THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE 1
Assignment ID Number AFFGEHU83939HD Type of Document Essay Writing Format APA/MLA/Harvard Academic Level Masters/University References/Sources 4 References
THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE 1
Running Head: THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE 1
THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE 8
The United States Postal Service
University of Maryland University College
Strike! Strike! Strike! Imagine going into the office and several associates are outside of the building holding signs against working conditions. Working for any employer can have its benefits and its disadvantages. No matter what the employer has to offer as a suggestion, one has to be able to determine if working for a certain company is in the best interest for the individual. This is very similar to working for the United States Postal Service (USPS). The USPS is an independent agency of the United States government that is primarily responsible for ensuring postal services are carried out in the U.S. Since the USPS is an independent agency, they are also widely represented by several different labor unions. Looking back at the shape of the USPS, one is able to truly access how labor relations and employee relations have formed the current organization as it is today.
When it comes to labor relations and the use of a union, there are a number of ways that the USPS is able to handle issues that are related to working standards. The United States Postal Service is represented by several different labor unions, depending on the function of the individual’s job. The American Postal Workers Union, the National Association of Letter Carriers, National Postal Mail Handlers Union, and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association are the primary labor unions for the USPS (Berger & Blomstedt, 1976). The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) is a labor union that protects individuals working in mail equipment shops, material distribution centers, postal clerks, postal nurses, and individuals that work in IT (Blaine, Hagburg, & Zeller, 1965). With the USPS, collective bargaining rights were first earned by the APWU after the late 1960s into 1970 (Ruben, 1972). The APWU fights for the rights for all of their members and to protect the equal rights of all of its members. The primary job of the union is to negotiate, interpret, and enforce a National Agreement with the Postal Service (APWU, n.d.). The National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (NRLCA) was created for USPS members who are in rural areas. The purpose of the NRLCA was to improve the methods used by rural letter carriers, to benefit their conditions of labor with the United States Postal Service (USPS), and to promote a fraternal spirit among its members (National Rural Letter Carrier’s Association, 2014). The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) has the exact same intent of the NRLCA; however, they are focused more on letter carriers that are employed in the city. Although collective bargaining rights were first earned by the APWU, NALC was the first group of postal workers to form their own union in 1889 (National Association of Letter Carriers AFL-CIO, n.d.). The last large union group is known as the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU). The NPMHU is a labor union that consists of mail handlers who load, unload, prepare, sort and containerize mail for delivery by the USPS (National Postal Mail Handlers Union, n.d.). No matter which labor union an individual is a part of, each specific group tailors to the needs of their particular group of people. Each union protects the workers’ rights by representing them in everyday problems on the job. How well the processes are managed in the day to day activities is a job in itself.
One of the first major strikes within the government came from the United States postal workers. As with many causes, the postal workers felt that their working conditions were really poor, the benefits that the government were not up to par, and that wages were too low (Shannon, 1978). When the strike initially happened, it was not meant to be a means of lasting too long. Due to feeling threatened by then President Nixon demanding that postal workers get back to their duties, the strike expanded from being only in New York City to the entire United States. This strike was illegal and ultimately hurt America’s mailing system. With not being able to make amends with the postal workers, Nixon had to issue and executive order in order to the National Guard to assume position and take hold in getting the mail out to Americans (Shannon, 1978). The strike ended while negotiations were underway with union leaders. The Postal Reorganization Act was later created due to the strike of 1970.
The Postal Reorganization Act was signed into law as a direct result for the strike of 1970. In passing the law, it allowed for postal service to move as a part of Congress’ cabinet to be an independent agency of the U.S. Government (Cohen, 1971). When one looks at how the organization has shifted now into more of a technological organization, the USPS ensures that they are able to provide a seamless process when they are negotiating with management. Currently, labor and employee relations are much better than what they were years ago. There has been recent news of the USPS wanting to close several of the plants that they have established to reduce the number of buildings that are used by the postal services. This has caused the unions to take the fight to the hill. The current legislation is to close approximately 82 mail facilities which will causes hundreds of individuals to lose their jobs. There have been several issues over the last few years that generally involve unions each time there is a dispute with management (Finch, 1994).
One of the biggest challenges within the USPS is that postal workers believe that management is autocratic and generally does not allow input from the workers (Finch, 1994). This can be an issue with management as the workers would generally assume that their opinions are not being valued. This could also cause a huge issue in the workplace as management may use hostile work situations as a way to force their dominance into a situation. The APWU along with NALC have also brought attention to the level of performance that is tolerated within the postal service (Register, 1988). It has been noted that the USPS allows for poor performance and does not have metrics to really reward its employees when they are performing well. This type of service can lead to a lot of morale issues and could potentially hurt the need to wanting to be involved as a union. There have been attempt to improve the way management has acted with their employees; however, the past efforts failed due to a lack of commitment and participation with some unions (Giebel, 1988).
The unions still have a lot of work to do today as the values that they instilled must be used to represent the people. Labor relations have truly been the focus for many of the unions as the employees have had a hard time getting any of their issues heard and handled in a fair fashion. One of the major issues currently has been moving postal services into Staples stores. This has raised several eyebrows within the labor unions as this pushes the idea away from USPS workers in a store and eliminates the workforce that would generally be protected by the union (APWU-2, n.d.).
Conflict resolution within the United States Postal Service is probably one of the most challenging things to deal with. As a postal worker, the opinions given to any deal or service are generally not taken lightly. Grievances are filed when there is a complaint of some sort that needs to be handled through arbitration. Since there have been several complaints related to labor concerns within the USPS, there is now a proper process to follow, known as the UMP (Union Management Pair) process (Carnevale, 1993). Such as when there is a discipline issue that needs to be addressed, one member from the union and one member from management will both investigate the issue in order to determine if disciplinary actions should occur. If both management and the union leader agree that further actions should occur, an agreement is signed and the union member is properly disciplined. The UMP process was implemented to have a fair middle ground between the employee, the union, and the employer. With the UMP process in use, many cases generally can skip the arbitration as that can be a pretty lengthy process.
In order to truly make some changes within the U.S. Postal Service, management should introduce a better way for employees to be rewarded while maintain the best available benefits that they can provide. Each jurisdiction within the U.S. could hire a benefits consultant as well as a labor consultant to ensure that the area that the postal worker is located in is being offered the best available services to them; which could include paid-time off accrual information, higher wages, better benefits, etc. The postal service could also implement a feedback and information board that would allow for the employees and the union to make suggestions about their working conditions and give management an opportunity to respond to the issues. In order for relations to improve between the postal workers and management, there have got to be people placed in leadership roles that are aware of what the average worker is able to do. Once the postal workers feel as though their opinions are valued, then they will start to respect leadership.
APWU (n.d.). Questions and answers. Retrieved on 17 November 2016 from http://www.apwu.org/questions-and-answers#2
APWU-2. (n.d.) Stop stables. Retrieved on 21 November 2016 from http://www.apwu.org/issues/stop-staples
Berger, H., & Blomstedt, E. A. (1976). Clerk vs. mail handler: jurisdictional disputes in the postal service. Labor Law Journal, 27(10), 641-647.
Blaine, H. R., Hagburg, E. C., & Zeller, F. A. (1965). Discipline and discharge in the United States postal service: adverse action and appeal. ILR Review, 19(1), 92-98.
Carnevale, D. G. (1993). Root dynamics of alternative dispute resolution: an illustrative case in the U.S. Postal Service. Public Administration Review, 53(5), 455-461.
Cohen, F. C. (1971). Labor Features of the Postal Reorganization Act. Labor Law Journal, 22(1), 44-50.
Finch, J. (1994). U.S. Postal Service: labor-management problems persist on the workroom floor. Retrieved on 20 November 2016 from https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GAOREPORTS-GGD-94-201B/html/GAOREPORTS-GGD-94-201B.htm
Giebel, G. (1988). Recent developments in Federal/Postal Service: collective bargaining 1987. Labor Law Journal, 39(8), 509-513.
National Association of Letter Carriers AFL-CIO (n.d.) About NALC. Retrieved on 18 November 2016 from https://www.nalc.org/about
National Postal Mail Handlers Union (n.d.) About NPMHU. Retrieved on 18 November 2016 from http://www.npmhu.org/about
National Rural Letter Carrier’s Association. (2014). National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association. Retrieved on 17 November 2016 from https://www.nrlca.org/
Register, C. A. (1988). Technical efficiency within the US postal service and the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970. Applied Economics, 20(9), 1185
Ruben, G. (1972). Postal workers convention. Monthly Labor Review, 95(10), 74.
Shannon, S. C. (1978). Work stoppage in government: the postal strike of 1970. Monthly Labor Review, 101(7), 14.
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