APWU and USPS Enter into Step 4 Settlement Agreements

Michael O. Foster

July 1, 2020

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(This article first appeared in the July/August 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

On May 15, the APWU entered into two separate Step 4 Settlement Agreements with the Postal Service, regarding the Intrastate DOT physical requirement and Clerk Vehicle Dispatcher position.

The first dispute evolved when the Postal Service implemented a new policy on April 1, 2016 regarding Department of Transportation (DOT) medical examinations based on new DOT standards.

USPS policy required PVS drivers to be tested at the higher interstate standard if mail crossed state lines or boundaries, instead of the lesser intrastate standard. The FMCSR normally require drivers who engage in interstate commerce to possess an interstate CDL. After self-certification to their state, PVS drivers are exempt from the DOT interstate requirement while in the performance of their duties.

We believe our CDL required members benefit from the intrastate standard because most state DOT medical examinations are less restrictive than the previously required interstate standard. The parties agreed that USPS drivers holding a CDL are required to self-certify to their state that they operate or expect to operate in “excepted interstate commerce” in accordance with 49 CFR part 383.71(b)(1)(ii), exempting PVS drivers from the interstate requirement.

USPS drivers excepted from the DOT interstate requirement, after self-certification, will still be allowed to cross state lines while performing their driving duties with the USPS.

Clerk Vehicle Dispatcher is Bargaining Unit Work

This case is an interpretive dispute from a regional arbitration being heard in Portland, OR. The local filed several grievances regarding violations of Article 1.6.A when local management failed to fill the vacant Clerk Vehicle Dispatcher position, and had transportation supervisors performing bargaining unit work.

The parties at the Headquarters level agreed that it is permissible for the Supervisor, Transportation Operations to perform dispatch duties intermittently for providing relief or brief coverage of the Clerk Vehicle Dispatcher.

However, a supervisor cannot perform dispatching duties for more than one hour per day, including lunch and breaks. All other Clerk Vehicle Dispatcher duties performed by supervisors must meet the Article 1.6.A criteria. The Clerk Vehicle Dispatcher position is a viable senior qualified position for all MVS employees. It is appropriate to post these duty assignments for bid when they become vacant, and there are sufficient work hours. If there are insufficient work hours to justify a full-time duty assignment, these duties must still be performed by MVS bargaining unit employees.

USPS and the FMCSA’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Program

As of January 6, the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse has been fully operational. Initially all employees holding a CDL will be entered into the Clearinghouse database by their State Driver Licensing Agency. The Clearinghouse Program enables employers to identify drivers who commit a drug and alcohol program violation.

The D&A Clearinghouse Program allows the employer to query the Clearinghouse. Nevertheless, per 49 C.F.R. §382.703(a), the employer cannot query the D&A Clearinghouse to determine whether a record exists for a driver without first obtaining that driver’s written or electronic consent.

On April 21, the USPS notified the APWU of its plan to implement and comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse requirements set forth in 49 U.S.C. § 31306a and 49 C.F.R. §§ 382.701. Accompanying the notice was a draft letter that would be mailed to all USPS employees holding a CDL as a requirement of their position. The Postal Service’s notice indicated that employees would be required to consent to an annual Clearinghouse query and would prohibit drivers from driving if they failed to give consent, which raised a red flag. The Postal Service’s notice involved workplace changes that may fall under Article 19 of the National Agreement.

Consequently, on May 11, the Union submitted a request for information to determine whether the USPS was in violation of the National Agreement in how they were implementing the program.

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