August 25, 2014
Fred Rolando and City Carrier Assistants
Everyone knows that the City Carrier Assistants (CCAs) have become the untouchables of the Postal Service. Upon their daily arrival they are confronted by bad-tempered supervisors, pacing up and down behind them like prison guards. They are micromanaged and berated, constantly under threat of discharge if they don’t work faster today than they did yesterday. The relentless pressure never lets up. It seems unimaginable but they are subjected to this pressure six days a week and 11 and ½ hours per day while receiving essentially no benefits and no retirement credit. Their only hope is to be converted to career employment but that may take three, four, or five years. Finally, and most unforgettably, they are paid about ½ of the hourly rate of the career employees who are performing exactly the same work, but who get two days a week off, at least some eight hour work days, sick leave, and retirement credit. That’s what it’s like to be a City Carrier Assistant (CCA). It’s shameful that this lowest caste has now grown to represent almost 20% of America’s letter carrier workforce.
It would be horrific if this outrageous circumstance occurred as a result of some natural disaster, but “some disaster” was hideously unnatural: NALC’s president – Fred Rolando — agreed to let the Postal Service create a new non-career letter carrier workforce paid less than career carriers. Proof of Rolando’s inexplicable betrayal of tens of thousands of carriers is found in a document posted on the NALC Truth Page – Exhibits on Facebook. In that document Rolando tells an arbitration panel, before it began its deliberation, “The centerpiece of the contributions NALC is willing to make in recognition of the current situation is our acceptance of a new non-career workforce that will replace the existing Transitional Employee (TE) classification. In accordance with previous discussions between the parties, which did not result in a complete agreement, this new workforce may be called City Carrier Associates, Assistants, or Apprentices (CCAs). CCAs will have a fair level of pay, but one that NALC acknowledges will be lower than the pay of career letter carriers.”
Having made a colossal concession that would adversely affect tens of thousands of letter carriers Rolando goes on to admit that the concession undermines NALC’s core mission as a labor union, and Rolando further admits that his concession conflicts with the Postal Reorganization Act which explicitly directs the Postal Service to: “. . . place particular emphasis upon opportunities for career advancements” for all employees.
Saying that his concession “undermines” NALC’s core mission, Rolando is being too kind to himself. Rolando would be more accurate to say he sabotaged NALC by his concession. The core mission of a union is to protect and promote the interests of its membership – it’s not supposed to join with management to screw the membership.
Adding insult to injury, at the just-completed convention the Rolando-led executive council opposed a change that would have based CCA’s union dues on their hourly pay, rather than on the much higher hourly pay of career employees. Because CCAs get paid much less than career letter carriers, they pay a much higher proportion of their hourly wages in union dues. What they get for their higher dues rate is an incumbent NALC leadership team that was agreeable to selling them down the river.
Left untreated the gaping CCA wound threatens NALC’s existence. We cannot wait until the 2016 negotiations to begin bandaging and suturing. CCAs have such a high turnover rate that their usefulness to management is limited. The only way to reduce that turnover rate is by improving the pay and working conditions of CCAs, and by quickly converting them to career status. Fred Rolando should be sending waves of his “experienced” national officers to L’Enfant Plaza everyday to repeat that message to management again and again until it sinks in.
After the Clean Sweep Slate committed last week to doing away with DOIS and MSP a counter-insurgency of Rolandoists formed on Sister Renee Overlook’s post chanting “no we can’t, no we can’t.” We’ll bet that the Rolandoist’s won’t think there’s anything that can be done for CCAs, either. That’s the difference between the Rolandoists and the Clean Sweepers: They think they can’t, and we know we can. Don’t our CCA brothers and sisters deserve Clean Sweep’s commitment to right the wrongs the Rolandoists have visited upon them?
– David Noble, Cathy Jones, Travis Lober & Ken Ring
Vote Clean Sweep for a strong, honest, democratic NALC.
For more information about the Rolando machine
see the NALC Truth Page on Facebook.
Meet Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones is the Clean Sweep Slate’s candidate for Executive Vice President in this year’s NALC election. After she’s elected she’ll be among the highest ranking female officers in American unions, and the highest ranked woman of color to serve as an NALC officer. “It’s staggering that I’m in a position to make history in these ways. These are barriers that should have been broken long ago,” said Ms. Jones.
Cathy Jones, 50, is a Trustee in Minneapolis’s Branch Nine and a steward at Lake Street Station. Ms. Jones notes that she is far from being the first working letter carrier to run for national office: “A good example is Bob Buntz of Des Moines, who went straight from the street to running the NALC Health Plan, with its billions of dollars in annual benefits. Bob served the union with distinction.”
Ms. Jones thinks NALC is in serious need of reform. “I agree with the Clean Sweep Platform, as published on the NALC Truth Page on Facebook,” said Ms. Jones, “And I certainly agree with ending the previously secret payments to the national officers. But past misdeeds are not my focus: My passion over the years has been to improve letter carriers’ working conditions. The union needs to work to make management put away its whips and turn USPS into a respectful place to work. You gain respect through power and if we don’t use our power, management will never respect us. Working conditions have deteriorated sharply over the past few years. We need to reverse that trend.”
Cathy Jones notes that four of her children have completed college or are presently in college, and that her fifth is finishing her final year of high school.
“I’m proud to be on the cover of the Letter Carrier’s Guide, the first edition of which was written by my running mate – David Noble” finished Jones.
Clean Sweep Slate’s Platform
1. Stop secret payments to national officers. The Clean Sweep slate will immediately end the secret payments NALC’s national officers have been making to themselves for at least the past thirty-five years: The phony “in-towns,” the fraudulent per diems, and the over the top FICA reimbursements. Clean Sweep will use the savings to pay for services to the membership – which is the primary function of a union. We will also institute changes to make NALC’s finances completely transparent to the membership, which is a step we believe is necessary to a truly democratic union.
2. Convert CCA’s to career status, with improved pay and the same benefits as other letter carriers. Fred Rolando’s team surrendered to management by agreeing to a second-tier non-career workforce. It’s an embarrassment to a self-respecting union to just cede to management a 20% non-career workforce with essentially no benefits and poverty-level wages. It’s humiliating and degrading for CCAs to have to face daily abuse by frothing-at-the-mouth postal supervisors, while performing the same work as brother and sister carriers who make nearly twice as much money as they do and who receive full benefits. The Clean Sweep slate will do everything within its power to swiftly correct this inequity.
3. Eliminate DOIS and MSP scans. Daily arguments about DOIS and missed MSP scans are a major source of irritation for letter carriers. How to get rid of them? That’s easy – they’re huge time-wasting practices, something we can easily prove to headquarters level management, or to an arbitrator if necessary. Rather than just sitting around in cushy offices we’d get into management’s face about DOIS and scans from Day One.
4. Eliminate 204bs. Employees who are half-management and half-letter carrier are two-headed monsters who sow resentment and anger in the ranks of the letter carrier bargaining unit. Especially galling are the ones who put on the supervisor’s tie a few days after walking through the door for the first time and who don’t have a clue about how to carry mail. For the last thirty years management has signaled its willingness to get rid of temporary supervisors. The NALC should have pursued management’s willingness to talk about this issue; and the Clean Sweep slate will talk with management about it.
5. Fix the grievance procedure. The present grievance procedure is slow and does not produce just results. That’s because Bill Young designed the grievance procedure to produce compromises, not to vindicate letter carriers’ rights. Compromise is a faulty strategy for NALC because it allows management to get away with one-half of whatever bad actions it wishes to take. Rather than aiming for compromise, the grievance procedure should be structured to produce the maximum amount of pain to management when it violates the contract. This is just basic psychology: Rats learn not to do something when they’re punished for it; supervisors who show as much intelligence as a rat can learn from punishment too. To produce fast, just results Clean Sweep will do away with the DRT (or “B” team), put a Step 3 of the grievance procedure in their place, and put an arbitrator at the table within thirty days after Step 3. Fred Rolando’s team is arbitrating only 1/4 of the grievances that were arbitrated in Sombrotto’s time. They should be ashamed of that record, because arbitration is the big hammer that makes the earlier steps of the grievance procedure work.
6. Joint negotiations NALC/APWU/LIUNA/NRLCA. After the PRA was passed in 1970 the four postal unions negotiated together toward a contract with management. The unions’ coalition began to fall apart in 1981 and disintegrated completely when NALC decided to bargain without APWU after 1990. During the period they’ve been apart, management has whipsawed the unions mercilessly, playing them against each other. Together the unions are at their strongest; apart the unions are at their weakest. Clean Sweep will put the 1970s coalition back together.
7. Women’s place in NALC. Over the past thirty years, the percentage of women in the NALC has grown dramatically, yet the Rolando administration continues to treat women as tokens. Women’s proper place in the NALC is in the leadership, and everyplace else in the union! We all need to work together to make NALC completely free of any kind of discrimination and harassment. Clean Sweep will lead that effort by actions and example.
8. Lobbying. NALC’s several year effort to save six-day delivery has been almost the only activity undertaken by the union that can be discerned by the naked eye. That effort has revealed a glaring weakness in NALC’s lobbying strategy – the huge amount of money we spread around Capitol Hill doesn’t seem to be having as much influence as it should. During the Sombrotto administration management tried to unilaterally implement a two-tier wage system. Within a few days NALC’s lobbyists got both houses of congress to pass a bill rolling back the two-tier system, and on to the president’s desk in veto-proof form. In 2014, in contrast, we can’t even attract the attention of the president we helped to elect and re-elect. Clean Sweep will take a long, hard look at how COLCPE funds are spent, with an eye to getting a lot more bang for the membership’s bucks.
Clean Sweep has a platform that tells the members
what we will do and how we will do it.
The Rolando administration has
no platform, no ideas, and no plans.