Changes are Coming in Mail Processing Facilities

Lamont Brooks

August 27, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the September-October issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

In recent weeks and months, the Postal Service has begun implementing changes to its mail processing operations, and these changes are apt to continue for some time. The USPS 10-Year Plan is the reason for many of these modifications. APWU Regional Coordinators recently began receiving Article 12 impact statements from management throughout the country. Most of these impact statements are due to the movement of different mail processing machines from one installation to another. The plants that are losing machines are adversely affected and face possible excessing of employees, both in the clerk and maintenance crafts.

Offices within a 50-mile radius of the installations that anticipate excessing are also adversely affected, as management will begin to withhold sufficient full-time residual vacancies for each excessing event. While the Postal Service is withholding residual vacancies, Part Time Flexible (PTF) and Postal Support Employee (PSE) conversions to full-time are placed on hold, in many cases, until sufficient residuals can be withheld to place the excessed employees.

Additionally, the Postal Service has outsourced certain Surface Transfer Centers’ (STCs) operations to a third party and is hiring non-postal employees at those locations. The initial notification to the APWU concerning the staffing of new STCs stated that no significant impact to the bargaining unit was anticipated. Nevertheless, the numerous impact statements added together with the outsourcing of postal jobs at STCs suggests the opposite could happen.

In anticipation of this possibility, the Clerk Craft officers met via Zoom with the Regional Coordinators several months ago to begin developing plans to combat management’s actions. Each of the five Regional Coordinators are responsible for Article 12 issues in their respective areas and the Clerk Craft officers has offered any assistance we can provide them. Fortunately, we have contractual provisions that support our goal of preventing excessing from occurring whenever possible.

For instance, Article 12 requires management to keep dislocation and inconvenience to employees in the regular workforce to a minimum. In addition, the Postal Service is obligated to meet with the union at the Regional Level in advance (as much as six months whenever possible) of when the reassignments are anticipated to occur. Article 12.4.D states, “In order to minimize the impact on employees in the regular workforce, the Employer agrees to separate, to the extent possible, PSEs working in the affected craft and installation prior to excessing any regular employee in that craft out of the installation.”

The contract also requires that transfer requests be given priority in order to minimize excessing and management must also identify duty assignments within the appropriate radius held by PSEs and make those assignments available for the reassignment of excessed career employees.

To stop – or at least limit – excessing, locals can assist in identifying additional full-time duty assignments by using the language in Article 37.3.A.1, which states, “Every effort will be made to create desirable duty assignments from all available work hours.”

By utilizing the union’s MDAT program, duty assignments can be created from the work hours of PSEs, PTFs, NTFTs, full-time regular overtime and cross craft violations. Now that the Postal Service has issued impact statements throughout the country, all work hours must come into play in our efforts to minimize involuntary reassignments of career employees from the affected installations. For assistance with Article 37.3.A.1 grievances, contact your Clerk Craft National Business Agents.

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