National Postal Mail Handlers Union - Unity · Democracy · Strength - Division of LIUNA - AFL-CIO

National Postal Mail Handlers Union A Division of LIUNA (AFL-CIO)

Media Center / Mail Handler Update

LOCAL ELECTION TASK FORCE TEAMS ACTIVATED NATIONWIDE

With the U.S. Presidential and Congressional elections about a month away, the Postal Service, the postal unions, and its management associations are aware of the important role the USPS plays in the democratic process, and are working hard to ensure political and election mail will be processed in a timely manner.

To achieve this goal, Local Election Taskforce Teams are being put in place at every postal facility in order to identify and resolve any election mail issues.  The Postal Service kicked off these task forces by having a nation-wide meeting to address what is expected of members of each task force.  NPMHU National President Paul V. Hogrogian made opening remarks, stating the eyes of America are on the Postal Service, but we are more than capable of handling any influx of volume, and we can ensure all ballots and election materials are processed in a safe and secure manner. The other union and management association presidents reiterated these thoughts, and further commented on the need for these task forces to be proactive to promote the legitimacy of the election. 

Postal Headquarters began various internal task forces on election mail back in February 2020; however, after talking with union and management leadership, it became apparent that local task forces would be necessary to effectively communicate feedback on identified gaps in service and best practices.

The operational plan for election mail includes enhanced field training on election mail processes; utilizing election mail log sheets for tracking; conducting daily All Clear checks; analyzing past service failures and tracking improvements; tracking undelivered and late ballots; ensuring compliance with USPS policy for postmarking all ballots; and training all employees on election mail.  During this time, communication is vital and all postal employees will need to know what is expected for election mail processing to identify any issues. 

Understanding the upcoming increase in volume and the need to be successful, Postal Headquarters will authorize additional resources starting Thursday, October 1.  If needed, local managers have been told to grant overtime to provide timely delivery and processing; to expand processing windows, including early collections and cancellations; and to authorize extra transportation and deliveries.  Additionally, postal employees should expect late mailings on election day, and the Postal Service will conduct extraordinary efforts to get ballots to election boards on time.

To instill confidence in the election, the Postal Service developed a communication plan, not only for educating employees, but also for sharing information with election officials, political parties, the mass media, and the public.  Part of this plan was seen recently in the video disseminated by Postmaster General DeJoy, President Hogrogian, and the other union presidents, solidifying their mutual commitment to election mail and the Postal Service’s ability to carry out the task. 

Additionally, the USPS is promoting voter awareness through its in-house website, www.usps.com/votinginfo.  There, the public can find information on when to mail ballots and what postage is necessary.  Uniformed and overseas voters can also find information on the need to get ballots in as soon as possible, and how to track their ballots.  The Postal Service also is coordinating with the Military Postal Service Agency and the Federal Voters Assistance Program, and there have been no delivery issues with APOs, FPOs, or DPOs.  Due to the pandemic, some countries have suspended service, but a list of these countries is on the USPS website, and civilians in these countries can drop their ballots at embassies, consulates, or military bases.

The USPS also put together resources for election officials, which includes the KIT 600, the 2020 Official Election Mail Kit.  This kit covers the official election mail program; information on intelligent mail barcodes; identifying and tracking ballots; informed delivery; mailing standards; and postmarking guidelines.  

Local Election Task Force Teams will operate best by knowing these operational and communication plans.  Members of these task forces will be meeting at least weekly, and then going to daily meetings starting at fourteen days before the election, in order to discuss common issues and actions needed.  These meetings will be as formal as facilities need them to be, just as long as the issues are being addressed and problems can be fixed quickly.  Local task forces will also develop and deliver messaging through stand-up talks and POMs, in order to convey the importance of election mail and how to identify issues adversely impacting such mail.

 The key to this election year is collaboration and communication.  Postal Headquarters has noted the need to document what local task forces are discussing, the issues and gaps identified, and how problems are solved because issues might be seen in multiple facilities or arise repeatedly.  Knowing the importance of the work of these task forces,  and not to dissuade employees from participating in the local task forces, USPS Chief Logistics Officer David Williams noted that employees participating on task forces will be considered on the clock for this work, and will not have to take leave.  

A lot is resting on the shoulders of the Postal Service and its employees right now.  The American public is putting its trust in all postal employees to carry out the basic functions of democracy.  But as every NPMHU member knows, we are more than capable of handling this task.  As long as the USPS quickly addresses issues that may arise and effectively communicates among employees and management, the Postal Service will deliver a successful election come November 3 (or even later, for those states that accept mail ballots after that date).

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