Lawyers and arbitrators must love the U.S. Postal Service. Just think of the money they make every year as the result of postal management’s bad judgment. And by postal management (a misnomer if ever there was one), I’m primarily referring to the geniuses in Washington, DC. Although there is certainly plenty of bad judgment to go around throughout the USPS management food-chain.
For those who read this who are branch presidents and/or shop stewards, you know better than most that the Postal Service throws away large wads of money every day of the week simply by choosing to ignore the contract.
It’s not that they unintentionally mess up. No. Nine times out of ten, management just chooses to violate the contract. They say something like, “I don’t give a flip about the contract. Go ahead and file your grievance, I don’t care.”
They don’t care because they don’t have to pay the penalty.
We’re talking millions upon millions of dollars every year. And that’s just grievances alone.
Each year, as the new financial period is poised to begin, the Postal Service’s crack team of bean-counters “project” how much money will be thrown away over the next 12 months. Guess what they have projected for this year?
You’re not even close.
According to a recent article in the Federal Times, they are estimating they will throw away somewhere in the neighborhood of $641 million.
That’s just on lawsuits and grievances. They already know in advance that they’re going to incur huge losses in grievances, it’s a given, now it’s just a matter of guessing how much.
I say that to say this: At the present time, the USPS is at the epicenter of the largest class-action discrimination case ever considered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And that’s saying something. Remember, you’ve also got Wal-Mart out there racking up discrimination suits as well. You would think the two were competing with one another.
Although the Postal Service is reluctant to give the number of people involved in this class-action case, an attorney for the plaintiffs puts the figure at over 130,000. That’s a 13 followed by four zeroes.
The bean-counters estimate that the Postal Service could wind up losing around $729 million if they lose the case (which they say they won’t). That’s in addition to the hundreds of millions they will lose in thousands of additional lawsuits and grievances. Add to that tidy sum the millions of dollars the attorneys will be paid.
All of this is the result of a brain-child the geniuses in Washington gave birth to several years ago in an effort to “save money.” It was called the National Reassessment Process (NPR). Against the advice if its unions and anyone else with common sense, the Postal Service implemented this ill-conceived and ill-fated plan back in 2006.
In the wake of this, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) put out a publication called “Guide to NRP: Withdrawal or Failure to Provide Limited Duty.” In its Introduction it says this:
“The Postal Service is contractually and legally obligated to make every effort to assign limited duty work to employees who have not fully recovered from an on-the-job injury. The Service, with the development of a new program called National Reassessment Process (NRP), is ignoring that obligation. With NRP, the Service is reducing the effort it makes in offering limited duty work from the effort it made since 1979. Depending on whether or not management deems an injured worker’s limited duty is productive, that injured worker may be ‘Sent home, no work available’ under NRP.”
And guess what? That’s exactly what happened to Ms. Sandra McConnell, a Rochester, NY letter carrier. In 1997 she suffered a permanent back injury when she slipped and tumbled down some stairs while delivering the mail.
At first, the Postal Service gave her modified duties to perform. This she did until May of 2006. Then, with the implementation of NRP, she was ordered to go home because, suddenly, there was no more work available for her.
It has been said that the idle mind is the devil’s playground. While sitting idly at home, Ms. McConnell, apparently having nothing else better to do, decided to file a class-action discrimination complaint against the USPS.
This has been going on since 2006, and more than likely this will continue to go on for years to come, much to the delight of all the attorneys involved in this debacle.
Chalk another one up to the brain-trust in Washington, DC.