As president of the Montana Postal Workers Union, I feel compelled to respond to the comments from State Rep. Kris Hansen. I have jurisdiction over 200 of these small offices.
It should not surprise anyone that she is anti-union. Her political affiliation says it all. What she fails to understand is that we have a collective bargaining agreement signed by the United States Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union.
At the recent signing Postmaster Patrick Donahue hailed it as a huge achievement by both parties. He said the agreement would save the USPS almost $4 million a year.
Now about layoffs. What Hansen fails to tell you is those jobs are some of the best in Montana. As for layoffs an employee must reach six years in order to achieve the no-layoff status and 60 percent of our employees are minorities or disabled vets. To insinuate the greatest country in the world and the best postal service would turn their backs on these people is just plain wrong, and she owes her constituents an apology. A percentage of new hires, because of concessions from the union, will never achieve this.
In addition, the union has agreed to a two-tier wage system. The new hires make less than those that were hired under the old agreement. Last time when our state legislators were in session, I do not recall a bill presented that lowered their wages. I do not recall a single one that repaid their travel, per diem or lodging.
I guess Hansen justifies her recommending people breach their collective bargaining contracts OK as long as it isn't one that she benefits from.
I have spent my entire adult life in public service, three years in the Marines including a tour in Nam, one year in the Air Guard and 35 years at the Post office. All 35 years, plus the four years I have been retired, I have fought against management for employee rights.
Some of these employees only get a few hours a week, and it is the only way they can afford health care. Miss Hansen, do you also deprive these people basic health care? Miss Hansen, here is a simple fact that I am sure you will understand. Ninty percent of every penny a postal worker receives, he spends in Montana. I hope the readers have gained a small amount of straight-forward facts.
Maybe in the future they should invite a labor rep to these meetings, one that understands the USPS.
Gary L. Phillippe
Montana Postal Workers Union 5600,