APWU Wins Major Maintenance Arbitration Case

November 20, 2006

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The APWU won a major victory last week when Arbitrator Shyam Das sustained a grievance protesting USPS custodial staffing policies. “This landmark award will help the APWU protect the custodial workforce,” said Maintenance Division Director Steve Raymer.

The award, dated Nov. 16, requires postal management to rescind the Maintenance Staffing Handbook (MS-47) issued in 2001, which outlined new staffing procedures, and reinstate the 1983 version. It also requires the Postal Service to “reinstitute or prepare staffing packages as soon as practicable.” Arbitrator Das remanded discussion of a remedy for the intervening period to the parties, but retained jurisdiction if the parties are unable to agree on that portion of the remedy.

The union’s grievance protested the revised MS-47, which eliminated the use of staffing standards based on cleaning frequencies and implemented a staffing policy based upon budget considerations. Performance standards were not changed, but previously-used staffing documents were replaced with budget worksheets.

The union asserted that the revised handbook negated a previous agreement which established the 1983 handbook, as well as a national-level ruling by Arbitrator Howard Gamser. The APWU filed a national-level grievance in October 2001, and advised locals to file grievances challenging changes to custodial staffing that were based on the 2001 policy. Many of the local grievances have been held in abeyance, pending the outcome of the national-level ruling.

“This decision is critical to the job security of custodial employees,” said APWU President William Burrus. “We are extremely gratified by the award.”

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