"Bostonian" Articles


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Scott Hoffman, Clerk Craft President

Since it is the Holiday Season, I hope you had a peaceful Thanksgiving, and best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! My best wishes are equally extended to those celebrating other holiday customs. The names and customs may vary but the sentiment is universal. Good will to all!

It is too bad that this expression of good will does not flow from our employer. Our employer has expressed its sentiments towards us in many forms. The most recent is in staffing proposals. It is no secret that the average clerk has toiled for this company for over twenty years. The sentiment expressed in these staffing proposals is as follows.

Our reports state you are not working.

Our reports state every office has numerous employees doing nothing.

Our reports state that you are unproductive; you are milking every task that entails your job.

Therefore, without regard to your many years of service, in which you sacrificed working holidays away from your families, endured long hours for years, which has exacted physical tolls on your body, worked unhealthy shifts to get the mail out and sustain this company for years by your labor, we now propose the following:

Wholesale changes to your current schedules.
Too bad, youíll get used to it.

Excessing from your particular office.
Stop whining, youíll end up somewhere

We propose the gutting of the 40 hour work week.
Maybe some of these dopes will cut their own salaries by up to 25%.

We propose staffing that doesnít account for all the work in that location and see if we can bully, harass, and intimidate these fools into cutting corners or, better yet, one doing the work of two.

We propose staffing that takes into account no leave replacement.
We will just deny annual leave and attack the use of their earned sick leave.

We will propose window staffing that leaves the public frustrated.
We wonít have to hear it; the lonely clerk will.

Hell, weíll even leave the clerk on the hook for financial responsibility where the very nature of the proposal is in violation of financial protocol.

The Postal Service has proposed this. These proposals are real. This is not hyperbole or rhetoric. The Service believes that they have beaten us down so bad that we have no more fight left in us. They donít believe that we have the brains or fortitude to stick together. They donít believe we can put aside the "every man for himself" mentality. They donít believe that we will stop cutting corners, or not allow them to circumvent the rules.

The time is now. We canít undo some of the mistakes we have made by complacency; it is a waste of time to lament past mistakes and attitudes. It is not a waste if we learn from it. They have exploited our complacency. Their reports are harder to refute because we did not grieve and thereby document the violations. We have not insisted the rules and regulations be followed.

Too many people think the rules are there to just be used against us. This is categorically false. The rules and regulations are checks and balances which protect three interests: the Postal Service, the employees, and the public. When the rules are followed, all three interests are protected. By cutting corners and remaining silent, we allow the Service to bypass these checks and balances which were put in place to protect all three interests.

Since it is obvious the Service has no interest in enforcing the checks and balances, the duty falls to us to not only protect ourselves, but also the institution established to serve the public which is, by the way, our livelihood. Stand up, everyone! If we are all standing, then no one stands out as a target.

Be realistic; this is war. No real war is won quickly or easily. It is a grind. We need to grind them out by our willingness to protect our jobs and the Service itself. We will fight to enforce the regulations and rules. Stand up and report. Then do it again. Do not expect immediate and fantastic results. Instead, envision a heavy-weight bout lasting 15 rounds. Who stands at the end is the winner. We may not deliver a knock-out blow, but persistent jabs and body blows eventually wear out an opponent.

Grievances and spotlighting document falsification. The Service falsifies "up" times, falsifies which operations you work on, scans, you name it. This is done to show that nothing is wrong. We need to start showing and documenting that things are not alright. Ensure you work on the right operation number, by clock or 1260. This way all work is recorded. Insist on it. If management is not, ask for union representation. Some of the damage in these staffing proposals is caused by the fact segments of our work were not captured on correct work operations. Since it was not captured, the Serviceís position is that it does not exist. I donít know who they think did the work. Maybe elves came in at night; I donít know.

We need to manipulate the POS terminals and hit buttons maximizing our credit. They have already assigned flat rates to what we do which donít coincide with the time it takes to do the particular task, but if we donít hit the POS buttons at all, then guess what? The Service considers you as "not working". Hit the buttons.

Grieve all cross craft or bargaining unit violations. Itís our work. It is being stolen piece by piece. Grievances are documents which show this. It is no longer enough to complain. Make it official; GRIEVE.

Please stop thinking there will be divine intervention. There isnít. We are being destroyed from both within and by Congress. Our fight, unfortunately, does not stop after you clock off and leave your building. Keep the pressure up by continuing to contact your Representatives and Senators. The Issa house bill is a bullet to the brain of the Postal Service. The Senate compromise bill is a cut to the artery so we can bleed out a little slower. Neither is acceptable. Senator Brown proposed the latter. It has a few decent short-term aspects, but overall it is a killer too. Start making noise.

The internal attack is far more insidious. Postal management are the wolves in sheepís clothing. They state what they are doing is in the best interest of the Service, yet their actions belie their intentions. To get a taste of this, attend a community input meeting for a post office closing. All the meetings I have gone to, that particular office has made money. They peddle alternative means to our own business.

They present disingenuous figures in an attempt to justify the closings. They try to convince the public they donít need their post office. What kind of business tells their customers they will be just as well off without them, and makes it harder to use their services? Only a business whose leaders are being compensated to facilitate privatization. The Postal Service at the top is requesting the degradation of service standards, the eventual elimination of door-to-door delivery, and the detrimental reduction in its infrastructure. Judas Donohoe is the quintessential fox in charge of the hen house. Donít blink or something else will be missing.

I know there are plenty of brothers and sisters out there smart enough to see whatís going on. I know we have the guts to save ourselves. Fight, Fight, Fight for our hours, jobs, and work. This is the same fight that can save the Service itself. Please stick together; division helps them.

Happy Holidays! Knowing you did your part will make your holiday that much more deserved and sweeter.

In Union Unity,




Scott Hoffman, Clerk Craft President

By the time you read this article, summer will be coming to a close. I hope you all enjoyed your vacations and the overall weather we got this summer. That being said, this is also the kick-off for local negotiations. Local negotiations entail twenty-two items which may be addressed between management and the local union, as opposed to everything else which is negotiated nationally.

The items which most regularly effect us in the clerk craft are those that include holiday pecking orders, overtime lists and implementation, leave usage and time frames, higher level assignments and details, and bid postings. Each craft has items specific to it, and overall there are general items such as safety and health, labor / management, and operations curtailment. Our local agreement is one of the most comprehensive in the country, if not the most. It is used as a blueprint or guide tool for other locals. Our predecessors did their job.

We will be submitting a few proposals, however our main job is protecting what has already been achieved. The local was not opting to open up negotiations, but rather carry over existing language; however, the Postal Service has been salivating at the opportunity to try and shave, strip and slice what benefits we enjoy. There are strong overtures that they wish to reduce percentages for choice vacation, as well as possibly reduce the number of Relief & Pool positions, and required protections such as limited / light duty accommodations for injured employees. We will fully defend these attacks as why should we pay the freight for mismanagement?

Next I would like to point out to everyone that the Serviceís intentions have been exposed at the highest level. In the past, the highest levels of the Postal Service (Postmaster General, top executives) have been able to hide and lay blame for negative and devastating decisions and policies on levels below them. They would state it must be a renegade regional vice president or district manager who misinterpreted or implemented a policy without their blessing; however they had been successful in keeping the stink of outright deception from landing squarely on them. No more! The Postmaster General himself, signatory to this national contract, took the good faith negotiations of our national officers, and then went to Congress to gut the contract he just signed. What a scum bag! If youíre led by a scum bag, then everyone else below has to step in the scum bag line. This self-serving bought and paid for weasel took the good faith concessions and offerings necessary in legitimate negotiations to achieve certain protections, like say No Layoffs, and then petitions Congress to legislate his way out of his end of the bargain. I canít make this up, people, the head of the snake has reared up and been exposed.

Donít expect fair play, good faith, or the truth in any dealings with the Postal Service, at any level. This doesnít mean there arenít good bosses or management people with integrity because there are. This does mean, however, that these reputable officials will be given misinformation, be lied to and be given instructions which they will follow and believe to be true. Remember, the head of the snake controls what is filtered downward.

At national negotiations, the Postmaster General stated he intended to increase retail hours to make us more accessible to the public, and consequently increasing work hours available to our members. After ratification he petitions to close thousands of post offices. How does this make our services more accessible? Did he tell us another one? The last time the Postal Service in this district wanted to close post offices, the facts and figures revealed all slated offices made money after all operating costs were factored in. If youíre losing money, why would you shutter an office which operated in the black, and make it even harder for customers to use our services? You would if your insidious goal is to remove the infrastructure of the Postal Service and make it ripe for privatization.

Bulk mailings: we already have the methods, means and personnel in place to accept it all over. There are already trained personnel, facilities and an existing transportation network. Why on Godís green earth would you make it harder for the customer to give us their business and money by seriously restricting drop-off locations?

Discussion at national negotiations took place in regards to reducing Contract Postal Units (CPUs), yet after the ink dried, the Postal Service announces their intentions and concept of "village post offices" in such Mom and Pop outfits like Walmart. Can you smell privatization? If you canít get your nose checked or take your head out of the sand and look around.

Have you heard the Postmaster in the media refute or dispel rumors of the cause of our cash shortages, that it isnít our operating costs which cause our non-profitability. It isnít salaries, equipment or facilities which run us in the red. It is our Congressional mandate to pre-fund our retirements to the tune of billions. This is a mandate placed on no other entity - private or public. Without this mandate or tax uniquely levied on the Postal Service, we operate at a profit. Donít trust me? Look at the Serviceís own actuaries, as well as GAO reports. Who lobbies Congress? Big business lobbies Congress.

Congress is the new weapon of choice by big business to dismantle unions and the Postal Service and make it vulnerable for privatization, with the help of the snake at the top. The Postal Service is being saddled by an onerous burden to make it appear it is failing. Private business will be there to make a profit doing what we do. They are already siphoning off work via subcontracting at an alarming rate. We used to process approximately 83% of all types of mail. We do about 17% now. The rest goes to private industry via subcontracts. Hello! Are you awake yet? Evolving legislation makes it legal to do so and yet we sleep.

The union will represent and fight to protect and enforce our contract. The union will protect its rights under the law. The union cannot stop congressional actions which circumvent or nullify our contract, or allow the snakes who serve big business and their own avarice to legalize the degradation of the Postal Service and its mission. Only the voting public can do this. You, your friends, families and the public who is unaware of the rug which is about to be pulled out from under them can make the fight necessary to keep the Service as we know it. Get involved. The job you save is yours, or some other working class stiff in the future. Save the institution before it is too late and it is but a shell left behind to handle the unprofitable, while the gravy goes to the rich! Get involved. Let the public know the truth. The union has websites to notify Congress, House and Senate to support pending legislation favorable to the sustenance of the Postal Service, which in turn is favorable to us. We need to do our job, which is to save our jobs and the ideals which we toiled our careers for. It mustnít go for nothing. Enough said on this subject. You get it, or you donít!

The new contract requires the conversion of PTRs (part-time regulars) and PTFs (part-time flexibles) in qualifying offices to full-time status. Until bids go up to bid on, the newly converted full-time employees will be given a temporary but fixed schedule. This schedule should remain unchanged until such point a bid is secured, or you are assigned one as an unassigned regular. If anything other than this occurs to you, contact your steward or the union office immediately.

The delay to post bids to accommodate the newly converted PTRs and PTFs is unconscionable. The delay doesnít appear to be local. The delay is due to the fact local management has not been given their instruction or direction in what to establish or how to implement. This matters not to us; the effect is equally negative no matter who is to blame.

The sad fact of the matter is Operations Support (what an oxymoron) rules the roost. These people get their merit raises or bonuses by cutting jobs. They design computer software which deliberately disregards work done, assigns flat rate credits for functions which donít jibe with the time actually necessary to do the function, and generally low ball every estimate of the totality of the work and time it takes to either process or provide the service to the public. They fashion staffing based on these reports. These programs and reports rely also on our own employees who are either unaware or too overburdened to do the proper thing such as hit on the right operation numbers, hit off the POS terminal when performing other functions, and the like. I donít know about you, but I get pissed if some clown in a remote location puts out a report that says I am not working, and it doesnít take the amount of time to do something that I know it does because I actually do it. We need more people to become offended by this practice, and then do something about it such as hit on proper operation numbers, manipulate POS transaction to maximize credit, log off when appropriate, grieve and thereby document and quantify other crafts and/or supervisors doing our work.

Do not expect fair play or concern for you, your coworkers or the public. This should not be news to you. Operations Support, as stated earlier, makes their money by cutting. They are not there to see the carnage left behind. They do not see or care about the impaired service caused by the root evil of grossly short-staffing everywhere.

They donít care if your ability to get annual leave is harmed, that a sick call now puts us in code red, the lines are out the door, the mail doesnít get to the street, and we donít meet our service standards. When we all get that they donít care, then we can fire on all cylinders and actually do something.

They donít care that their own supervisors, managers, and postmasters tell them they canít operate at these levels and conditions. This merely falls on deaf ears!

If this article scares you a little bit, good! If this article boils your blood, better! Glad to have you on board. If it doesnít, call an ambulance; you have no pulse! When times are good, members can sit back, pay their dues and let the stewards and officers take care of them. When times are bad, that luxury doesnít exist. It takes the whole union - everybody - doing their part. We need your dues to keep operating, but we need your involvement to succeed. Do as we ask, we are on your side. We are you!

The Service has revealed itself. Itís time for us to reveal ourselves too. I will not go quietly and neither will our officers. If we all make noise, the ones leaving will be the ones doing the harm.

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Scott Hoffman, Clerk Craft President

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

This being my first article as Clerk Craft President, I wish to say "Hello" to both my old friends and the new ones I will meet in the course of performing the duties of this position. I also wish to thank the current officers and the office staff who have helped me immensely to become acclimated with this position. I have worn many hats for this local, but this position presents special challenges which I look forward to tackling.

A special thanks goes out to Bob Keough, who not only is showing me the ropes, but also displayed a great deal of integrity in the manner he handled the transition. Tours 1 and 3 in the GMF recently underwent one of the biggest staffing packages in the last twenty years. As I filled the vacancy in March, this staffing fiasco was in progress and being handled by Bobby. He did not just hand this off to me to sink or swim. To the contrary, he not only continued to be involved, he made sure it was done correctly and continued to give it its due diligence. This allowed me to absorb some of the nuances of a complex issue so that the next time something as involved as this comes my way, I will have had the benefit of experience. Bobís handling of this matter was to me the epitome of teamwork and unselfishness, which we all need if we want to survive and continue to be a strong viable union.

This position is the watchdog of the clerk craft. I worked many years in the GMF, and the last six in a station. I know both sides of the house. Jobs and positions are under attack, with management requiring more work for less resources. We have got to hold the line. If you feel something is unreasonable, then it most likely is! Speak up, ask for your steward, call me. As I said earlier, I will be your watchdog. I hope to be like "Cerberus", the three-headed monster who guards the gates of hell. Nothing goes unchallenged. Those who know me know I mean it; those who donít will find out!

The ratification of the new contract has taken place. To a degree, it is the re-invention of the wheel in the clerk craft. We change how we do business. How we do it may be changing, but who we do it with doesnít. So, in this respect, do not be lulled into a less wary posture. Stay awake, and question what doesnít seem right. Upper postal management spews mis-information down through the ranks as a regular and unfortunately successful tactic. The boss youíre talking to may not be a liar, but heís telling you lies. Your union has your interests at heart as is its obligation under the law. Collectively we survive. The Service does not have your interests at heart. You donít have to believe me; just look around.

This is not pessimistic talk; this is reality! Nobody just gives things away. You have to take it or earn it. I am asking you to take back and earn your rights, respect, and dignity Ė back to the levels we deserve. At the union hall, we will do our part and then some, but we need your help. You are our eyes, ears, and voice on the floor. Information is a powerful weapon. You give us this weapon. Without your assistance, we are forced into battle without the necessary information to either mount an attack or establish a sufficient defense. The union is not the hall - the full time officers - or craft presidents. The union is the member on the floor, and stewards on the front. Give us the backing and assistance we need, and we will then lead the charge. Help us help you; help us protect you.

This being said, as Clerk Craft President I will be taking on pet projects germane to the clerk craft. My first one will be to try to alter how stamp stock is made available to window clerks. I am tired of the hard working window clerks suffering the ire and/or ridicule of the public because we donít have stamps! Iíve never been to McDonalds when theyíre out of hamburgers. If you have examples, call me. Your Area Vice Presidents will be circulating and collecting information and examples in order to fix or mitigate this problem. Get involved; it affects you.

We will not win every battle, but we will battle. If management knows they have a fight on their hands, eventually they will choose which battles to fight and forego others. This alone is a victory Ė and an achievable one. Letís get going!

In closing, let me say I am happy to be in this job. I am happy to now have a greater part in things. I am happy to have a seat at the big table. Dinners will be different from now on.

In Unity, Scott

BULLETIN . . .             May 26, 2011                     
                       AT NATIONAL LEVEL

The national union has announced that staffing matrixes will be done at the national level.

It is hoped this will discourage local managers and postmasters from developing unreasonable staffing packages as a result of the new contract.

The local union then has the opportunity to negotiate and "tweak" these matrixes, based on specific circumstances and needs.

In Union Unity, 

Scott M. Hoffman, Clerk Craft President

May 19, 2011 


With the ratification of our new contract, part-time bidding restrictions no longer exist.

Effective with the May 2011 bid cycle, part-time regular clerks may bid ALL BIDS.
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