Postal Service:

Improved Labor/Management Relations at the Oklahoma City Post Office

GGD-90-2: Published: Oct 27, 1989. Publicly Released: Nov 22, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated working conditions at the United States Postal Service (USPS) facility in Oklahoma City, focusing on: (1) general labor relations problems that occurred at the facility between 1986 and 1988; (2) actions USPS took to improve labor relations; and (3) the impact of improvements efforts on the labor relations climate.

GAO found that: (1) the facility had poor labor relations for at least 16 years, which worsened in 1986 when new management implemented stricter policies and practices; (2) a violent incident involving an employee and another incident involving possible exposure to a toxic chemical caused further deterioration; (3) USPS management cut off communications with union officials after the news media quoted union allegations; (4) USPS implemented a labor relations improvement program in 1987 as a joint effort and agreed to change dispute resolution procedures to ease tension; (5) USPS appointed a new division manager who instructed managers to refrain from hostile acts against union representatives, supported an employee involvement program, and sought to ensure that employees selected for promotion had good human relations skills; (6) the number of grievances filed in 1988 declined about 30 percent over the previous fiscal year, grievances filed by January 1989 had declined about 84 percent from the same period in 1988, and disciplinary actions had declined about 57 percent; (7) although postal and union officials credited the program and modified procedures with improving labor relations, they attributed most of the improvement relations to the new division manager; and (8) although some middle management did not share the new manager's management style, they were concerned that the previous labor problems could return without his continued attention and leadership.

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