Thru The Window
Window Clerk Resources
The information we have presented on this page is something that every window clerk should take the time to review periodically. There is a host of good information on just about everything you would need to do your job correctly, safely, and in as stress-free an environment as possible. As always, let us know if we can add anything to the list.
Retail Rights and WrongsDos and Don'ts
Do Not Take Shortcuts
Record Your Non-Revenue Transactions
Retail Equipment Problems
Put Your Checkbook Away!
Reporting Shortages to the IRS
If A Robbery Occurs...
DOs AND DON'Ts
Regardless of whether you have individual financial accountability or have shared stock (segmentation) or work in a retail store:
- Scan and enter every sale item, even a one-cent stamp, a first-class stamp, or a retail envelope. Input every item into your POS ONE, IRT, etc., because you never know whether that friendly customer is a Postal Inspector. Although you may make your adjustment later, the Postal Inspector doesn't know that. They will immediately suspect that something suspicious is going on. Is your job worth it? INPUT EVERYTHING!
- Use your POS ONE cash drawer. If you don't, you may be suspected of manipulating funds.
- Change. DO NOT make any change from your personal funds. Always go to your supervisor, T-6, or another clerk. Make the even exchange of money visible and return to your window immediately to place the money back into the drawer.
- Too many "GL Adjustments", "Error Corrects", "No Sales", etc. This may give the appearance that funds are being manipulated. Avoid this when possible.
- Input all credit/debit transactions into your POS ONE and IRT at the time of sale.
- Do not retain more than $100 in your drawer. This is a violation of the F-1. Is you job worth not complying with Postal rules and regulations?
- Error on PVIs: Fill out Form 3533 and submit it on the same day. Don't try to use it on your next transaction.
- Receipts: Always give your customer their receipt. Do not input "postage affixed" to reuse a PVI or to place stamps on a package. Again, you may be suspected of manipulating funds.
- Don't have IOUs in your stock for any reason.
- Never hold checks for any reason.
- Never use your own drawer to buy stamps, cash a check or buy a money order for any reason!
- Be sensible, using a certain amount of caution with every transaction and task. Take the time you need to do the job correctly. Don't let management rush you and don't take any shortcuts. (See below) This is particularly important in light of the downsizing of window clerk jobs.
- Don't ever talk to a Postal Inspector without Union representation... NEVER NEVER NEVER!
- Always conduct yourself as though you are being observed. Chances are, you are being observed. Take resonable care and follow all postal procedures. The use of shortcuts may lead to your postal career being cut short.
DO NOT TAKE SHORTCUTS
Shortcuts result in losses of money and JOBS!
- Carry out each task on the window as you were taught in window training.
- Make certain you witness the verification of monies you turn in and obtain a signed receipt.
- Utilize the appropriate terminal key when retrieving accountable mail or otherwise assisting customers in non-revenue transactions.
- Never accept stock while on window - take time to count!
- Never accept or swap stock without a Form 17.
- When retrieving a certified or registered item, you should log off (if using retail equipment) to "non-revenue" prior to leaving the window and lock your drawer.
- The Union can best protect you from discipline and paying for shortages if you help protect yourself by following proper procedure.
RECORD YOUR NON-REVENUE TRANSACTIONS
Save your jobs:
Management cuts staffing, in part, by measuring POS-ONE DOWNTIME. Unfortunately, not utilizing your Non-Revenue Transaction codes as instructed (probably because you don't have, or make, the time to) robs the office of vital window coverage.
Please help stop this vicious downward cycle by
accurately recording Non-Revenue selections.
Of course it is equally essential that you timely return to the appropriate Transaction functions lest the entire period be recorded as downtime.Back to Top
RETAIL EQUIPMENT PROBLEMS
You need to:
- Document all equipment failures by notifying your supervisor in writing and keep a copy.
- Include the date, time and type of equipment, i.e., POS terminal, IRT, calculator, etc. Make sure to detail the specific malfunction.
- For POS problems, call the HELP DESK so a ticket can be generated to document that a problem exists and a fix can be initiated.
Shortage in Fixed Credits
Employees who are assigned fixed credits or vending credits shall be strictly accountable for the amount of the credit. If any shortage occurs, the employee shall be financially liable unless the employee exercises reasonable care in the performance of his duties. In this regard, the Employer agrees to:
- Continue to provide adequate security for all employees responsible for Postal Funds.
- Prohibit an employer from using the fixed credit or other financial accountability of any other employee without permission.
- Grant the opportunity to an employee to be present whenever that employee's fixed credit is being audited and if the employee is not available to have a witness of the employee's choice present.
- Absolve an employee of any liability for loss from cashing checks of the employer following established proclaims.
- Audit each employee's fixed credit no less frequently than once every four months.
Examination of Stamp Credits
- This must be conducted by supervisory personnel or the Postal Inspection Service.
- You have the right to be present whenever your credit is being audited or if you are not available you may have a witness of your choice present.
- Use form 3294 to document count.
- If count is out of tolerance, either over or under, request a second count.
- Adjust your 1412 only if you are out of tolerance.
- You have a right to a recount whether you are over or short.
Fixed Credits must be audited no less frequently than once every four months.
Segmented Inventory Accountability (SIA)
Clerk Cash retained must be audited at least every two weeks.
Amount of Stamp Stock
Up to $30,000.00........................... $50.00
$30,000.01 to $60,000.00.................$100.00
Cash Retained Amount
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Retail personnel at Post Offices whose official assignments at a retail counter are for a minimum of 4 hours daily for 5 days a week on a continuing basis, or for not less than 30 hours a week, are required to wear the prescribed uniform while performing their duties.
Employees who do not qualify for a uniform allowance under the criteria described above must wear the appropriate uniform for the position if it is provided to them outside of the uniform allowance program.
The uniform is required when a clerk is scheduled to work the retail window.
If you are forced by management to purchase clothing with personal funds to wear at the window-- please notify your steward and file a grievance to be reimbursed for your time and purchase! Make sure you save your receipt to document your purchase.
The official APWU position on uniforms is as follows:
"The Union did not agree to this. Any employee who is forced to buy shirts, ties, pants or skirts should file a grievance to be reimbursed for his/her time and expense!" [Assistant Clerk Director Tommy Thompson]
The language agreed to in "Operation Switchover Retail Uniform Do's and Don'ts," question 12, reads: "New retail employees who do not have uniforms are to wear their own white or light blue button-down shirts, navy blue tie (for men) or scarf (for women) and the alternative trousers (blue or gray) until items from the new lines are authorized for wear."
In other words, if employees own it, they should wear it. The language does not state that workers must buy the items. Furthermore, the language applies to new employees only.
The language of the ELM 932.11g in Postal Bulletin 22023 (5-4-00) is also clear: "Employees who do not qualify for a uniform allowance under the criteria described above must wear the appropriate uniform for the position if it is provided to them outside of the uniform allowance program."Back to Top
All window clerks receive 40 hours of training in a classroom environment before being scheduled for their qualifying examination. When the qualifying exam is successfully passed, the future associate is provided OJT by a certified Retail Coach.
The OJT should be completed in five consecutive days immediately following successful completion of the exam. In any case, the OJT must be completed within 14 calendar days. The 14-day time period does not include scheduled Annual Leave during the same time period.
If you feel are not being trained properly you should contact your steward immediately. Don't wait until after the fact to file a grievance.Back to Top
Are supervisors doing lobby sweeps in your office? If they are and your office has over 100 bargaining unit employees it is a violation of Article 1.6A of the contract. Stations and branches are considered a part of the main facility so if there are over 100 total installation employees, 1.6A applies.
Lobby Sweeps involving retrieving hold mail, certifieds, registered, parcel post packages, etc. is distribution. Supervisors are prohibited from performing the core clerk function of distribution in 1.6A offices.
In offices of less than 100 bargaining unit employees Article 1.6B applies. It contains language allowing, "when the duties are included in the supervisor's portion" description for performance of bargaining unit work. Contact your union representative to see if you have a grievance in your size office.Back to Top
PUT YOUR CHECKBOOK AWAY
ALL demands for money must be put in writing. That demand for money should be in the form of a Letter of Demand. No demand for money should be given orally. The Letter of Demand must contain the employee's appeal rights in the grievance process.
A grievance must be filed within 14 days of receiving the Letter of Demand. Contact your union representative immediately if you are issued a Letter of Demand. Also, if the demand is grieved, the grievant does not have to pay the demand until the issue has reached a final resolution.
Even if the Letter of Demand reaches resolution in the grievance/arbitration process you may elect to continue under the Debt Collection Act. You would not pay the demand until the Debt Collection Act decision has been reached. If you have any questions on demands for money, contact your Union representative.Back to Top
REPORTING WINDOW SHORTAGES TO THE IRS
Miscellaneous Deductions, Schedule A, Form 1040, Line 20:
When you get a Letter of Demand, did you know you can claim this off on your income taxes if you itemize your deductions? We're talking about Line 20 of Schedule A, Form 1040, since this repayment is considered a "loss." You also have three years in which to do this, if you want to file a 1040X, which is an Amended Return Form.
Employees who claim the standard deduction cannot deduct these expenses.
To establish entitlement to the deduction, you must have proof of payment; proof of the amount and nature of the deduction; and proof of the obligation to make repayment. This includes a copy of both sides of the cancelled check by which reimbursement was made, a copy of the USPS notice demanding reimbursement of the shortage (your Letter of Demand), and a copy of Article 28 of the National Agreement. The USPS notice and the Agreement will demonstrate that the claimed deductions meet the "ordinary and necessary" requirement which Section 212 of the Internal Revenue Code imposes upon deductions incurred in connection with the production or collection of income.
Employees who itemize deductions on their federal income tax can claim deductions for job-related expenses, provided the total exceeds two percent of adjusted gross income. Only the portion of employee expenses that exceeds two percent of adjusted gross income is deductible. You can add your window shortage payments to other employee expenses to arrive at your total job-related expenses. Employee expenses include such things as union dues, uniforms, special work shoes or tools, and other job-related expenses for which you are not reimbursed by your employer.
IRS Publication 529, "Miscellaneous Deductions" contains information regarding job-related deductions.
Pennsylvania's income tax instructions specifically state that you can claim a miscellaneous deduction for cash shortages that you are required to pay to your employer. However, keep in mind that while the IRS excludes from your deduction an amount equal to two percent of adjusted gross income, Pennsylvania state income tax codes do not, so the full amount of a window shortage repayment can be claimed on these returns.
Keep in mind that the Pennsylvania income tax codes exclude from allowable employee expenses some items that are deductible from your federal tax return. Make sure you read the filing instructions carefully or consult a tax expert.
NOTE: Window shortages for postal workers are not specifically mentioned under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) or regulations of the IRS, so IRS examiners may try to disallow the deduction. However, precedent for related types of deductions involving similar shortages (but not for postal workers) are found in two cases by the U.S. Tax Court (Marshall J. Hammons v. Comm., 12 TCM 1318  and Alvin Butchko v. Comm., 37 TCM 894 ).Back to Top
Keep in Mind...
The contract, in conjunction with postal manuals, requires the Postal Service to provide clerks with adequate security. Report any security problem in writing to management. You may use APWU's Report of Security Problem or Poor Financial Practice Form to report the problem. If you choose not to use APWU's form, put it in writing somehow. Retain a copy as proof.
Common security problems to look for include: a yearly lock and key check not being, done (this needs to be done to insure no ones' keys can open another's drawer or safe compartment); drawers not securing or locking on the counter line; retail equipment failures; duplicate key inventory envelope PS Form 3977 problems including the required 6-month check not being conducted; others having access to the envelope by it not being secured in a proper safe compartment, or tampering with the envelope; and password or code for retail equipment should only be known to the clerks themselves.
If you have questions on what constitutes a security or financial problem, contact your APWU representative.Back to Top
This is important:
The postal service has implemented the Mystery Shopper program throughout the country. This program is designed to improve customer service. The program is intended to have the clerks ask five (5) questions of the customer in order to provide the best service possible. It had been agreed with the postal service, that the Mystery Shopper program would not be utilized as a tool for discipline.
Since the postal service is not living up to their side of the agreement, window clerks are to ask these questions to avoid being disciplined. If window clerks are issued any form of discipline under the Mystery Shopper program, contact an APWU steward immediately.Back to Top
A low cost, informative program!
The APWU Clerk Division has developed a Window Programs CD containing handbook and manual references as well as policies, and grievance and arbitration decisions helpful to window clerks.
If you are interested in obtaining a copy (at a cost of $5.00 each), you may
APWU Order Department
1300 L Street N.W.,
Washington, DC 20005.
OR you can order it online at the APWU Store.
The direct link to the CD page allows you to order Item #0172
Any questions regarding your rights, grievances or contact issues should be directed to your local union or National Business Agent.Back to Top
DON'T BE A HERO.
If a robbery occurs:
- Don't take any risks.
- No amount of money is worth your life.
- Remain calm and try not to provoke the robber.
- Contact the police when safe to do so.