Dec. 1, 2013—NALC has recently become aware of an effort by the Postal Service in different parts of the country to convince customers to agree to change their mode of delivery to cluster box or centralized delivery. The following information details the rights of both postal customers and letter carriers:
Sections 631.6 and 631.7 of the Postal Operations Manual (POM) govern conversion of mode of mail delivery. A conversion is changing from one mode of delivery to another. The most common example of this occurs when USPS solicits customers to change from receiving mail at their door to a centralized location where a number of deliveries are made into a cluster box. In such cases the customers have to go to the cluster box to retrieve their mail.
As letter carriers know, these changes are often pushed without regard for the safety of the customers or the security of the mail. The relevant language from the POM is shown below followed by a brief explanation highlighting a few key points.
631.6 Conversion of Mode of Delivery
In this section, conversion refers to changing existing mail delivery to a more economical and efficient mode. The key to converting existing deliveries is identifying those deliveries that are most costly to the Postal Service. Delivery managers can go into any delivery territory where delivery has been established for over 1 year and solicit to convert the mode of delivery if it would be cost beneficial to the Postal Service.
Postmasters should not establish a mixed delivery area in which the carrier must zigzag from the door to the curb when previously the carrier took obvious shortcuts to effect delivery. Postmasters must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of converting less than 100 percent of the deliveries.
Customer signatures must be obtained prior to any conversion. In single-family housing areas (including manufactured housing and mobile homes) where the residences and lots are owned, each owner must agree to the conversion in writing. Owners who do not agree must be allowed to retain their current mode of delivery.
When a residence is sold, the mode of delivery cannot be changed arbitrarily prior to the new resident moving in. The existing mode of delivery must be retained absent an agreement otherwise. If an owners’ association represents the community, it can direct the mode of delivery for the community. In rental areas, such as apartment complexes and mobile home parks, the owner or manager can approve the conversion.
The language above makes clear that property owners must sign indicating their agreement with the conversion. If property owners do not sign, they retain their current mode of delivery. Owners’ associations and managers in rental areas may also control the mode of delivery. The final paragraph states that the Postal Service may not arbitrarily change the mode of delivery when a residence is sold.
Section 667.12 of the Employee and Labor Relations Manual (ELM) provides the following in regard to employees engaging in campaigns for or against changes in mail service:
667.12 Engaging in Campaigns for Changes in Mail Service
Employees in active status must not engage in campaigns for or against changes in mail service. This regulation must not be construed to infringe on the rights to participate in labor organizations.