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What Is Your Integrity Worth?
By Ivan D. Butts
NAPS National President
Melvyn Douglas was an American actor who came to prominence in the 1930s as a suave leading man, perhaps best typified by his performance in the 1939 romantic comedy “Ninotchka” with Greta Garbo. Douglas had several notable quotes in both his movie roles and personal life. One such quote stands today as a life-shaping standard passed on to me by my father: “Your word is your bond.”
For me, this quote has been a standard-bearer for life. A person’s integrity is one thing no other person can take from you. You must be the one who willingly gives it away. Also, once given, it never can be reclaimed.
Christina Meredith, foster care and mental health advocate, wrote: “Integrity, I believe, is the essential characteristic in defining a person’s true self. Integrity is the quality of being honest. A person who demonstrates integrity displays strong moral principles or moral uprightness. He or she acts whole in intention and action, with no room for double-minded motives or deeds. Acting with integrity is the simplest and least stressful choice to make as an adult … because the truth really does set you free!”
Meredith is from the oldest city in the nation, Saint Augustine, FL. She endured years of abuse before entering the foster care system. Graduating from Allen D. Nease High School, Meredith moved to California where she took a series of odd jobs, eventually catching the eye of a pageant recruiter who suggested she compete in the Miss California pageant. In April 2013, Meredith won the title of Ms. California. Since then, she has dedicated herself to speaking out on behalf of abused children all over the country.
To managers in the USPS, this characteristic of integrity still is sometimes challenged as we continue serving America by providing the best service possible with the resources at hand. How do you respond to the following?:
These are just a few of the daily orders a manager may hear while moving America’s mail that could challenge their integrity—challenging the bond of their word. Now, I must admit that the first bullet is not a challenge to one’s word being their bond. This is just the ongoing pattern that is at the center of Article 8 grievance payouts.
The other bulleted items, however, will challenge the bond of your word based on your reactions. These include falsifying scans, falsifying TACS, changing clock rings to avoid showing overtime (sometimes with a promise of making it up to craft employees) or blanketly disallowing overtime outside the methods supported by USPS policy and procedures. So, how do you ensure that your word—your integrity—is not thrown away in these operational instances? Maybe an email request for clarification on the instructions, outlining what compliance means:
If the manager indeed responds that these are the instructions, as a manager, you have a responsibility to carry out the now-written instructions. The USPS ELM 665.15 reads: 665.15 Obedience to Orders
Employees must obey the instructions of their supervisors. If an employee has reason to question the propriety of a supervisor’s order, the individual must nevertheless carry out the order and may immediately file a protest in writing to the official in charge of the installation or may appeal through official channels (emphasis added).
We have many well-seasoned EAS managers who have unique processes that can help EAS employees maintain their integrity by properly documenting events. My call is for the experienced to help the inexperienced so they can learn how to navigate this leadership experience with the bond of their word intact. We need a new USPS; that is, “If you see something, say something.”