Insiders doubt that any of the 193 postal workers fired for allegedly leading illegal wildcat strikes last summer ever will get back their $15,000 to $18,000 jobs with the U.S. Postal Service -- or in any other U.S. operation.
Top postal officials repeatedly have said "no" to amnesty demands from the fired workers and unions representing them. Although the White House reportedly has kept hands off the situation, many key federal officials have quietly appauded the "hard line" of the postal service.
It is against the law to strike the government. The penalty ranges from dismissal to a stiff fine and/or a year and a day in jail. But in the past, federal agencies have nearly always restored workers to their jobs even if they were charged with striking or slowdowns. This has happened before in the Federal Aviation Administration and Postal Service.
This time, the Postal Service plans to stick with its dismissals. Hundreds of additional workers were disciplined -- with letters of warning or suspensions -- for wildcat strike actions that sprung up in July and August.
Thousands of postal workers protested the contract their AFL-CIO unions signed with the U.S. Postal Service. Many local and national leaders of unions demanded a strike. But only a handful of rank-and-file workers and local union leaders answered the call. call.
Unions now have asked that the status of each fired worker be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Postal insiders doubt anyone will be reinstated. Postal officials believe they identified the "ringleaders" of the strikes, and say they will not restore them to work.
One striking worker in Minnesota was brought in by his coworkers from his lonely picket line. He said he had heard the union had called a strike, and was waiting for people to join him. When it was pointed out he was alone, the worker came back after getting a reprimand. The Minneapolis-St. Paul "walkout" was over.
Some employes walked off the job when they heard other big offices were on strike, but quickly came back inside when they learned it was not so.
Most of the fired workers came from the New York Bulk Mail Center (88) and a BMC in Richmond, Calif. (79). Eleven Los Angeles employes and 15 in northern New Jersey also were fired.
Although the strikers have been defended by unions and received cash benefits from them, many are unpopular with union leaders and rank-and-file employes. "They are often very bright, and young," a congressional source said, "who took the jobs because they were the best-paying they could get right out of college or high school. The work is dull, and a lot of them got sick and tired of sitting around an LSM (letter sorting machine) pushing buttons. They got active in union politics, and when the call for a strike came it was a tonic for them."
He said many of the strikers had used up their stock of goodwill with postal officials, union leaders and friends on Capitol Hill because of their persistent attacks on people trying to help them. "Some of these guys who came in to see my boss for help," an aide said, "were the same people throwing rocks at me, and him, this summer." He said there still are people trying to help the fired workers "but I'm not sure how hard anybody is trying."
Margery Waxman Smith is the new general counsel for the new Office of Personnel Management. It is the successor agency to the Civil Service Commission. Smith replaces H. Patrick Swygert who is the special counsel for the Office of Special Counsel. The OPM's top new lawyer has been executive director of the Federal Trade Commission. Before that Smith, who is 36, served with the Cost of Living Council.
Departures: Two long-time, out-standing CSC aides are heading for retirement. James Beck, director of the bureau of training, will leave this week. Also leaving shortly is James Spry, the executive assistant to the commission. Spry's retirement will shock lots of people. Although he has the age and service, he still looks young enough to be asked for his ID in some Virginia state stores dispensing beverages.
Battle of the Airwaves: The American Federation of Government Employes is buying radio time spots to help tell the union story, and hopefully counteract some of the misconceptions about what federal employes do and do not do. It will be heard locally beginning Jan. 14 on WWDC, WINX and WRC... Meantime, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employes has launched a TV campaign aimed at building up the public employe image. Politicians who specialize in running down the bureaucracy will continue to get free coverage.
Temporary and Permanent Typists: Army needs them (Grades 2, 3 and 4) at the Pentagon and Forrestal building. Rating or status required. Call 695-3383.
Computer Programmer: Office of Education has a GS 5 opening. Call 245-8405.