The New Contract and Maintenance

September 1, 2016

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(This article first appeared in the September-October 2016 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

In case you missed it, we have a new Collective Bargaining Agreement! The Maintenance Craft was successful in our primary goal of eliminating the non-career category from our ranks. This was an historic achievement, which took a lot of effort, planning and unity of purpose to accomplish. It would be fair

As of Sept. 3, 2016, the Maintenance Craft was comprised entirely of careto say that our efforts to address this issue began even before the 2010 contract was employees. Over 2,460 people were converted.

Conversion to career is a life-altering event for the Postal Support Employees (PSEs) and something our entire craft can be proud of. Please congratulate and welcome the new career members.

Electronic Technicians

Another group of Maintenance Craft members also benefited substantially by a change in this contract: Level 11 Electronic Technicians. These employees, who are at the top of the pay scale, have been long abused by management – for example, the very basic right of seniority for selection of work hours and off-days was denied them. Leave selections may have been easy to come by, but overtime was often a matter of favoritism.

A new contractual provision (Article 38.7.F) incorporates a Memorandum of Understanding designed to explain and solidify this unique occupational group’s rights under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Among other things, it establishes a PAR (Preferred Assignment Register) for the Level 11 ETs.

By the time you receive this magazine, the National Convention will be behind us. The members of each local elected delegates to attend, participate, and bring back information regarding our new contract. Your national officers, who bear the responsibility for the next round of contract negotiations in 2018, have most likely heard ideas from you and your co-workers about how to continue our fight to improve our working lives.

We Continue On

Maintenance Craft officers are currently presenting a national-level arbitration case (Q10T-4Q-C 15206030) before Arbitrator Shyam Das. The issue in dispute is: “Does Article 38, including the Subcontracting Cleaning Services MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] and the MS-47 Handbook, apply to POStPlan installations?”

We have consistently asserted that these offices are installations as defined in Article 38.2.B, which defines an 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.”

Why is it important that this definition applies? Because the Custodial Cleaning Services MOU, which is also known as the 18,000 Square Foot MOU, uses a formula based on all the facilities within an installation to determine whether custodial work can be contracted out.

As an example, consider a POStPlan installation that consists of three facilities. Each of the buildings used to be considered an independent installation because each had its own postmaster. Under the POStPlan, two of them lost their postmaster, leaving only one postmaster to be in charge of all three facilities. We believe this fits precisely into the definition of an installation.

When we now apply the Custodial Cleaning Services MOU, we add the interior square footage of all three buildings and separately add the exterior square footage of all three facilities. The interior result is divided by 18,000 (rounded to four places) and the exterior total is divided by 500,000. The two results are added and if the sum is equal to or greater than 1.000, the custodial work in the installation cannot be contracted out. The work must be assigned to a Maintenance Craft custodian.

The Postal Service takes the position that POStPlan offices are somehow different and that management can continue to contract out our work just like when each facility was an independent installation.

We have two more cases scheduled for this year. On Sept. 27-28 hearings on the dispute regarding management changes to the MS-1 Handbook and MMO 074-00 should take place. This case protests the Postal Service’s assault on our building equipment section and the proposed excessing and reduction of employees such as the BEMs (Building Equipment Mechanics).

The USPS believes they can “run to failure” all manner of equipment, including items related to employees’ physical comfort and safety. We believe the critical work done by these well-trained, capable employees cannot be left to chance. Preventative maintenance is important for keeping boilers, chillers, air conditioners, heaters, fire extinguishers, lighting, plumbing, etc. in good and safe working order.

During Thanksgiving week, Nov. 21-22, we are scheduled to present another major subcontracting case involving computer networks. This case challenges management’s decision to subcontract the MPE-LAN upgrades and workstation installations. This case (Q00T-4Q-C 04003182) will build on our success in the arbitration involving Associate Office Infrastructure (AOI).

The employer’s position is that Maintenance Craft employees are not capable of pulling cables and making connections between network components. The Postal Service also argues that the duties are not Maintenance Craft duties – they are telecommunications work.

This delusional thinking may have had some traction in the minds of management in 2003, but it has no place in the Postal Service of today. Our ETs work with telecommunications on virtually a daily basis.

Outside of the obvious, this is most definitely not supervisory work. It is work that must be assigned to the proper bargaining unit. Despite the existence of procedures and prohibitions on subcontracting our work, the USPS continues to threaten our job security and job growth because of a misguided belief that contractors are better at our jobs than we are. We find this insulting.

Whether it is work at the top or bottom of the pay scale, it is the work of our bargaining unit and we will continue to demand our right to our work.

Until next time … and be sure to say hello to your steward.

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