Mid-Year Refresher: Updates, Reminders

July 8, 2016

Share this article

(This article first appeared in the July-August issue of The American Postal Worker Magazine)

APWU officers and members have been very busy for the past year-and-a-half working for a fair contract, but we have continued pursuing other activities, including some long-festering disputes with management. Below is a recap of pending issues.


POStPlan Dispute Still Alive

The Maintenance Craft Dispute over whether custodial work at POStPlan offices can be subcontracted is still pending. The dispute hinges on how the definition of “installation” applies to POStPlan offices.

Why is the definition important? Because the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Contracting Out Cleaning Services requires the use of a formula that measures “the square footage of the interior area of all facilities of an independent installation using the procedures identified in the handbook MS-47.” Similar language applies to the square footage of the exterior area.

Article 38.2.B of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) defines “installation” as, “A main post office, airport mail center or facility, terminal, bulk mail center, processing and distribution center or facility, Maintenance Support and Repair Facility or any similar organizational unit under the direction of one postal official, together with all stations, branches and other subordinate units.” [Emphasis added.]

That definition is straightforward as it applies to POStPlan offices: Installations consist of an Administrative Post Office (APO) where a postmaster sits and rules that office and other subordinate units called Remotely Managed Post Offices (RMPOs).

In one set of jointly agreed-upon Questions & Answers, the Postal Service acknowledged that for purposes of posting and bidding, etc., a POStPlan APO and its RMPOs constitute an installation.

But the USPS has taken the position that POStPlan offices do not meet the definition of an installation under Article 38. Management wants to treat each facility within a POStPlan installation as a separate installation to justify subcontracting custodial work.

Stewards should continue to acquire the staffing packages for each facility and add the square footage of each facility in a POStPlan installation (found in the top right corner of PS Form 4852). If the result of applying the formula outlined in the MOU equals 1 or more, then custodial work cannot be contracted out.

Please file grievances where appropriate and move them along to your Maintenance Craft National Business Agent (NBA).

BMC Court Action Is Still Alive

In October 2015, Arbitrator Ira F. Jaffe sustained the union’s grievance on the staffing program used at Bulk Mail Centers (BMCs), also known as National Distribution Centers (NDCs). In addition to finding that management violated Article 19, the arbitrator ordered the Postal Service to rescind MMO 112-10 (e-WHEP) and return to the staffing guidelines set forth in MMO 022-04, known as BMC-Gold.

The USPS decided to ignore the award and notified the APWU that management believed they must use BMC Gold staffing only when they had to prepare new staffing packages. We met the Postal Service’s obvious attempt to ignore the award head-on and filed suit in U.S. District Court seeking enforcement of the arbitrator’s ruling.

The Postal Service responded by initiating their own dispute, claiming an interpretive dispute existed over whether the award required the USPS to recalculate existing staffing packages at NDCs. The USPS also filed a complaint in District Court seeking to have the matter returned to the arbitrator for clarification. The court granted the Postal Service’s motion on March 17, 2016. The parties then sent the matter to Arbitrator Jaffe.

The APWU notice to the arbitrator was to the point. After all, the arbitrator knows what he wrote and it is almost insulting to tell him what he meant. As is becoming the norm, the Postal Service acted in “bad faith” by inserting a “new issue” (their phrase) in their notice to the arbitrator. This was clearly an attempt to re-litigate the award.

In the meantime, stewards and officers at BMCs should feel free to challenge current staffing if it was done under eWHEP. As with all Maintenance Craft grievances, please include your staffing packages and move the matter to Step 3 of the grievance procedure.

Reminders: Resolved Issues

For those who travel for training, the Step 4 settlement of Case # Q00C-40-C 04025449 dated September 2012 says, “Employees are in a compensable travel status during the time traveled from ‘portal to portal.’” If you are delayed in travel and must spend the night, you go “off the clock” when you check in to your provided hotel and back on when checking out. Otherwise, all hours in travel are compensable work hours.

Perhaps you have Level 5 Group Leader assignments in your office. The Step 4 settlement of Case # Q00C-4Q-C 05128883 addresses the standing of Level 4 custodians on the PER (Promotion Eligibility Register). To place custodians on the GL-5 PER, just one thing is needed: seniority. The settlement says, “The proper seniority for ranking of Maintenance craft level 3 (now level 4) Custodial Laborers on the level 4 (now level 5) Group Leader, Custodial PER is Maintenance Craft installation seniority.”

In March 2013, in response to a question from the field, the union and management reached a settlement regarding the effect of downgrades on postings. We agreed that vacancies can be filled through a single posting by moving down the pecking order. Even if an employee downgrades, that now higher-level vacant duty assignment will be filled starting with the PAR (Preferred Assignment Roster) for that higher-level occupational group.

With the possibility of new employees being hired into the Maintenance Craft, please remember how employees on probation are handled. In October 2013, the union and management agreed “that 90 day probationary maintenance employees are not restricted from placement on the PAR or PER IAW Art 38 (38.5.A.9 and 38.5.B.6). We further agree there is no contractual prohibition on probationary employees bidding/applying for other duty assignments or promotions and being awarded those assignments consistent with the CBA.”

And don’t forget about the award in Case # H0C-NA-C 19007, where Arbitrator Shyam Das sustained our challenge to USPS-proffered changes to Section 530 of the Administrative Support Manual. Please be sure to replace the USPS version of the ASM with correct sections.

As always, please contact your NBA if you have questions on the above

Stay in touch with your union

Subscribe to receive important information from your union.