Leaked Documents Suggest PMG Seeking Cost Reductions

When the new Postmaster General took office last month, it was widely assumed that he would make significant changes, though the nature of what those changes would be was then no more than speculation.  However, if the information in a leaked PowerPoint presentation that appeared on postalnews.com last week is credible, change may be starting and is focused on cost reduction.

Quick reference links: "The Source", "Document Two", "Publicity", "Another Talk" 


 

The source

Not surprisingly, there’s no official information forthcoming from the Postal Service.  However, the source – supposedly a POOM (Post Office Operations Manager) from Ohio – seems to have notes from a conference call with the agency’s field executives, such as its area VPs and district managers, and perhaps their respective top staffs.

The content centered on overtime and work hours in post office operations – delivery and customer service – suggesting that the original speaker was a senior USPS HQ executive repeating statements and directives by the PMG.

The document speaks of the PMG in the third person and reads like a summary of what was said on the call. Its format and appearance suggest it was for internal distribution only, and uses acronyms that would be familiar to postal employees.  Regardless, the message is clear: cut costs, especially overtime, even if it means curtailing mail.

The content of the slides was straightforward:

PMG Expectations and Plans

The new PMG is looking at COST.  Making the USPS financially solvent which we are not at this time.  Here are some of HIS expectations and they will be implemented in short order:

* POT [penalty overtime] will be eliminated.  This is not cost effective and it will be taken away.

* Overtime will be eliminated.  Again we are paying too much in OT and it is not cost effective and will soon taken off the table [sic].  More to come on this.

* The USPS will no longer use excessive cost to get the basic job done.  If the plants run late they will keep the mail for the next day.  If you get mail late and your carriers are gone and you cannot get the mail out without OT it will remain for the next day.  It must be reported in CSDRS [Customer Service Daily Reporting System].

* All [park and loop] routes will have no more than 4 park points. We will be moving towards that this summer.  Park points are abused, not cost effective and taken advantage of.

* DUOs [Delivery Unit Optimization] are on the table again.

* All routes will not start before their DUT [Distribution Up-Time].  So if you are getting the DUT up late because of the work staff, you will change the start times.  The plants are not to send the mail late.  If the plants are not on time they will hold the mail for the next day.  DUTs must be met or you will move your carriers to the DUT.  This means we may have carriers starting as late as 0900 in some cases but will not start them any later.

* SDO [scheduled day off] usage will be decreased dramatically.  The POOMs [Post Office Operations Manager] and only the POOMs can authorize SDO.  Any PM [postmaster] that uses and [sic] SDO from this point on will have to answer for it.  There is NO SDO USAGE WITHOUT THE POOMS APPROVAL … PERIOD.  If you are one of the many leaders that assist me and feel I will not mind, you are wrong. 100% follow up will be taken for using and [sic] SDO without permission from me.

* If we cannot deliver all the mail due to call offs or shortage of people and you have no other help, the mail will not go out and you will have to report this in CSDRS.

* The PMG stated some of the most influential people in the USPS are the DMs [district managers], AVPs [area vice-presidents] and Corporate support.  These are the people he will be looking at first for savings.

* Level 18 offices [POs whose postmaster’s pay grade is EAS-18] that have a customer service window open more than 8 hours you will close for lunch to meet the 8 hour time.  Once we get thru the 18s they will be looking at 20s [post offices whose postmaster’s pay grade is EAS-20] and possibly some 21 offices for the same process.  You all have the information so be timely on the submission on [sic] the signage and times you are proposing to close.

* All detail, 204 [higher level assignment], OIC [officer-in-charge] or other non approved details will be discontinued. This is all of them.  We have people in sales, call centers and so on, they will all be terminated and you will work your form 50 [official] job.  We will be filling all EAS vacancies so if you have a vacant job it needs posted and awarded [sic].  If you have a job being taken by someone on detail they will be coming back.  ALL DETAILS will be terminated.

Closing out.

These are some of the first wave of changes that will be coming to the USPS this year.  Many of the changes are good and should have been done years ago.  We all need to embrace these changes to keep the USPS in service.  The PMG said this: 

"We all must have a different mindset to keep the USPS alive."

He did not say to keep it going with some savings, these changes need to be done to keep the USPS alive.  If you think we are beyond untouchable I will remind you of US Steel.  In 1975 they were the largest company in the world.  They are gone.  GM has closed many plant [sic] including 2 in Ohio, Packard Electric … gone.  Many if not all of these due to those companies not wanting to change and be profitable.  You all must be apart [sic] of this.  Things will change and we need stop [sic] thinking like we did decades ago.


Document two

Later, a second document – a “stand-up” talk to employees – also got into circulation.  Dated for mandatory delivery on July 10, the message built on what was contained in the PowerPoint slides described above:

Mandatory Stand-Up Talk: All Employees
July 10, 2020
Pivoting For Our Future

• The Postal Service has a long history of service to the nation, and we take pride in our ability to deliver mail and packages efficiently, timely, and safely.

• Right now, we are at a critical juncture in our organization and must make immediate, lasting, and impactful changes in our operations and in our culture.

This operational pivot is long overdue and today, we are talking about the first step in a journey we must take together, for the health and stability of the Postal Service.

• Every single employee will receive this information, no matter what job they perform, so remember that YOU are an integral part of the success we will have – again, by working together.

The initial step in our pivot is targeted on transportation and the soaring costs we incur, due to late trips and extra trips, which costs the organization somewhere around $200 million in added expenses.

• The shifts are simple, but they will be challenging, as we seek to change our culture and move away from past practices previously used [sic].

• Specific examples of transportation changes being implemented immediately (today):

→All operations must meet our 24-hour clock commitment

→ All trips will depart on time (Network, Plant and Delivery); late trips are no longer authorized or accepted

→ Extra trips are no longer authorized or accepted

There must be proper annotation in the scanner, if a Contractor Failure occurs

→ All PVS/HCR drivers must be notified that trips depart on time.

→ Function 4 [delivery] must start on time and end on time and we must make scheduled DUT

→ Carriers must begin on time, leave for the street on time, and return on time

→ Carriers must make the final dispatch of value; no additional transportation will be authorized to dispatch mail to the Plant after the intended dispatch

 The right mail must go on the right truck – every time

→ ALL EMPLOYEES have an essential role with trips departing on time.

• One aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees is that – temporarily – we may see mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks (in P&DCs), which is not typical.

• We will address root causes of these delays and adjust the very next day.

Any mail left behind must be properly reported, and employees should ensure this action is taken with integrity and accuracy.

• As we adjust to the ongoing pivot, which will have a number of phases, we know that operations will begin to run more efficiently and that delayed mail volumes will soon shrink significantly.

• More information will be shared as we fully and swiftly implement these strategies.

• You play a direct role in the success of the Postal Service, and your cooperation and teamwork are appreciated.

• This is a critical time for us, when decisive, quick, and meaningful action is needed.

• This operational pivot will ensure we can secure our future as a world-class service provider, improving our performance to fulfill our core mission of service to our customers.

• Thank you for your support and your teamwork.


Publicity

Though initially discussed only in the postal media, it was reported on July 14 by The Washington Post, in a story written – by a reporter usually assigned to sports stories.  The article claimed the documents noted above were “verified by the American Postal Workers Union and three people with knowledge of their contents, but who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid retribution.”

The Post also tapped “experts” for opinions, including a history professor who was once a postal worker (who called the documents “a riot act”) and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr (NJ 9th) who alleged somewhat hyperbolically that “destabilizing of the post office is a direct attack on American democracy itself.”  Of course, the paper also got a comment from the president of the APWU (that represents clerks, not letter carriers who are primarily targeted by the directives) who offered a characteristically antagonistic statement:

“I would tell our members that this is not something that as postal workers we should accept.  It’s not something that the union you belong to is going to accept.”

The article quoted a “reaction statement” from the Postal Service that it was

“… developing a business plan to ensure that we will be financially stable and able to continue to provide reliable, affordable, safe and secure delivery of mail, packages and other communications to all Americans as a vital part of the nation’s critical infrastructure.  [The unfinished plan would include] new and creative ways for us to fulfill our mission, and we will focus immediately on efficiency and items that we can control, including adherence to the effective operating plans that we have developed.”

The content of the leaked documents speak for themselves, but the Post – not uncharacteristically – not only spun them as an attack on postal workers and the USPS as a public institution, but found a way to connect them to the administration (a critic of Amazon, and of Jeff Bezos, its founder, and the Post’s owner).


 

Another talk

Yet another stand-up talk was publicized last week, this one again from the Ohio Valley District.  As reported by Common Dreams and posted on postalnews.com, the talk allegedly contained details of significant workhour reductions:

“Good morning.  As you may have heard, the US Postal Service is facing unprecedented financial challenges.  Volume has dropped to levels we haven’t experienced for over 30 years all while deliveries continue to grow.

“Although package growth is up almost 100 million pieces from last year, it does not come close to replacing the revenue associated with a 3 billion piece drop in letters and flats in the Eastern Area.

“As a result of the dramatic volume loss, we are expected to control our costs and to remain solvent while adjusting to changes in demand for our various product lines.  Bottom line, we can no longer operate at a loss.

“The new Fiscal Year presents great challenges for the Ohio Valley District.  Mail Processing has been tasked with a reduction of 290,000 workhours.  This equates to closing all Plants in Ohio Valley for 20 days or the elimination of one tour from all Mail Processing facilities for 61 days.  To work toward this workhour reduction, the district is currently in the process of removing 23 mail processing machines.

“City Delivery has been tasked with a reduction of 488,541 workhours.  This equates to 18 days of complete non-delivery or the elimination of 6.5% of all city routes (190 city routes) or the reduction of 33 minutes per route per day.

“Clerk and Retail Operations have been tasked with a reduction of 129,091 workhours.  This equates to no LDC 43 [Manual] Distribution, no LDC 44 PO Box Distribution and no LDC 48 Admin/Miscellaneous for 18 days (equals 76,449 workhours) plus the window closure of all offices for 21 days or the total window closure across the district for 51 days.

“Our financial situation is serious but solvable with managing our workhours and continuing to pursue legislative and regulatory reforms.  Managing costs is critical to our organization and this includes matching workhours to the workload.

“Being reliable, coming to work and working safely cuts down overtime and unnecessary workhours.  Being dedicated and performing to the best of your ability every minute of every day helps preserve jobs.  When volumes decline, workhours decline.  When we generate revenue and control costs we can prosper.

“I know I can count on you for your steadfast dedication to the organization.  We have faced tough roads before.  We need YOU to continue to push forward, with your heads held high, delivering the excellence our postal brand promises and YOUR personal brand as well.  Thank you.”

Whether these target reductions occur remains to be seen.


Correction: In the print edition of the July 20 issue of Mailers Hub News, the first paragraph incorrectly references postalreporter.com as the site where documents first appeared. That has been corrected to postalnews.com in this post. 

 

 

 

 

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