‘Zero Base’ Initiative Dispute Settled

January 1, 2016

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(This article first appeared in the January-February 2016 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

The APWU and the Postal Service settled a dispute in September concerning management’s restructuring of Tractor-Trailer Operator and Motor Vehicle Operator complements through the application of the audit review process known as “Zero Base.”

The union filed the dispute in August 2014, after learning from our members in the field that once the Postal Service had concluded a Zero Base audit in a facility, local management was forcing annual bids, requiring all Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) duty assignments in the installation to be posted based on the results of the Zero Base audit.

The union took the position that local managers were in violation of Article 39.2 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which provides clear and unambiguous language indicating when Motor Vehicle assignments shall be posted.

Article 39.2.A.6 clearly states that the APWU is the sole party that may request that all full-time Motor Vehicle Operation assignments be posted. Article 39.2.A.7 governs the posting of Vehicle Maintenance positions when requested by the union.

In settling this dispute, the union was intent on asserting our position that before the Postal Service could post full-time duty assignments in PVS, it must follow the established process and the provisions of Article 39.2.

Furthermore, the union believed it was not enough to simply assert its positions with respect to posting duty assignments; it was necessary to point out that the union – and not management – is the sole party that may request an annual bid.

The APWU stands firm that it does not agree with Zero Base or any similar audits. Therefore, this agreement gives locals the opportunity to file disputes protesting actions local management may take to force bids or improper postings as a result of a Zero Base or any other audit.

Highlights of the Agreement:

  • Any newly established duty assignment that may be created through the application of an audit review process or any subsequent survey or audit may be posted pursuant to Article 39.2.
  • The union is the sole party that may require that all full-time regular Motor Vehicle Operation assignments are posted.
  • The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) does not give any more standing or credence to the “Zero Base” or any similar review over any other posting under Article 39.2.

Additionally, Article 39.2 allows for the determination of what constitutes a sufficient change of duties or principal assignment area to cause the duty assignment to be reposted as a subject of negotiations at the local level. Therefore, the local memorandum of understanding should be considered as well, if a dispute or grievance is to be filed.

GPS Tracking Coming Soon

The Postal Service intends to pilot the use of Mobile Delivery Devices (MDDs) in PVS. MDDs are sophisticated scanners with Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and navigational software capable of tracking drivers in real time.

In order to challenge this initiative at the headquarters level, we have initiated a Step 4 Dispute, HQTV20150846. Highlights of the dispute include:

  • Article 1.6 prohibits supervisors from performing bargaining unit work, except under five specific circumstances.
  • The parties agreed in the MVS Jobs Memorandum of Understanding that if particular duties and responsibilities may be evolved from either an APWU craft position or an EAS position, the employer will apply a presumption that the duties will be returned to the APWU craft.
  • The information intended to be captured by the MDDs has historically been collected and recorded by craft employees.

The Postal Service notified the APWU on May 26, 2015, of its intent to pilot the MDDs beginning in mid-summer of 2015 at the Indianapolis Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC). Subsequently, management announced the expansion of the MDD Pilot to three additional sites:

1. Phoenix P&DC
2. Louisville P&DC
3. West Palm Beach P&DC

The Postal Service wrote, “These devices will be used by PVS drivers to scan barcodes at specific service points. This feature, along with the Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation software that MDDs contain, will be used to enhance PVS route efficiencies, facilitate optimized schedules and, by extension, reduce vehicle mileage.”

The key is that the Postal Service’s real intent is to reduce workhours and thereby cut jobs. Management will attempt to accomplish this task not just by reducing mileage, but by shifting work primarily done by bargaining unit employees to EAS positions, such as supervisors.

We must not underestimate the length the Postal Service will go to eliminate our jobs. Therefore, it is very important to make certain we take advantage of the MDDs and use them to our benefit. It is vitally important to:

1. Accurately track the work we do.
2. Annotate any and all extra work outside of Form 4533.
3. Ensure all scanners work correctly.

All-Craft Conference 2015

At this year’s opening session of the MVS Craft Conference, former Assistant Director Teddy Days began with words of encouragement. He left the assembly with a simple but poignant message: Support your national officers.

That’s not to say national offices don’t have your support, it’s meant to convey that “support” requires participation and involvement – standing on the sidelines is no longer an option. On multiple occasions, our national disputes have originated from information the union received from the field and our evidence has often been based on local facts gathered from directors and stewards. Participation and cooperation from all levels of the APWU is crucial.

It was very encouraging to see growth not only in the number of participants, but in the level of thought and communication at the All–Craft Conference. Our hope is that each MVS attendee took the tools, strategies and skills learned to safeguard our craft back home. The discussions we had were informative, interactive and enlightening.

TOGETHER we can advance our own agenda and enforce the gains we have achieved through collective bargaining.

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