|SEPT/OCT 2009 BOSTONIAN
CLERK CRAFT REPORT
It was with great honor that I attended the laying of the wreath by our local at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. Boston Metro members Jeff Baird, Bill Weaver, John Fraughton and Kevin Jones led the Boston delegation. I personally want to thank Kevin Jones and his wife, Elaine. I felt privileged to be there to share that day with them. Their son, Ryan, was killed in action in Iraq in 2007. Ryan’s commanding officer was in attendance. It was a truly moving experience and something I will never forget. One cannot walk those hallowed grounds without feeling a profound sense of respect and honor. I would also like to thank National APWU officers Jim McCarthy, Sue Carney, Steve Albanese, Cliff Guffey, and Greg and Karen See for attending.
As part of the incentive agreement, there is a moratorium on excessing through October 9th. This does not mean, however, that management has slowed down. I was recently notified that the CFS unit will be closed. The work will be transferred to Worcester. Management has not set a date at this time. I expect this move to take place before the end of the year. Meetings will be scheduled at the regional level over the next few months. Obviously there will be impacts to our mark-up clerks. I have met with all CFS clerks and will continue to do so as this develops.
As part of the Postal Services consolidation plan, nine offices in our local are under review for closure. They are: Logan, BU, BC, MIT, Soldiers Field, Nonantum, Faneuil Hall, Babson, and Tufts. Please contact your member of congress. Let them know the negative impacts these closings would have, especially to the elderly. The full time officers have been meeting with city, state and federal officials, contacting news organizations, leafleting, and meeting with neighborhood groups as part the fight to keep these offices open. Anyone interested in helping out, even just for a few hours, is welcome. Give the union hall a call.
Below is an article I came across on the Pittsburgh Area local’s web site. I found it to be informative and I am reprinting for the benefit of all window clerks.
The information we have presented on this page is something that every window clerk should take the time to review periodically. There is a host of good information on just about everything you would need to do your job correctly, safely, and in as stress-free an environment as possible. As always, let us know if we can add anything to the list.
Retail Rights and Wrongs
Dos and Don’ts
Do Not Take Shortcuts
Record Your Non-Revenue Transactions
Retail Equipment Problems
Put Your Checkbook Away!
Reporting Shortages to the IRS
If a Robbery Occurs . . .
DOS AND DON’TS
Regardless of whether you have individual financial accountability or have shared stock (segmentation) or work in a retail store:
1. Scan and enter every sale item, even a one-cent stamp, a first-class stamp, or a retail envelope. Input every item into your POS ONE, IRT, etc., because you never know whether that friendly customer is a Postal Inspector. Although you may make your adjustment later, the Postal Inspector doesn't know that. They will immediately suspect that something suspicious is going on. Is your job worth it? INPUT EVERYTHING!
2. Use your POS ONE cash drawer. If you don't, you may be suspected of manipulating funds.
3. Change. DO NOT make any change from your personal funds. Always go to your supervisor, T-6, or another clerk. Make the even exchange of money visible and return to your window immediately to place the money back into the drawer.
4. Too many "GL Adjustments", "Error Corrects", "No Sales", etc. This may give the appearance that funds are being manipulated. Avoid this when possible.
5. Input all credit/debit transactions into your POS ONE and IRT at the time of sale.
6. Do not retain more than $100 in your drawer. This is a violation of the F-1. Is your job worth not complying with Postal rules and regulations?
7. Error on PVIs: Fill out Form 3533 and submit it on the same day. Don't try to use it on your next transaction.
8. Receipts: Always give your customer their receipt. Do not input "postage affixed" to reuse a PVI or to place stamps on a package. Again, you may be suspected of manipulating funds.
9. Don't have IOUs in your stock for any reason.
10. Never hold checks for any reason.
11. Never use your own drawer to buy stamps, cash a check or buy a money order for any reason!
12. Be sensible, using a certain amount of caution with every transaction and task. Take the time you need to do the job correctly. Don't let management rush you and don't take any shortcuts. (See below) This is particularly important in light of the downsizing of window clerk jobs.
13. Don't ever talk to a Postal Inspector without Union representation... NEVER NEVER NEVER!
14. Always conduct yourself as though you are being observed. Chances are, you are being observed. Take reasonable care and follow all postal procedures. The use of shortcuts may lead to your postal career being cut short.
DO NOT TAKE SHORTCUTS
Shortcuts result in losses of money and JOBS!
- Carry out each task on the window as you were taught in window training.
- Make certain you witness the verification of monies you turn in and obtain a signed receipt.
- Utilize the appropriate terminal key when retrieving accountable mail or otherwise assisting customers in non-revenue transactions.
- Never accept stock while on window - take time to count!
- Never accept or swap stock without a Form 17.
- When retrieving a certified or registered item, you should log off (if using retail equipment) to "non-revenue" prior to leaving the window and lock your drawer.
- The Union can best protect you from discipline and paying for shortages if you help protect yourself by following proper procedure.
RECORD YOUR NON-REVENUE TRANSACTIONS
Save your jobs:
Management cuts staffing, in part, by measuring POS-ONE DOWNTIME. Unfortunately, not utilizing your Non-Revenue Transaction codes as instructed (probably because you don't have, or make, the time to) robs the office of vital window coverage.
Please help stop this vicious downward cycle by accurately recording Non-Revenue selections.
Of course it is equally essential that you timely return to the appropriate Transaction functions lest the entire period be recorded as downtime.
RETAIL EQUIPMENT PROBLEMS
You need to:
- Document all equipment failures by notifying your supervisor in writing and keep a copy.
- Include the date, time and type of equipment, i.e., POS terminal, IRT, calculator, etc. Make sure to detail the specific malfunction.
- For POS problems, call the HELP DESK so a ticket can be generated to document that a problem exists and a fix can be initiated.
HELP DESK Phone Number....1-800-877-7435 (1-800-USPS-HELP)
Retail personnel at Post Offices whose official assignments at a retail counter are for a minimum of 4 hours daily for 5 days a week on a continuing basis, or for not less than 30 hours a week, are required to wear the prescribed uniform while performing their duties.
Employees who do not qualify for a uniform allowance under the criteria described above must wear the appropriate uniform for the position if it is provided to them outside of the uniform allowance program.
The uniform is required when a clerk is scheduled to work the retail window.
If you are forced by management to purchase clothing with personal funds to wear at the window-- please notify your steward and file a grievance to be reimbursed for your time and purchase! Make sure you save your receipt to document your purchase.
The official APWU position on uniforms is as follows:
"The Union did not agree to this. Any employee who is forced to buy shirts, ties, pants or skirts should file a grievance to be reimbursed for his/her time and expense!" [Assistant Clerk Director Tommy Thompson]
The language agreed to in "Operation Switchover Retail Uniform Do's and Don'ts," question 12, reads: "New retail employees who do not have uniforms are to wear their own white or light blue button-down shirts, navy blue tie (for men) or scarf (for women) and the alternative trousers (blue or gray) until items from the new lines are authorized for wear."
In other words, if employees own it, they should wear it. The language does not state that workers must buy the items. Furthermore, the language applies to new employees only.
The language of the ELM 932.11g in Postal Bulletin 22023 (5-4-00) is also clear: "Employees who do not qualify for a uniform allowance under the criteria described above must wear the appropriate uniform for the position if it is provided to them outside of the uniform allowance program.
All window clerks receive 40 hours of training in a classroom environment before being scheduled for their qualifying examination. When the qualifying exam is successfully passed, the future associate is provided OJT by a certified Retail Coach.
The OJT should be completed in five consecutive days immediately following successful completion of the exam. In any case, the OJT must be completed within 14 calendar days. The 14-day time period does not include scheduled Annual Leave during the same time period.
If you feel are not being trained properly you should contact your steward immediately. Don't wait until after the fact to file a grievance.
Are supervisors doing lobby sweeps in your office? If they are and your office has over 100 bargaining unit employees it is a violation of Article 1.6A of the contract. Stations and branches are considered a part of the main facility so if there are over 100 total installation employees, 1.6A applies.
Lobby Sweeps involving retrieving hold mail, certifieds, registered, parcel post packages, etc. is distribution. Supervisors are prohibited from performing the core clerk function of distribution in 1.6A offices.
In offices of less than 100 bargaining unit employees Article 1.6B applies. It contains language allowing, "when the duties are included in the supervisor's portion" description for performance of bargaining unit work. Contact your union representative to see if you have a grievance in your size office.
PUT YOUR CHECKBOOK AWAY
Know that . . .
ALL demands for money must be put in writing. That demand for money should be in the form of a Letter of Demand. No demand for money should be given orally. The Letter of Demand must contain the employee's appeal rights in the grievance process.
A grievance must be filed within 14 days of receiving the Letter of Demand. Contact your union representative immediately if you are issued a Letter of Demand. Also, if the demand is grieved, the grievant does not have to pay the demand until the issue has reached a final resolution.
Even if the Letter of Demand reaches resolution in the grievance/arbitration process you may elect to continue under the Debt Collection Act. You would not pay the demand until the Debt Collection Act decision has been reached. If you have any questions on demands for money, contact your Union representative.
REPORTING WINDOW SHORTAGES TO THE IRS
Miscellaneous Deductions, Schedule A, Form 1040, Line 20:
To establish entitlement to the deduction, you must have proof of payment; proof of the amount and nature of the deduction; and proof of the obligation to make repayment. This includes a copy of both sides of the cancelled check by which reimbursement was made, a copy of the USPS notice demanding reimbursement of the shortage (your Letter of Demand), and a copy of Article 28 of the National Agreement. The USPS notice and the Agreement will demonstrate that the claimed deductions meet the "ordinary and necessary" requirement which Section 212 of the Internal Revenue Code imposes upon deductions incurred in connection with the production or collection of income.
When you get a Letter of Demand, did you know you can claim this off on your income taxes if you itemize your deductions? We're talking about Line 20 of Schedule A, Form 1040, since this repayment is considered a "loss." You also have three years in which to do this, if you want to file a 1040X, which is an Amended Return Form.
Employees who claim the standard deduction cannot deduct these expenses.
IRS Publication 529, "Miscellaneous Deductions" contains information regarding job-related deductions.
Employees who itemize deductions on their federal income tax can claim deductions for job-related expenses, provided the total exceeds two percent of adjusted gross income. Only the portion of employee expenses that exceeds two percent of adjusted gross income is deductible. You can add your window shortage payments to other employee expenses to arrive at your total job-related expenses. Employee expenses include such things as union dues, uniforms, special work shoes or tools, and other job-related expenses for which you are not reimbursed by your employer.
NOTE: Window shortages for postal workers are not specifically mentioned under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) or regulations of the IRS, so IRS examiners may try to disallow the deduction. However, precedent for related types of deductions involving similar shortages (but not for postal workers) are found in two cases by the U.S. Tax Court (Marshall J. Hammons v. Comm., 12 TCM 1318  and Alvin Butchko v. Comm., 37 TCM 894 ).
Keep in Mind . . .
The contract, in conjunction with postal manuals, requires the Postal Service to provide clerks with adequate security. Report any security problem in writing to management. You may use APWU's Report of Security Problem or Poor Financial Practice Form to report the problem. If you choose not to use APWU's form, put it in writing somehow. Retain a copy as proof.
Common security problems to look for include: a yearly lock and key check not being, done (this needs to be done to insure no ones' keys can open another's drawer or safe compartment); drawers not securing or locking on the counter line; retail equipment failures; duplicate key inventory envelope PS Form 3977 problems including the required 6-month check not being conducted; others having access to the envelope by it not being secured in a proper safe compartment, or tampering with the envelope; and password or code for retail equipment should only be known to the clerks themselves.
If you have questions on what constitutes a security or financial problem, contact your APWU representative.
This is important:
The postal service has implemented the Mystery Shopper program throughout the country. This program is designed to improve customer service. The program is intended to have the clerks ask five (5) questions of the customer in order to provide the best service possible. It had been agreed with the postal service, that the Mystery Shopper program would not be utilized as a tool for discipline.
Since the postal service is not living up to their side of the agreement, window clerks are to ask these questions to avoid being disciplined. If window clerks are issued any form of discipline under the Mystery Shopper program, contact an APWU steward immediately.
A low cost, informative program! The APWU Clerk Division has developed a Window Programs CD containing handbook and manual references as well as policies, and grievance and arbitration decisions helpful to window clerks.If you are interested in obtaining a copy (at a cost of $5.00 each), you may write the APWU Order Department, 1300 L Street N.W., Washington, DC 20005.
OR you can order it online at the APWU Store. The direct link to the CD Page allows you to order Item #0172.
Any questions regarding your rights, grievances or contact issues should be directed to your local union or National Business Agent.
DON'T BE A HERO.
If a robbery occurs:
- Don't take any risks.
- No amount of money is worth your life.
- Remain calm and try not to provoke the robber.
- Contact the police when safe to do so.