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Dignity and Respect Will Help Everyone Prosper
By Tony Dallojacono
Mideast Area Vice President
"The Times They Are a-Changin” and will continue to do so. The Postal Service has changed drastically over the past decade and even longer. Let’s look at about 35 years ago when there was no Delivery Point Sequence (DPS) mail.
Every day, carriers started at 6 or 7 a.m. and cased multiple feet of mail. They cased multiple feet of flats in a side, plastic holding bin attached to the case, which some referred to as coffins, and stacked on the floor. These were the days when the carrier supervisor would walk around and say to leave those trays or flats because they were Third Class and could be curtailed with proper date tags.
Carriers had horizontal flat sections according to the shelf; the flats had to then be put in delivery order by address by the carrier. Sometimes the PTF carrier would come in and do this for the routes as office assistance. There were clerk cases—not one, but many—to sort letters and flats.
Offices had many more routes. For example, an office that had 95 routes, but, now, has only 75 routes. There was much more mail to case and deliver with many fewer parcels. Carriers were not in the office for 30 or 60 minutes; they were in the office for hours sorting mail.
Supervisors measured mail and notated the amount on Form 3921 for carriers and Form 3922 for the Function 4 volume. It then was converted to Form 3930 for the total mail that day. There were Jeeps whose doors you could open with a butter knife; at times, the doors would fly open while a carrier was driving.
Supervisors and postmasters were not held to computers to do reports or have meetings all day. Supervisors walked the floor and could tell by the mail volume whether the route needed overtime or auxiliary assistance or just an eight-hour day. On Function 4, there were IRT machines for the window that ran off disks that had to be uploaded daily.
Employees punched in with paper timecards; clerks would have to send time sheets to the payroll department so employees got paid. There was no tracking packages—the only tracking was Certified, Registered or Express Mail. There were no scanners. Customers would get a 3849 slip for notices or sign it for deliveries. There were not computers at every desk.
Well, times changed and DPS came. Employees said it would never work. It took some time, but, 35 years later, we still have DPS. Then, vertical flat cases arrived. It was decided to go to a one-bundle system that developed over the years. Employees still were reluctant to say it would work. All these years later, it’s still here.
We got new vehicles called LLVs (long-life vehicles) that weighed 2 tons and had backup cameras. They’re still running 35 years later. Next were FFVs and now the Metris vans. Newer vehicles are to come as I write this.
Computers arrived and programs started to develop. We got scanners to track packages that now had barcodes. Carriers had MSP points to scan to keep track of them. MSP scans since have gone away; scanners have changed from IMD to MDD to MDD-TR, able to track to the second.
TACS came and time was recorded electronically. IRTs changed to POS (point of sale) and now to RSS (Retail System Service). Next came the Flats Sequencing System (FSS). It’s still here, but disappearing as I write this.
Recording mail manually changed to electronically—DOIS and CSAW. There are programs used to keep track of productivity hourly, daily and weekly. We no longer call the office for an unscheduled absence; we have ERMS. New machines, such as DSS and the PASS machines, provide visibility. ADUS and SDUS machines sort parcels faster.
These are just some of the improvements the Postal Service has made over the years; still more are to come. These are things that had to change to survive and compete. We are better than other companies, but we had to evolve in the 21st century.
People are reluctant to change, but, sometimes, it’s for the better. If new processes don’t work, leadership should acknowledge it and make changes. Not every advancement will work, but we all have to be in it to try and improve the company.
We all make mistakes, but it takes a bigger person to admit their mistakes than to try and cover them up. We have more programs and visibility than ever before and more reports to view daily. I can go on forever citing changes over the years, but have named just a few.
The one thing that has not changed—and never will—is our dependency on our employees, from upper management down to the lowest level. The Postal Service cannot get anything accomplished without everyone working together. In other words, let’s all stop harassing and ridiculing every employee. Let’s coach and mentor; stop the mocking and abuse.
We all have personal lives behind closed doors. We all do not feel well every day. We all age; the older we get, the harder some things become—physically and mentally. Some days, this may interfere with our jobs, despite our efforts. We are humans who make mistakes. We’re not robots, although some believe they are.
Machines break down, but it seems that no employee is allowed the same. People watch football games and yell at the quarterback, “What’s wrong with you!? Didn’t you see that receiver downfield wide open?” Or watch “Jeopardy” and yell out the correct response? It’s much easier to criticize and tell someone how to do something until you walk in their shoes, know how they feel or see what they see.
Praise your employees daily when they perform well; address and correct them respectfully when they do not. Abuse and disrespect go nowhere. Honesty and treating people with dignity and respect will help everyone prosper.
Times change and so do people, but, deep down, we all are human and have feelings. Let’s work together to make a better and safer work environment for the present and future United States Postal Service.
1727 King Street, Suite 400
Alexandria, VA 22314-2753