By Mick Hinton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Time is running out for southwest Norman residents who have been ordered to move their mailboxes to curbside by March 15, or the Post Office is going to hold their mail for pickup at the post office.
Although Norman postmaster Jeffrey Vaughan is softening his stance, residents are still on edge to see what might happen by next Friday’s deadline.
Meanwhile, documents show that the postmaster’s edict appears to be in violation of the Postal Operations Manual, which governs relations between postal officials, mail carriers and the public.
The manual itself states that “Owners who do not agree (with curbside delivery) must be allowed to retain their current mode of delivery.” The governing document also stipulates that “Customer signatures must be obtained prior to any conversion.” Thus far, the post master has not sought signatures from residents in the neighborhood north of Imhoff Road, between Pickard and Fairfield streets.
Vaughn said earlier that nothing will happen to residents who do not move their boxes to curbside by March 15.
Meanwhile, The Transcript has learned that the postmaster’s actions have prompted the Norman postal union, Local 1491, to file a grievance questioning the post office’s actions. Local president Tim Moses declined to comment.
Postmaster Vaughan could not be reached Friday.
Officials with the Norman Local union 1491 are prohibited from talking to the media, according to the Postal Operations Manual. However, David Miller, president of the Oklahoma City’s postal union, confirmed that he has talked with Norman union members who verify that the grievance has been filed. Miller works full-time with the union.
Miller said the first step in the grievance would be that the head of the local postal union would have to meet with the postmaster to see if they could reach an agreement. If they do not agree on a remedy, the grievance would prompt the next stage which is arbitration.
David Smeal, a southwest Norman resident, said Friday that some of those living in the affected neighborhood have already erected mailboxes next to the curb.
On a walking tour of the neighborhood Friday, Smeal pointed out several new curbside mailboxes, including three that were put up probably on Thursday.
Thus far, Smeal said it appears that only owners of residences occupied by students are complying with the new rule.
Smeal refers to those residences as “mini-dorms” that dot their neighborhood.
That section of Norman which is west of the campus has experienced more students renting houses since the University of Oklahoma banned alcohol in fraternity houses on campus.
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