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NAPS President Brian Wagner, Executive Vice President Ivan D. Butts and Secretary/Treasurer Chuck Mulidore attended the July 20 consultative meeting via Zoom. Representing the Postal Service were Bruce Nicholson and James Timmons, Labor Relations Policy Administration.
Agenda Item #1
NAPS continually receives concerns about the voluntary early retirement (VER) process. People were offered a VER, but the deadline to accept the VER is before the RIF deadline. Impacted EAS employees are not being afforded an additional VER offer and must decide before they find out whether or not they get jobs.
NAPS requested a fourth VER be offered with an effective date of Oct. 8, 2021.
The VER is offered to impacted and nonimpacted individuals at USPS Headquarters, area and district office areas and can provide potential landing spots for impacted employees. There are only two VER effective dates: April 30 and July 30, 2021. The Postal Service must request VER authority and receive approval from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) before making an offer of early retirement to its employees.
The approval from OPM will stipulate a period of time during which the option will remain available. As discussed in our March consultative meeting, OPM approved a USPS VERA for its nonbargaining population on Sept. 16, 2020, for Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021.
The Postal Service does not intend to administer another VER offering during this approved period or make another request to OPM for an additional VERA. The Postal Service will keep NAPS’ request in consideration and continue to meet with the organization during the RIF-avoidance period.
Agenda Item #2
NAPS has received numerous reports of questions being submitted by RIF-impacted employees that have not been answered by USPS leadership. NAPS is submitting these questions in this consultative format to assist EAS employees who feel they are operating blindly in making life-impacting decisions before the Oct. 9, 2021, RIF date.
Many communication materials were prepared and made available to NAPS and employees concerning the VER offering and the RIF. There have been multiple support events offered to employees to help with the restructure and organizational changes. This information has been provided in many formats that include:
NAPS posed the following questions:
1. What are the penalties if RIF-impacted EAS employees go early?
To be considered for discontinued service retirement (DSR), you must have received a RIF notice indicating there is no reassignment offer or the reassignment offer is outside of your commuting area (as deemed reasonable by your local area).
2. If impacted EAS employees stay and don’t take the VER, are they ineligible for their retirement?
See response provided in question #1.
3. What will happen to RIF-impacted EAS employees’ healthcare benefits if they get RIFed? Do they lose those benefits?
Yes, those who do not secure a new position, once they are removed from the rolls, no longer are USPS employees and do not qualify for FEHB. They can apply for continuation of health coverage (COBRA).
4. What is the process for receiving severance pay at the end of October 2021? Does this apply to all RIF-impacted EAS employees?
The policy for Severance Pay is found in ELM 435.12 and applies to all RIF-impacted employees if meeting eligibility requirements in the ELM provision.
Agenda Item #3
Following is a previously submitted question outside of the consultative forum that still is pending:
“NAPS needs some clarification on some recent moves out of Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. They originally were in the Western Area, then placed under the Central Area. But when the RIF time came, they fell under the Western Area again, or so it was thought.
“The HR group is being put in positions throughout the Western Area, but the OPS groups are being placed in the Central Area. Why the difference? Some fall under Central, some fall under Western. How can that be?”
This question was provided outside of the consultative agenda; therefore, a response will be provided outside of this meeting.
Agenda Item #4
On June 17, 2021, NAPS received a list of USPS Headquarters vacancies posted in eCareer. The list contained 39 Headquarters Supervisor, Vehicle Maintenance, EAS-17 positions indicated as “Domicile will not be considered.” What is the operational need for 39 Supervisor, Vehicle Maintenance, positions at USPS Headquarters?
NAPS also noted that of the 39 Supervisor, Vehicle Maintenance, EAS positions listed:
NAPS asked what the reasoning was for listing positions up to four times. Is this a lack of preparation to conduct the organizational change with minimum disruption to impacted EAS employees?
The multiple entries to which NAPS is referring are because the selecting official will make decisions on multiple position postings. Using the same selecting official on multiple postings is not unusual, such as one MPOO named as the selecting official on multiple job postings for postmaster jobs under the MPOO’s authority.
The vacancy report provided to NAPS contains two tabs, Headquarters vacancies and field vacancies. Supervisor, VMF positions, are in the Headquarters postings. Actual job postings did not specify “Domicile will not be considered.” It’s only on the vacancy file; each posting included a specific facility location. Five examples of the job postings are provided.
Agenda Item #5
NAPS has been made aware that the LAC 1b posting listed Washington, DC, as the work location; the location later was changed. This action has served to disenfranchise RIF-impacted EAS employees in applying for a position or declining to apply for positions due to the omission of critical data from postings.
NAPS contends this action causes ongoing disruption in the lives of RIF-impacted EAS employees attempting to make life decisions that will impact them and their families. Problems such as this example demonstrate the USPS has not properly prepared for the organizational change in order to minimize disruption to RIF-impacted EAS employees. NAPS requests the organizational change be stopped, reevaluated, properly prepared, then rolled out.
The RIF does not go into effect until Oct. 9; repositioning tactics and RIF-avoidance activities are ongoing. Employees were informed of the upcoming RIF well in advance of the required 60-day notice. The organization planned for and was prepared to implement the RIF more than one year in advance.
Obviously, the size of this restructure would have greater disruption than relocating a single facility. As with job postings, if an issue/error is identified, the organization is responsive to it. We will continue to be responsive to issues and provide updates to NAPS of activities, including updates of remaining impacted employees through Oct. 9.
Agenda Item #6
NAPS has been informed that EAS employees who were moved from TACS05 to TACS03 did not receive paychecks. How many pay periods had this error? How many EAS employees were impacted by this payroll error caused by the organizational change?
Changing a TACS location does not trigger an error with an employee’s paycheck. Processing reassignments after day 10 of a pay period can trigger errors with paychecks. When employees move to different assignments, they are notified of a position change and told to verify accesses in eAccess. Employees should verify they have the correct accesses and locations, including TACS.
Agenda Item #7
NAPS has been made aware that RIF-impacted EAS employees who have been RIF-reassigned are seeking to “swap” with other RIF-impacted EAS employees. Why did the “algorithm” used not consider scenarios of job swaps to minimize disruption to employee work and family lives?
What action is the USPS taking to assist RIF-impacted EAS employees in this “swap” process?
If a RIF-impacted employee is interested in swapping an assignment with another employee, the manager over those employees should be contacted for discussion. An “algorithm” cannot detect jobs that individuals are interested in swapping. Also, job placements were made in accordance with RIF policy and the “swapping” of jobs could be outside the individual’s competitive area and in conflict with RIF policy.
Agenda Item #8
NAPS has been informed there are issues with scheduling retirement counseling. An individual selected a retirement date of Sept. 30, but no retirement counseling date was available before October. They next tried scheduling in October, but October was not available.
NAPS asked how RIF-impacted EAS employees will be assisted by the USPS in considering these life-changing decisions facing them in the organizational change.
Employees have a 60-day window to schedule their retirement counseling. For example, if an employee is interested in retiring on Sept. 30, a retirement session cannot be provided before July 30. NAPS’ example was outside that 60-day window.
The HRSSC has confirmed there are no delays with retirement counseling. Other retirement seminars, annuity statements and information can be found on the Blue Page for all employees eligible to retire.
Agenda Item #9
NAPS has been made aware that, on June 16, 2021, the Postal Inspection Service facilitated Active Shooter Training at the Jacksonville P&DC campus. The Inspection Service states that active shooter incidents often are unpredictable and evolve quickly. In the midst of the chaos, anyone can play an integral role in mitigating the impact of an active shooter incident. This training can enhance preparedness for employees to prepare for and respond to an active shooter incident.
NAPS believes that, with the VER impacting so many EAS employees, the pandemic impacting so many employees’ lives and the current state of the Postal Service, it would be a good idea to see if this class can be offered across the organization.
NAPS further contends and requests this should be mandatory training in light of all the latest active shooting events in the country.
The Active Shooter training at the Jacksonville P&DC was requested by the district. During the Florida 1 District monthly threat assessment meeting with the Inspection Service, the district asked if the Inspection Service had any material concerning active shooters.
The Inspection Service responded there was a video they could share. The local postal inspector worked with the district to show the video to offices in the district, which included the Jacksonville P&DC.
The HERO platform contains multiple training courses available to supervisors on active shooters. Safety talks are available on the Blue Page and the Safety Toolkit. This request will be shared with the Inspection Service for consideration.
The Postal Service has created multiple webinars on the organization changes, job fairs and town hall meetings and will continue to emphasize the availability of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to all employees.
Agenda Item #10
NAPS has received a request from the field to clarify the VOMA position at the station level. What is the minimum number of vehicles to have a VOMA in a post office/station/branch? How many vehicles are needed to service to get a second VOMA person?
This agenda item is related to bargaining-unit employees. This question can be provided to NAPS outside of this consultative meeting.
NAPS still is waiting for the answers to these questions.
Agenda Item #11
USPS “Handbook EL 312.743.11” identifies four moments for consideration of noncompetitive applications. EL 312.743.11 reads:
743.11 When to Consider Noncompetitive Applications
“Management may consider qualified employees eligible for a noncompetitive voluntary lateral reassignment or change to a lower level at any of the following times:
a. When applications are received.
b. Before the competitive announcement process begins.
c. During the competitive announcement process.
d. After the applications have been assessed.
Individuals with a saved grade are considered noncompetitively for positions up to the level of their former position.
“Employees seeking noncompetitive placement into a position at the same or lower level may submit a written request to the selecting official for consideration, or, if an employee with a disability seeks reasonable accommodation by reassignment to a position at the same or lower level, the employee works with the appropriate reasonable accommodation committee at the district, area, or headquarters level.”
NAPS noted this policy does not disenfranchise employees from requesting to be considered for a noncompetitive lateral, but lists the time for those applications to be considered. Why has the USPS taken action to eliminate lateral opportunities and further disrupt the lives of RIF-impacted EAS employees in the organizational change?
Requests for lateral reassignments have not been eliminated. In fact, lateral reassignments have been encouraged.
Agenda Item #12
NAPS has received a request from an Executive Board member that Postal Headquarters set up a Zoom meeting with the NAPS Executive Board. The purpose of the meeting would be to update the Executive Board on the VER and RIF processes, as well as any other HR-related information. NAPS also would like an update by state regarding progress in getting employees placed or finding them jobs.
Updates have been provided to NAPS in regard to job placements. Once all RIF inquiries are addressed, we can meet with NAPS to address further questions. The irrevocable date for the VER has passed.
After another briefing is provided to the resident officers on the restructure, the parties can discuss whether a meeting with the NAPS Executive Board is beneficial, then we can accommodate with a briefing.
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