The National Reassessment Process must go!

Rank-and-file postal workers!
Don't let management rob injured workers' jobs!

(from Detroit Workers' Voice #76, November 1, 2008)

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. Letter carriers, clerks and mailhandlers! USPS management is threatening the jobs of everyone who has a long-term work-related injury or may get one in the future. Over 30,000 postal workers have been seriously injured on the job, in large part due to overwork. Now management is ripping up their contractual obligations to provide work to those they have injured. They are "reassessing" injured workers' present job assignments and offering new "modified" assignments that are an insult. Some modified assignments are for jobs about to be abolished; many are only for a few hours a day; some will require round trip drives of 100 miles per day; and others violate the injured workers' work restrictions.

. Clearly, the real intention of management is not to find suitable work for injured employees but to pressure them out of the postal service. Management admits in their "2007 Comprehensive Statement on Postal Operations" that 2,361 rehab or limited duty employees were forced out of the postal service under the NRP. Since then, the program has expanded. Some workers are forced out because they retire rather than accept crummy job offers. Other workers aren't even offered any work. They are told no work exists; their ID badges are taken; and they are escorted from their workplaces. Yes, they may be able to collect Workers' Comp benefits for a while. But Workers' Comp has a program to place outsourced postal workers in some other business rather than collect benefits. When this happens, your postal retirement benefits are in jeopardy. And if you're fired by the new employer, Workers' Comp is not obliged to find you another job. You're simply unemployed. USPS management admits that the NRP reassignments "have resulted in private sector placement, employee retirements, or reductions in compensation. " (2007 Comprehensive Statement)

. Postal workers of all crafts! This attack on injured workers is an attack on all of us. It will not just mean some injured workers will be mistreated today. It means that anyone suffering from a work-related injury in the future will have no future. That could be any of us. It's time for all of us to stand together against the heartless USPS management!

The NRP hits the Detroit postal Call Center

. The NRP is now hitting Detroit with a vengeance. All told, about 250 injured workers are being targeted. Some "reassessment" meetings have begun. Only a few "modified" job offers so far have been tolerable.

. The postal Call Center on Rosa Parks is particularly threatened because virtually all of its 60-70 employees are limited-duty or rehab employees. Workers there have been offered ridiculous "modified" assignments, such as working in Pinckney, some 50 miles away, or working a 5 hour job, or being assigned to a letter carrier route that is being removed from a station. They are being told that they can, if they choose, still be on a temporary "detail" to the Call Center. But no one is sure if the Call Center will be open in the future. Nor is anyone clear what will happen to the workers "detailed" there if it is made permanent.

Management excuses for the NRP

. When workers object to this cruel treatment of injured carriers, clerks and mailhandlers, management claims they no longer can offer previous work assignments because the economic slump means less workers are needed. This is bull. First of all, the NRP was planned several years before the present economic crisis. It was just another way for the USPS to make more profits at the expense of its workforce, like eliminating carrier routes, understaffing clerks, etc.

. Secondly, the workers are not responsible for the economic downturn. It is the greedy capitalists who have put the economy in a tailspin with their wild speculation that led to the housing "bubble" bursting. Not only that. The corporations have for decades been making massive profits by destroying the jobs, wages and benefits of the working class. The truth is that for the workers, the economic disaster has been around quite a while. And postal management and other corporate bosses are responsible for the growing gap between the rich and the workers which has helped lay the groundwork for today's wider economic ruin.

. Why should postal workers, or any other workers have to pay for the crimes of the billionaires on Wall St. and in the corporate boardrooms? It is the workers who should be bailed out, not the business tycoons!

How can we resist management's attacks?

. Now is the time for injured and non-injured workers to join together to resist management's attacks. If management gets away with ripping up their contractual obligations to injured carriers, this will encourage them to tear up whatever other worker protections stand in their way. Indeed, the USPS bosses say they have some 60,000 "excess" workers nationwide they need to get rid of, including 6,000 in the Great Lakes Central Division.

. Unfortunately, the union leaderships are missing in action. The national NALC leadership published a nice pamphlet showing how illegal the NRP was. But then they failed to organize any campaign against it. The APWU leadership has also failed the rank and file. Rather than help unite workers of all crafts unite against the NRP, they scapegoat injured workers for allegedly causing loss of jobs for clerks. This plays into management's divide and conquer schemes, and diverts the clerks' anger from the real issue, that management should provide jobs for more clerks AND injured workers both.

. This shows it's up to the rank and file of all crafts to take the initiative. Certainly we should not ignore that grievances must be filed as the NRP does violate postal workers' contractual rights. But even the best grievance won't mean very much if the rank and file doesn't mobilize. It's not likely management is going to back down just because a grievance has been filed. Moreover, once a grievance reaches the higher levels of union leadership, there's been no evidence the national leaderships will take the matter seriously.

. The rank and file will have to be able to exert pressure on management and the union leaderships. But no one will organize the rank and file but the rank and file themselves. Workers who want to fight back should form networks at their workplaces and between different workplaces. We must not scapegoat another craft, but unite against our common management enemy.

. There are things rank and file activists can do right away. Meetings can be held to inform workers about the NRP and rally them against it. Leaflets like this one can be distributed at your own workplace and at other stations and facilities. Plans can be made for mass actions of various kinds.

. Actions like picketing would be a step forward. It would publicly expose USPS management among our coworkers and working-class people in general. Isn't it about time we turned up the heat on management? It will help mobilize more of our coworkers into activity. It will help bring about growing organization among the rank and file. And each step toward organization helps put us in better shape for stronger actions and future battles.

. The attack on injured postal workers will not be the last crime of postal management. They will use the economic crisis to try and drive all of us down, just as the auto companies ruined the auto workers. Let's start defending ourselves.

Rank and file postal workers ­ it's time to organize and resist!
The National Reassessment Process must go!
Defend the jobs of all postal workers, injured and non-injured! <>


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Last modified: November 10, 2008.
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