Contract Postal Units (CPUs)
Contract Postal Units (CPUs) provide limited postal services to the public at USPS prices but are not operated by postal employees. The AS-707F Handbook [PDF] defines a CPU as a “contractor-owned and operated” facility, and enumerates the “necessary conditions” that must be present before a contractor can be approved for a CPU.
Unfortunately, many CPUs are improper — either they are not contractor-owned and operated, or they fail to meet other “necessary conditions.” APWU locals should investigate every CPU in their area to ensure they are operating within the constraints of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and management handbooks. If they are not, locals should file grievances.
Why does the APWU care about CPUs? Because CPUs that violate the CBA deprive union members of work.
In accordance with the handbook, the APWU has long asserted that the USPS may only award CPU contracts to operators who own their facilities. (See Case # G90C-4G-C 94016795, a 1995 national-level dispute regarding a CPU in Enid, OK.)
Management acknowledged in a May 4, 1999, letter [PDF]that the Postal Service agreed with the APWU position, and indicated that USPS Area vice presidents had been notified by a memorandum dated April 22, 1999 [PDF] . However, violations continued.
A May 17, 2007, Step 4 settlement [PDF] also made clear that CPUs may not exist on property that is owned or leased by the USPS — they may only be located in a “contractor-owned and operated facility.” In addition, the agreement stipulated that “competitor’s-branded products and services, including those of USP, FedEx, and DHL, may not be sold at any newly-established CPU.”
On Oct. 14, 2008, the USPS filed a national-level dispute (USPS #Q06C-4Q-C 09001499) [PDF] asserting that a supplier can lease or rent a CPU site. On Oct. 13, 2009, the Postal Service re-issued Publication 156 [PDF] (Guide to Contract Postal Units for Postal Service Employees) in an effort to replace the AS-707F Handbook.
The APWU filed a national dispute (APWU #HQTG200921 [PDF]) on Dec. 8, 2009, contending that the proposed Publication 156, and the replacement of Handbook AS707F with Publication 156, violates previous national-level settlements and the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
In some areas, the USPS had contractors sign leases to hide the fact that the offices were not contractor owned. In addition, because some contractors “pass through” all costs associated with the lease to the USPS, the property is essentially a USPS-leased facility. Temple, TX is an example where the USSP modified the contractor’s lease numerous times, for example to make “repairs” [PDF] , to install “telephone services scanner line and credit card machines” [PDF], and for “remodeling and improvements” [PDF].
Many of these improper CPUs should be postal facilities, pursuant to Article 1.1 of our Collective Bargaining Agreement, because they are owned by the USPS, with contractors’ employees doing the work. Their existence clearly demonstrates the need for duty assignments that should be posted for bid in accordance with Article 37.3.A.1.
Management’s decision to re-issue Publication 156 as a replacement for the AS707F Handbook is a clear attempt to alter the language the APWU achieved in contract negotiations that limit CPUs. This improper, unilateral change states that, in addition to being “supplier-owned, [PDF] ” CPUs also may also be “supplier-leased.” That is clearly not what we bargained for. In addition, Publication 156 refers to an “Alternative Contracting Process” which is not explained in any detail. The APWU filed a national-level grievance protesting Publication 156.
If you have CPUs in your area, please take the following steps to ensure our CBA is not violated and that the public has access to the postal goods and services they deserve.
We should request that the site be closed; that the work be returned to the bargaining unit, and that the craft be made whole.
Make sure your remedy demonstrates the harm that is being done to members of the bargaining unit when CPUs are expanding while our employees are being excessed.
In your communication to the public for support to USPS owned or leased stations instead of CPUs, be sure to stress the fact that these CPU employees are not screened like postal employees, they generally have transient and low-paid workers. They are not well trained in HAZMAT and other safety issues due to a high turnover rate.
There are a number of improper CPUs out there that are taking work from our members. It is hoped this checklist will assist you in your fight to return that work to the bargaining unit.