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Submission For The Record of Ted Keating, National Association of Postal Supervisors, President

National Association of Postal Supervisors
Alexandria, VA, 22314
September 4, 2007

The Honorable Chairman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity
House of Representatives
Washington, DC  20515

Dear Chairman Herseth Sandlin and Members of the Subcommittee:

On behalf of the National Association of Postal Supervisors, I am pleased to submit this statement in connection with the Subcommittee’s hearing on veterans preference.

The National Association of Postal Supervisors represents the interests of postal supervisors, managers and postmasters employed by the United States Postal Service.  Throughout its 99-year history as a management association, the Association has sought to improve the operations of the Postal Service and the compensation and working conditions of postal management employees.  Many of our nearly 35,000 members are involved in the management and supervision of mail processing and delivery operations.  We also represent the interests of men and women engaged in every functional unit in the Postal Service, including customer service, marketing, human resources, training, corporate relations, law enforcement, and health and safety.

Significantly large numbers of veterans are employed by the United States Postal Service.  As of December 31, 2006, approximately 180,000 military veterans were employed by the Postal Service, accounting for over one-quarter of its workforce.  Of these, nearly 17,000 veterans preference eligibles were employed by the Postal Service in management and supervisory positions.    

The National Association of Postal Supervisors is filing this statement to bring to the Subcommittee’s attention our strong opposition and concern over the Postal Service’s establishment of personnel rules that violate the spirit of veterans preference protections of postal managers and supervisors.  We commend and thank you once again, Chairman Herseth Sandlin, for your initiative in responding to the Postal Service’s arbitrary actions by introducing the “Veterans Reassignment Protection Act,” H.R. 728, to ensure that veterans’ preference rights are recognized and applied by the Postal Service and all executive branch organizations in the course of reorganizations or transfers of function.

 The violative Postal Service rules arise against the backdrop of initial downsizing efforts undertaken by the Postal Service, involving the closure and consolidation of mail processing and distribution plants and other facilities.  The number and breadth of these postal downsizing actions is expected to grow considerably over the next several years as the Postal Service proceeds more aggressively to cut costs.  The Postal Service has euphemistically labeled its violative rules “repositioning rules” to putatively authorize its involuntary reassignment of managers and supervisors to new locations, potentially far from their homes – without regard to their protected status as veterans preference-covered employees.  These rules blatantly undermine the spirit of veterans preference laws because they abridge the rights of veterans preference eligibles under reduction-in-force actions and the preferred status that veterans enjoy in connection with bumping and appeal rights under a reduction-in-force.  “Repositioning” by the Postal Service embodies so many of the same characteristics as a reduction in force that, regardless of its name, it virtually constitutes a reduction in force, requiring the Postal Service to uphold the statutory application of veterans preference rights to postal managers and supervisors. 

The Postal Service has initially limited the application of its repositioning rules to management employees, not to union-covered employees, due to limitations on USPS latitude to institute reductions-in-force against employees covered by collective bargaining agreements.   Nonetheless, nearly 17,000 preference eligible managers and supervisors within the Postal Service are covered by the rules, a significant number.  Moreover, substantially greater numbers of preference eligible employees are employed throughout the Executive Branch, and could become subject to similar arbitrary actions by their departments and agencies were those entities to pursue the same policies as have been adopted by the Postal Service.  If federal agencies like the Postal Service are permitted to engage in RIF-avoidance as carried out under the repositioning rules, they will significantly disregard and critically undermine the respect to which veterans’ status historically has been accorded. 

Congress should step in and forestall such actions and put an end to such personnel abuses through passage of The “Veterans Reassignment Protection Act,” H.R. 728, to amend the veterans’ preference statutes to ensure that veterans’ preference rights are applied in the course of reorganizations or transfers of function.

 Thank you for your hearing on veterans preference and your continued leadership in support of these concerns.

Sincerely yours,

Ted Keating
National President