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‘They Are Who We Thought They Were’
By Chuck Mulidore
The late football coach Dennis Green once went on an epic rant after a particularly difficult loss while head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. As he was answering reporters’ questions about the team’s loss to the Chicago Bears, a visibly agitated Green pronounced about the Bears: “They are who we thought they were!” After a few more choice words, the coach stormed off the podium.
You probably are wondering how the words of a disappointed and angry football coach could have relevance to an article in our great magazine, The Postal Supervisor. Well, as you know, NAPS concluded fact-finding with the Postal Service on Dec. 11, 2018, after a two-day hearing before mediators with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). The panel heard arguments from NAPS, as well as the Postal Service, concerning the 2016-2019 pay award the Postal Service placed on EAS employees who work for the USPS.
NAPS appealed this pay award because it left thousands of EAS employees without a raise—again—in 2018 and further reduced potential payouts for 2019. NAPS has long held the position that the Pay-for-Performance (PFP) program provides neither pay nor performance and must be replaced with a fair compensation system that rewards the contributions of all EAS employees for the success of the Postal Service.
During the hearing, I was pleased with the arguments presented by the attorneys representing NAPS. They were well-prepared, professional and laid out a cohesive argument why the PFP system is unfair, unsustainable and impractical. You can be very proud of the legal team hired by NAPS to represent your interests at fact-finding. NAPS did not just attend the hearing to meet the requirements of Title 39. We showed up to provide a foundation for replacing this uniquely isolated pay system for EAS employees.
That brings me back to Coach Green and his epic rant that day at the podium. After the conclusion of the fact-finding hearing, many asked me my opinion of how it went, what my thoughts were and how I felt about each side’s presentation. As I thought about it, my mind drifted to to Coach Green and I responded: The Postal Service is who we thought they were.
Our side was prepared and had clear arguments proving the failed EAS pay system needed to be replaced. The Postal Service came with PowerPoint presentations, talking points and a poor defense of why pay for performance is a fair way to compensate EAS employees—even as every other employee in the Postal Service receives a yearly raise or bonus while thousands of EAS employees do not have that certainty.
They were who we thought they were; the USPS just showed up. They had no specific plan to defend their compensation system, likely because they did not believe they should have to, and objected to NAPS being the only management organization with the nerve to question this pay process. NAPS played offense with precision and defense with skill. We were, and still are, prepared. They were, well, who we thought they were.
Whether or not the fact-finding panel was swayed by NAPS’ arguments, those of the Postal Service or takes some middle ground really isn’t the point. NAPS took your concerns and frustrations and laid them out for a neutral panel to see. We set a foundation for the future that even the Postal Service must consider. Due to how the fact-finding process is designed, the Postal Service can accept, reject or modify the FMCS panel’s conclusions and issue a pay package affecting nearly 40,000 EAS employees.
Yet the conclusion of fact-finding is not the end—not for NAPS, which takes me from the great football coach Dennis Green to the great statesman Winston Churchill. As the tide began to slowly turn during World War II, Churchill said: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Game on.