Updates on National Disputes, Penalty Exclusion Period, and a Holiday Greeting

Charlie Cash

November 15, 2023

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Happy holidays my union family! Your hard work will once again bring happiness and smiles to millions of people, not only in the United States but around the world.

No matter if you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, or observe any other tradition during this time, please make sure you take some time to enjoy this time of year with your family and friends.

As a reminder, the “penalty exclusion period” begins with the start of Pay Period 26-2023 (Dec. 2, 2023) and ends with the conclusion of Pay Period 01-2024 (Dec. 29, 2023). The “penalty exclusion period” means that the penalty overtime rate will not be paid for hours that normally qualify as penalty overtime. Rather, the regular overtime rate will apply.

I would like to update you all on some pending national disputes. The first is the national dispute regarding the Article 12 (excessing) issues surrounding the Postmaster General’s "Delivering for America" plan and changes to the overall network.

In general, our dispute is over Article 12.5.B.1: “Dislocation and inconvenience to full-time and part-time flexible employees shall be kept to the minimum…” It is our position that the USPS is not making every effort to follow this provision. On its face, the USPS seems to be doing just the opposite. I have been pushing for an accelerated schedule to meet and discuss this dispute and arbitrate if necessary. The current plan is to arbitrate this dispute as quickly as possible if a settlement agreement cannot be reached.

One of the next cases that will be scheduled for early in 2024 is what most members know as the “direct deposit theft” or “LiteBlue hack” dispute. This dispute revolves around the issue that happened at this time last year. Hundreds of APWU employees had their Liteblue login information stolen. The thieves took this information, logged into the victims’ PostalEase accounts, and changed the direct deposit information the USPS had on file. This led to some employees losing their largest paychecks of the year. The direct deposits were sent to accounts not owned by the victims where the money was then immediately emptied out.

The USPS has taken the position that it was the employees’ fault that their login information was stolen. The APWU takes the position that it was postal management’s lack of adequate security protocols that lead to the thefts. We believe we have the evidence that proves the USPS was aware of the security flaws and we will be asking an arbitrator to rule in our favor. We are seeking that the employees who lost their direct deposits be reimbursed in full by the USPS.

One other case being addressed is the “Welcome to the USPS” or the new employee orientation case. This case was scheduled for August of 2023, but was cancelled because we were making progress towards settlement. Due to an unforeseen health emergency, I was unable to continue the settlement discussions. But those are back on track. If the case cannot be settled, we will seek to arbitrate it in the spring of 2024 as well.

I am going to take a moment of personal privilege to close out this column. I want to congratulate and thank my friend and mentor—Jim Bean from the Salt Lake City Area Local on his retirement. Jim served for over 35 years as an officer or steward in his local. He is one of the most dedicated unionists I know and one of the most loyal friends that everyone who has the honor to call him a friend could have. Jim taught me much about the union and helped me be a successful member, steward, and officer of the APWU. Thank you, Jim, for all you did for the APWU! ■

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