Local Clerk Craft Director Election

The local Clerk Craft Director position became vacant on November 16, 2016 when Bill Martin was appointed Vice-President.  The Portland Local Constitution states “Vacancies of Craft Officers shall be filled by nomination and vote of Craft members present at a special election meeting.”  All local APWU members of the Clerk Craft are eligible to run for the office of Clerk Craft Director. The election meeting shall be held on January 8, 2016 at 6:30 pm.  All local union members of the clerk craft are encouraged to attend and exercise their right to vote.

New Clerk NBA, Local President and Local Vice President

On November 12th, 2016 President Brian Dunsmore assumed the duties as Clerk Craft National Business Agent.  Brian Dunsmore will be joining Brian Dunn as the Northwest Region National Business agents for the Clerk Craft.  The Portland Oregon Area Local members are proud to have two local past presidents serving as our NBA’s.

In accordance with the Local Constitution and Bylaws, Vice-President Joe Cogan will assume the duties as President.  President Cogan has appointed, and the Executive Board has approved, Clerk Craft Director Bill Martin as Vice-President.

APWU Auxiliary serving the Members for 100 years

The Auxiliary to the APWU celebrated 100 years of service to the members this August at our national convention. The Auxiliary is open to all friends, family members and retirees who are sponsored by an APWU member. Their good works include supporting community programs, scholarships, legislative aid, and so much more. If you or your family members and friends aren’t already a member please consider joining. You can sign-up at http://www.apwuauxiliary.org or contact the local union hall.

The Portland Oregon Area Local is proud to have a strong local Auxiliary Chapter led by President Maggie Hopwood. They are vital to our success as a local organization and we are stronger because of their involvement. The Portland Oregon Areal Local pays for and sponsors all our retirees for their first year membership in the Auxiliary.

I was honored to have been asked to take the photographs of the officers of the National APWU Auxiliary Officers at our recent national convention.

Moving Forward Safely

apwubadgerOn August 17th we met with District Management to discuss our future involvement in the district safety programs. Of major concern for the APWU was the acknowledgement that our safety advocates must be able to act without fear of retaliation. We agreed that to alleviate any concern on the part of the APWU, all advocates would be provided with the personal cell phone number and email address of the District Manager. In the future if a safety advocate after attempting to resolve an issue is not satisfied with the response of local supervisors, they may contact the District Manager directly. The discipline that was issued to the APWU Safety Advocate has been rescinded by the District Senior Plant Manager and coaching has been provided to the responsible supervisors.

We also discussed the impediment that issuing discipline to employees for safety related accidents has on improving the overall safety and health program. We agreed to a moratorium on all safety related discipline until a policy could be developed and disseminated to management personnel. The core agreement was that prior to any supervisor conducting an investigative interview that may lead to discipline that supervisors must receive concurrence to conduct the investigation from the Manager of Human Resources. The APWU will also make it a permanent agenda item at future JLMSH meetings to review all investigative interviews and discipline that result from accidents/injuries or safety related activities.

We discussed but reached no firm resolution regarding conflict resolution training for supervisors and jointly addressing APWU Safety Advocates. Regarding the conflict resolution training the APWU has seen an increase in supervisors resorting to giving direct orders and contributing too instead of reducing conflict. We will continue to explore these issues further.

The APWU raised the outstanding job that our custodians and the important job that they do in protecting us from hazardous materials. Immediately and without reservation District Senior Plant Manager Flores and District Manager Williams suggested that we recognize these individuals for their efforts. We agreed to hold a function in September.

We concluded our meeting by conducting a walkthrough of the plant to review some of the new safety initiatives that have been put in place recently.

With these agreements in place and commitments to continue meeting, the APWU after consultation with the NALC and NPMHU will renew our participation in the Joint Labor Management Safety and Health programs.

 

 

A Breach of Trust

The United States Postal Service has the dubious distinction of being the deadliest workplace within the federal government. This year alone seven of our co-workers nationwide have lost their lives in the performance of their postal duties. The USPS has historically been one of the worst agencies in accident and illness prevention. The Portland District, which covers the entire State of Oregon and southwest Washington, is currently one of the most dangerous districts in the nation to work in.

You may or may not have heard of some of the new safety programs that are being pushed out by District management. As part of the latest management fad called “Lean Six Sigma” we have new programs, safety slogans and a new vocabulary to learn. Lean Six Sigma programs originate from Japanese led corporations who showed some success increasing efficiency in the manufacturing sectors a couple of decades ago.  That’s why you’ll hear supervisors preening about their new Green Belt or Black Belt certification. You may have been given your White Belt to make you feel part of the team. It’s the Lean Six Sigma program that brought you those “Gemba” boards on some work floors with green and red cards attached.

Portland Oregon Area Local Members stand in solidarity with our Safety Advocates and don protest tape during safety talks

Obviously we have a stake in any program relating to safety and health in the workplace. We are the one’s suffering the injuries, illnesses and tragically death at times. We want these programs to succeed, we want a safer workplace, and we don’t want to die delivering the mail. So it was with cautious optimism that in my duties as President I appointed members to the new Safety Advocate Teams. It was our hope that they would be provided the training and tools necessary to create a new safety culture within the USPS. It was our hope that our appointees would be able to bring safety concerns to their supervisors and have our supervisor’s cooperation. It was our sincere hope that this would not be another example of empty slogans and half measures.

Members protest against management's retaliation

Members protest against management’s retaliation

A breach in trust. Recently a Safety Advocate went to their manager to report a concern over the handling of a potential hazardous materials situation. Instead of cooperating with our Safety Advocate and using the opportunity to show their commitment to the safety of our employees, the manager took offence.  He then abused his authority by removing the Safety Advocate by force from the building.  Finally, the entire management team decided that wasn’t enough punishment for raising a safety concern, and the Safety Advocate was effectively issued a fine for over two thousand five hundred dollars, in the form of a 14 day suspension without pay.

This breach of trust has serious implications. Upon hearing about the situation and reviewing the statements from management and our representatives, it became clear that every Safety Advocate was in danger. I could not in good conscience put people who I appointed in a position to be disciplined and face the loss of wages and potentially their job because they had the courage to bring a safety issue to their supervisor. This past week I informed management that we were suspending all participation in joint safety committees at all levels and in all facilities represented by the Portland Oregon Area Local until a meeting could be had between the Union and District Management.

Unfortunately in our first meeting with District Management we were greeted with an ultimatum and hostility. It was communicated quite clearly that management would not be badgered over safety. Perhaps this is because they feel that they are above reproach or that they believe that it is their job as managers to give direct orders and our job as employees to blindly obey. This attitude has become more pervasive lately as we have seen an increase in supervisors resorting to giving direct orders to employees and suspending employees without pay when they fail to bow to their demands. We are left with the impression that management has no concern for true employee involvement based on mutual trust and respect. The new programs and slogans seem to be destined for the large trash heap filled with the broken promises and hollow words given by so many of their predecessors.

One promise that will never fail us is the pledge of Solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 82 and National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 315. Upon hearing about our struggle both Jim Falvey, President of Branch 82 of the NALC and Bryan Easley, President of Local 315 NPMHU informed District Management that they were joining with the APWU and reconsidering or suspending their respective Union’s involvement in the safety committees.

Members protest  during safety standup

Members protest during safety standup

“While we would like to continue this joint process, it will be impossible to do so if we have reason to believe our Union leaders, who represent the entire craft, are not truly equal partners in pursuit of a safer work place.  To us this means that the creation of a more substantive ‘safety culture’ for all employees includes taking the craft’s perspective, presented by the Union, and regarding it with value.  That also extends to the representatives themselves, whom you have asked to help you.  As a result, the NPMHU is detaching immediately from all joint safety meetings and committees, at all levels, in solidarity with the APWU.” Bryan Easley, President NPMHU Local 315

Despite our abrupt first meeting with District Management we have agreed to meet again on August 17th. We have to be sure that it wasn’t just posturing or the lack of trust that prevented us from having a productive meeting. Our future involvement in these new safety programs will depend largely on whether or not we can secure agreements that ensure our Safety Advocates will be treated as equal partners who are trained and given the tools to vigorously pursue a safer workplace. It will depend on whether management is open to constructive criticism and yes, sometimes even what they might consider badgering.

In Solidarity,

Brian Dunsmore, President
Portland Oregon Area Local
American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO