Abuse by USPS Management

 

      Most letter carriers are well aware of the wrong-minded USPS approach to

safety, an approach that emphasizes retaliation, coercion, and intimidation instead

of substantive steps to create and maintain a safer work environment for letter were

to develop an enlightened and proactive safety program, some letter carrier require

a significant change in USPS culture and thus it is realistically not likely to happen

anytime soon.

      When an injury does occur and the injured letter carrier wisely reports the injury,

management’s response typically ranges from a display of ignorance of proper

procedures to openly antagonistic attempts at obstructing the carrier’s rights under

the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act.  Common problems typically involve

initial and follow-up medical care, subsequent work restrictions, and entitlement to

Continuation of Pay (COP) when an employee is disabled for work due to an on the

job traumatic injury.  In fact, during the 30 years that I have assisted injured

members with injury claims, I cannot recall a single instance where USPS

management did everything right.

      Injury compensation procedures are often complex and challenging for injured

letter carriers, for their physicians, and for those charged with processing the

required paperwork.  Management adds to the problems by retaliating with phony

discipline in a transparent (and illegal) attempt to intimidate the injured carrier and

others into not reporting future job-related injuries. However, the worst mistake any

injured letter carrier can make is choosing not to report a job-related injury.

 

 

•     Any on the job injury should be reported as soon as possible.  This is a

requirement and it becomes problematic with what at first seem to be minor injuries

or twinges of pain when working.  However, it is best to come down on the side of

caution.  If the pain subsides without the need for medical treatment or other

response, all the better.  All job-related traumatic injuries are to be reported on

OWCP form CA-1, and not on a blank piece of paper.  A traumatic on-the-job injury

is an injury that happens suddenly (i.e., a dog bite, an insect sting, or a fall), or a

medical condition that develops entirely within one work shift or tour of duty (i.e.,

frostbite).  More on traumatic injuries follows.

 

•     When completing a CA-1, always check box A on the form (Continuation of your

regular Pay for up to 45 calendar days).  Under no circumstances should you ever

use your own leave for disability or medical care related to a job-related traumatic

injury.  When the completed CA-1 is given to management, the supervisor is

required to sign and date the attached receipt and give it to you.  Always insist that

this is done.

 

•     Every letter carrier should have a physician or medical care provider in mind that

we know will competently evaluate and treat a job-related injury, no matter when

the injury occurs.  Typically, this means a medical care provider other than your

personal physician, who usually is not immediately available to evaluate and treat

your injury.   Always remember that YOU make the initial choice of physician, not

management.

 

•     Management has the right to send you to their clinic, but you must first be

allowed to see your chosen physician or medical care provider if they are

immediately available and able to see you.  In general, it is not in your best interests

to choose managements clinic or physician for your initial and follow-up medical

evaluation and treatment.  Remember who the management doctor is working for.

 

•     Management has the right to also send you to their clinic after you have been

evaluated and treated by your chosen physician.  However, this must be done on

the clock and entirely at their expense.  Additionally, under NO circumstances can

work restrictions as determined by your physician be overruled by the findings of

the USPS doctor.  Management typically makes limited duty job offers to injured

letter carriers based on the findings of their doctor, and not yours.  If you have

wisely chosen your physician to be the doctor of record for your injury, you should

always follow the medical restrictions on your regular work duties as established by

your doctor, and not managements.  Never perform work that exceeds the

restrictions established by your physician.

 

•     A medical condition that develops over a period of time and is or might be due to

work factors (i.e., carpal tunnel syndrome) is considered to be an occupational

illness or disease and requires the completion of form CA-2.  Of note, occupational

illness/disease claims are typically much more complex than traumatic injury claims

and must be accompanied by detailed medical and factual information.

 

•     Always beware of management attempting to get you to complete form CA-2a

(notice of recurrence).  There are a very limited number of circumstances that

qualify as meeting the definition of a recurrence of an injury.  However,

management often tries to get injured carriers to complete a CA-2a even when it is

not appropriate to do so, thereby derailing an otherwise legitimate injury claim.

Never, never complete a form CA-2a without first receiving competent advice from

your Union.  Management has no authority compel you to complete this or any

other OWCP form and you should immediately report attempts by management to

do so to your Steward.  Once again, it is always in your best interests to file a timely

claim for any job-related injury or medical condition.  Your Union is available to give

you competent advice on the correct forms and procedures.

 

•     Sometimes management will instruct you to complete a separate statement

about the injury in addition to form CA-1.  This is improper and should immediately

be challenged through the grievance procedure, since USPS management is never

the adjudicating authority for your injury claim and is exceeding their scope of

authority by requiring such statements.  All the information that is necessary for

management to know is already contained on a completed CA-1 and any

accompanying medical and/or accident reports.  Important:  Do not disobey an

instruction to complete a separate statement.  Instead, follow instructions and

immediately request to see your Steward.   Grievance remedy should include a

requirement that the statement is disregarded and destroyed.

 

•     Management will also attempt to have you sign form 2488, authorization for

release of medical information.  You cannot be compelled to sign this form under

the threat of discipline and it is the strong advice of the NALC National Union as

well as Branch 2184 that you should NEVER do so.  By signing this form you are

giving management the unlimited right to scavenge through any aspect of your

medical history, information that management has no right or need to know.  Simply

refuse to sign the form, and immediately request your Steward or notify the Branch

2184 office if management persists in trying to obtain your signature on this form.

 

•     USPS management has no say whatsoever in the approval of your injury claim.

The adjudication of all Federal and Postal employee injury claims is solely the

responsibility of the United States Department of Labors Office of Workers

Compensation Programs (OWCP).  Letter carriers are often fooled into believing

that the USPS Detroit District Injury Compensation Unit (sometimes referred to as

Detroit Injury Comp) is the authority for such decisions. However, managements so-

called injury comp unit is merely a group of management employees whose sole

interest is in managing your injury claim to managements own benefit  and not

yours.

 

•     To protect your own interests, always request and obtain copies of all forms and

documents related to your claim, including copies of any correspondence between

USPS management and OWCP.   You absolutely entitled to a copy of any

document related to your injury claim. Management has a long and sordid history of

challenging (controverting) USPS employee injury claims, typically on flimsy and

even preposterous grounds.  Management will do anything to try to discredit you,

including outright lying about you or the circumstances of your injury.

 

•     Always advise your Steward or a Branch officer of the details and circumstances

of your injury, especially as they pertain to managements responses, actions, or

inactions.  Do this as soon as possible.

 

 

For additional information call the hall at (313)-295-1640 and request a meeting

with our Injury Compensation Specialist Joe Golonka.

 

 

      Workers' Compensation Forms: Click Here

 

 

Wayne County, MI

Western

AFL - CIO

Branch 2184

Workers' Compensation