They Don't Have the Right

Omar M. Gonzalez

September 12, 2019

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

We often hear that ‘management has the right to mismanage.’ NO THEY DON’T!  Laws require that USPS be run efficiently, including managing the workforce.

Postal regulations, statutes and our contract outline what management cannot do. When we fight management, we must use all three resources.

Postal life would be less hectic if only all parties followed the union contract. Regulations related to your working conditions, hours and wages are subject to the contract. Management does not own the Postal Service, they operate it.

They don’t have the unilateral right to do our work unless permitted by Article 1 Section 6a and b. In level 18 offices they can do only 15 hours of craft work per week. In larger offices they have to meet one of the five exceptions, otherwise they have to pay the employee who would have performed the work.

They don’t have the right to just make anyone a 204b unless a PS 1723 is issued to the union in advance and restricted the use of the 204b before an individual forfeits their bid.

They don’t have the right to unilaterally change established past practices in your office even when new bosses take over. Article 5 and the law prohibits unilateral changes to the CBA or past practice, unless negotiated with the union after notice is given.

They don’t have the right to make cross craft assignments unless they meet certain conditions reasonably unforeseeable or unavoidable per Article 7. Intentional understaffing is not one of those.

They don’t have the right to impose overtime without penalties which include additional premiums for exceeding the 12-hour daily/60 hours weekly limits. Nor can they schedule overtime (OT) willy-nilly without penalty. CBA Article 8 has 2.5 pages of rules and the JCIM has 13 pages on OT rules.

They don’t have the right to change your work hours unless they comply with federal law, their own out-of-schedule premium rules and Article 8 contract restrictions. Nor can they change your rest days without complying with the work week and craft articles.

They don’t have the right to demand medical documentation for sick leave absence of 3 or less days unless they can show a legitimate business reason do it. It is not just on their demand; they must also consider your welfare – equitably on a case by case basis – per Articles 10, 16, 19.

They don’t have the right to reassign you at will. They must comply with seniority rules, bid rights, section identifications, skill requirements, higher level pay rules and other contract restrictions.

They don’t have the right to treat PSEs as servants or casuals, these employees have specific contract rights. Being a “Postal Support Employee” is not a green light for mistreatment. PSEs have their own CBA sections covering their employment and their conversion to career status.

They don’t have the right to unilaterally deny light duty to injured workers, they are obligated to make every effort to find work that employee can perform. Being denied work is not automatic. There are strong protections in Article 13.

They don’t have the right to work you in a dirty, unsafe place nor abuse you in any way. Many regulations, laws and Article 14 offer strong protections. Federal law imposes penalties for unsafe conditions.

They don’t have the right to impose discipline at will and must prove “just cause” exists by following six distinct rules. In discipline cases, management has the burden of proof and must comply with due process procedures.

The contract has 392 pages agreed upon work rules that have no value unless they are enforced by us all. You have a right to grieve violations.

Access the CBA/JCIM here and then fight to enforce it.

We are fighting for a new contract now! Please stand with me and Coordinators Stone, Gallagher, Beasley, Suslak, and the entire APWU like never before. You cannot spell UNION without U and I.

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