As many of you realize, in October the USPS authorized the release and wear of a new button down “woven” shirt for letter carriers and for clerks. Many of you have purchased one of these new shirts. The reaction from letter carriers on their new shirt is mixed; we are finding that some customers are loading up on the remaining stock of the old red striped shirt as they don’t like the look of the new plain light blue shirt. On the other hand the retail clerks that we have heard from don’t really care about their new shirt as most only wear the polo shirt for clerks anyhow.
So is anything else new coming down the pipeline? That is difficult to answer for a couple of reasons. First, the people who handle postal uniform items and postal uniform decisions for the USPS are part of the Labor Relations department. As you know they are in the midst of the negotiations with the various unions on new contracts (NALC, APWU, NPMHU), so they have bigger fish to fry than thinking about postal uniforms at the moment. Second, those decision makers used to meet with representatives from the manufacturers and postal uniform dealers like ourselves four times a year. Those meetings have been indefinitely suspended as the USPS questions the legality of these meetings under the Sarbanes-Oxley act.
When we did meet a couple of years ago, the last new items being discussed at that time were a new solid navy short sleeve and long sleeve knit polo shirt for both letter carrier/mvo’s and for clerks. I believe that wear tests have actually been done, but they were done in an extremely hot weather location during the summer and the feedback on the shirts was “too hot” because of the dark color. The various shirt manufactures were going to go back to the drawing board and find a material blend that could help mitigate this problem, and we might actually see this shirt for letter carriers in late 2011.
Another item being discussed was a pair of pants for letter carrier/mvo’s that were not all polyester. The only two material options for letter carrier pants now are 100% lightweight polyester, or 100% elastique polyester which because of the tightness of the weave provides more warmth (and are often called the “winter weight” pants). Adding cotton to the mix, perhaps in a 65% poly/35% cotton blend, has been looked at but presents a couple of issues, mainly cost of the fabric, durability, and color fastness. The USPS even discussed perhaps adding a bit of stretch lycra to the woman’s pants. At this time it does not look like any of these options will be approved. In the past ten years we have seen two different other blends disappear as options; a “midweight” poly/orlon blend and a wool/poly blend. The “midweight” pants were discontinued as no U.S. mills make this fabric anymore, and the wool pants are no longer being made due to little demand (they were very expensive).
As we mentioned in a previous article, the best way to get a new item is to suggest it to your union. For the NALC, their national officer that handles uniform issues is Myra Warren. Her predecessors were Brian Hellman and before him Fred Rolando, so she has huge (postal approved) shoes to fill! In the APWU, Patricia Williams has taken over this role dealing with retail clerk uniforms from Rob Strunk, Michael Foster handles the MVO uniform issues, and Idowu Balogun is in charge of overseeing Maintenance division uniforms. So although these national officers are very busy negotiating contracts between their organizations and the USPS, you might want to drop them a letter (not an email!) with your suggestion for the next approved postal uniform item!
To view the newest items please visit our website at www.postaluniformdiscounters.com.