Help Me to Understand

Oysterville Store and Post Office c. 1940

The U.S. Post Office is at it again.  Oysterville is under attack.  It’s not quite like it was last time when we were one of many small, rural Post Offices being considered for closure.  No, this time our little Post Office will be staying open but we will be losing our Postmaster, Steve Fricks.  He will be replaced by someone new.

It’s not that Steve wants to leave.  Far from it.  This is his ‘dream’ job – close to home, part-time, pleasant (if a bit quirky) working conditions, and friendly (also a bit quirky) postal patrons.  From my viewpoint on the opposite side of that little postal window, Steve is a perfect fit for Oysterville – always pleasant, informative, and helpful – especially with some of us elderly folks who might need assistance in carrying a package or in understanding which mailing method might be best.

Postmaster Jean Smith, w008

Steve is the seventeenth Postmaster in Oysterville’s history.  I think that’s a remarkably small number considering ours is the oldest continuously operated post office in Washington, beginning on April 29, 1858 with Isaac A. Clark as Postmaster.  Several of Oysterville’s oldest residents remember the five who proceeded Steve– Minnie Andrews, Muriel Wright, Mary Munsey, Casey Killingsworth, and Jean Smith. I think that they all stayed until they retired or left of their own volition.  Not so Steve.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have the story quite straight.  I had heard from a friend that her friend was applying for the Oysterville postal position.  “That can’t be right,” said I, but upon checking with Steve, I found it was absolutely true.  “I am being transferred to Ocean Park,” he told me, “but not by choice.”

Mailboxes at the Oysterville Post Office

It seems that someone (actually two someones) in Ocean Park are moving ‘up’ to positions in other post offices.  Somehow, that means that Steve has to be offered one of those jobs – a “step up” but a step he doesn’t want to take.  If he refuses, his employment with the Post Office is over for now.  He can reapply in X number of years.  Apparently, it’s a union rule, designed to ‘protect’ workers from being passed over when jobs become available.

Say what???  I thought Unions were for the protection of employees…  Bureaucracy with a capital B if you ask me.  “What can we do?” I asked Steve.  “I don’t think anything,” was the reply.  Probably not, but I’m determined to lodge a complaint, anyway, beginning with a call to “Chris” at the Ocean Park Post Office.  I believe he is Steve’s immediate supervisor.  I know that it will be less than useful but maybe I can find out who the Postal Union contact for this area might be and call that person, too.   Maybe we all should.

One Response to “Help Me to Understand”

  1. Good to lodge a protest. Contract needs amending. But that’s the way of the world: something done with good intentions paves the way to you know where.

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