MS 1 BEM Staffing Updates

Idowu Balogun

June 3, 2019

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(This article first appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) 

Building Equipment Maintenance (BEM) Mechanics are responsible for maintaining postal building infrastructures, namely (1) Building Electrical Systems (HVAC) and (2) plumbing, air compression, elevators, dock levelers, dock doors, power distribution, switch gears, and power panels. BEM Mechanics must use the MS1 Handbook Manual to calculate required staffing.

In May 2016, the Postal Service issued a new MS1 TL 5, proposing draconian changes to the then-current MS1 TL 4 Handbook. The APWU filed a dispute, and Maintenance Division Director Balogun was the assigned case officer. In 2017, Arbitrator Goldberg concluded the dispute by remanding the case back to APWU and USPS to resolve.

After the decision, APWU and the Postal Service began meeting immediately to resolve the dispute. We met for the past year to address the remanded part of the decision.

Below is our progress so far:

  1. Over a period of two months, we negotiated, line by line, acceptable preventative time allowances, frequencies, space adjustments and miscellaneous time allowances.
  2. The USPS, along with APWU National Officers, participated in Beta Testing in Phoenix, AZ in January 2019.
  3. The USPS and APWU participated in Beta Testing in Manchester, NH in February 2019.

The parties will meet once the Postal Service’s “input” has been collected and completed for three selected sites. The USPS and APWU will continue negotiations for the foreseeable future. The agreement between the parties is summed up as follows:

“The APWU will be provided the final draft(s) for review and concurrence prior to publication.” The USPS has not yet fulfilled this requirement.In Dec. 2018, while still meeting about MS1 TL 5, we were notified that the Postal Service issued another MS1 Handbook changes, called MS 1 TL 6. We immediately requested for meetings regarding these changes. Meetings on MSI TL5 and MS1 TL6 are still ongoing.

NCED Visit March 2019

On March 6–8, 2019, we visited the National Center for Employee Development (NCED) Training Center. We met with over 60 students at an evening session on March 7, 2019. The next day, we met with the NCED Managers and National Support Technician (NST) Managers to discuss concerns raised during the students/union meeting.

  • We were able to resolve a majority of your concerns, as follows:
  • The two APWU Bulletin boards were returned to the living area immediately.
  • New popcorn machines will be delivered soon.
  • Food temperature will be monitored daily. If not up to standards, you are encouraged to contact the Kitchen Manager immediately.
  • Automatic Parcel and Bundle Sorter (APBS) courses are in the process of being separated into Basic and Advanced.
  • Soda and coffee machines were moved inside the buffet area, not eliminated.
  • Bed replacements are on a cycle and are being looked into, with feedback forthcoming.

Students are encouraged to visit to familiarize themselves with the resources available during their stay, including special diets and emergency numbers while at the center. Our role is to help you be as comfortable as possible while away from home and family. We pledge to continue visiting NCED no less than twice a year. We will continue updating students of our visitation dates.

If you have an urgent issue that you would like for us to look into between our visits, please contact us by calling (202) 842-4213, or email Assistant Director B, Terry B. Martinez at

Thank you for your feedback!

In our last article, “Custodian Team Cleaning (CTC): Doomed to Fail” we asked you all to send us your thoughts about and experiences with Custodian Team Cleaning and products, and the response was overwhelming.

We received hundreds of emails expressing your frustrations. Thank you for your feedback and please continue to reach out to us about this and any maintenance issue at

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