Postal unions may have stalled staffing cuts

The American Postal Workers Union and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union may have stalled a move by Postal Service management to implement further staffing cuts—at least temporarily.

Last month, the unions sent a joint letter to Postmaster General Megan Brennan denouncing the next round of planned job cuts—both because of their toxic effect on the workforce and on customer service.

“The cutting of an already skeletal workforce will not only cause massive disruption to the workforce but will cause further degradation of postal services for the American people throughout the country,” the letter declared.

But in the weeks since the letter was delivered (June 21), the unions have pressed their case against further “excessing.”

Excessing is a procedure in which Postal Service management officially identifies what it sees as surplus positions—and notifies those currently staffing them that they will be reassigned, often to alternative positions (“landing spots”) at work sites hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away. Not surprisingly, often workers retire early or otherwise separate from their jobs rather than undertake such long-distance moves.

And, in recent days, the union effort may have temporarily blocked—or at least slowed —USPS’s “excessing” plans.

“Since the Postal Service has received this letter, they have agreed to push back the dates of any excessing events to early 2018,” Bobby Blum, the assistant to the president of the NPMHU, said. “From the time between now and then, we are holding discussions with them regarding our position on these events.”

But some stakeholders in the conflict say they felt the situation remained in flux—and that the Postal Service could not be counted on to stop the excessing activity, or not for long.  NPMHU’s Blum noted too that the actual numbers of personnel who are in the USPS management’s sights for excessing remains “fluid.”

Blum also noted that his union does not have word on the exact date in “early 2018” when excessing might resume.

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