HCR Disputes, Renewals and Subcontracting

September 1, 2015

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(This article first appeared in the September-October 2015 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

On June 25, 2015, the APWU won another round in our fight against subcontracting when the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) denied a motion by the National Star Route Mail Association (the group that represents HCR contractors) to re-open the case in which we won the right to receive un-redacted copies of PS Form 7463A, Negotiated Cost Statement – Highway Transportation Contracts. The form shows the final agreement on contract costs between the USPS and contractors.

It’s very unusual for a third party to attempt to intervene in a case between the APWU and USPS, and we’re pleased the board ruled against the subcontractors who are after our work.

The ruling means we can renew our demand that management comply with the NLRB award and – finally! – get the information we are seeking.

The union is committed to transparency on subcontracting in MVS.

HCR Disputes Filed

Locals can play a critical role in stopping the systemic violations. For example, several locals contacted us about the status of various contracts after they noticed renewals and changes. We, in turn, contacted the Postal Service and requested copies of the current contract, previous notifications, and any contract renewals.

After the USPS failed to produce any evidence of notification, the union filed dispute HQTV20150008, protesting the USPS’ failure to properly notify the union in accordance with Article 32 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Contracts provided by locals will be used as evidence of the changes and renewals without notification.

Policing HCR renewals and the subcontracting of Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) and Vehicle Maintenance Services (VMF) work is the job of every MVS member. Without the knowledge and diligence of locals, we wouldn’t have been aware of the violations.

The aforementioned HCR dispute is one of several recently filed:

HQTV2015043 – The APWU received copies of several HCR solicitations from the USPS on April 20, 2015. On the various schedules, the USPS designated the work “as needed;” furthermore, several said, “the frequency and number of miles will vary without a discernible pattern on which to project an estimated frequency or estimated annual number of trips.” This vague language violates Article 32.2.E and makes it impossible for the union to compete for the work.

HQTV20150089- Management made substantive changes to HCR contracts in violation of  Article 5, Article 15 and Article 32, and provided  untimely notification to the union – frequently notifying the union of contract modifications until after the contracts were let.

HQTV20150366 - USPS Surface Operations are providing postal equipment, especially trailers, to HCR carriers in the normal performance of their contracted duties, contrary to the POM 7 Handbook. This practice is improperly subsidizing HCRs.

HCR Renewals

On April 19, 2011, the union filed case number HQTV20110200, protesting the Postal Service’s failure to notify the union of 212 HCR renewals and violating Arbitrator Shyam Das’ award in a St. Petersburg HCR case, Q94V-4Q-C 96044758.

The USPS argued that Das’ previous award was procedurally deficient and that “although HCRs have been let before notification to the APWU,” and there was a lack of “significant impact” on the bargaining unit. Management further argued that the case shouldn’t be heard because the issue had been given a final judgment in the St. Petersburg case.

On Sept. 4, 2014, the USPS and APWU met with Arbitrator Das once again. The USPS argued that “in St. Petersburg the union explicitly sought a remedy for all violations in a ‘case such as this’ not limiting itself to the specific facts in St. Petersburg.”

The union argued that the USPS has engaged in systemic violations of Article 32.2 and this case is further evidence of that.

On March 16, 2015, Das issued an interim award, ruling that he would hear the case. He wrote, “In St. Petersburg the Union was seeking a uniform remedy for every Article 32.2 notice violation regardless of other circumstances. I ruled against that. Here, the Union asserts the need and right to obtain an effective remedy at National arbitration for what it alleges is a systemic and pervasive failure by the Postal Service at the National level to provide the required Article 32.2 notice in literally hundreds of cases.

“Whatever the merits of the Union's contentions or its proposed remedy, this grievance raises different issues than the St. Petersburg case. Moreover, the Union’s complaint really cannot be addressed on a case-by-case basis particularly at the regional arbitration level…

“Accordingly, I conclude that National arbitration of this grievance is not barred … and that, as set forth above, this grievance may present an interpretive issue properly to be decided in National arbitration. That will depend on the evidence developed at a hearing on the merits. The arbitrability or jurisdictional issues raised by the Postal Service in opposition to arbitration of the Union's Step 4 grievance in this case are resolved on the basis set forth.”

The case will be scheduled for national arbitration in the near future.

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