No Change in USPS Attitudes

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(This article appears in the March/April 2014 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

Steve Raymer, Maintenance Division Director

The old adage, “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” definitely applies to USPS managers.

Need proof? Here’s a one-question quiz: What is the response when the very top bosses ask their underlings to make operations more efficient or improve service? The answer is almost always, “Cut staffing.”

It’s seems it is rarely relevant to our employer if there are other paths that would achieve the goal without cutting the number of bargaining unit employees.

A recent example occurred on Jan. 22, when the USPS notified the APWU of plans to modify the MS-47 handbook again. The notice followed a USPS trial of a program devised by a consulting group called Manage- Men.

The pilot program has had various names, including OS-1 or Team Cleaning. When the program began, the Postal Service informed the APWU that new methods, equipment and supplies were being tested. We were told this would bring a cleaner, healthier work site; gain efficiencies from supply management, and establish a better “esprit de corps” among our custodial ranks.

These are all commendable goals, which do not, on the surface, target staffing levels, i.e. employees. However, not content with millions of dollars in savings from supply standardization and other improvements, the USPS pushed on.

When asked by the APWU, the USPS said that if additional work hours were needed to accomplish a task, the additional time would be included when determining the number of duty assignments. No, we were not being naïve; the truth would be whatever it turned out to be.

To the Postal Service this may be an exercise in numbers and targets, but for the APWU this is about real people and real lives!

The USPS has not yet provided us with a roll-out schedule, which can take place only after a 60-day notice period has passed.

If your local has not yet acquired the current custodial staffing package for your installation, we encourage you to obtain it. The duty assignments and jobs you are protecting belong to your members. From a broader perspective, these are also the jobs that are going to provide the career conversion opportunity for our PSE members. And these are the jobs that our veterans have first claim to when hiring occurs.

Yes, to the Postal Service this may be an exercise in numbers and targets, but for the APWU this is about real people and real lives.

National Arbitration Update

In the September-October edition of this magazine, we reported on the status of several national-level arbitrations. Below is an update on hearings and other actions that have taken place since then.

The issue in dispute in Case # Q00T-4Q-C 06082523 is whether granting higher-level pay permits management to assign employees across occupational groups, in violation of Article 7.

At the hearings it became clear that the issue was the USPS practice of de- tailing employees to higher-level assignments to avoid paying overtime to employees who are members of the higher-level occupational group. The Postal Service simply relies on Article 25 in its attempt to avoid a proper work assignment. The idea of relying on Article 25 has already been rejected in the national award of Arbitrator Bloch.

It seems some managers want to reinvent the wheel when they are promoted into new positions. They would be better off if they engaged the APWU in negotiations on issues (and then kept their word) rather than use this heavy-handed approach.

We have finished the hearings and submitted briefs to Arbitrator Shyam Das. We await his decision on this critical case.

Hearings in Case # Q06T-4Q-C 09374748 also have been completed. We await Arbitrator Stephen Gold- berg’s decision. In this case, the union asserted that the USPS violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement when it unilaterally changed the Maintenance Selection System (RMSS) and declared employees who had been eligible as ineligible.

The case regarding the appropriate retroactive remedy for the Associate Office Infrastructure award was rescheduled for March 24-25, 2014, due to a delay in the arbitrator rendering his “second interim award” on the main issue. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we continue the fight to secure the ET work created by Information Technology (I/T).

In the meantime, the USPS is continuing to contract out this work, so please be diligent at the local level in enforcing the contract. Whenever and wherever you observe a non-postal employee (or an EAS employee) working around our equipment or in our facilities, including the small AOs, please notify the local Maintenance Craft Director or steward.

Case # Q11T-4Q-C 12142719 on the subcontracting of the site preparation for PASS (Passive Adaptive Scanning System) is scheduled for June 17-18, 2014. If PASS installation occurred in your office or in other offices your local represents, a grievance should be fi led to document the circumstances. Please identify who should be compensated if we win the grievance, and take the time to figure out how much each member of the occupational group should be compensated. Failing to do so will delay receipt of any monetary remedy, if one is awarded.

Maintenance Involvement

It always makes us proud that so many Maintenance Craft members are involved in the activities of their locals. The recent protests at Staples stores in San Jose and San Francisco CA are good examples. Of course, other APWU crafts were involved, as well as members of other postal unions and non-postal unions. But a good number of Maintenance Craft members also took to the streets.

This was a great overall example of union involvement — members taking action in our own collective interests. The Maintenance Division officers strongly encourage all the Maintenance Craft members to take part in these actions. We are absolutely part of this battle. The privatizers, with their supporters in the corporate world, Congress and postal management, are taking the bread and butter off our table too!

The new APWU administration has called on union members to get involved and fight for what is right for us as workers. The new tone is taking hold . Maintenance members have a history of acting in concert with each other. Please continue stepping up and keep up the heat!

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