In the event of a mail strike this summer the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is prepared to:
Freeze pickup and delivery of most nonessential mail.
Provide special guarded air, train and truck courier mail service from city-to-city.
Take over space in federal agencies to store undeliverable mail.
Take legal action against workers who strike, picket, call in sick or resign during the strike.
Set up special distribution centers to hand out or provide minimum delivery of the 71 million federal checks for VA, Social Security or pay and pension that go into the mailstream each month.
Those proposals to maintain service are outlined in a secret, 49-page strike contingency plan obtained by this column.
The contingency plan has been updated since the USPS began contract talks with employe unions. The contract with the service's 600,000 rank-and-file employes expires July 20, and militant union leaders around the country have begun to prepare members for the possibility of a strike.
(A wildcat strike strike by about 200,000 postal workers in 1970 caused major mail tieups on the East Coast. It was settled after President Nixon symbolically sent federal troops into post offices, and promised postal workers a 14 percent pay raise. Although strikes against the government are punishable by dismissal, a fine and a year and a day in jail, no employes were fired or jailed.)
The detailed strike contingency plan, which USPS officials refuse to comment on, envisions using the military to help process and deliver mail and keep order around struck post offices. It also outlines proposals for using assistant U.S. marshals and postal inspectors to serve papers on striking workers and even tells how press clippings dealing with the strike are to be handled. The entire strike effort would be coordinated form Washington in a special complex at L'Enfant Plaza where special identification badges would be issued to selected employes and officials.
Federal agencies in Washington would be advised how to designate personnel to pick up and deliver their interagency mail. USPS officials in the regions would establish liaison with major mailers, and also try to persuade nonfederal labor unions to cross picket lines "with mail that was in transit at the time the embargo" was announced.
Officials assigned to monitor the strike in their areas would also report on the number and crafts of employes honoring picket lines and supply headquarters with names and home addresses of local union leaders. U.S. marshals and postal inspectors would coordinate legal papers and court documents dealing with the strike. (KEY OFF) icketing (KEYWORD) of post offices would be watched by inspectors and management personnel, the contingency plan passed out and "the name and home address of as many picketers as can be identified."
THE HQCC (Headquarters Control Center) in Washington would coordinate with HMLO (Headquarters Military Liaison Offices) which would be at the Pentagon and local military bases to provide military personnel (including college ROTC units) in processing mail.
Special identifications badges for workers and supervisors who remain on the job will be needed, the contingency plan says, to get into offices and mail facilities. Local officials could hire replacements or temporary personnel to do the work of USPS employes who do not show up during a strike.
Guards would be placed around post offices and at mail pickup points and for convoys of mail vehicles.
Treasury checks for pay, pension and for Social Security and welfare payments would be issued two days earlier than normal to minimize delivery delays. Most customers would probably have to come to local post offices to pick up nonembargoed (first class) mail.
"Employee safety shall supersede any other consideration," the contingency play says. Workers will not be required to enter any building or perform duties in which they might be harmed. "Arrangements may be necessary to assure their orderly and safe entrance and departure including the crossing of union picket lines incident to providing mail service. Transportation at Postal Service expense is authorized as may be necessary to supply certain localities with needed manpower," the report says.