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Executive Vice President Chuck Mulidore welcomed nearly 400 NAPS delegates to the 2022 Legislative Training Seminar on Monday, March 28. “It’s been two years,” he exclaimed. “Who knew what would befall us after the 2020 LTS? But we’re back again at the peak of cherry blossom season—a little cold and chilly.”
Mulidore said there would be a couple high-fives today, referring to the recent passage of H.R. 3076, the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022. “But the work never ends,” he stressed. “We can celebrate the victory, but must prepare for the battles ahead.”
Secretary/Treasurer Jimmy Warden and President Ivan D. Butts also welcomed delegates, thanking them for traveling to the nation’s capital to deliver NAPS’ legislative message to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Mulidore affirmed that the legislative work continues, even with passage of H.R. 3076. There continues to be an emphasis on SPAC—the Supervisors’ Political Action Committee—because SPAC funds help get things done. “If you don’t think your SPAC money helped pass 3076, you’re wrong,” he stressed. “It was very instrumental in getting that bill passed. SPAC is critically important, even more so as we move into the midterm elections this year. We want to make sure we have enough friends on both sides of the aisle and that whoever is in control understands our issues and advocates for us. We’ve been building those relationships over the years and will continue to do so on both sides of the aisle.”
Mulidore talked about a new SPAC campaign NAPS would be mailing to active members to encourage them to join Drive for 5. “We’re going to ask those who go to work every day to help us continue their careers. And the best way is with the legislative process,” he said.
He thanked the National Auxiliary for the work they do at LTS helping raise money for SPAC. He introduced National Auxiliary President Laurie D. Butts. She assured delegates the Auxiliary is there to support them in any way and urged them to stop by their table to support SPAC.
On Sunday, NAPS held its traditional wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A video of the event was played for those who did not attend. “It’s a beautiful and touching ceremony,” Mulidore said. “It’s important to recognize the sacrifice of our service members. Thanks to our members who participated in the ceremony.”
The four participants—Darold Dantzler, Gi Gi Griffin-Earnest, Jim Misserville and Edward Moore—were presented with NAPS challenge coins by President Ivan D. Butts. “It’s a honor for us to have you represent the organization,” Mulidore told the group. “All the veterans, please stand. Thank you, we appreciate you!”
Butts addressed delegates, saying it was a humbling honor to stand there as NAPS president. “In Texas, I predicted the leadership team you voted in would have to hit the ground running and that’s exactly what we did,” he confirmed. “We had a legacy from Brian Wagner that we carried on and moved forward.
“The work on H.R. 3076 was tremendous. We’ve put years into that! We may be a medium-sized PAC, but we’ve been very efficient in how we used our funds and reached out to legislators and garnered support for our bills. And we will continue to collectively work together to see that our SPAC dollars count and help keep the USPS sustainable into the future.”
Butts said it’s up to NAPS to drive the legislative agenda and be as successful as it was getting H.R. 3076 passed. Other NAPS-supported legislation includes a postal police bill, H.R. 5587, as well as H.R. 3077, which would secure MSPB appeal rights for all EAS employees and change Title 39 to assure a pay consultation process that really works.
“The greatest resource of all is you—our members—who engage with legislators so they understand that postal issues aren’t Democratic or Republican issues; they are American issues,” he stressed. “We’re nonpartisan. We work for all of America. Thanks for being here; there’s work to do. I’m glad you’re here and I’m glad I’m here to do it with you.”
“We’re back!” announced NAPS Director of Legislative & Political Affairs Bob Levi. “We are here to fight. And now, as a matter of law, we can fight for all 47,000 Postal Service EAS employees. That’s who we represent right now; that’s a big chunk of postal employment. As delegates, you have been delegated on behalf of the Postal Service’s supervisory and managerial workforce and those who are members of NAPS and beyond.”
Levi told delegates they are at LTS to promote legislation and support SPAC to help elect and reelect NAPS’ friends and support those who support NAPS’ agenda. “Part of that responsibility and culture are contributions to SPAC,” he explained. “SPAC is the financial support that provides a good basis of accountability between elections. Lawmakers look and see where their support comes from and who is engaging with them on a constant basis.
“This isn’t a one-and-done event. This has to be a year-round exercise in promoting our interests. Otherwise, we and the Postal Service will not survive. We need your support and advocacy for those issues most important to EAS-level employees. Electing NAPS allies advances legislation that safeguards our benefits and improves the USPS.”
Levi said that if all the nearly 400 delegates at LTS signed up for Drive for 5—contributing just $5 a pay period—it would translate to $52,000 a year. “You all should sign up,” he urged. “Otherwise, you don’t care about LTS and our future. Put your money where your mouth is.”
He pointed out that, from a distance, Crater Lake, OR, is a stunning vista. But, if you put water from the lake into a glass, it will look no different than any other glass of water. The same holds true for the Postal Service, he said. Look at it from a distance—not the individual components—also, from a historical perspective.
“You only can appreciate what the USPS does and what it means to the American public from a distance,” he opined. “To understand and appreciate the agency, you have to see it in its entirety. It’s part of a whole, universal, integrated, affordable delivery and mail service for the entire country.”
Levi said NAPS members have to educate members of Congress. The USPS delivers to 163 million delivery points every day. The agency also has been a vital commercial and health lifeline to millions of Americans during COVID-19.
In 1813, Congress passed a bill that authorized distributing smallpox vaccines to citizens and covered that postage. “The USPS has a long tradition of protecting the health and welfare of the American public,” he announced. “We still are the most affordable, efficient and economical mover of mail and small parcels in the country.”
There is cause for concern, though. The Postal Service always has been rated number one in Gallup’s annual poll of federal agencies. In the most recent 2021 poll, the public’s approval of the USPS fell 17%, which Gallup attributed to the slowdown in deliveries.
“To go from 74% in 2019 to 57% in 2021,” Levi offered, “should be a wakeup call to Postal Headquarters that something is not going right. Our job—whether on Capitol Hill, with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) or the American public—is to drive those numbers back up. And the only way to do that is by performance. We have to persuade members of Congress to restore standards the American public expects and deserves.”
Levi turned to passage of H.R. 3076. Despite success, he said, there won’t be a “Mission Accomplished” banner displayed. Rather, the legislation is the first step in providing financial stability for the Postal Service. He asked delegates to thank their members of Congress who voted for the bill.
He provided an overview of the bill, which will save the agency about $50 billion over the next decade, provide financial breathing room and save the federal government about $1 billion. The requirement to prefund future retiree health benefits was eliminated and will reduce retiree health liabilities through the better integration with Medicare and FEHBP for future retirees. The bill also allows the agency to offer non-governmental services through post offices.
One important stakeholder-driven issue included in the bill is codifying a six-day, integrated delivery network, which is important to small-parcel mailers. Also, the USPS must create an internet portal accessible to the public that measures performance by ZIP code. Congress and consumer groups want to be able to hold the agency accountable for its performance. Another provision provides some relief to rural newspapers.
Among the issues not included in H.R. 3076 are:
Levi explained that H.R. 3077, the Postal Service Improvement Act, is a priority for NAPS this year. The bill was favorably reported by the House Oversight and Reform Committee by a partisan vote. The legislation would provide EAS consultative and appeal rights and USPS parental leave. It also would standardize election mail, revert performance standards to those in effect in 2021 and provide an accelerated transition to electric vehicles.
Next, Levi walked delegates through the talking points for their meetings, whether in person for via Zoom, over the next two days with lawmakers. “I look forward to engaging with you during the conference,” he offered.
Mulidore next introduced former Deputy PMG Ron Stroman, now a member of the USPS Board of Governors, calling him one of NAPS’ favorite persons.
Stroman said it was good to see NAPS members and celebrate passage of H.R. 3076 with them. “With that single bill,” he declared, “we have gone from the red to the black. Thank you for all the years you have come to these critically important sessions and gone up to the Hill and articulated the vision for NAPS and helped us push this piece of legislation over the finish line.”
Stroman talked about the arduous journey to get H.R. 3076 passed, citing the Hollies’ lyrics: “The road is long, with many a winding turn.” To get Congress’ attention, he said, an issue has to be a pressing, national interest at the moment. And, despite its challenges, the Postal Service continued delivering the mail.
But when COVID-19 struck, people began to see and recognize the importance of the USPS with deliveries of lifesaving drugs and medication. “The Postal Service is essential to our lives and getting us through,” Stroman stressed. “And in 2020, the Postal Service saved American democracy.”
He credited Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for playing an important role in getting support for H.R. 3076 from Republican members in the House and Senate. “This is a watershed moment for the Postal Service and our collective responsibility to ensure the agency continues for future generations,” he offered. “Today, the future is here; the future begins at this meeting.”
Stroman and Mulidore proceeded to have a fireside chat. Mulidore asked how different it
has been going from serving as deputy PMG to being a member of the Board of Governors. Stroman admitted it has been a challenge.
“For those of us nominated by President Joe Biden, then confirmed, there was some tension with the existing governors. There was a sense we had an agenda different from theirs. I had concerns about portions of their agenda, but I always tried to reach consensus about how we could bridge the gaps and offer compromises. Despite those challenges, I see progress.”
Mulidore asked what the duties are for a board governor. Stroman explained governors are the Postal Service’s executive leadership. The power of Title 39 is lodged in the board, he said. The governors have to approve rates and rate changes and are responsible for setting policy direction. Discussions and debates are around what major policy issues should guide the agency.
“Right now is so important because we potentially have a reset as a result of postal reform,” he stressed. “We now have financial stability and flexibility from the PRC. It’s an opportunity for us to think creatively.”
Mulidore observed that some see the Board of Governors as a rubberstamp of the Postal Service. “My sense from you is that may have changed,” he offered. Stroman responded that every governor has to decide for themselves what role they want to play. “For me,” he said, “the effort is to look broadly at issues, make my own decisions about what needs to happen, then do whatever I can to implement those changes.
“A governor’s responsibility is to get input from the public in order to be a representative of the people. Also, look at our employees and leadership—what are their points of view? These decisions should not be made in isolation. This is a public-sector board; our responsibility and accountability are to the public.”
Mulidore said NAPS would like to see more openness from the board. “When we have issues,” he said, “we struggle to get a fair hearing or acknowledgement. We would like to go to the board, if necessary, and have our issues or particular point of view heard.”
Stroman said each governor has to decide how they want to execute their responsibility. “My door is open; I’m available by phone. It’s my responsibility to listen, which is why I am here today. Other governors have to make their own choices as to how they want to proceed.”
He referenced the requirement in H.R. 3076 that the Postal Service provides service scores accessible by ZIP code. “This is in response to the need for greater transparency and accountability,” he said.
Mulidore asked Stroman for his thoughts on the Postal Service’s 10-year plan. “I’ve been critical of portions of it,” he responded. “From my perspective, no one can predict the future. A better way of looking at it is whether the plan is going in the right direction.”
Stroman asserted the plan got it right on the competitive side, recognizing the need to move faster in terms of competitive products. “We have to deliver in one and two days,” he stressed. “We have to improve our network and processing and transportation networks in order to move faster. And the agency is looking to make pricing competitive.
“The market-dominant side is wrong, though. I was vocal in criticizing the revised service standards. Slowing the mail sent the wrong signal and has let competitors into that space. We need to put more emphasis on the mail and on service. Congress clearly said it wants to see good, quality service all across the country.”
Mulidore broached the topic of NPA, telling Stroman EAS employees need a raise, but not one based just on performance in which NAPS has no input on how those metrics are defined. “During COVID, we went to work and ensured the doors were opened and the mail delivered. The Board of Governors approves NPA and says it can’t be changed. We just want what is fair!” he exclaimed. “I know you can’t fix it today, but we have to argue and fight every year and we can’t make progress. We need some help.”
Stroman affirmed that Postal Service employees are heroes. “They risked their lives to go to work in the middle of the worst global pandemic since 1928; it’s a remarkable achievement,” he offered. “For many years, given its financial condition, the agency made certain judgments in terms of salary—a theory that, regardless of performance, everybody had to take a portion of that decline.
“Now, the situation is flipped. We have postal reform and are in the black. What position should you take when you are making money? I think fair is fair. I’ll leave it there. You are advocating and making your point,” he concluded.
After lunch, Butts introduced the next speaker, telling delegates that he first met Edmund Carley, UPMA national president, at a Signature FCU event. The two started talking and realized there were common issues both organizations needed to fight. “We’re stronger together than separate,” he pointed out. “We disagree on some things, but we’re here to talk about our common concerns. We are stronger together.”
Carley told NAPS delegates he was glad to see them at LTS. “I got active in the organization because of events like this,” he explained. “I fell in love with the legislative process. When you go up on the Hill tomorrow, thank them for voting for postal reform. We still need WEP/GPO reform, though.”
Carley referenced the Postal Service’s 10-year plan and affirmed it is contingent on achieving postal reform. “Now, PMG Louis DeJoy has postal reform,” he said. “What’s our part in this? Do our jobs and do what we’ve done for the past two years: Show up every day and work hard. NAPS and UPMA members—we’re the ones who show up every day. We work hard and deliver for America.
“As for the stuff we don’t agree on? We’re family—part of the postal family. We fight about stuff, like a family, but we’re still going to love each other. Show up and work hard!”
Mulidore next introduced Rep. James Comer, ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, crediting him with delivering 120 Republican votes in the House for H.R. 3076. “He got it done,” Mulidore affirmed. “That was a great impetus for Republicans in the Senate to move the bill forward. He’s a great friend and we will continue to support him.”
Comer thanked NAPS for the invitation. “We’re excited to have you at a time when we just passed your number-one priority: postal reform. He said the bill means a lot to him and not just because of his rural district in western and southwestern Kentucky—his grandmother was a rural mail carrier for 27 years.
“I grew up with great respect for the Postal Service and the people who handle and deliver the mail and postal supervisors,” he offered. “I know it’s a difficult job. When I became the ranking Republican on the Oversight Committee, I knew postal reform was the biggest priority. The bill had been talked about the previous five years; a lot of people had tried to accomplish it.
“This really is the model of how a bill can become a law. When people say Congress is dysfunctional, that’s pretty accurate, but there are ways for it to function. And postal reform is a perfect example of that—it has to be bipartisan and you have to have two people sincerely interested in passing a bill.
“We worked very closely with Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney; we both wanted to see this succeed. And we worked with the stakeholders. You have to do something that has become a bad word on Capitol Hill: compromise.” He also credited PMG Louis DeJoy with developing a plan and getting input from stakeholders.
Comer told NAPS delegates he did not allow anyone to say they wanted to privatize the Postal Service. “If they’re not going to vote for the bill, fine. But there’s no private company that will operate all these offices across the country six days a week,” he stressed. “The Post Office is in the Constitution so it is Congress’ responsibility if it’s broken. The selling point with Republicans was this is our responsibility. We have a plan in place to reform the USPS.
“I don’t think anyone would object to the fact that performance was not going as well as it should; you’re battling COVID and an outdated business model. Just before the vote in the House, the performance report for peak season was issued. The Postal Service performed better than FedEx. The least we can do is get everything on a level playing field and make sure you have enough funding to develop the infrastructure, update, modernize and invest in equipment. That is what the bill is going to do.
“Hopefully, we will have an efficient business model moving forward. There will be times when we will visit each other and tweak and change things. I look forward to working with you all in the future to ensure you have what you need to be successful.
“I don’t want anyone to worry about pensions, health care—you do a good job. We’re supposed to ensure the money is there to operate and that’s a priority for me, growing up with a family member working for the Postal Service and in a rural area. People in rural areas have closer relationships with their mail carrier, supervisor and postmaster; it’s an important part of the thread of rural America.
“I want to continue to see it thrive. I’ve enjoyed working with you over the past couple years and I look forward to working with you in the future so you all can be successful. We want you to be successful—a Postal Service that can sustain itself. I think we’ve set the example of how we all can work together and pass good legislation. Thanks for the good and hard work you do. I look forward to working with you in the future.”
Steve Shawn, president of Maryland-DC Branch 923, next introduced Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D), calling him a fearless advocate for postal and federal workers.
Van Hollen told delegates they are great ambassadors as postal supervisors. “For every package and letter you deliver,” he declared, “thank you for being custodians of the Postal Service’s great history and tradition. You’ve always had to deliver important mail, but now, at the heart of our democracy, delivering ballots.
“Thank you, in such a difficult time during the pandemic, to make sure that, in a contested election and polarized environment, you made sure those ballots were delivered on time to ensure our democracy was sustained in difficult times: 135,000 ballots delivered on time!”
Van Hollen said that important work will continue in order to provide citizens with the opportunity to vote and help strike any barriers citizens have to accessing ballot boxes. He acknowledged the challenges of the past two difficult years with the pandemic. “Like every sector in America, you got hit and experienced disruptions and hardships,” he expressed, “but you carried on. We went through some tough times, but we’re emerging stronger. Thanks to all the supervisors who had to be creative and innovative to keep the system going. As tough as it got, you still got going.”
Van Hollen said he was glad the Senate finally passed postal reform legislation. “Thanks to all of you who kept at it. This bill will restore solvency to the agency. We’re glad to have liberated you from the prefunding requirement and look forward to working with you in the days ahead.
“Perseverance worked, but it took way too long. Thanks to you and all my colleagues because it goes to the future success of the Postal Service. As supervisors, you want to make sure you’re on a sustainable footing; it was important to make it happen.”
Van Hollen told delegates that Congress needs to be there for them. He discussed the effort to pass legislation to repeal the WEP and GPO. “We need to get rid of these provisions,” he urged. “I’m proud to be a cosponsor of the Social Security Fairness Act.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time. What it tells me, though, is we should not abandon hope. The fact we got postal reform done, when you stick with it over time, we can get it done. This is an unfairness that needs to be corrected and must be a priority going forward.”
Van Hollen quoted Ben Franklin: “Lost time is never found again.” Calling it a warning and a call to action, Van Hollen said every moment matters in terms of providing postal supervisors the tools they need to be successful and strengthen the Postal Service. Now it is time to turn to WEP/GPO repeal.
“For almost 250 years, you have kept Americans’ mail delivered on time,” he proclaimed. “With all the ups and downs, the men and women of the Postal Service have persevered; supervisors have persevered. And I’m proud to count myself as a partner with you to make sure we have a strong, viable Postal Service in the years ahead that lives up to that tradition. Thank you for what you do.”
Mulidore next talked about the importance of postal police who were considered law enforcement officers. But, in 2020, their responsibilities were taken away and their jurisdiction limited only to postal facilities.
When the resident officers were in Memphis, TN, after the shooting at the postal facility, Mulidore said they heard firsthand from postal employees who did not feel safe as a result of the postal police force’s limited role. NAPS raised the issue with the Postal Service and has worked with two members of Congress—Reps. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) and Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ)—to introduce legislation.
“We have to advocate for our members, however it is needed,” Mulidore declared. “We’re here to advocate for our members and have our friends in Congress help us pursue issues.”
Butch Maynard, president of Postal Police Supervisors Branch 51, introduced Garbarino. “Being a native New Yorker, I’m privileged to introduce Rep. Garbarino,” he told delegates. “Branch 51 represents postal police whose primary function is protecting postal employees, buildings and the mail. Garbarino is a champion of these assets. H.R. 5587, legislation to restore responsibilities to the postal police, is supported by NAPS. Garbarino also was an early cosponsor of 3076, 1623 and 1624—all bills that have been NAPS priorities.”
Garbarino opened with saying he appreciates NAPS’ support of the bill. “The Postal Service provides an essential service to the American people and you need all the tools necessary to do your jobs safely, efficiently and effectively,” he affirmed. “But we can’t do it alone.
“We need to make sure we have members of Congress from both sides of the aisle who continue to support the USPS and supervisors. We need you on the ground making sure other postal workers, your neighbors and friends go out and elect candidates who care about the agency. There is an attack on the Postal Service. We can help, but we can’t do it without your help.
“We meet with people from all walks of life; we only know what you come in and tell us. Advocacy on your part—coming to our offices and visiting with us—is the best thing you can do. And make sure you get at least five minutes for a photo. They will remember that. The face-to-face contact and information-sharing are how I learn and a lot of my colleagues learn.”
Garbarino told delegates it has been a pleasure working with NAPS; he was proud to be an early cosponsor of H.R. 3076. “This bill will save about $50 billion over 10 years and will set the USPS on stronger financial footing for years to come,” he said.
“I have to give you guys a round of applause. Working with NAPS and other groups is why I introduced the Postal Police Reform Act. We have to legislate common sense back in.
“Butch, we have your back. Thanks to all of you for having my back; great working with NAPS. Thanks for what you do every day in this country. The Postal Service is important and we have to make sure it keeps running smoothly.”
Mulidore expressed the importance of continuing the push for bipartisan legislation. “We can’t lose these lawmakers who work in a bipartisan fashion,” he urged. “We have lots of Republican friends with whom we work, including Reps. Dave McKinley (WV), Mike Bost (IL), Andrew Garbarino and James Comer.
“Our job is to help them stay in Congress and we’re going to help them do that. If you have anyone in your district or state whom we should support, let us know. We want to make sure we get involved for the right reasons.”
He recognized the top-five states in 2021 SPAC contributions:
3. New York—$18,033.22
And top-five per-capita:
1. North Dakota—$37.02
4. South Dakota—$22.28
“We can’t do any of this work without SPAC funds,” he stressed. “We have raised $24,000 in the past few months; we appreciate that!
“We proved during the pandemic that we go to work and move the mail. We delivered those ballots! It’s good for America and good for the Postal Service. It’s all about relationships at the local and state levels. It’s important to enrich our SPAC coffers.”
Mulidore expressed that, as executive vice president, it was an honor for him to be in charge of LTS. “There’s a lot of work that goes into this,” he said. “All the work Ivan did over the years has laid the foundation. Thanks to Ivan for his leadership for seven years; this LTS was a labor of love for me to put together.
“I hope you got something out of it and keep the momentum building when you go home. I appreciate your being here. Thank you for everything you do.”