Reports From Your
Michigan State Association of Letter Carriers
John Dick, Chairperson
The imposing figure sits in a chair, on a corner, in the heart of Downtown Detroit. Tens of thousands walk past him every year. He never moves and the passing throngs seldom notice the still giant. The inscription at the bottom of his chair says it all: Hazen Pingree “Idol of the People.”
At the corner of Woodward Avenue and Adams Street, Grand Circus Park, the monument looms at least twenty feet into the Detroit sky. The mayor of Detroit from 1889 till 1896, his story should be told in every school and every Union Hall in Michigan. All too often, we disregard the stories of those who came before us. Comerica Park is right across the street. Bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues surround this landmark. Yet, every day, us folks don’t see the forest through the trees. History lays right beneath your nose. All you have to do is smell it.
Hazen Pingree was the typical capitalist industrialist of his times. He owned the largest shoe store in Detroit, employing upwards of 500 workers. He had a pew at the finest church in Detroit. He was a proud Republican. And one day, he had an awakening, an epiphany. He was the first Detroit politician to warn the people of the great danger threatened by powerful corporations.
In 1891, the Great Streetcar Strike occurred. The streetcar workers formed the “Employees Association” and struck for a 10-hour workday and equal pay for female workers. They also struck for lower fares for customers on the horse-drawn trolleys, looking out for fellow workers’ interests. “Ol’ Ping” sided with the workers and supported the strike, much to the chagrin of his fellow capitalists. He lost his pew at church. His fellow Republicans turned against him. But yet, the workers and citizens of Detroit adored him. He went on to win reelection as Mayor of Detroit three times, and even became Governor of the State of Michigan in 1897.
Hazen Pingree instituted many programs for the betterment of the working class of Detroit, such as advocating for public ownership of the newly developing utilities, improvement of public roads, and the people’s public use for magnificent Belle Isle. “Potato Ping” pushed for any vacant lands to be used for public farming as the city went through a Great Recession in the 1890’s. A Republican who truly cared for the common man and the daily struggles of workin’ folk.
Looking Backward, Moving Forward. That is the message of learning history. I remember the times when Republican governors and politicians would attend and speak at Detroit’s Labor Day Parade. I never will stop believing that we can get to that place again. Through the NALC’s Letter Carrier Political Fund, we give to not only Democrats, but to sensible Republicans and Independents who share the vision of Hazen Pingree. If you are currently donating, thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you are not yet donating, please seriously consider.
Thank you to the delegates of this year’s MISALC Convention for electing me as Chairperson of the Executive Board. I will be diligent and attentive to my duties to serve the membership of this great organization. It is an honor to serve you.
Let’s talk FMLA, The Family Medical Leave Act, if an employee is eligible, he or she can take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for a serious health condition, the expansion of one’s family and up to 26 weeks for various military situations. This leave guarantees the Post Office must not cancel your health care insurance as long as you continue making your normal employee contributions. The Post Office also must hold your current job position, as long as you return to work before you exhaust your FMLA leave. This leave can be used intermittently or as a block of time; determined by your doctor. The Post Office cannot discipline you for using FMLA or use your absence negatively toward any type of promotion.
With that in mind here are 10 things an employee should NOT do:
When using FMLA protection it is your responsibility to make sure you are complying with all the requirements of the leave. FMLA is a tool designed to help you when you need time off from work to heal and recover from a serious medical condition for yourself or a loved one. Please don’t make any of these mistakes listed above a reason for management to discipline you. Stay safe and informed.
Greetings sisters and brothers. I’d like to start out with a big THANK YOU!!!!, for your confidence in allowing me to represent you in this association.
Well, what most of us have been waiting for is now here. Summer. With summer comes some very serious safety hazards for letter carriers.
We all look forward to the heat after a very cold winter, (where we must wear so many clothes). Letter carriers are in the heat at the time of day of the hottest temperatures. We should all practice safety in the heat. I know we all want to deliver the mail diligently, so some of us fail to drink plenty of fluids, make comfort stop to cool down, and to dress cool. Prolonged periods of excessive heat cause our body temperature to escalate to a level dangerously enough to cause heat stroke, sunburn, and heat exhaustion. Check the weather for the day and prepare accordingly. Please be cautious in the heat. We all want to go home the same way we came to work: Hydrated, rested and cooled off.
It’s summertime and everyone wants to walk their dogs or let them sit on the porch with the family. Sure, the owner will tell you they will not bite. What’s so amazing is that I can’t remember ever seeing a dog that will not bite. We must be mindful of dogs that see you as a threat to their environment. Brothers and sisters let us look out for each other, by taking precautions to let each other know where dogs are known to be on our routes. Dog lovers please be reminded that your dog loves you and not everyone else. We should always be aware of our surroundings, as stray dogs are plentiful in some neighborhoods. Be cautious. Carry your satchel, dog spray, dog horns, and whatever else you need to protect yourself.
I don’t want to say all people are issues or problems in the summer. I’m trying to say that we encounter contact with more people in the summer than winter. We have children out of school, chasing us down, running in front of our trucks, leaving toys in walkways, and opening doors and letting the dog out (while they trying to meet you for the mail). Let’s stay alert and prepare to stay safe. These are just a few possible safety hazards mentioned. We have a lot of new carriers. This may be their first summer, so let’s help educate them so we all can stay safe. Report all safety hazards so we can be safe on our routes.
We have all been asked a question that makes us think far beyond the immediate answer. Recently, I had a union friend ask me how they could get more involved. The genesis of the question was the election at the state convention where six of the eleven officers were new to the board and a seventh moved from board member to secretary. That colleague saw that more than half of the elected board had stepped up to take on a new role and they wondered if that might be in their future someday. My initial response was that of course there would always be a new challenge to accept for anyone looking for one. In the weeks since the convention, I’ve reflected on my answer and realized that there really was a path to follow – go to the places and do the things. I think it starts with gatherings of NALC members. Beyond the first step (your branch meeting) you should be looking for opportunities to surround yourself with other NALC members. Places like state or national conventions, KIM training, or SOS are the obvious ones. Be sociable. Meet new people. Find someone who has more experience than you and ask them to help you. Offer to help someone who needs it. People in the corporate world would call this networking. I like to think of it as hanging out with my friends.
Look for a place to volunteer that fits your interests and the needs of the union. You’ll find opportunities at your branch but you can also help at a larger level. I’ll bet that your branch needs a LCPF coordinator or an assistant coordinator. That’s a chance to to do a thing that’ll have a positive impact on all of us. I spent a shift working the LCPF booth at the Chicago convention. I had a ball, supported a cause I believe in, met some fellow LCPF supporters, and got to help an old friend. There’s a chance to help at every event. Take advantage of them.
Is your branch affiliated with your local AFL-CIO CLC? Does your branch have all their delegate positions filled? What about alternate delegates? Participating with the AFL-CIO is a great way to learn about local and state politics, a topic that we aren’t as focused on but heavily impacts our lives. It is also a way to provide information to your fellow branch members. You’ll hear about issues important to other unions in your area and can bring that information to your members at your branch meeting or by writing an article for your branch newsletter.
That’s another place that you can get involved – your branch newsletter. I don’t know of a single branch that publishes a newsletter that doesn’t welcome content from all their membership. Write about something that you think others will be interested in reading or that they may have missed. Become a regular guest contributor. Heck, you might find that your coworkers are looking forward to see what topic you have tackled in the next issue.
The best news in all of this is that regardless of whether you end up in an elected position beyond your branch, by the time you choose to wind down your union career you will have done a bunch of things that were rewarding, fun, and important. You will have met friends who you value every time you see them. You might even find yourself on a path that was beyond your imagination when you started out with the NALC. If you would have asked me at the end of my first state convention, 22 years ago, if I thought I’d be writing for the MISALC newsletter as a member of the executive board, well, I wouldn’t have thought it possible. Go to the places and do the things, and follow your path. Maybe you’ll find a surprise or two along the way as well.
I’d like to thank you all for electing me to the position of Executive Board Member. I have been a letter carrier since 1985. I have served as a CCA Academy Instructor, as a member on several joint route adjustment teams, Sargent at arms of my branch and currently I’m Vice President of my Branch, Branch 2184, Western Wayne County. Thanks for the opportunity to serve you, the members of the MISALC.
VOTING WE HAVE TO DO IT
There is nothing more sacred and patriotic a citizen of America can do than vote. All of us have the right to vote and should exercise that right. Never think your vote doesn’t count.
We can vote at 18 years of age. Let’s get our youth registered and active in this privilege.
You can register online by going to MVIC.SOS.STATE.MI.US/REGISTERVOTER or searching “register to vote in Michigan”.
Absentee ballots ae also available for all who choose to utilize this process. Remember, you can register to vote on line up to 15 days before an election. If less than 14 days left before election, you must register to vote in person at your local City Clerk’s office.
Here are a few USPS regulations as found in the Employee Labor Relations manual (ELM).
Sections 519.321 through 519.325
519.32 Voting or Registering to Vote
Employees are encouraged to exercise their voting rights. So far as is practicable without seriously interfering with service, postal employees, excluding casual and temporary employees, who desire to vote or register in any election or in any referendum on a civic matter in their community are excused for a reasonable time for that purpose on a day they are scheduled to work. Casual and temporary workers are encouraged to vote but are not eligible for administrative leave for this purpose.
519.322 Administrative Determination
Postal officials in charge of installations obtain necessary information concerning the hours during which the polls are open in the political subdivisions in which their employees reside. They then make an administrative determination regarding the amount of excused absence necessary (and limits in accordance with 519.323). Employees are notified of this determination and of the procedures to be followed in obtaining advance approval for the absence.
The following provisions concern time allowed for voting:
If the employee votes in a jurisdiction that requires registration in person, time off to register is granted on substantially the same basis as for voting, except that no time is granted if registration can be accomplished on a non-workday and the place of registration is within a (reasonable) 1 day, round trip travel distance of the employee's place of residence.
An employee is not allowed administrative leave for voting or registration during a period of absence on sick leave, annual leave, or LWOP pay.