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National Association of Postal Supervisors

About NAPS

The National Association of Postal Supervisors is a membership organization representing over 36,000 active and retired supervisors, managers and postmasters who work for or who retired from the United States Postal Service (USPS). The object of the Association is to promote, through appropriate and effective action, the welfare of its members, and to cooperate with USPS and other agencies of the federal government in a continuing effort to improve the service, to raise the standard of efficiency, and to widen the field of opportunity for its members who make the Postal Service or the federal government their life work.

NAPS is a management association, not a union. NAPS is unique among federal management associations in that our rights are statutory, with a high level of detail concerning our relationship with USPS. (NAPS' rights are listed under Title 39 of the US Code, Section 1004.)

NAPS represents the overwhelming majority of first-line supervisors who work both in facilities where postal employees process mail and where they deliver mail. Our membership also includes other mid-level and senior managers in every functional area of the Postal Service, including marketing, finance, human resources and maintenance, to name a few. We have a growing number of postmasters as members, individuals who decided to remain a part of our organization even after being promoted to a postmaster position.

Our members work in the field. We do not represent managers who work at USPS Headquarters in Washington, DC, or senior managers in the Postal Career Executive Service who are installation heads.

Why NAPS exists

A September 9, 1908 article from the Louisville Herald notes that, "In striking contrast to the storm that characterized the Postal Supervisors' meeting [on September 8] was the harmony that was the distinguishing feature of the Postal Clerks," who coincidentally were also holding their third national convention in Louisville that year. Such a stormy beginning was perhaps to be expected, considering the working conditions for typical supervisors and the considerable risk the original fifty members were taking by holding such a public event in 1908.

When supervisors began forming their own national organization, a number of other employee groups had already been formulated. Postmasters (1898 and 1904), clerks (1906), city carriers (1889) and railway mail clerks (1898) all had local, state and national organizations. Some supervisors had organized local organizations, but it was the efforts of the Louisville group which resulted in the first convention of the National Association of Supervisory Post Office Employees, NAPS' original name. The event was held in 1908 in Louisville's Seelbach Hotel (considered one of the region's finest). Allan Leathers, president of the Louisville supervisors' group, was responsible for much of the organizing work at the first meeting.

At the opening and business sessions welcoming speeches were made by civic leaders, members of Congress and Louisville's postmaster. The convention featured several late night working sessions, but not all the time was spent on business. Delegates attended a baseball game between the Nashville and Louisville post office clerks, and later, with some of the delegates to the clerk's convention, traveled to Mammoth Cave.

The first business session of the convention was a setback for those promoting a national organization. Although a temporary organization was approved, the report of the committee on a permanent organization met with immediate opposition, resulting in the adjournment until the following morning. The dispute centered as much on the procedures used to adopt the report as it did on the contents of the report, with some delegates demanding a section-by-section debate. If that sounds like the results of more recent NAPS conventions, the concerns of the delegates may surprise many supervisors working in today's Postal Service, where participatory management is strongly encouraged.

Dr. E.L. Powell of Louisville, speaking on the benefits of organizations, urged the delegates never to forget the importance of individuality in an organization, which should strive to give each individual more power. Joseph Vick, of Rochester, NY, spoke on the multiplicity of rules and regulations in the Post Office Department, which he said could never be comprehended by the average clerk or superintendent. Rep. Swagar Sherley's address, "A Congressman's Point of View," criticized the Post Office Department for its unbounded use of red tape, and suggested that it could be self-sustaining if properly conducted.

On September 9, 1908, the second day of the convention, the delegates elected L.E. Palmer of Pittsburgh, PA, as their first president, and adopted a national constitution and bylaws. The original language in the constitution expressing the object of the association is similar to that currently in use, but the differences indicate the initial priorities of the membership:

 "the objects of this association shall be cooperative with the Post Office Department in the endeavor to secure uniform, modern and economical business methods; to raise the standard of efficiency; to secure legislation that will increase compensation and widen the field of opportunity for employees who make the business of the postal service their life work."

In the debate over the constitution that ensued, according to a story in the Louisville Courier-Journal, the delegates wished it to be made known that the phrase "widen the field of opportunity" was an endorsement of promoting managers from within the organization, that "positions up to that of postmaster general should be filled by promotions from one position to another on a basis of fitness, energy and industry, with length of service taken into consideration."

Thirty-nine more branches would be chartered in the last four months of the association's inaugural year, a sign of growth that would follow.

Beyond internal organizational matters, the immediate concern of the national officers and the five-member Executive Committee was the pursuit of legislation that would improve the dismal benefits and working conditions of postal supervisors. In 1908 supervisors' salaries were only slightly more than those paid craft employees. Workdays began at a specified time but routinely lasted more than eight hours, with most postal employees spending well over fifty hours a week in their facility. The Sunday closing law would not be passed for another four years. Occupational health and safety oversight by the government (federal, state or local) was virtually nonexistent. A comprehensive health insurance program would not be passed for half a century. But it was the lack of a pension system, perhaps more than any other issue, that drove supervisors to organize. Pursuit of such a legislative change would not be easy, however, for several reasons.

The first was the attitude of senior postal management toward employee organizations. In a review of postal policy, Rep. Clyde Kelly wrote in 1931 notes that for many years the Department "forbade real organization and dismissed postal employees for attempting it." As Kelly noted, in 1895 Postmaster General Wilson issued an order prohibiting employees from visiting Washington for the purpose of influencing legislation. Any worker violating this order was dismissed.

In his 1905 report Postmaster General Cortelyou states that any organization "to receive its sanctions in any degree must have their object improvement in the service or be of a purely fraternal or beneficial character. With any other purpose in view they are detrimental to the service, to their members and to the public." This was a policy aggressively enforced.

A second obstacle was a series of presidential orders, known as "gag orders," which strictly limited the contact postal (and other federal) workers could have with their elected representatives in Congress. The first, issued in 1902 by President Theodore Roosevelt, prohibited postal employees "directly or indirectly, individually or through associations, to solicit an increase of pay or to influence or attempt to influence in their own interest, any legislation whatever, either before Congress or its committees or in any way save through the head of the Post Office Department." the original gag order was extended by orders issued in 1906 and 1909.

Although Congress removed the gag orders in 1912, the Department continued to make life difficult for postal organizations. Postmaster General Burleson, who served from 1913 to 1921, expressed his attitude in a 1917 report: "The conduct of these organizations is incompatible with the principles of civil service and good administration of the postal service; they are fast becoming a menace to public welfare and should no longer be tolerated or condoned."

Gradually such attitudes changed, and Congress began to change the pay and benefits of all federal workers. In his report for 1921 PMG Will Hayes said he met with the heads of postal organizations as often as possible. He addressed his attitude toward employees in terms that must have seemed quite progressive in his day:

"There is no business in the world so dependent upon the human factor as the postal service. To treat a postal employee as a mere commodity in the labor market is not only wicked from a humanitarian standpoint, but it is foolish and short-sighted even from the standpoint of business. A postal employee who is regarded as a human being whose welfare is important to his fellows, high and low, in the postal organization, is found to do his work with a courage, a zest and a thoroughness, which no money alone can buy."

Despite Hays' appreciation for the efforts of postal employees, meaningful recognition of NAPS and the other employee organizations was decades in the making, almost always as the result of congressional action. Supervisor's objectives have changed little over the years, however, the identity of the organization, especially as viewed by the Post Office Department (and later the US Postal Service) has evolved gradually. Organizationally sandwiched between postmasters and union members, supervisors have always been considered part of management, but often have fought side-by-side with postal unions-for several years as a member of the American Federation of Labor, or AFL.

Legal standing was first significantly achieved in 1960 with the issuance of Executive Order 10988, Employee-Management Cooperation in the Federal Service. It provided "a legal base for the rights of federal employees and employee organizations to participate in improving personnel policies and working conditions not specifically fixed by the Congress." In 1969 that order was succeeded by Executive Order 11491, which removed the distinction between formal and informal organization representation and required agencies to "establish inter-management communications consultation with its supervisors or associations of supervisors."

With the passage of the Postal Reorganization Act in 1970 the National Association of Postal Supervisors received statutory recognition, with a clearly defined role within the management structure. (Such status, gained through hours of congressional lobbying by postal supervisors and their spouses, remains unique in the federal government, and the envy of many federal supervisors and managers.) Soon after passage of the PRA, however, it became apparent that a clarification of that role was necessary. It was gained, in part through court action, in part through legislative action.

In recent years, the distinction among postal employee groups notwithstanding, legislative success has been achieved almost exclusively through the cooperative efforts of a coalition consisting of the entire postal work force, many of our federal counterparts, and the auxiliaries to each groupincluding the National Auxiliary to NAPS. While NAPS may consult with the Postal Service on issues of direct concern to postal supervisors, the future preservation of benefits that ultimately are controlled by the Congress and the White House likely will depend on the success of the entire postal/federal community, of which NAPS will be an active part

Membership

 

Most NAPS members work in metropolitan areas and belong to local branches.  Those working in communities with too few supervisors to support a local branch belong to their state branch. There are over 400 branches nationwide. Supervisors, managers and postmasters join NAPS by completing an SF 1187, available from any USPS personnel office, NAPS officer or NAPS member. The form authorizes the Postal Service to make payroll deductions for national and local dues, which vary depending on the dues charged by the local branch.

NAPS has three classifications of membership:

  • Active
  • Associate
  • Honorary

Those eligible for active membership are all supervisory and managerial personnel who are not subject to collective bargaining agreements under Chapter 12 of Title 39, US Code, and who are employed in processing and distribution centers and facilities, including but not limited to Headquarters, area and district offices; post offices; bulk mail centers; and, other installation personnel. 

NAPS does not the represent personnel employed as PCES installation heads and postal inspectors, or other like positions in USPS Headquarters or field facilities. 

Dues for active members vary by branch from approximately $120 to $240 per year and are withheld biweekly.

Former active members who were in good standing at the time of retirement may become associate members. Associate member dues are at least one-half the national per capita tax, or $36 per year, and may also vary by branch.

Members who are in good standing at the time of retirement or promotion are entitled to honorary membership. Honorary members may attend meetings, but are not required to pay dues and are not entitled to any of the other benefits of membership.

Spouses, immediate family members or designees of NAPS members support NAPS' goals, especially in the legislative area, by joining the National Auxiliary to NAPS, founded in 1933.

Structure

 

Nationally NAPS is governed by a twenty-four member Executive Board, composed of three officers working full-time at NAPS Headquarters in Washington, DC (and who are on a leave of absence from the Postal Service), and twenty-one officers who are full-time postal supervisors who conduct NAPS' business at nights and on weekends. The Washington office has three "resident" officers:

  • president,
  • executive vice president, and
  • secretary/treasurer.

Field officers include five regional vice presidents and sixteen area vice presidents.

The five regional vice presidents represent the following NAPS areas:

  • Northeast Region: New England Area, New York Area and Mideast Area (except New Jersey Branches 71 and 74);
  • Eastern Region: Capitol-Atlantic Area and Pioneer Area (including New Jersey Branches 71
    and 74);
  • Central Region: Michiana Area, Illini Area, North Central Area and MINK Area;
  • Southern Region: Southeast Area, Central Gulf Area, Cotton Belt Area and Texas Area; and,
  • Western Region: Northwest Area, Rocky Mountain Area and Pacific Area.

Area vice presidents represent the following states:

 

  • New England Area: the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont;
  • New York Area: the state or territories of New York, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands;
  • Mideast Area: the states of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania;
  • Capitol-Atlantic Area: District of Columbia and the states of Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia;
  • Pioneer Area: the states of Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, and Evansville, IN Branch 55;
  • Michiana Area: the states of Indiana, except Evansville, IN Branch 55, and Michigan;
  • Illini Area: the state of Illinois;
  • North Central Area: the states of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin;
  • MINK Area: the states of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas;
  • Southeast Area: the states of Florida and Georgia;
  • Central Gulf Area: the states of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi;
  • Cotton Belt Area: the states of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee;
  • Texas Area: the state of Texas;
  • Northwest Area: the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington;
  • Rocky Mountain Area: the states of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming; and,
  • Pacific Area: the states or territories of California, Hawaii, American Somoa and Guam.

The National Auxiliary's organizational structure is identical to NAPS', except they do not have resident officers.