Staffing, Assignments, Hiring

November 1, 2016

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

2016 has been a busy, roller coaster of a year. We hope you all enjoyed the wild ride along with us.

We opened the year with the Interest Arbitration for a new contract, made progress through the arbitrator’s decision, and scrambled to disseminate information about it. Soon after, we participated in the union’s National Convention, followed by the election of APWU officers.

Thank you for the vote of confidence you have given us by returning us to office. To the other incumbents who survived the triennial ritual, we congratulate you. For those who are new, we also congratulate you. We look forward to working with everyone to improve the working lives of our members.

National Convention

The 23rd ‘Vance Zimmerman’ Maintenance Division Craft Conference took place Aug. 20-21 in Orlando, FL, just prior to the National Convention. The conference was named, as is our custom, for an officer who was leaving the ranks of Maintenance Craft national officers after a distinguished career (even if he or she is moving to or running for another position).

Every two years, at pre-convention conferences, each craft debates issues and deliberates on proposed resolutions. Each craft has a Resolution Committee, which makes recommendations on the resolutions. The Maintenance Resolution Committee was comprised of a dedicated and experienced group, including members from each region.

The group was chaired by Jason Treier, of the Lancaster PA Area Local, and included Alzena Johnson, Lafayette LA Local; Tom Vlasek, Cleveland Area Local; Hector Baez, San Diego Area Local, and Ray Glasser, Red Bank NJ Local.

More than 335 Maintenance Craft delegates voted on the resolutions, and the ensuing report was presented to the entire National Convention for final action.

Most of the 12 resolutions addressed the plight of Postal Support Employees (PSEs). Owing to the recent historic negotiations and arbitration that resulted in an all-career workforce in the Maintenance Craft, those resolutions were declared moot.

In the end, two resolutions were adopted by the Maintenance Craft delegates:

Resolution # 61, which was adopted as amended, said:

Resolved, the Maintenance Craft work to negotiate a change to MMO 057-12 to include all Maintenance Craft employees, including EAS, within an installation to determine the MSC staffing.” (Note: this is the subject of a current national dispute.)

Resolution Maintenance #1, which also was adopted as amended, said:

Resolved, the Maintenance Craft works to negotiate a change to Article 38.4.A.4 that would allow for the reposting of duty assignments within the occupational group of employees junior to the employee whose duty assignment has been permanently changed.”

The vast majority of delegates left the convention united to improve the choices, control of and lot in life of the members we represent.

e-Career, Entrance Registers

In the Maintenance Craft session, questions arose about entrance registers and how they work. The chair promised to provide some information in this article.

In 2006, the Postal Service changed hiring practices. They automated the process by using cloud-based technology and computers. This would save resources, management believed, because applicants would perform data entry.

Typically, unions have no standing to challenge hiring practices because union representation does not normally attach until after employment occurs. Individuals can use other forums, such as EEO or MSPB, to protest hiring procedures, but they can’t file grievances.

Nonetheless, we have always asserted that the union has a vested interest in the size, scope and composition of our bargaining unit. We have even negotiated provisions requiring hiring and how entrance registers are utilized.

Management notified the APWU of their intentions and included all crafts in the discussions before computerizing hiring. Maintenance took the lead in representing the union in these discussions, because, at the time, the entrance registers primarily affected our craft.

As time progressed, the process became more entrenched and, like e-Reassign for transfers between installations, is generally accepted.

Many of us remember the time prior to e-Career, when 3,000 job-seekers would show up at the local library or high school to apply for a handful of postal jobs. Applications remained “live” for 12-18 months and could be renewed for one year. Applications were on paper, tests were on paper, and applicants could choose no more than three locations to consider our application.

When management intended to hire, they would use the list of applicants for a given office to construct a Hiring Worksheet. The list from which the worksheet was created was called the Entrance Register.

Notices were mailed to people on the entrance register and those who responded would be added to the Hiring Worksheet. After the Hiring Worksheet was created, Veterans Preference was applied and the proper ranking was established, either by veteran’s status and/or by score (both with and without Veterans Preference points added).

Under e-Career, the form of the entrance register has changed. Now, applicants go online to the website; click on e-Career, and get started. They fill out an application, scan and attach supporting documents (such as a DD214), and take the applicable entrance exam.

Then the wait begins. Applicants must be vigilant and check at least once per week to see if the USPS posts a job opening at a location they prefer. Significantly, absent an overt attempt to restrict the pool of applicants, everyone with a completed application can apply for any opening anywhere in the country, provided they have an exam score on file. All openings are available to all eligible applicants.

Interested applicants just click and submit, and then wait for the Hiring Worksheet to be compiled, just like it was before e-Career. The Veterans Preference and “rule of three” procedures are applied to the Hiring Worksheet, and people then get called in for interviews. (The rule of three requires management to consider three applicants for every opening, in accordance with Section 624 of the EL-312 Handbook.)

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