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Here we provide space for any newsworthy items.  Also, we have for you the minutes from the most recent Labor/Management meeting.

Snow, dogs, welfare can't stop mailman
Monday, January 26, 2004

Courier-Post staff

Chris Duffy has spent 21 years walking the streets of Camden as a letter carrier, dodging dogs and muggings. Here he provides the secrets of the trade, including how to stay warm when your job calls for you be outside all day.

Why did you become a postal worker?

I was 25, working at a home center like Home Depot, and I was at a stage when I wasn't enjoying going to work. I had a very good friend whose father was a mail carrier, and it seemed like a good job - the job security, working some inside, some outside. And that home center later went out of business, so I guess I made the right choice.

Describe that first day.

Of course there's always apprehension. You don't want to mess up the mail. It was a good coincidence that it was a March week and it was this beautiful spring weather, so it was nice to be going outside.

What inspires you about the job?

It's like a goal: You have to meet or exceed their expectations or fail. Not only do you have to deal with the weather, but you have to interact with certain customers, and there is a certain volume of mail you've got to move in a day.

What kind of volume are we talking about?

About 2,000 letters a day, and about 1,500 magazines. If you had a stack of magazines, I would have 10 to 12 feet of that, and 8 feet of letters.

What personality would do well in your position?

Good work ethic, someone prepared to work hard.

What personalities would not do so well?

Lazy people. Also, grumpy people, people who can't deal with change.

Why change?

People come and people go. I used to spend four hours sorting mail and four hours carrying, and now my sorting is two hours and it's six hours on the street. Some people don't like that because it means more time outside.

How do you deal with the extreme cold?

You dress in layers. You listen to the weather report. I will deviate if it's really cold. Like, I deliver to the Victor Towers. On the days where it is raining in the morning or really cold but supposed to be nice in the afternoon, then I do the Towers first.

What is the worst weather you have experienced?

Probably the blizzard of '93. Imagine you are walking through the waves of an ocean but it's snow, and you've got a bag of mail on your shoulders.

What's the worst day you've ever had delivering mail?

In the olden days, all the welfare checks came out on the first of the month. Welfare day was like a circus, absolutely crazy with all the people coming up to the truck, wanting their mail at 9, 10 in the morning because they knew money was coming. People could just not understand that some people get their mail first and some people get their mail last. Now the welfare checks go through ATMs.

How is it walking the streets of the nation's second-poorest city?

You have to be alert and on your toes. Myself and two other people had to stop a mugging once. It was an 83-year-old man being attacked by a deranged man. There are occasional verbal threats. I have had my truck sprayed with a paint-ball gun, and my windows busted out before, but I've never been attacked physically.

Obviously a certain element comes out in the dark like any other big city, so I'll combine the breaks and take them at the end of the day so that I can be done by dark.

Why not change routes?

I realized after I made it through that first 89 days in Camden that it's not that bad. I deliver to Sen. Wayne Bryant's office, and within a half-hour of delivering his mail I am delivering mail to a guy who pushes a cart around to collect cans. So you can imagine the two different ends of the rainbow.

Have you ever had any close calls with a dog on the job?

I have more problems with dog owners than the dogs themselves. The dog is just doing his job. We have a technique where we are supposed to take the bag off the shoulder and put it in between the dog and our body, and we carry a spray that will make the dog back off. In 21 years, I have only sprayed about five dogs.



January's L/M meeting

In Attendance

Denise Mason                                                              Chuck Goushian

Terry Dean                                                                  Bob Morrell

Joe Cancelosi                                                              Anthony Armstrong

Lester Banks



At the start of the meeting, Chuck mentioned that there are only allowed to be 3 representatives, from each side, in the meeting. Terry said that they can have as many as they like, and asked for this part of the Local to be read. After reading from the LMOU, mgm’t. said that the word “alternates” is not meant to mean management, but rather, about the number of alternate representatives, that the union is allowed to have. Chuck disagreed and said that if the language is vague, then past practice dictates what the interpretation means. He went on to say that there has always been only up to 3 allowed, by both sides.

Old Business-

Revisited some of the old issues from last meeting. (Grievance Settlements- Making sure that all parties are made aware, as issues, if not pertaining to all zones, could impact all, in the future. / Form 50- Carrier situation has been rectified. He was not being paid for holidays, and adjustments had to be made. / Postal Inspectors- No word yet on the E. Camden robbery. There was a similar robbery in Blackwood. / Climate Survey- The union still feels that the awards for the survey results have tainted any future surveys. Denise said that offices that are able to work together, should be awarded for this. Discussion ensued. Parties disagreed on this issue. / DPS Errors- 3M case is being used. Chuck said that he wasn’t using it for mis-sequenced mail, as it delays the mail. Terry said that he was glad that was brought up, and that there will be a stand-up talk about this. / Safety- Discussed the importance of vehicular safety. Denise said that another big issue is the use of cell phones, while driving and she knows that many carriers are doing this. Chuck mentioned that, one day while leaving the Annex, the two carriers driving in front of him, both were using cell phones, while leaving. Postal regulations dictate that the use of hand held cell phones are not allowed to be used in Government vehicles, while driving. / Residual Vacancies- Mgm’t. got approval for the conversion of 2 PTF’s. One of the vacancies was filled as a result of the Moraza settlement. One PTF has been converted, as a result of the Step-B decision, in regard to 6 month hold-down. This employee opted to be assigned to the vacant Penns. float. Chuck said that a PTF needs to be assigned to the new Full Time Assignment, designated to cover Rt. 336. Discussion ensued about this vacancy. Chuck suggested that both parties call the Step-B team, in order to get clarification on implementation, on their decision. Terry said that he would rather not. Denise asked for a copy of the Step-B decision. Chuck requested that, until the grievance for the denied bid, to Rt. 1055, is settled, that both parties hold any bid postings, in regard to this route, in abeyance, until the grievance is resolved. Denise felt that it will be a long time for this issue to be resolved, and said we should table this issue. Question was asked as to how long it takes, before a L/D employee’s bid assignment can be placed up for bid, if the employee is not able to perform the duties, of that assignment. Chuck answered that it has been a long time since he has dealt with that issue, and needs to look up the language.)


New Business-

-Supervisor Notes- Chuck read from the ELM, discussing the destruction of Spvsr. notes, when the spvsr./employee relationship ends. Denise felt that this was open to interpretation.

- Food Drive- The Food Drive is scheduled for May 8th, and once again, the union is requesting to be permitted to hold its annual picnic. Discussed some of the negative issues from last years B-B-Q. Alcohol is not permitted on Postal property. OK was given. Denise asked about the possibility of having politicians there to help, as she is friends with a state senator.

-Bid Postings- Chuck mentioned that postings were not made, while Margo was away. Terry replied that the time limits were kept, as they have 10 from the day that the bid comes down, to post the successful bidder, with the exception of December. Chuck replied that this happens as well, when she away any other time of the year. Terry suggested that the union remind mgm’t. of this, when it occurs.

- Copy Machine- The copy machine, which was located in Art’s cubicle, is no longer there. Terry said that he is trying to get it fixed. It costs about -, each time. Denise said that she will look into getting an excess machine. Terry suggested the possibility of giving an excess machine to the union, with the union being responsible for its maintenance. In the mean time, any stewards that need copies, should do this with their spvsr.

-Steward time- As a Collection driver, Bob Morrell is not always available in the morning. This occurred last week, when Chuck was used as a steward for a Pre-D, which was held for an employee to which Bob is the Steward. Chuck said that since this was a planned Pre-D, and not a spur of the moment occurrence, arrangements should have been made, to make Bob available. Denis, and Terry disagreed, as they do not think that it makes good business sense to pay O.T., when there are others available. Chuck replied that, just as carriers cannot pick and choose, who they want to have represent them, so goes for mgm’t. Chuck then read from the JCAM, Art. 8, re: denied steward time due to O.T. Chuck also mentioned that Vance and he, had called the Step-B team, about this. Both parties at the L/M meeting, disagreed on this issue.

-Pre-D meetings- Chuck and Vance had called the Step-B team, in regard to the number of spvsr’s., in a Pre-D. They told us that another spvsr., or higher level mgr., can observe, but cannot talk, or participate. The same holds true for the union. They too, can have another Rep. in the Pre-D., as long as he does not participate. In the case of a 204b, that is still in training, a second member from mgm’t. may speak, but only in a limited capacity. If the Steward feels that things are getting out of hand, or that the spvsrs. are “ganging up” on the employee, then it is up to the Steward, to call for a time out. Denise agreed with this.

-Hold-Downs- Discussed the need for a uniform policy for the notification and procedures for hold downs, as well as for the filling of temporary vacancies of higher level assignments. Denise suggested that Vance and Chuck put something together, since they meet regularly anyway. This would then be presented to the Postmaster and the Branch President, for approval.

-6/7 zone- The union feels that a spvsr., that is more familiar with Camden, should be placed in 6/7 Zone. Chuck said that Jim Draffen, while he could possibly be the nicest guy in the world, is not familiar with the ebb and flow of Camden. Chuck went on to say that this is nothing against Jim, and that Chuck doesn’t know him from Adam. The union suggested Dan Heverly, since it’s been shown that things run smoothly, whenever he has been in any zone. Denise said that she is trying to groom Dan for advancement, and feels that she would be holding him back, if she assigned him to a zone. Terry said that S.L. trends have greatly reduced. Joe Cancelosi added that it may be better to have someone new, because there would be no preconceived problems. Denise said that they will leave him there, and se how he does.

-Steward Work Station- Bob asked about having an area, out of the way, for the stewards to do grievance work. He suggested just a table and a couple of filing cabinets. Terry said that he is concerned about vandalism, if someone who was upset about something, and that he doesn’t want to be liable. Denise said that she can provide new filing cabinets for the union, as the old filing cabinet is beat up.


-Next L/M Meeting will be held on February 10th, at 1:30 P.M.

Low-wage, no-benefit model poses threat to letter carriers.

The picket line is where workers put it on the line. Letter carriers fed up
with poverty-level wages and broken promises walked out in 1970, risking jail for a fair shot at
the American dream and life in the middle class. In recent months, California grocery workers have walked
the line, too, but while yesterday’s letter carriers were climbing upward,
workers today find themselves fighting to keep from slipping backward
into the nightmare of America’s new low-wage economy.

Welcome to the Wal-Martization of America-you don’t want to become part of it.

Click on the link below to see the complete article, as printed in the February edition of The postal Record.

Walmartization of America