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Surviving the RIFtide
By Ivan D. Butts
NAPS National President
As I write this column, we just completed the 2021 organizational change that involved closing 17 districts, reclassifying EAS positions and changing district and area reporting structures, as well as the reduction-in-force (RIF) associated with the change.
In the federal government, layoffs are called RIF actions. When an agency must abolish positions, the RIF regulations determine whether an employee keeps their present position or has the right to a different position.
In past years, the USPS has conducted numerous RIF actions impacting the lives of thousands of EAS employees. My mind goes back to the reorg of ’92 under then-PMG Marvin Runyon.
Marvin Travis Runyon (Sept. 16, 1924 - Oct. 3, 2004) was an American business executive and civil servant. He had a long career as a manufacturing executive at Ford Motor Company until his retirement, then joined Nissan as head of North American operations. He later served as chair of the Tennessee Valley Authority and as postmaster general. He was a forceful and charismatic figure who picked up the nickname “Carvin’ Marvin” while serving as PMG.
The reorg of ’92 brought out the absolute worst in some EAS employees who had their fears of losing their livelihoods continually stoked by postal leadership. I clearly remember my plant manager holding weekly “update” meetings where he would proclaim, “I’m the only one in this room with a job!”
That level of insensitivity had a trickle-down effect on almost every EAS employee in that plant. I watched career-long relationships turn sour and group successes turn into individual finger-pointing.
We survived that RIF. Because the USPS followed RIF regulations found in Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 351, only the most-junior supervisors were relocated to other EAS positions. The morale of EAS employees in the plant was restored; the plant manager was replaced soon after the reorg was completed.
Since that RIF, the USPS has conducted many others. It is a challenge for NAPS to see a different process used under the USPS RIF avoidance process, with the latest RIF running simultaneously with the USPS RIF avoidance.
These variations of RIF avoidance implementation call for us to validate whether USPS supervisory and other managerial personnel would be better served by the USPS adhering to federal law when executing a RIF.
With all the uncertainties of this process, NAPS had the opportunity to work closely with the USPS to ensure every RIF-impacted EAS employee who wanted to remain employed by the USPS did so by landing a new position. There is one thing we surely need that can be achieved with the support of the members of our great association. In the last week of the RIF process, 42 impacted NAPS members remained on the list. Researching our NAPS membership database, we found we did not have contact information for over half of those members.
How can you help? If you signed as a member, but did not give us your phone number or personal email address, complete this form and submit it to NAPS Headquarters at email@example.com. This is the same form that must be completed and sent to NAPS Headquarters when you change addresses.
As we approach the Veterans Day and Thanksgiving holidays, thanks to all of us who stood and took the pledge to make the ultimate sacrifice, if needed, in defense of America’s freedom. Laurie and I pray that you all have a blessed Thanksgiving with all the love and joy that come with times shared with family and friends.
In solidarity …