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The Virtual Power of Us
By Chuck Mulidore
Spring finally has arrived! While it has been a very tough winter in much of the country, we now can look forward to better weather, longer days and more sunshine.
One of the rites of spring at NAPS is the Legislative Training Seminar held each year at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Arlington, VA. The 2020 LTS ended on the cusp of the global pandemic that engulfed our nation and our world. While the search for a solution to COVID-19 has emerged in the form of multiple vaccines, unfortunately, the pandemic is not defeated yet.
This led NAPS Headquarters to cancel the in-person LTS scheduled for March 2021. Yet, knowing how important the interactions are of our NAPS delegates with congressional representatives and senators, NAPS decided to host on April 18 its first-ever virtual LTS. We hope you had the opportunity to attend.
I’m certain you will offer congratulations to the Legislative Team at NAPS Headquarters for putting on this groundbreaking event, led by NAPS Executive Vice President Ivan D. Butts, Director of Legislative & Political Affairs Bob Levi, NAPS Headquarters staff and our fine National Auxiliary. And, of course, thanks to all the delegates who joined us virtually from across the country and continue to take NAPS’ legislative message to Congress, albeit in a different way than in the past, but no less important.
We know our country has dealt with enormous issues of late; no need to recite them all here. However, that does not mean our members’—and the Postal Service’s—issues should take on any less importance. In fact, the Postal Service proved to America what those of us who have made our life’s work there already knew: We are an essential agency on the front lines of the pandemic, delivering ballots for democracy, medicine and packages for Americans. We provide the steady reassurance that we will survive these times because our Postal Service continues to be strong and viable. In many ways, that was the point of our virtual LTS this year: reinforcing to Congress that the Postal Service must survive and thrive far into the future.
LTS speakers included Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations; and the Honorable Michael Kubayanda, chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission. These speakers brought a message that is critical to all NAPS members in the form of two vital pieces of proposed legislation introduced in the House of Representatives thus far.
H.R. 1623, the “Postal Supervisors and Managers Fairness Act,” was introduced by Reps. Connolly and Mike Bost (R-IL). This bipartisan legislation would calibrate the start of the EAS pay consultation process to the expiration of the existing NAPS consultative pay and benefits package. Currently, NAPS must wait until the ratification of a collectively bargained contract by the largest postal union, currently the NALC, before we can begin the EAS pay consultation process. This often is months or even years after the expiration of our previous pay package.
The legislation also would provide for a credible fact-finding process by which the findings of a fact-finding panel would be binding on the USPS. Under current law, when NAPS disagrees with the unilateral implementation of a pay package by the Postal Service, we must take our case to a neutral fact-finding panel, which we did in 2019.
That fact-finding panel unanimously agreed with NAPS’ positions, yet, under current law, the USPS was able to disregard the panel’s findings and unilaterally implement the pay award. H.R. 1623 would make such panel recommendations binding on the Postal Service.
The other critical piece of bipartisan-proposed legislation is H.R. 1624, the “Postal Employee Appeal Rights Amendments Act,” introduced by Reps. Connolly and David McKinley (R-WV). The bill would assure Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) access to all Postal Service nonbargaining employees, regardless whether they supervise USPS operations. Today, thousands of EAS employees have no access to the MSPB process because they do not directly supervise craft employees. If approved, this legislation would right that wrong, providing protections to all EAS supervisors and managers.
There you have it—the power of NAPS members to make a difference for all EAS employees through the legislative process, even virtually.