Arbitrator Rules Tour 1 Casuals May Work After 5 a.m.

December 3, 2008

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In a national-level award, Arbitrator Shyam Das has ruled that Tour 1 casuals may continue to work past 5 a.m., concluding that the intent of the 2006-2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement is to prevent management from assigning casuals starting times between the hours of 5 a.m. and noon.

The dispute arose following negotiations for the 2006-2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement, which included a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the use of supplemental work-force employees and the conversion of Clerk Craft Part-Time Flexibles. Paragraph 8 of the MOU states that “In P&DCs that have 200 or more man years of employment in the regular work force, casuals will not have start times between the hours of 0500 and 1200 (noon) unless there are no career clerk craft employees currently with such starting times.” The MOU also required the parties “to meet and develop the appropriate contract language and implementation guidelines and instructions.”

Regarding Paragraph 8, the parties negotiated the following language in Article 7.1.B.4 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement:

Casual employees will not normally work between 0500 and 1200 in mail processing operations. This provision is not to be circumvented locally by scheduling casuals immediately before or after the restricted time frames and is not applicable to Motor Vehicle Craft casuals. 

The APWU interpreted the new contract language as prohibiting the Postal Service from routinely assigning Tour 1 casual employees work after 5 a.m. in mail processing operations. The union did not dispute that there occasionally may be mitigating circumstances that would justify working a casual during the restricted time frames, but asserted that the contract prevents management from regularly assigning Tour 1 casuals to work between the hours of 5 a.m. and noon.

The Postal Service initiated a dispute over whether there was a violation of the agreement when mail processing casuals work during the restricted hours. The Postal Service contended that the new provisions were not intended to “eliminate the longstanding practice of Tour 1 casual employees working past 5:00 a.m. to complete their assigned work.”

Arbitrator Das ruled that “Article 7, Section 1.B.4 of the 2006-2010 National Agreement does not prohibit Tour 1 casual employees from normally continuing to work after 0500, provided they have not been scheduled in circumvention of the provision agreed to in paragraph 8 of the Memorandum of Understanding Re: Supplemental Work Force Conversion of Clerk Craft PTFs that is referenced at the end of 7.1.B and included in the CBA.” (USPS #Q06-4Q-C 07200239; 11/24/2008)

Greg Bell, APWU director of Industrial Relations, expressed disappointment in the decision, but noted, “It is clear from Arbitrator Das’ ruling that the intent of the MOU and the provisions of Article 7.1.B.4 is to protect Tour 2, day-work positions and employees.”

In summarizing the USPS position, Das wrote, “The Postal Service argues that the parties agreed to limit casual start times when they signed off on the MOU in December 2006 and they never altered that deal. The parties intended the restriction at issue to apply to start times in order to give the Postal Service greater flexibility to use casual employees. At the same time, the parties intended to protect existing day shift career employee positions from this new flexibility.” [Emphasis added.]

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