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Recognizing the Importance of Front-Line Supervisors
By Bobby Bock
NAPS Southeast Area Vice President
The Postal Service recently conducted a series of supervisor symposiums for all Customer Service supervisors. This was a significant investment considering the cost of travel and salaries of the thousands of supervisors involved. The feedback I received from members throughout the Southeast Area was the training was excellent.
I have received feedback from supervisors in other functional areas wondering if the training will be expanded to supervisors in plant and support positions. I will raise this issue at our upcoming NAPS Executive Board meeting.
There is no substitute for in-person training. While technology allows us to meet on computer screens, it cannot replace the benefits of classroom training and the opportunity for supervisors to interact with each other, inside and outside the meeting. I hope the Postal Service will expand in-person training at all levels of the organization.
On any given day, our members get into pitfalls dealing with the craft unions. It is important that your dealings with union stewards are managed correctly. You should have a log book to record your discussions. When an information request is filed, you should log the date you received the request and track it to ensure you meet your deadlines for responding.
If you are in a situation where you are not sure what to do, don’t just push the decision aside. You have five days to respond to a grievance. While this timeframe can be extended by mutual agreement, you still should act promptly in response to all grievances and information requests presented by the unions.
You can and should involve your manager or contact your Labor Relations specialist for guidance. Not properly handling interactions with a union can become costly, both in the time it takes to deal with the grievance and the monetary penalties you can incur.
There is no good reason for being deficient in dealing with contractual issues. If you don’t know the answer, get your manager’s input.
While you have the authority to settle grievances that involve monetary payments, be careful when you resolve such a grievance. Remember that you have resources to help you correctly settle a grievance so you don’t incur additional penalties. When the union gives you a settlement proposal, read the settlement carefully and make sure you understand the ramifications if you settle the grievance and implement the remedy.
While many of our members have good working relationships with their employees, remember they really are not your “friends” and can turn on you at any time. You need to do your job by the book and expect your subordinate employees to do their jobs in the same manner. When you start making deals with your employees, you are opening yourself up to future problems.
Don’t hesitate to use NAPS resources when you have a situation about which you aren’t sure. Contact information for your branch is on the NAPS website at naps.org. The NAPS area vice presidents are here to help you and keep you out of trouble. Their information also can be found on the website.
The Postal Service is going through some dramatic changes. I applaud its efforts to reach out to our line supervisors to give them better tools to do their jobs. I hope they expand their efforts and offer training to all the other line supervisors.
We only can succeed through teamwork and collaboration with postal leadership. I believe we are heading in the right direction.