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Time to See the Big Picture
By Bart Green
MINK Area Vice President
Thank goodness I’m a NAPS member! I don’t write this article with joy of any kind. By now, most of our members know about the pending lawsuit NAPS filed on behalf of its members. It’s in the federal court system, so we have no clue when we will see or hear some resolve to our pending lawsuit. What some may have missed is the fact the United Postmasters and Managers of America (UPMA) slid in and sided with the Postal Service regarding NAPS representing postmasters.
Reading their membership motto (just a portion of it), you see this: “In these uncertain times, it is even more important that you belong to an organization that is working for the rights of all EAS employees and that will keep the needs of all UPMA members at the forefront of its mission.” When I read that, I really had to ponder the underlying statement.
Before the merger of the League and NAPUS, I was a member of the League and made many friends in the organization. Then, a few years ago, they decided to merge. Not being as involved in the League, I did my homework and research. I understand why the merger took place; I will leave it at that.
Over the years, I have built friendships and networked throughout the country with all EAS employees. On the local level, I have had many discussions with UPMA reps about issues and concerns and about merging everyone. It has been discussed with NAPS Headquarters; I’m sure those talks have taken place over the years.
We all have the same issues. We all experience the pain of long hours, redundant reporting, telecons, poor treatment from some—not all, but some—higher-level leadership, lack of training, a long-term purpose for our careers. I could go on and on. The one difference I’ve always argued is the pay portion. The only difference is our pay consultations.
For years, NAPS has tried to advocate for the postmasters they represent. But it’s the same thing over and over—we don’t represent the postmasters. So, NAPS did something about it and added Title 39 representation of all EAS employees. What did UPMA do? Nothing, besides agreeing with Postal Service Headquarters that NAPS shouldn’t represent postmasters.
Now, being a postmaster, that did not sit well with me. The ELM states we are entitled to join an organization of our choice. I joined NAPS and stayed with NAPS because I have built a strong foundation and belief for that which NAPS stands. I joined UPMA so I could have a voice in the organization that meets on my behalf for pay and other benefits.
During my time as a UPMA member, I spoke with local, regional and National Office UPMA leaders about issues and concerns we had in the field. But, guess what? I wasn’t a Level-18 postmaster, so I represented just a small percentage of their interests. I didn’t hold the voice their other member postmasters did because I was a Level-21, then a Level-24.
Being a member during the tenure of two different Executive Boards, I thought I might see some change. That’s not the case. Most of UPMA’s emphasis still is Level-18 postmasters. What does that mean for you? Look at the big picture.
UPMA agreed to reduce NPA scores and lower the matrix for the organization. What did that mean? NAPS members, when everything was said and done, got the same offer from Postal Headquarters. But wait, NAPS filed a lawsuit for locality pay, a new PFP program and so on.
Did UPMA join us in the fight? No. They said they were content with a reduced PFP box matrix. We all got excited they raised the minimums and maximums for EAS employees. That would be great if there were significant changes. But, no, there were just contractual obligations to keep us above the highest paid craft.
Now, as a supervisor, you can make up to almost $85,000 a year. That’s not bad pay, but most of us never will reach the maximums with the current system in place. The old days of 5 to 10% increases are long gone. We fight for scraps now to get a 2% increase; most will just end up with a 1% lump sum of their current salary.
For those of you who are dual members, I’ll always tell you that’s your choice. For those who aren’t members of NAPS and aren’t postmasters, I would ask you to look at the big picture. What is UPMA going to do for you?
If you’re a Level-17 supervisor paying UPMA dues, what do you get? Absolutely nothing! UPMA takes your money to build its financial base, but its focus is on Level-18 postmasters. I’ve been a postmaster for a long time; I know who butters my bread.
The supervisors and managers in the field are responsible for the bulk of the workload. Sure, I must run the floor occasionally or close some nights or open in the morning. But the day-in and day-out operations are done by the supervisors and managers in the field and plants. They get the uncomfortable conversations from the employees and their bosses.
They get the long hours and Sunday work and no weekends off. My supervisors always have worked hard and deserve the credit for the work they do. We aren’t where we are without the great supervisors who got us here and keep us here. So, for those in the field, thank you. I appreciate the hard work and efforts you put in every day.
Know this, though. I made the decision to step away from UPMA and not pay dues because they don’t represent my best interests or my supervisors’ best interests. We all have the same goals, the same headaches with which to deal and the same personal, emotional and stressful situations with which we deal.
But, looking at the big picture, I’m going to give my dues to an organization that is fighting for all EAS employees. An organization that takes our dues and puts the teeth behind them to prove their worth. Being with an organization that just wants my money and only wants to represent postmasters in pay is not something with which I want to be associated. We all are EAS employees; we all are are in this together.
NAPS has been and always will be my family. I will support and defend each of our members until I no longer can. Your voice can be heard. Your questions can be answered. Your choice can be made. Just get the facts. Inform yourself and decide. Choose to be with the team fighting for you and challenging Postal Headquarters or choose the team that took an initial pay cut and sided with Postal Headquarters.
The choice is yours if you are willing to see the big picture. The choice is yours; the career impacts solely are yours to choose. I always say family first, though, and that’s NAPS for me. Best of luck in your endeavors. I wish you all well in your choices.