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Union Criticizes Postal Service Cuts in Supervisory Ranks

September 9, 1992

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Postal Service decision to cut the ranks of field supervisors by up to 40 percent would poison morale and efficiency and could destroy the nation’s postal delivery system, a union official said Wednesday.

Vince Palladino, president of the National Association of Postal Supervisors, told a congressional hearing that the union will sue unless it is consulted fully before the Postal Service completes a sweeping reorganization plan.

″We know reform is necessary, but we are only willing to take a few sips of poison at a time,″ Palladino said. ″We can survive that. We won’t commit suicide by draining the cup.″

Palladino commented at a hearing in which Deputy Postmaster General Michael S. Coughlin expressed confidence that the early retirement of as many as 42,000 postal supervisors and workers as now planned can be handled without sacrificing service quality.

But several members of the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee expressed skepticism that the overhaul crafted by Marvin Runyon, the newly appointed postmaster general, can be put in place quickly without causing chaos in the mail delivery system.

Palladino said a 40 percent cut of supervisors outside union jurisdiction at Postal Service headquarters is now expected.

The union will fight any attempt to extend a 40 percent cut to supervisors in the field, or to reduce supervisory pay or subject supervisors to layoffs, he said.

″This is a dangerous experiment never attempted before that should be tested as a pilot in selected areas before it is expanded nationally,″ Palladino said. ″It will be impossible to sustain current service levels if these actions are taken.

″It is our unequivocal position that a 40 percent cut in supervisory staffing will not only destroy service to the American people, it could destroy the Postal Service itself,″ Palladino said.

Committee Chairman Frank McCloskey, D-Ind., said postmasters across the country are displaying ″a real feeling of gloom and hysteria″ as they contemplate keeping the mail flowing with the cuts in staff now being discussed.

″How in hell are we going to maintain even the impaired efficiency of the current system with the election season and the Christmas mailing season coming on and all these people leaving?″ McCloskey asked.

″I do not know how you’re going to do it,″ he said. ″It could be a real problem for the long term welfare of the Postal Service.

″I couldn’t sit here and promise you that we’ll never have a problem but in general I think the system will work fine,″ responded Coughlin, the deputy postmaster general. ″I do not expect chaos, not by a long shot.″

″Change is never easy, but we have determined that change is essential to the survival of the Postal Service in the communications business,″ Coughlin said.

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