreted 73 different ways. Imagine if you had EEO regulations or OSHA regulations that varied from State to State and you will understand what NAPS is facing.

Here's a typical scenario. A problem develops because of a new policy or the actions of a single individual in a single office, a major city, or a division. Our local officers attempt 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 from the region, and usually it is not, we in Washington then attempt to address the issue with Postal Service Headquarters. At that point we are told that local management must be given flexibility, and that Headquarters is not in the business of resolving local problems. What are we then to do? The 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 that most of them see NAPS and our monthly consultative sessions as a nuisance, a place where “petty" problems unworthy of their time are brought up for resolution. Responsibility for attending the sessions has been pushed down one level of management, while the length of time required to get answers has gone up-by weeks. The Postal Service must establish national policies in Washington, 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 officers month after month after month on our problems. We have national consultative rights, not regional or divisional consultative rights.

A parallel problem has developed on several occasions recently, where long-standing policies agreed to by USPS managers and NAPS officers at the national level are being thrown aside in the name of necessary budget cuts. The best recent example, but certainly not the only one, is in the Southern Region. In response to the declining financial condition of the Postal Service, the Southern Region has begun a major review of EAS positions, and plans to eliminate 10 supervisory and/or administrative positions in each Type II division, 15 in each Type I division, by August 1. While some of the jobs are being eliminated as a result of the implementation of automation, others are being eliminated in violation of an agreement between the Postal Service and NAPS reached over a decade ago on superintendents of postal operations, or SPO's.

On a number of occasions since 1980 field managers who were unaware of the established policy have attempted to eliminate SPO's. When the situations were brought to the attention of senior postal managers by NAPS, NAPUS and the League of Postmasters, the positions were restored. This has not been the case with the recent decision by divisions in the Southern Region. In the Jackson, MS Division 20 supervisors have been notified that their positions were being eliminated. Twelve are SPO's.

The Southern Region's actions are contrary to those suggested by Deputy Postmaster General Michael Coughlin, who indicated in conversations with me that reactions to the Postal Service's financial problems structurally would be from the top down. This is not what is being done in the Southern Region. And as you heard last Thursday in testimony by Deputy PMG Coughlin, he said he would not take exception with what the regional postmaster general thought were appropriate actions.

For the record, NAPS is not fighting automation. We know the Postal Service is facing serious problems that managers at all levels must address. 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.

What bothers me, first, is that people in the field have given and given and given until it hurts. We continue reducing our ability to deliver the mail, by reducing the number of employees responsible for that. At the same time we're reducing the level of service given our customers. We make no cuts at the top. In fact, the number of employees at Headquarters is so high they now have offices in the Headquarters building, in the north building of L'Enfant Plaza, and in the hotel building. This is not top down action. And while Headquarters budgets have been reduced, has Headquarters reduced the number of people working in positions that have nothing to do with our primary business? And have the regions reduced their staffing levels?

The second problem we have with the actions taken in the Southern Region and elsewhere is that they seem poorly disguised attempts to lead the rush to dramatically reduce budgets just before the arrival of a new Postmaster General who is known for paring budgets and levels of management. What some of our managers in the field should know is that Marvin Runyon also has a record of focusing on an agency's primary obligation, which for us is delivering the mail.

For all our talk about concern for employee stress, we seem entirely too 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 third problem I have with some field actions against supervisors is the lack of reaction by USPS Headquarters officials. The initial response tells me that, once again, Headquarters plans to give free rein to the field. Is an agreement reached in 1980 now worthless? Will Headquarters discard other long-standing agreements allegedly because of the financial crisis now experienced by the Postal Service? Will these issues be discussed with NAPS before such actions take place?

For the record, we are committed to doing anything and everything to ensure the continuation of a universal mail delivery system. We will not stand by and idly watch some senior managers who use this threat to the system as a poorly disguised excuse 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 USPS Headquarters, and Headquarters officials continue being timid when it comes to getting involved in regional or divisional policies, then 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 very badly to sue the Postal Service for failing to follow 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.

With the support of supervisors, the Postal Service can excel. But how well can it even 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 society, and today America is one of the most violent countries on the planet. But some of the violence in the workplace is because of the pressure of the shrinking postal workforce. Supervi. sors have been the victims of some of this violence, and they have been the source of some of this violence.

Some of these incidents were truly unavoidable, the result of psychotic behavior that could not be predicted. Some of it was because of pressure applied by manage ment. I would remind the committee that supervisors do not make policy, they implement it. If a supervisor is rewarded for being heavy-handed 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 in Michigan. 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's the problem?"

If you'll forgive two cliches, talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. If the Postal Service is to make the changes necessary 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 mes sage, 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'll 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. Mr. HAYES. Now, I would call on our chairman, Mr. Clay, for any questions he might have.

Chairman Clay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Postmaster General Frank talked about the paramilitary style of management in the Service. To your knowledge, have any programs been implemented to correct or change that kind of attitude?

Mr. HANDELMAN. Well, we have had the implementation of management by participation, quality first. We have had many different processes which have been implemented. In some places, it works great; in other places, it is not fanning out at all.

I think where the top echelon in the Postal Service would like to see every division implement some of these processes, it is not done. If a division manager doesn't want to implement, he just says, we are not implementing, and that is it, regardless of what everybody else under his or her jurisdiction feels that it should be. If that division manager or directors do not want to implement, they don't implement.

Chairman Clay. You mean, they have that kind of authority, autonomous of the national office or whatever, the Board policy or the Postmaster General?

Mr. HANDELMAN. Well, Postmaster General makes statements, and even the Postmaster General does not state to those 73 divisions that you must do it. They leave it up to themselves. That is true.

Chairman CLAY. Do you have any recommendations as to how we can improve or change the style of management? Because, apparently, it is not working.

Mr. HANDELMAN. Mr. Chairman, I think that at headquarters level, they are the ones that actually make the policy. They issue the regulations, and they are the ones that can tell every one down below that this is what you must do.

Now, what they do say is, they say your bonus will depend on it, your merit increases will depend on it, but that doesn't mean they are going to do it. And where it is not done, they just say, well, there are 73 divisions, everybody operates the way they wish.

Chairman Clay. So you are saying to us there is no uniformity among the 73 divisions; something may be right in one division and wrong in another division?

Mr. HANDELMAN. There is very little uniformity, that is what I am telling you, yes.

Chairman CLAY. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HAYES. Mrs. Morella?
Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you.

I want to thank you, Mr. Handelman, for the work that you have
done on behalf of all of the citizens of the United States and tell
you that I hope that you will continue to be in touch and you will
return and give us the benefit of your advice and counsel. And,
again, enjoy your new adventure, whatever it may be.
Mr. HANDELMAN. Thank you.

Mrs. MORELLA. We had some testimony this morning that I wanted to run a few things by you.

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Mr. Conners of the National Association of Letter Carriers, who talked about the 6-plus-2 idea of getting the letter carriers out on the road. But he said that, really, they spend 4 hours sorting and casing the mail, and 6 hours on the street, so that is really 10 hours, which mean mail deliveries come later.

I am curious, because what affects you would be the 4-hour sorting and casing mail. Do you find that that has not been thought out; what merit does that have, from your experience?

Mr. HANDELMAN. Let me see if I can answer that properly. It used to be, on an average, a carrier spent 4 hours in-house and 4 hours delivering. With the implementation of automation, the carriers supposedly will spend just 2 hours sorting, because a lot of his mail will come to him or her sorted, and the other 6 hours on the street. It is very possible the carrier will only have to spend 1 hour in-house and 7 on the street, we don't know.

But, perhaps, since everyone is so intense and interested in budget, before the implementation of automation, or while it is being implemented, it may not be working as it should, and they went and said "6 and 2," regardless of what happens.

Now, we have had reports from supervisors where, on a “6 and 2”, not only is there overtime, but mail is left over in the cases, so service is suffering. But nobody wants to change, because, as far as the manager is concerned, or whoever in charge says, it is “6 and 2," we have automation, and this is the way it is going to go, regardless. They feel even if they have to leave mail over, we are saving the money,

I think former Postmaster General Tony Frank stated the service was a three-footed stool and one is as important as the other. I think there is a one-footed stool with many of the minds up in headquarters, and that is strictly budget. Budget comes first. If you have to sacrifice anything and everything else, make budget.

Mrs. MORELLA. Because productivity and morale, I am sure you would agree, of course, has something to do with your budgetary consequences or benefits, as it may be.

We also heard this morning from Moe Biller of the Postal Workers Union, that there was dissension or disagreement with regard to the Joint Task Force plan with regard to setting rates, setting and changing the discounts in the different rate categories; also the idea that the rates are set to encourage presorting by paying mailers more to presort than is saved by the Postal system. Am I making sense?

Mr. HANDELMAN. Yes, I understand what you mean.
Mrs. MORELLA. What is your opinion of that?

Mr. HANDELMAN. I know what my friend Mr. Biller answered. I am not up with rate setting and all, but I go along with what the customers think. I think they are knowledgeable enough to offer their expertise on a subject and all.

Whether we are paying the mailers too much to arrange their mail the way we would like or not, I really don't know. I am not an expert in that, and I would really not hazard a guess as to whether, if we are paying them 4 cents, whether it should be 3, or if we are paying them 5, it should be 4 or 342. I don't know, really.

Mrs. MORELLA. I guess you would be in disagreement with the rate; that the 29 cents should have been 30 cents.

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