The New Jersey Chapter got the 110th National Convention off to a rousing start Monday morning, Sept. 15, in Atlantic City; nearly 900 members were registered. President Tony Leonardi welcomed everyone to the convention. He talked about this year—a year of change in response to changes in the Postal Service. “We have had to change with it!” he declared.
When he assumed office this past January, Leonardi said he wanted to keep the promise made to make sure everyone affected by POStPlan had an opportunity to stay in the Postal Service. He and League President Mark Strong have had continual discussions with the Postal Service; they have achieved some concessions.
The RIF deadline was extended until Jan. 10, 2015, to allow Postmasters more time to find positions or retire after the holidays—to leave with a sense of pride and resolve. They were able to secure another VER with a $10,000 incentive. And there was another LAC for Postmasters, giving them preferential bidding.
“The work is far from over,” Leonardi said. “I will continue to remind the Postal Service of its obligations to its valued Postmasters to find them landing spots.” He pointed out these Postmasters did nothing wrong; they’re casualties of POStPlan.
Another critical issue is training. Chief Human Resources Officer Jeffrey Williamson has listened to the Postmaster organizations’ concerns and discussed how to reach mutual goals. It is imperative to provide training to the people who will, one day, be leading the Postal Service.
NAPUS has designated the ALS Association its charity for this convention. Leonardi talked about losing his best friend, Jeff Johnson, to this disease. “No one talks about ALS,” he explained, “because there is no cure—no good stories. You don’t have a great life; you get worse every day.”
“Putting it into perspective,” he said, “most of the time, many of us are blessed to have our health and family. We need to take a step back and think about that.”
Mike Burke, executive director of the Connecticut Chapter of ALS, discussed the disease; it’s affecting more than 30,000 people in the United States right now. There is no cure or treatment.
It’s been 75 years since Lou Gehrig gave his speech, “I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth,” and retired from baseball. “Everyone in this room is a liaison to the community,” Burke stressed. “You are a link to the people where you live and serve. When you go home, see if there is something you can do to help fight ALS.”
Burke played a video that explained the how the Ice Bucket Challenge started. Leonardi announced he would do the challenge right after the morning’s business session in honor of his friend, Jeff.
Rep. Frank. LoBiondo (R-NJ) was introduced as a friend of NAPUS and the Postal Service. He thanked Postmasters for what they do every day. He explained that, little more than 20 years ago, he didn’t know who Jimmy Fusco (2014 Convention chair and retired NJ Postmaster) was or much about the Postal Service.
When LoBiondo was elected to Congress, Fusco invited him to visit his post office to see how it worked. “I made a promise then: Any decision I made would be based on what produces results.”
He acknowledged that, with the dysfunction in Congress, it will be a challenge to pass postal reform legislation. LoBiondo acknowledged NAPUS has advanced some great ideas. He pledged to listen to “the people on the ground” before voting on any initiatives.
Jeffrey Williamson, USPS chief Human Resources officer, addressed NAPUS members. Nothing happens without people, he explained. “Everything we do in HR and the Postal Service truly is about what you and those who work for you do on a daily basis.”
Everything is based on how to build and retain the most competitive work force that, on a daily basis, goes above and beyond not only delivering the mail, but whatever needs to be delivered at any point in time, when needed.
Williamson said his core mission is to improve the employee experience. “If I can make your experience better as an applicant, a new hire, a new Postmaster—you’re more likely to be engaged,” he said. “And a truly engaged and motived work force delivers exceptional customer service.”
The Postal Service is revamping Postmaster training. It will include a classroom, face-to-face component. He pointed out that a key element of bringing people together is networking and building relationships, which develops and motivates people. “No one has the answer to every problem,” he said. “We only can solve them collectively—not individually.”
Williamson stressed he wants to make very employee’s life cycle an enjoyable one. “My purpose and mission is to make this the best place to work and improve the employee experience; that starts with our interaction. If you have issues, concerns, thoughts or comments, let me know,” he invited. “The only way we can make your experience better is to understand how we can make it better.”