oversight

Postal Service: Employee-Management Relations at the Indianapolis Post Office Are Strained

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-04-16.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

April   1 !MO
                        POSTAL SERVICE
                        Employee-
                        Management Relations
                        at the Indianapolis
                        Post Office Are
                        Strained

                                                2




                                       141134




                             --
 (I;Ao/(;<;r)-90-(;:~
              United States
              General Accounting Office
              Washington, D.C. 20548

              General Government Division

              B-238286

              April 16,1QQ0

              The Honorable Richard G. Lugar
              United States Senate

              The Honorable Andrew Jacobs, Jr.
              House of Representatives

              In response to your request, we have reviewed employee-management
              relations problems at the Indianapolis Post Office. Your request was
              prompted by numerous complaints you received from employees con-
              cerning management practices at the facility. As agreed, we identified
              the circumstances that led to employee complaints regarding the dis-
              placement of senior black managers, the integrity of promotion deci-
              sions, the treatment of workers, the handling of complaints regarding
              equal employment opportunities (EEO), and the actions taken by manage-
              ment to resolve employee complaints and concerns,

              Our review focused on events that occurred primarily during 1986
              through 1988. To gain insight into these events, we interviewed both
              labor and management employees, obtained written information from
              employees and union officials, and reviewed pertinent postal policies
              and procedures. Details on the scope, methodology, and results of our
              work are contained in appendix I.


              In a June 1986 national realignment, a field division office was estab-
:ground       lished at the Indianapolis Post Office under the leadership of a new Gen-
              eral Manager/Postmaster. Less than a year later, the Indianapolis Post
              Office changed its management structure from tour management, which
              designated responsibility for the operations of a given tour, to vertical
              management, which designated responsibility by function on a 24-hour
              basis. These organizational and personnel changes were unpopular with
              some employees and spawned unrest and strained relations with
              management.

              In this environment, many employees brought complaints about division
              management to Congress and the media. Shortly after we started work
              at the Indianapolis Post Office, 175 employees came to us with com-
              plaints. These complaints focused principally on four issues. Many of
              these employees

          l   viewed the displacement of several black supervisors as unfair;



              Page 1                                   GAO/GGD-9083   Indianapolis   Post Office
                   . questioned the integrity of management promotions, which seemed to
                     favor certain employees;
                   . perceived mistreatment by supervisors in terms of excessive use of dis-
                     cipline and physical confrontations by supervisors; or
                   l believed that management was not committed to thorough and timely
                     handling of EEO complaints.


                       We found that the circumstances surrounding the displacement of senior
Results in Brief       black managers and the integrity of some promotion decisions could
                       have led to employee perceptions of unfairness and discrimination. For
                       example, none of the nine black men who held mid- to high-level super-
                       visory positions before the reorganization received a similar position
                       under the new structure. Several black females and white males did
                       receive positions similar to those they held before the reorganization.
                       However, with the exception of improperly advertising four positions
                       and not having required approval of an extended temporary assignment,
                       management complied with applicable postal procedures in making
                       organizational changes.

                       Similarly, although management followed prescribed procedures in
                       other promotions and acted within its prerogatives, certain practices,
                       including inconsistencies in evaluating candidates, appeared to employ-
                       ees to favor selected candidates. The division also followed prescribed
                       EEO complaint procedures and investigated, and usually closed, com-
                       plaints within the mandated time frame. However, certain practices
                       could be construed as limiting the effectiveness of the process.

                       We found no basis for employee concerns about widespread mistreat-
                       ment of employees. Although the number of disciplinary actions had
                       increased and we found two cases of disciplinary actions that seemed
                       too severe, we saw no evidence of widespread mistreatment of
                       employees.

                       Strained relationships between local union leadership and postal mana-
                       gers compounded the problems created by organizational and personnel
                       changes. The Postal Service has since taken steps to address the
                       employee complaints and to improve relations. These steps include
                       reviewing complaints from employees about excessive job-related stress
                       and implementing labor-management problem-solving initiatives. How-
                       ever, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) has withdrawn its par-
                       ticipation in some initiatives because it distrusts management.
                       Consequently, employee-management relations are still strained.


                       Page 2                                   GAO/GGD-9083   Indianapolis   Post Office
    II                       B-238286




Displbcement of Black        Some employees alleged to us that black male supervisors were unfairly
Managers                     displaced when the Indianapolis Post Office adopted a different manage-
                             ment structure for mail processing operations. Before the change, black
                             men held Q of 2 1 mid- to high-level supervisory positions in mail
                             processing. After the change, none of the nine black men who held a
                             mid- to high-level supervisory position before vertical management
                             received a similar position under vertical management. However, black
                             men did hold 4 of 15 positions. Three black women and four of seven
                             white men who held such positions before vertical management,
                             received similar positions in the new structure.

                             The procedures used in filling the new management positions were
                             viewed as unfair to those not selected. For example, four positions were
                             improperly advertised rather than filled by available displaced employ-
                             ees In addition, several applicants were assessed by fellow applicants-
                             a practice that, while permitted under postal procedures, caused some
                             employees to question the raters’ objectivity. The Director of City Oper-
                             ations was the selecting official for all vertical management positions.
                             Usually, the immediate supervisor selects personnel to fill the positions.
                             One applicant on an unapproved extended acting manager assignment
                             supervised two competing candidates and appeared to employees to be
                             preselected.


ProTtion      of Employees   Some postal employees alleged to us that there was favoritism and racial
                             discrimination in lower-level supervisory promotions. They cited cases
         ,                   where employees from other work units, who had no related work
          I                  experience in the unit to which they were applying, were promoted into
         /I                  supervisory positions, while experienced employees within the units
                             were not promoted. We found, however, that management followed pre-
                             scribed promotion procedures and met affirmative action goals for fiscal
                             years 1987 and lQ88.

                             We identified a few instances of practices not prohibited by regulations
                             that could have contributed to employee perceptions of favoritism and
                             discrimination. These practices included inconsistency in who evaluated
                             two promotion applicants and questionable reservations included in a
                             recommendation for promotion for one employee.

-                              -.____   _--.-.-~~. .-~--.___
Treatment of Wbrkers         Some employees said that some supervisors harassed workers by issuing
                             unwarranted disciplinary actions and by employing verbal or physical
                             abuse. We analyzed a judgmental sample of 50 disciplinary cases. In all


                             Page 3                                    GAO/GGD-90-63   Indianapolis   Post Office
                                                                                    .




      but two cases, the disciplinary actions, as documented in the discipline
      files, appeared to be justified on the basis of Postal Service policy, col-
      lective bargaining agreements, and the employees’ past disciplinary
      records. The discipline in two cases seemed too severe, considering the
      circumstances and the employees’ past work records.

      Employee perceptions of harsh treatment may have stemmed from an
      increase in the number of disciplinary actions. Although management
      officials said that they had not intended to impose more discipline, Pos-
      tal Service data show that in the 6 months following the reorganization
      of mail processing operations, the number of disciplinary actions more
      than doubled, from 356 to 757, over the previous 6 months. Local man-
      agement did not know the reasons for a sudden increase in the number
      of disciplinary actions.

      Well-publicized actions in the building maintenance unit may also have
      raised employee concern. For example, that unit had two cases in which
      the disciplinary actions taken were perceived as unwarranted. In addi-
      tion, an alleged abuse incident may have contributed to employee beliefs
      that harassment and mistreatment were occurring with the tacit
      approval of management.


EEO   Several Indianapolis postal employees said that management did not
      investigate EEO complaints in a thorough and timely manner. They
      believed that the EEO process was ineffective. Our analysis of formal
      complaints showed that while prescribed procedures were followed and
      complaints were investigated and usually closed within the mandated
      time frame, other practices could have contributed to the employees’
      perceptions that the process was ineffective. These practices included
      (1) frequent failures to interview the complainant so as to informally
      resolve complaints within the suggested 21 days of the initial complaint,
      (2) combining the counseling and investigative roles of Em personnel,
      and (3) the failure to fill two of the four authorized EEO and Affirmative
      Action positions that had been vacant since June 1986 and December
      1988. In addition, several employees alleged that the Em process lacked
      credibility because corrective actions agreed to by the Postal Service in
      closing complaint cases did not take place. We confirmed one such case
      involving planned meetings with hearing-impaired employees.




      Page 4                                     GAO/GGD-9083   Indianapolis   Post Offlce
  *
                         E-238286




Mandgement Actions to   Postal officials at Headquarters, the Central Region, and the Indianapo-
Resohe Problems         lis Field Division have taken steps to address employee-management
                        problems at the Indianapolis Post Office. These steps include several
                        labor-management problem-solving initiatives, a review of supervisors’
                        complaints of job-related stress, and changes to the physical environ-
          I             ment of the workplace.

                        Postal Service labor-management initiatives in 1988 and early 1989
                        involved national and local union leadership in efforts to reduce discipli-
                        nary actions, resolve employee complaints, and enhance the level of
                        trust between supervisors and employees. Supervisors and managers
                        discussed supervisor complaints of stress to ascertain the possible
                        causes. In response to other concerns, management took a number of
                        actions to improve the workplace environment, including installing cool-
                        ing fans to reduce summer temperatures in the main workroom.

                        Further, management temporarily reassigned three supervisors to other
                        duties because they were not using the participative management
                        approach endorsed by the Postal Service. Postal management also
                        stopped assigning limited duty employees to the so-called “glass room”
                        where some employees complained they were ridiculed.

                        Despite these initiatives, strained relations with the APWU have hindered
                        Postal Service efforts to bring about improvements. Citing dissatisfac-
                        tion with the efforts being made by the Postal Service, the APWUhas
                        withdrawn its participation from two Postal Service initiatives.

      1


                        Major organizational and personnel changes can generate considerable
Conclusions             employee apprehension and frustration in any organization, Conse-
                        quently, to be successfully implemented, such changes must be made
                        with sensitivity to employees’ concerns.

                        Relations between management and employees at the Indianapolis Post
                        Office are strained. Much of the employee dissatisfaction is a result of
                        major organizational and personnel changes. In addition, several promo-
                        tion and EEO procedures, although not expressly prohibited, were per-
                        ceived by many employees as unfair and discriminatory.

                        The Postal Service has made a number of efforts to improve relations
                        between management and employees. However, an atmosphere of dis-
                        trust and dissatisfaction continues to prevail. The effectiveness of any



                        Page 5                                    GAO/GGD99-63   Indianapolis   Post Office
                                                                                            .


                     present or future initiatives will depend largely on the sustained cooper-
                     ation of both management and employees.


                     In commenting on a draft of this report (seeapp. II), the Postmaster
C&nments of the      General said that positive steps have been taken to addressthe matters
Pqstmaster General   discussed in the report.

                     He said that, in addition to those initiatives discussedin the report, full-
                     time employees have filled two previously vacant EM)and Affirmative
                     Action related positions, selection for promotion to supervisory posi-
                     tions is being made by the immediate mtiager above the position, and
                     the so-called “glass room” to which limited duty employees were
                     assigned has been dismantled and removed from the workroom floor,

                     The Postmaster General noted that the new Division General Manager
                     meets with employees and employee union heads to improve communi-
                     cations. He pointed out that grievance activity is 60 percent lower than
                     the previous fiscal year despite the APWU’S lack of participation in the
                     Service’s formal programs to improve the labor-managementclimate
                     and resolve grievance problems at the point of origin.

                     The Postmaster General said that while progress has been made in
                     improving labor-management relations at Indianapolis, further progress
                     will require a continuing good faith effort by all parties. He said the
                     Service will ensure that local management does its part.


                     As arranged with your offices, copies of this report are being sent to the
                     Postmaster General, the Regional Postmaster General at the Central
                     Region, and the Indianapolis Division Manager. We will send copies to
                     other interested parties upon request.

                     The major contributors to this report are listed in appendix III. If you
                     have any questions concerning this report, please call me on 27643676.




                     I,. Nye Stevens
                     Director, Government Business
                        Operations Issues


                     Page 6                                     GAO/GGD9083   IndlanapoUs       Post (MXlce
I




    w




        Page 7   GAO/GGDBO83   Indianapoti   Post Office
Cbntents



Appendix I
E@ployee-               Background
                        Objectives, Scope, and Methodology
Management Relations    Black Male Supervisors Displaced During Change to
Pdoblemsat the               Vertical Management
                        Promotion of Employees                                                             16
In ianapolis Post       Treatment of Workers                                                               19
0 Pfice                 Handling of EEO Complaints                                                         21
                        Actions to Improve Employee Relations                                              24

A pendix II                                                                                                28
P,”stmaster General’s
C&nments on a Draft
oq This Report
Appendix III                                                                                               30
Major Contributors to
This Report
                        Table I. 1: Profile of Mid- To High-Level Supervisors                              13




                        Abbreviations

                        APWU      American Postal Workers Union
                        EEO       Equal Employment Opportunity
                        EEOC      Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
                        LAMPS     Labor and Management Partners Program
                        MSC       Management Sectional Center
                        NAu=      National Association of Letter Carriers
                        NAF’S     National Association of Postal Supervisors


                        Page 8                                     GAO/GGD-!JO83   Indianapolis   Post Office
w




    Page 9   GAO/GGD-3083   Indianapolis   Poet Office
&pendix   I

E@ployee-ManagementRelations Problems at ’
tlje Indianapolis Post Office

                         Shortly after the on-duty deaths, thought by some to be stress-related,
                         of two Indianapolis Post Office supervisors in March 1988, craft and
                         supervisory employee complaints about job stress, discrimination, har-
                         assment, and favoritism were widely publicized by the Indianapolis
                         media. On April 21, 1988, Senator Richard G. Lugar, then Senator Dan
                         Quayle, and Representative Andrew Jacobs, Jr. requested that we
                         review employee-management relations at the Indianapolis Post Office.


                         Although the sudden death of the two supervisors focused media atten-
Bazkground               tion on working conditions at the Indianapolis Post Office, employee-
                         management relations in the division had already deteriorated. These
                         deteriorated relations resulted from prior organizational and manage-
                         ment personnel changes following the 1986 nationwide realignment of
                         field offices and a major reorganization of mail processing operations in
                         the division in 1987.


Nationwide Realignment   Before June 1986, the Postal Service had five Regional Offices, 42 Dis-
                         trict Offices, and approximately 200 Management Sectional Centers
                         (MSC). At that time, Indianapolis was an MSC reporting to the Indiana
                         District Office (also located in Indianapolis). In a June 1986 national
                         realignment, the Postal Service retained the 5 Regional Offices, estab-
                         lished 74 Division Offices,’ and eliminated the 42 District Offices and
                         about 67 MSCS. Under this realignment, a new Indianapolis Division
                         Office replaced the Indiana District Office; the geographical area cov-
                         ered was basically the same.

                         As part of the realignment, the Postal Service eliminated any MSC located
                         in the same city as a new division office. In these new division offices,
                         division management was given responsibilities formerly held by the MSC
                         manager. Because the Indianapolis Post Office was an MSC in a city with
                         a new division office, its top management positions-the        Manager/Post-
                         master and the four Directors-were         abolished, The Division Director
                         for City Operations inherited most of the mail processing and delivery
                         responsibilities for the Indianapolis metropolitan area. Most Indianapo-
                         lis area postal employees work under this Director. As of June 1988, the
                         Indianapolis Post Office had about 4,200 employees at its main post
                         office, at suburban post offices, at its mail processing and distribution
                         facility, its airport facility, and its vehicle maintenance facility.


                         ‘As of December31, 1989,there were a total of 73 divisions nationwide.



                         Page 10                                                GAO/GGD-9063      Indianapolis   Post Office
                           Appendix I
                           Employee-Management    Relations   Problems   at
                           the Indianapoll Post Office




Reor&mization of Mail     The Postal Service authorizes two structures for managing mail process-
Frocdssing Operations     ing operations: tour management and vertical management. Under the
                          more popular structure- tour management-one person, called a tour
                          superintendent, is responsible for all mail processing operations during
                          an 8-hour tour of duty. At the end of the tour, another tour superinten-
                          dent assumes these responsibilities. Under the vertical structure,
                          responsibility for mail processing operations is divided functionally,
                          rather than by tour, among several people, called operations managers,
                          who have 24-hour responsibility for their assigned operations. Nation-
                          ally, vertical management is used in 9 of the approximately 200 mail
                          processing centers.

                          The Indianapolis Post Office changed from tour to vertical management
                          in May 1987-about a year after the national realignment. The Indian-
                          apolis Field Division General Manager/Postmaster said that the new
                          structure would achieve the following goals:

                        . Focus accountability for specific operations on one individual. Managers
                          would have 24-hour responsibility for the operation rather than share it
                          with two other people as occurs under the tour management approach.
                        . Reduce conflicts between tours. Managers from one tour sometimes
                          blamed problems on earlier tours.
                        . Allow for more innovative problem solving. As specialists with 24-hour
                          responsibility, managers can focus on improving overall operations
                          rather than on solving problems on a specific tour.

                          In addition, the General Manager said that vertical management would
                          require fewer supervisors. Under the tour management structure, for
                          example, there were 21 supervisory positions: 1 Manager, 4 Tour Super-
                          intendents (1 for each 8-hour tour plus 1 relief superintendent), and 16
                          General Supervisors. Under vertical management, there are 15 supervi-
                          sory positions: 1 Manager, 4 Tour Administrators, 6 Operations Mana-
                          gers, and 4 General Supervisors. The Postal Service’s Executive and
                          Administrative Schedule levels of these positions ranged from level 17
                          through level 22.

                          Throughout these significant organizational and managerial personnel
                          changes, there was a growing distrust and lack of cooperation between
                          management and labor-particularly     involving the American Postal
                          Workers Union (APWU). Division management, believing that the union
                          President had groundless and exaggerated complaints, declined APWU
                          requests for meetings. At the same time, the APWUleadership, seeing



                          Page 11                                             GAO/GGD-9083   Indianapolis   Post Office
  Appendix I
  Employee-Management      Relations   Problems   at
  the Indianapolit3 Post Office




  questionable management changes, perceiving other problems, and feel-
  ing it was not heard by management, grew to distrust management.


  To obtain information on employee concerns, we posted notices in the
  workplace inviting employee comments. We met with the first 99 cur-
  rent and former employees who requested to speak with us, and we
  received written comments from 72 other employees.

  Our objectives were to identify

. the circumstances that led to employee complaints regarding the dis-
  placement of senior black managers, the integrity of promotion deci-
  sions, the treatment of workers, and the handling of EEO complaints and
. the actions management has taken to resolve employee complaints and
  concerns.

  We reviewed postal policies and procedures for EEO complaints, discipli-
  nary actions, new supervisors’ training, promotions, and other personnel
  actions. We interviewed managers, supervisors, and employees, and we
  contacted the local presidents of the National Association of Postal
  Supervisors (NAPS) and the unions. These unions were the National Asso-
  ciation of Letter Carriers (NALC); the APWU; and the National Post Office
  Mailhandlers, Watchmen, Messengers, and Group Leaders
  (Mailhandlers).

  To examine complaints about the displacement of black male supervi-
  sors, we compared supervisory positions in the old and new structures
  and reviewed all resulting promotions and personnel changes.

  To examine complaints about favoritism and/or discrimination in pro-
  motions, we reviewed statistics for all 114 promotions-to    level 14 and
  higher supervisor positions- made during fiscal years 1987 and 1988
  and compared the results with affirmative action goals. For compliance
  with procedures, we reviewed 11 promotions-6       brought to our atten-
  tion by employees and 5 judgmentally selected by us.

  To examine complaints about the use of discipline to harass employees,
  we reviewed the discipline files for a judgmental sample of 60 discipli-
  nary actions taken after June 1986. We also reviewed the training
  records of 64 newly promoted supervisors to see if these supervisors
  received the required basic supervisory training.



  Page 12                                              GAO/GGD-9063   Indianapoti   Post Office
                                           Appendix I
                                           Employee-Management      Relations   Problems   at
                                           the Indianapolis Post Office




                                           To examine complaints about how EEO complaints were investigated, we
                                           obtained EEO staffing and complaint statistics. We also reviewed a judg-
                                           mental sample of 38 formal EEN complaints made after June 1986 to see
                                           if they were properly and timely processed.

                                           We did not verify the accuracy of statistics Postal Service Headquarters
                                           provided on EEO complaints, disciplinary actions, and promotions,

                                           Our field work was done from July 1988 through May 1989, in accord-
        ,
                                           ante with generally accepted government auditing standards.


                                           Some employees alleged to us that black male supervisors were unfairly
                                           treated when the Indianapolis Post Office adopted a vertical manage-
                                           ment operating structure for mail processing. This new structure cre-
                                           ated new management positions. We compared supervisory positions in
                                           the old and new structures and identified all resulting promotions and
Ve$cal Management                          personnel changes.

                                           Before vertical management, black men held 9 of 21 mid- to high-level
                                           positions in mail processing. After vertical management, none of the
                                           nine black men who had previously had a mid- to high-level position
                                           received a similar position under the new structure, although other
                                           black men held 4 of 15 positions. Three black women and four of seven
                                           white men who had mid- to high-level positions before vertical manage-
                                           ment received similar positions in the new structure. The “before and
                                           after” profile of mid- to high-level managers is shown in table I. 1.

Table (.I: Profile of Mid- To High-Level
SuperMror5 (Bm=Black Men, Wm=White         Before                                               After                                 June 1909
Men, @w-Black Women)                                  --.-.-_____
                                           IBM
                                           ._-___.                                              4 BMa                                        4BM
                                           7WM                                                 6WM                                         8WM
                                           3BW
                                           --I__         __-__                                  4BW                                         3BW
                                           2 Vacancies-----
                                           ..__.~                                          1 Vacancy                                   1 Vacancy
                                           Total 21                                               15                                             16
                                           aOf the four black men who received vertical management positions, two were from other post offices
                                           and two were lower level Indianapolis supervisors who were promoted.


                                           Of the nine displaced black male supervisors, one retired and one was
                                           later moved into a managerial position outside mail processing. Indian-
                                           apolis management had ten excess supervisors (7 black men and 3 white
                                           men) remaining after vertical management was implemented. All were
                                           reassigned to lower level positions but with no loss of pay.


                                           Page 13                                                     GAO/GGD-9083    Indianapolis   Post Office
                                                                                                                                            j,’
                                                                                                                               .
                                                                                                                                   1
                                                          --
                                            Appendix I
                                            Employee-Management     Relations   Problems   at
                                            the Indianapolis Post Office




“.__l._.(
       _._..._-.. _...-. .._- ....__.                             ---
                                            The seven excess black managers each applied for at least one of the
                                            new positions created by vertical management. Two were on “best can-
                                            didate” lists, but neither was selected. Indianapolis postal officials said
                                            that they did not believe black men were adversely affected by vertical
                                            management because four other black men received positions in the new
                                            structure.

                                            Some of the procedures used to fill the new positions could have been
                                            viewed as unfair to those not selected. We noted that

                                        .   some applicants were assessed by their fellow applicants;
                                        .   the selecting official was not always the immediate supervisor;
                                        9   four General Supervisor positions were improperly advertised; and
                                        .   one successful applicant appeared, to some employees, to have been
                                            preselected.


Apt>licants Assessed                        Several supervisors assessed their peers and/or lower level supervisors
FelPowApplicants                            and applied for the same positions themselves. Although this procedure
                                            was allowed and the raters noted on the evaluations that they also were
                                            candidates for the same positions, the procedure casts doubt on the
                                            raters’ objectivity. Division management said that the alternative would
                                            have been to have evaluations done by someone other than the immedi-
                                            ate supervisor. The following example shows what happened when one
                                            candidate was assessed by a peer who expressed a reservation when
                                            recommending the candidate.

                                            A level 17 General Supervisor applied for level 17, 19, and 20 positions
                                            created by vertical management. Another General Supervisor, temporar-
                                            ily acting as a Tour Superintendent and the applicant’s immediate
                                            supervisor, reviewed his applications and recommended him for the
                                            positions with some reservations. (The Acting Tour Superintendent
                                            applied for level 19 and 20 positions and was selected for a level 19
                                            position before the level 17 positions were advertised.) The applicant
                                            made the “best candidate” list for only a level 17 General Supervisor
                                            position and was not selected. He thinks that the reservation expressed
                                            by the Acting Tour Superintendent kept him from being promoted. We
                                            found that the selecting official cited this reservation when explaining
                                            why the applicant was not selected. Because he was not selected, he was
                                            one of the General Supervisors reassigned to a lower level position when
                                            vertical management was implemented. This employee was promoted
                                            twice in the next 12 months and is now a level 19 Operations Manager.



                                            Page 14                                             GAO/GGD90-63   Indianapolis   Post Office
                         Appendix I
                         Employ-Management       I&l&tone   Problems   at
                         the Indlanapolia Post Office




Selections Not Made by   Promotion selections are normally made by the immediate supervisor or
Immediate Supervisors    manager above the position. Because Tour Administrators and Opera-
                         tions Managers report to the General Mail Facility Manager, he would
                         have been the normal selecting official for new positions under vertical
                         management. Instead, the Director of City Operations made all the selec-
                         tions. The General Mail Facility Manager, who held that position since
                         1974, was not consulted on any of the selections.


General Supervisor       The Employee and Labor Relations Manual requires that when two or
Positions Improperly     more employees occupy positions with the same occupation code and
                         there is a reduction in the authorized number of these positions, all
Advktised                incumbents are to be considered for the remaining positions and the
    1                    most appropriate selection is to be made. After filling the Tour Adminis-
                         trator and Operations Manager positions, Indianapolis needed four Gen-
                         eral Supervisors. They had 10 unassigned General Supervisors and 1
                         unassigned former Tour Superintendent. Rather than follow the pre-
                         scribed procedure of selecting from the prior incumbents, Indianapolis
                         management improperly issued a promotion announcement for four
                         General Supervisors. In making the subsequent selections, the Director
                         of City Operations chose 1 of the 10 unassigned General Supervisors and
                         promoted two lower level supervisors. He left one position vacant until
                         August 1988, when he selected one of the remaining unassigned white
                         men.


Appbarance of            Personnel actions prior to the selection of one applicant may have cre-
Presielection            ated the impression that he was preselected. Promotion procedures
                         require that a selecting official must not preselect a candidate nor take
                         an action that will create the impression that all candidates are not
                         given a fair opportunity to be selected or that a candidate has been
                         preselected. In the selection of a tour superintendent, there could have
                         been an appearance of preselection because the person selected had
                         been on an unapproved extended temporary assignment as acting mana-
                         ger over two candidates competing for the same position.

                         About 2 months after national realignment, the Director of City Opera-
                         tions brought a level 20 manager to Indianapolis from another division.
                         Less than 3 months later, the Director made him the Acting Manager of
                         the General Mail Facility-a   level 22 position. He was Acting Manager
                         for over 8 months. The Employee and Labor Relations Manual requires
                         that temporary assignment to a higher grade position, during the
                         absence of the incumbent, is limited to a maximum period of 90 calendar


                         Page 15                                            GAO/GGD-9063   Indianapolis   Post Office
               Appendix I
               Employee-Management      Relations   Problems   at
               the Indianapolis Post Offlce




               days, which may be extended with the prior approval of the Regional
               Postmaster General. Extension of the assignment was not approved. The
               Director of City Operations said that he did not request this approval
               because he did not know it was required.

               Seven months after he became the Acting Manager, Indianapolis man-
               agement advertised the new vertical management positions. He
               requested noncompetitive consideration for the level 20 Tour Adminis-
               trator position and was considered. Both Indianapolis Tour Superintend-
               ents-whose level 20 positions were abolished-had to compete for this
               position. When they applied, the Acting Manager reviewed their promo-
               tion applications. He did not recommend one for the position, and when
               he recommended the other he cited the man’s wealth of knowledge and
               practical experience but expressed a reservation about his support of
               higher level managers. Nevertheless, both men made the Review Com-
               mittee’s “best candidate” list. The Director of City Operations consid-
               ered the applicants on the list and the acting manager’s request for
               noncompetitive consideration, and selected the Acting Manager. He said
               that this man was superior to the other candidates.

  I


               Some postal employees alleged to us that there was favoritism and racial
Prbmotion of   discrimination in supervisory promotions. They complained that some
Enjployees     promotees lacked related work experience but were still selected by
               management.

               To examine the allegations, we reviewed statistics for all 114 promo-
               tions to level 14 and higher supervisor positions made during fiscal
               years 1987 through 1988. We compared the results with affirmative
               action goals for the same period and found that the goals were met. We
               examined six promotions brought to our attention by employees plus
               five others judgmentally selected, and found that prescribed procedures
               were followed for each promotion.

               We did, however, confirm some practices that could have contributed to
               employee perceptions of favoritism and discrimination. The practices,
               which were not prohibited by regulations, included inconsistency in who
               evaluated promotion applicants on temporary assignment, questionable
               reservations when recommending an employee for promotion, the use of
               supervisor-trainees not on the established candidate lists, and the pro-
               motion of employees not working in the unit of the vacant positions.




               Page 16                                              GAO/GGD9083   Indianapolis   Post Office
                            Appendix I
                            Employee-Management     Relations   Problems   at
                            the Indhnapolla Podlt OfYice




Immediate Supervisors Did   Postal regulations designate the immediate supervisor/manager to eval-
Not AFways Assess           uate candidates for promotions but are not specific as to who should
                            rate an employee on a temporary work detail. This lack of specificity
Applitants                  has resulted in different treatment of applicants temporarily working in
                            the positions for which they applied. It is unclear how often this occurs.

                            For example, in 1 of the 11 cases we examined, a manager evaluated and
                            recommended for promotion an employee who was on temporary assign-
                            ment in his unit for 2 months. This applicant was selected for the posi-
                            tion. In another instance, a manager did not evaluate an employee for
                            promotion even though the employee had worked in the applied-for
                            position in his unit for over 2 months and sporadically for several years.
                            The manager advised the candidate to have her previous supervisor
                            write her evaluation. She was not selected for the position. She later
                            filed an EEO complaint, which is still pending, alleging that she was not
                            selected because of her race and sex.


QueseionableUse of          When an employee applies for promotion, the immediate supervisor/
ReseqvationsWhen            manager must review the position requirements and may either recom-
                            mend the employee with or without reservations, or not recommend the
Recopending an              applicant. Some employees allege that reservations are selectively used
Applicant                   to keep qualified candidates, not favored by management, from being
                            promoted.

                            For example, an employee’s supervisor recommended him for a position
                            but wrote on his application reservations of a questionable nature about
                            the employee’s physical condition and attitude toward management. The
                            supervisor said that he personally considered the employee well quali-
                            fied for the position, but that his manager had directed him to write the
                            reservations on the employee’s application. The manager, however, does
                            not recall directing the supervisor to write the reservation. The physical
                            qualifications for the vacant supervisory position were not as demand-
                            ing as those for the applicant’s current position, which he was fully per-
                            forming. This employee had an excellent record and was previously
                            recommended for an award for his performance, attendance, and posi-
                            tive attitude about work. He believes that the reservations expressed on
                            his application by the supervisor prevented his promotion.




                            Page 17                                             GAO/GGD-9063   Indianapolis   Post Office
                             Appendix I                                                                              c
                             Employee-Management     Relations   Problems   at
                             the Indianapolis Post Office




Stipervisory Trainees Were   Some employees also complained about favoritism and discrimination in
N<jt Always Selected From    the selection of initial-level supervisor trainees. Experience gained by
                             acting supervisors can give them an advantage in competing for promo-
Approved Candidate List      tion to supervisor.

                             The Postal Service has an initial-level supervisor training program that
                             provides the opportunity for on-the-job training to qualified employees
                             who have at least 1 year of Postal Service experience. Interested candi-
                             dates apply, and a candidate evaluation board rates them superior,
                             above average, or basic. Regulations say that generally those rated supe-
                             rior are used first as temporary supervisors, but any employee with 1
                             year of current continuous career service may be detailed as a tempo-
                             rary supervisor if necessary.

                             To determine if the Indianapolis Post Office selected the best people, we
                             reviewed 111 initial-level temporary supervisor assignments made dur-
                             ing the first three pay periods (6 weeks) of fiscal year 1988. We found
                             that 88.3 percent of those selected were not on the superior rating list
                             and 34 percent were not on any of the candidate lists.


Prbmoting Applicants         Some employees, particularly in maintenance and fleet operations, com-
From Other Work Units        plained to us that unqualified employees from other work units were
                             promoted into supervisory positions while qualified employees within
                             the unit were ignored. Furthermore, they alleged that the Director of
                             City Operations preselected applicants without regard to their experi-
                             ence or expertise. These allegations were brought about, at least in part,
                             by the Director’s decision to make all promotion selections in his units
                             rather than rely on the normal procedure of having the immediate man-
                             ager/supervisor handle promotions. Some promotions and/or personnel
                             actions that employees complained about are discussed below.

                             When a General Supervisor position in Fleet Operations was advertised,
                             four employees with 6 to 19 years of experience in Fleet Operations
                             applied for the position. A supervisor working at a neighborhood post
                             office and lacking Fleet Operations experience also applied and was
                             selected. Some Fleet Operations employees concluded that he was
                             preselected. We asked the Director of City Operations about this selec-
                             tion, and he said that he had asked his area managers to look for possi-
                             ble candidates because he did not think there were any good candidates
                             in Fleet Operations.




                             Page 18                                             GAO/GGD9043   Indianapolis   Post Office
    .


                       Appendix I
                       Employee-Management     Relations   Problem   at
                       the Indianapolis Poet Office




                       Some maintenance employees alleged that management preselected
                       favorite employees from outside the maintenance unit, regardless of
                       their experience, when filling supervisor-trainee positions and vacant
                       supervisory positions. Five letter carriers were selected for supervisor-
                       trainee positions in maintenance during 1988, and two of the five were
                       later promoted to maintenance supervisors.

                       In another case, four maintenance employees applied for a superinten-
                       dent position and were recommended by their supervisors. Two were
                       recommended with reservations. The “best candidate” list included two
                       of the maintenance employees and a mailhandler who had no mainte-
                       nance experience. The mailhandler was selected but was reassigned
                       outside maintenance 8 months later because his performance did not
                       meet expectations.


                       Several employees said that supervisors harassed workers by issuing
Tredtment of Workers   unwarranted disciplinary actions and by verbally or physically abusing
                       them.


Discqpline Policy      The Postal Service’s disciplinary procedures (Supervisor’s Guide to Han-
                       dling Grievances, Handbook EL-921) say that the main purpose of any
                       disciplinary action is to correct an employee’s undesirable behavior. The
                       procedures stress that all actions must be for just cause, and, unless jus-
                       tified by the circumstances, the action must be progressive and
                       corrective.

                       Collective bargaining agreements between the Postal Service and
                       employee unions cite, as examples of just cause, insubordination, pilfer-
                       age, intoxication, incompetence, failure to perform work as requested,
                       violation of the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, and failure
                       to observe safety rules and regulations.

                       The Postal Service employs a traditional approach to discipline. It
                       believes that various standards of conduct and productivity can be
                       achieved and maintained through a system of ever-increasing degrees of
                       punishment. Such a system is called progressive discipline. As outlined
                       in collective bargaining agreements, progressive discipline begins with a
                       predisciplinary discussion (for minor offenses) with the employee
                       through a step-by-step disciplinary process. The later stages include a
                       letter of warning, suspensions of 14 days or less, suspensions of more



                       Page 19                                            GAO/GGIMO433   Indianapob   Post Office
                     Appendix I
                     Employee-Management     Relations   Problems   at
                     the Indianapolis Post OfTlce




                     than 14 days, and discharge. The installation head or designee reviews
                     and agrees to suspensions and removals.

                     After official notification, an employee may appeal a disciplinary action
                     through an internal grievance process and, if not satisfied with the final
                     internal decision, may appeal to external binding arbitration.

                     Since the early 198Os,the Postal Service has been trying to redirect man-
                     agers from a traditional authoritarian management style to a manage-
                     ment style that encourages employee involvement. Required training
                     programs for all newly appointed supervisors emphasize a humanistic
                     approach to management. The programs point out that the Postal Ser-
                     vice formerly operated with an autocratic style of leadership that is no
                     longer optimally effective. Postal supervisors are told that they need to
                     develop interpersonal skills so that they can motivate employees to
                     develop a sense of commitment so that all parties work together without
                     any individual losing self-esteem or personal dignity. New supervisors
                     are taught to create an atmosphere of positive discipline whereby
                     employees accept and abide by rules they believe are fair and
                     appropriate.


Dibcipline Actions   The data show that in the 6 months following the reorganization of mail
                     processing operations, the number of disciplinary actions more than
  //                 doubled over the previous 6 months, growing from 366 to 757. Manage-
   /                 ment officials said that they had no special intent to impose more disci-
   /
   /                 pline and could not explain the increase in disciplinary actions.

                     To examine individual disciplinary actions, we judgmentally selected 32
                     severe actions from reported cases (removals and 14-day suspensions).
                     In addition, to focus on potential problem areas, we selected 7 cases ini-
                     tiated by supervisors who had not yet received supervisory training and
                     11 cases from the building maintenance department that had employees
                     who specifically complained about harsh discipline. In all but two cases,
                     the disciplinary actions, as documented in the discipline files, appeared
                     to be justified considering Postal Service policy, collective bargaining
                     agreements, and the employees’ disciplinary record.

                     Two cases, discussed below, seemed too severe considering the employ-
                     ees’ past work record.

                     Case 1: A 14-year employee, who had a good work record, was on sick
                     leave for about 4 weeks. When he returned to work, the supervisor


                     Page 20                                             GAO/GGD9O-63   Indianapolis   Post Office
                    Appendix I
                    Employee-Management     Relations   Problems   at
                    the Indianapolis Post Office




                    issued him a letter of warning for unsatisfactory attendance even
                    though he had not been on sick leave during the previous 6 months. Fur-
                    ther, the supervisor issued him another letter of warning a few days
                    later for failure to follow instructions and for unsatisfactory work per-
                    formance. The employee appealed the actions by filing a grievance-
                    still in arbitration when we did our work-stating    that he was being
                    harassed by the supervisor. Other employees also interpreted the super-
                    visor’s actions as harassment. The supervisor denied his intent was to
                    harass but admitted that the employee probably was intimidated by
                    these actions.

                    Case 2: Within a 3-week period, a g-year employee with no disciplinary
                    record received a 7-day and a 14-day suspension from the same supervi-
                    sor. The ‘I-day suspension was for failure to follow instructions in clean-
                    ing up and securing a work area. The 14-day suspension was for failure
                    to follow proper safety procedures by putting a pair of metal cutters
                    with the open point stuck down in his right hip pocket. The employee
                    thought he was being harassed by the supervisor, and he appealed the
                    disciplinary actions, Later, the Postal Service rescinded the disciplinary
                    actions.


Conf&ntation With   Additional perceptions of mistreatment arose when, in an angry con-
                    frontation with an employee, a supervisor allegedly cursed the
Supe@isor           employee, called him a liar, and poked him with his finger. The supervi-
                    sor was given a letter of warning and was later transferred to other
                    duties. After this incident, the local American Postal Workers Union
                    informed its membership that management was using strong-arm tactics
                    and that they should watch out for each other and not get cornered by
                    supervisors.

                    Employees’ knowledge of these cases possibly contributed to their belief
                    that harassment and mistreatment were taking place with tacit approval
                    of management.


                    Several Indianapolis postal employees said that Indianapolis manage-
Handling of EEO     ment does not (1) investigate EEO complaints in a thorough or timely
Complaints          manner or (2) adequately follow up on EEO settlements to ensure that
              ”     corrective actions are implemented. These employees claimed that the
                    EEO process was ineffective and that it was generally a waste of their
                    time to file an EEo complaint.



                    Page 21                                             GAO/GGD90-63   Indianapolis   Post Office
                                                                                                                  ,
                                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                                          -
                               Appendix I
                               Employee-Management      Relations   Problems   at
                               the Indianapolis Post Office




                               We found that the Indianapolis Post Office essentially followed required
  ,                            procedures for processing EEO complaints. However, some situations
                               that could work against the effectiveness of the EEO process were noted.
                               These situations included

                           l   time taken to informally resolve EEO complaints,
                           l   noncompliance with EEO settlements,
                           l   combining the EEO counselor and investigator roles, and
                           l   vacant Epfl positions.


                               Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations require
                               a complainant to contact the employer’s EEO office within 30 days of an
                               alleged incident. Once this contact is made, EEOC regulations require that
                               “insofar as is practicable” an EEO counselor shall complete a preliminary
                               inquiry and attempt to informally resolve the complaint within 21 days.
                               If not satisfied with this informal resolution process, the complainant
                               can then file a formal complaint. If a complaint is filed, the Postal Ser-
                               vice must do a formal investigation. If no resolution is reached, the com-
                               plainant may request an EEOC hearing.

                               To determine how well the Indianapolis Post Office was complying with
                               these criteria, we reviewed 38 formal complaints postal employees
                               brought to our attention. For the most part, we found that the Indianap-
                               olis Post Office complied with those procedures mandated by EEOC and
                               postal regulations. For example, during the informal stage, the EEO coun-
                               selor met with complainants, made inquiries into the alleged incidents,
                               reviewed relevant documentation, held a final interview to seek an
                               informal resolution, and provided the complainants with a description
                               of their rights and responsibilities. After a formal complaint was filed,
                               the Postal Service advised the complainant in writing of all administra-
                               tive requirements for processing the complaint. An investigator was
                               assigned, knowledgeable people were interviewed, and the case was
                               reviewed and documented.


Time Required to Resolve       EEOCregulations say that “insofar as is practicable” the counselor shall
Informal Complaints            conduct a final interview with the complainant to attempt an informal
                               resolution within 21 days of the initial contact. Because time data for
            s                  complaints resolved during the informal stage were not readily availa-
                               ble, we limited our review of compliance with this suggested time frame
                               to informal complaints that became formal complaints. Our analyses of
                               automated statistical data for all formal complaints filed from October


                               Page 22                                              GAO/GGD9O83   Indianapolis   Post Offlce
                          Appendix I
                          Employee-Management     Relations   Problems   at
                          the Indianapolis Post Office




                          1986 through December 1988, showed that the 21-day time frame for
                          holding a final interview was exceeded on 81 percent of the cases. The
                          average elapsed time was 46 days; the actual times ranged from 4 to 145
                          days. The 45-day average may not represent all informal complaints
                          because complaints resolved during the informal stage were excluded.


None mpliance With EEO    From the beginning of fiscal year 1985 through December 1988, 1,580
                          Em complaints were filed at the Indianapolis Post Office. Although we
Settle ents
      i-n                 could not determine to what extent this occurred, on the basis of our
                          review of complaint files, management sometimes closed these com-
                          plaints by agreeing to a specific corrective action. Several employees
                          alleged, however, that the EEO process lacked credibility because the cor-
                          rective actions did not always take place.

                          For example, a hearing-impaired employee said that he withdrew his
                          formal complaint when Indianapolis management agreed to hold
                          biweekly meetings with all hearing-impaired employees. The meetings
                          were to cover safety, service, and other items of employee interest. Man-
                          agement also agreed to provide an interpreter at these meetings to facili-
                          tate the communication process. However, only two meetings were held
                          during the first 4 months following the settlement. More importantly,
                          the employee said that there was no interpreter at one meeting, and at
                          the other meeting, an uncertified interpreter could not communicate
                          with some of the employees.

                          Postal managers involved in the EEO process said that they were una-
                          ware that corrective action had not been taken in this case.


Key qoles Were Combined    During the 1986 realignment, the Postal Service moved EEO investigators
                           from regional to division offices and combined their duties with those of
                           EEO counselors. In a letter to the EEOC, the Postal Service said that the
                           funding of two full-time positions to do virtually identical tasks was not
                          justified. EEOC permitted this combining of roles on a trial basis but
                          pointed out that the practice of having counselors and investigators per-
                           form nearly identical functions was unique to the Postal Service.

                          EEOC further explained that counseling and investigation  are distinct
                          functions and represent separate stages of the complaint process. The
                          counselor’s role is to make an informal inquiry and attempt an informal
                          resolution to the problem as soon as possible. Under the combined role,
                          the counselor becomes the investigator for the formal complaint. Two of


                          Page 23                                             GAO/GGD-90-63   Indianapolis   Post Office
                           Appendix I
                           Employee-Management     Relations   Probleme   at
                           the Indianapolis Post Offlce




                           the Indianapolis counselor/investigators said that it might be better for
                           the complainant if the investigator was someone different from the
                           counselor and that an investigator from outside Indianapolis might get
                           more respect and cooperation from supervisors.


Vatant EEO Positions       Two of four authorized EEO and Affirmative Action positions at the Indi-
                           anapolis Post Office are vacant. The authorized full-time positions are:

                       l Manager of EEO Complaint Processing,
                       l Two Counselor/Investigators, and
                       . Affirmative Action/EEO Programs Coordinator.

                           For budgetary reasons, Indianapolis management had not filled the
                           Affirmative Action/EEo Programs Coordinator position since its creation
                           during the 1986 reorganization. Before reorganization, an EEOSpecialist
                           performed these duties. The Division General Manager and Field Direc-
                           tor of Human Resources said that they now personally carry out the
                           required duties.

                           Postal officials also elected not to fill one of the two full-time Counselor/
                           Investigator positions that became vacant in December 1988. Instead,
                           they use two part-time Counselor/Investigators. Although most cases
                           were investigated and closed within the required time frame, it is
                           unclear what other impact this change may have had. The 1989 EEO
                           complaint volume has been about the same as it was in 1988 when there
                           were two full-time and one part-time Counselor/Investigator.


-Aqtions to Improve
                           lis Field Division have taken reasonable steps to address employee com-
 Erhployee Relations       plaints at the Indianapolis Post Office. These steps included labor-
                           management initiatives, a review of supervisors’ stress complaints, and
                           changes to the workplace environment. The Postal Service also has an
                           Employee Involvement/Quality of Work Life Program.


Labor-Management           After employee complaints surfaced in the media, Indianapolis postal
                           management, supervisors, and union officials initiated labor relations
Initiatives                improvement programs that included the following:
            1
                       . A problem-solving group to discuss and seek solutions for major
                         employee concerns.


                           Page 24                                             GAO/GGD90-63   Indianapolis   Post Office
                                  Appendix I
                                  Employee-Management      Relations   Problems   at
                                  the Indianapolis Post Office




                              l  New informal discipline overview procedures to prevent issuance of dis-
                                 ciplinary actions for frivolous acts, The NALC and the APWU withdrew
                                 from this effort in September 1988.
                              9 The Indianapolis Post Office and the local APWU developed a labor rela-
                                 tions improvement initiative called a Labor and Management Partners
                                 Program (LAMPS). The program, started in December 1988, sought timely
                                resolution of employee complaints in order to prevent formal grievance
                                 actions. In February 1989, the union withdrew, citing a lack of commit-
                                ment by management. Postal management considered the union’s actions
                                to be premature.
                              l In April 1989, a labor relations improvement initiative (Labor-Manage-
                                ment Plan) was started with the NALC. The plan seeks improved labor-
                                management relations through an enhanced level of trust, improved
                                communication, and dispute resolution. It is a long-term program and
                                requires sustained commitment to improve the labor-management cli-
                                mate. Indianapolis postal management attempted to initiate this plan
                                earlier, but local unions declined.
                              . In conjunction with the National Association of Postal Supervisors
                                (NAPS), Indianapolis postal management arranged a stress-management
                                seminar and a career awareness conference. Management also circulated
                                a questionnaire to study the workplace environment. No overall sum-
                                mary report was prepared on the questionnaire, but the Director of
                                Human Resources said that the only area where problems were indi-
                                cated was mail processing. Responses from supervisors in the airport
                                facility, maintenance, and fleet operations were included with the mail
                                processing responses. At the request of the Director of City Operations,
                                a Communication Committee was established to improve working rela-
                                tionships between senior-level mail processing managers.


Revi4w of Supervisors t           After the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Postal Personnel and Mod-
Stresb Complaints                 ernization, House Post Office and Civil Service Committee, inquired
                                  about conditions and problems at the Indianapolis Post Office in April
                                  1988, the Postal Service Central Region sent a Human Resources repre-
                                  sentative to study the situation. He interviewed 19 supervisors and
                                  mangers to ascertain the cause, if any, of stress at the Indianapolis Post
                                  Office. The interviewees were randomly selected from all supervisory
                                  levels within City Operations. His general impressions included the
                                  following:

                          l       The problem was generally confined to the mail processing operation.




                                  Page 26                                              GAO/GGD-9063   Indianapolis   Post Office
                                                                                                                     .
                             Appendix I
                             Employee-Management     Relations   Problems   at
                             the Indianapolis Post Office




                         .    Generally, higher management did not think stress complaints were
                             valid but said that there had been a conscious effort&o discipline super-
                             visors to get them to do their jobs. Since the 1986 national realignment,
                              56 disciplinary actions have been issued against nonbargaining person-
                             nel, and 39 of these actions have occurred since vertical management
                             was implemented.
                             Line supervisors believed that undue pressure was being placed on them
                             to improve productivity; even minor mistakes were not tolerated.
                             Both line and higher level managers believed that the problems began
                             after the switch to vertical management in May 1987. They thought that
                             the Director of City Operations hand-picked the new management staff
                             in an effort to exercise greater control over the operation,
                             While the issue was not strictly racial, there were concerns that race
                             was a contributing factor in the dispute, However, a review of the
                             affirmative action statistics did not support the finding.
                             The alleged stress-related death of two supervisors brought the matter
                             to the forefront. In addition, a third supervisor had a heart attack
                             shortly after the two deaths and two other supervisors complained of
                             stress problems at the same time. These incidents resulted in further
                             claims of undue stress.


Personnel Changes            Three supervisors were temporarily assigned other duties because they
                             were not using the participative management approach endorsed by the
                             Service.


yorkplace Improvements       Workplace improvements included installing 36 floor or wall-mount fans
                             to reduce summer temperatures on the workroom floor and replacing
                             turnstile-type doors to allow easier entrance during emergencies. In
                             addition, postal management stopped assigning limited-duty workers to
                             the so-called “glass room”, a 30-by-12-foot room on the mail processing
                             floor with windows on one of the long walls. Limited duty workers
                             assigned to the “glass room” complained of being ridiculed.


Employee Involvement/        The Postal Service in 1986 and 1987, under separate agreements with
Quality of Work Life         the Mail Handlers Union and the National Association of Letter Carriers,
                             respectively, started an Employee Involvement/Quality of Work Life
1Dw.r.rlnn
     ru~lalll   m
                             program at Indianapolis. The American Postal Workers Union does not
                    ”
                             participate. The program is designed to influence management style and
                             involve all employees in decisionmaking in an effort to make the post
                             office a better place to work. The program intent is for management and


                             Page 26                                             GAO/GGD-9083   Indianapolis   Post Office
Appendix I
Employee-Management     Relations   Problems   at
the Indlanapolls Post Offlce




labor to work as a team, enabling everyone to use their knowledge,
skills, and abilities more effectively.

According to program coordinators/facilitators,     top management says
that it supports the program. However, some workers question that sup-
port. For example, those workers complained to us that one manage-
ment representative missed several team meetings and, when his
absence was brought to senior management’s attention, nothing hap-
pened. Further, the coordinators/facilitators   believe that some supervi-
sors view the program as an attempt to infringe upon their authority.




Page 27                                             GAO/GGD-90-63   Indianapolis   Post Office
FjostmasterGeneral’s Comments on a Draft of‘”
!@is Report




                                             THE POSTMASTER QENERAL
                                                Washington.   DC   20260-0010


                                                   March      7,    1990




            Dear   Mr.   Fogel:
            This refers   to your draft     report    entitled                  Employee-Management
            Relations   at the Indianapolis       Post Office                   Are Strained.
            The report   focuses   on events     that occurred     primarily                     during
            1986 through    1988.    Since then positive       steps have                      been taken
            to address   the matters     discussed    in your report,
            The vacant positions           of EEO Counselor/Investigator                and
            Affirmative        Action/EEO      Program Coordinator           have been filled
            with full-time          employees.        Selection     for promotion       to super-
            visory     positions       is being made by the immediate               manager to
            whom the vacancy reports.                 The so-called       "glass    room" to
            which limited         duty employees        were assigned        has been dismantled
            and removed from the workroom floor.                      Other initiatives      are
            discussed       in the report       itself.
            The new Field   Division    General    Manager attends     open meetings
            at local  union halls    and has had stand up meetings           on all  tours
            to answer employee questions         and improve communications.         He
            regularly  meets with local       union heads to discuss       issues   unique
            to their  membership.     He also serves       as co-chair   of the local
            Employee Involvement     Steering     Committee   to show top management's
            support.
            Although      the local      APWU president          has declined     to participate
            in three of our formal             programs       to improve     the labor/management
            climate      and resolve      grievance       problems     at the point      of origin,
            grievance       activity     was still      down 60 percent         as compared to
            the previous         fiscal   year.      In addition,       an Indianapolis         Station
             (Southport)       has been chosen to be the national                 pilot   site     for
            our advanced bar code test,                partly     because of the working
            relationship         that has developed           between the Postal        Service
            and local       organization       leaders.




                     Page 28                                                    GAO/GGD-9063     Indianapolis   Post Office
         Appendix II
         Postnuwter General’s   Comments   on a Draft    of
         Thh Report




                                             -    2 -



We think     progress     has been made in improving    labor/management
relations      at Indianapolis.        Further progess will   require  a
continuing       qood faith     effort  bv all oarties. *The Postal    Service
will    ensure-that     local    management does its part.
                                                 Sincerely,
                                                                         *y        ox
                                                     ,f/..I -7   ., ‘-        :a
                                                 I.7
                                                                                             .!i’
                                                                                        17            m


                                                   Anthony       . Prank

Mr. Richard      L. Fogel
Assistant     Comptroller       General
IJnited   States   General
   Accounting     Off ice
Washington,      D.C.     20548-0001




         Page 29                                                  GAO/GGD-9983                      Indianapolis   Post Office
Apbndix    III

Major Contributors to This Report


                            Willis L. Elmore, Assistant Director, Government Business
G&nerd Government             Operations Issues
Djvision, Washington,       Lawrence R. Keller, Senior Evaluator
D.C.

                            Arthur D. Gross, Assignment Manager
                 Regional   James R. Wilson, Evaluator-in-Charge
                            Patricia R. Roush, Staff Member




(228886)                    Page 30                                 GAO/GGD9083   Indianapolis   Post Office
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