By Mark Hennessy

Changes ahead not just for postal employees, but for postal patrons. Editor Lindamarie Peabody gives a heads-up on the many challenging events we as postal employees must meet for our survival as a viable entity in our communities.

As postal employees, one of the most prominent questions we hear is, "What about the early out package rumors we hear all the time?" Rumors, yes, that is what they seem to be. If you keep up, it first is called VERA - Voluntary (emphasis here is on "voluntary"). Kind of like the service wants you to be patriotic, not to sign up but to leave, no strings attached. Translated: no $, no moola! Just go, don't let the door hit you on your backside on the way out. The number we are talking about: a mere 7,500 un-needed bodies! But they are finding few takers. People do like their jobs and the money and benefits are quite good - thanks to your union who over the years has negotiated your wages and benefit package.

But alas, we are stalled in negotiations. If we cannot forge a mutual contract settlement with our employer, then on to arbitration where both sides stand to lose more than what they will want to. The event, forged by sometimes results that neither side likes to see, but must accept. At stake: (1) the no layoff clause, enjoyed by no other industry or union. (Something our 30 non-members should take into consideration in not being members and supporting the union.) Modest wage increases over the length of the contract is another point. Health care costs could change in our contributions; our free life insurance we enjoy - keep, lose or pay? COLA's? I think you see the picture and importance for all.

Excessing is on hold until talks conclude. Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) will begin shortly where several of our offices will be involved. These moves are very skeptical as for saving money and for management taking away more of our work, where in the end employees will be excessed while once Postmasters existed levels grade 18 and above, there will be those at level 16 doing our work. This we will have to challenge, and we will.

We still have an enormous stake in the USPS and must contribute our best efforts in serving our patrons by giving our best service to our customers who deserve and expect nothing less. And the most important - support your union, they are fighting for you!

In Solidarity,
Mark Hennessy