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Why Is This Happening?
By Ivan D. Butts
NAPS Executive Vice President
Welcome to the New Year! I hope you are able to enjoy some real quality time with your friends and family. I also hope that 2020 brings you and your family the joys of your heart’s desire.
The folk song “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” was written by Pete Seeger and made popular by the Kingston Trio in the 1960s. At the time, it was a kind of protest song about war. For USPS EAS employees who work in an agency that has made a concerted effort to suppress EAS pay and benefits over the past 10 years, our folk song may be “Where Have All the Finances Gone?”
I have been looking at the issue of finances as we continue the fight for fair and equitable pay for EAS employees and other managerial personnel. I recently conducted a review of USPS OIG audits that pertained to finances and made some notes, which I list below.
The chart below is an example of compensation data taken from USPS OIG Audit FT-AR-18-008 that documents compensation data for two executives in Calendar Year (CY) 2016. CY16 spans FY15, when 29.44% of EAS employees did not receive a pay raise, and FY16, when 36.83% did not receive a new pay increase. Also, if you take into account only EAS-17 in supervisor, Distribution Operations, and supervisor, Customer Service, for FY15, 59.87% of those EAS employees did not receive a pay increase.
I found the following statement in the much-redacted USPS OIG Audit HM-MA-08-002:
“We could not determine the associated grievance costs for steward time, arbitrator costs and labor relations staff salaries for each of the 10 grievances. Management did not attribute these costs to each grievance because they did not believe it was necessary or cost-effective. Management did, however, capture these costs monthly and as year-to-date annual figures, which were $115.7 million in FY 2007.”
The caption below is from USPS OIG Audit HR-MA-14-008:
“Nationwide, Postal Service grievance payout costs decreased from $179 million in fiscal year (FY) 2009 to $87 million in FY 2012, but increased to $106 million in FY 2013. The South Florida District had more than $7.6 million in grievance payout costs in FY 2013, which was the highest payout of 67 districts. The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General Human Resources risk model revealed the South Florida District ranked among districts with the highest grievance costs.”
Also in this audit, the OIG found that supervisors violated Postal Service agreements primarily to address overtime and staffing issues; 15 of 30 grievance payouts were related to overtime. NAPS knows these issues to be what USPS leadership has called “galactically stupid directives” issued by local leadership to maintain unobtainable pivot plans, not allowing supervisors to bring needed employees in on drop days for coverage and mandates to have all mail delivered, while having another mandate to have all carriers back by some pie-in-the-sky time.
All these directives in a workday equal grievance violations that total in the millions. NAPS’ question always has been, “If USPS leadership knows this is happening, why is it still happening?”
In PostCom Bulletin Issue No. 48-19, it was reported that new research shows an unfortunate consequence of the U.S. Postal Service’s effort to push costs out of its system through an operational window change (OWC) was actually an increase in transportation costs. In four years, transportation costs rose by about 25%, despite a 6% decline in volume and various initiatives to cut transportation costs.
I need to note that I did not mention the millions (who knows, maybe billions) that USPS leadership has and will pay out for leadership decisions that have led to Casual In Lieu Of (CILO), National Reassessment Program (NRP) and MS47-TL5 settlements. The facts stated in my column are cited from the following USPS OIG audits: HR-AR-17-003, HR-MA-16-004_0, HR-AR-13-008, FT-AR-18-008, HM-MA-08-002, HR-MA-14-008 and HR-AR-17-010.