Union Files Court Complaint

February 23, 2016

Share this article

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

The Maintenance Division filed a complaint in federal court on Dec. 11 seeking enforcement of a national arbitration award on staffing at Bulk Mail Centers (BMCs). We asked the court to direct the Postal Service to comply with a ruling issued by Arbitrator Ira F. Jaffe on Oct. 19.

In the decision, Arbitrator Jaffe ordered the Postal Service to “cease and desist” from using Maintenance Management Order 112-10 (eWHEP) and to return to using MMO 022-04 (BMC Gold) to prepare Maintenance Craft staffing packages for BMCs (also known as Network Distribution Centers or NDCs).

Yet after the award was issued, the Postal Service wrote, “Managers have been advised not to prepare any new staffing packages for NDCs using MM0-112-10 (eWHEP) ... There is no requirement in the award to change or update existing staffing packages.”

These instructions clearly violate the arbitrator’s ruling. Our legal action reflects the frustration we all feel, including at the union’s national office, over management’s shenanigans. The Postal Service’s outright duplicity and disrespect for us as organized workers seem to be boundless.

Another Example: Line H

Here’s another example: Maintenance Division officers have come across evidence that appears to show that the USPS misrepresented the work and the number of work hours expended by local offices on custodial duties for fiscal year 2015. This information is used to compute remedies for violations of the “Line H agreement.”

The Line H settlements and arbitration rulings were significant: The Postal Service is required to staff, schedule, and assure the performance of custodial duties, whether an office is covered by Transmittal Letter 3 (T/L-3) or Transmittal Letter 5 (T/L-5) of the MS-47 Handbook. Because T/L-5 implemented new techniques and equipment, management was permitted to make some changes to earlier procedures.

The Line H settlement:

  • Strengthened our ability to maintain staffing levels and work assignments;
  • Implemented a national requirement to measure the work assigned against the work promised;
  • Required management to pay for violations at the overtime rate;
  • Phased in implementation of the new procedures resulting from T/L-5;
  • Ensured that no current members would lose employment in their Maintenance Craft installation, and
  • Prevented management from disciplining employees based on failure to meet estimated time standards.

Unfortunately, despite their stated intention to reduce grievances over custodial staffing and scheduling, and despite their stated goal of resolving the matter of remedies for violations, higher-level managers have come out of the shadows. They declared out that management would not incur any liability as a result of Line H violations. Field-level managers heard their message loud and clear.

Management may hope that these tactics will sow disunity and turn against stewards and officers, but we are confident union members will see through these deplorable tactics.

Misrepresentation on Excessing

Late last year, a national-level manager sent an email to the field claiming that based on the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Maintenance Craft Excessing, veterans preference-eligible employees could be separated from the Postal Service if they decline reassignment.  

A bigger misrepresentation cannot be imagined. The potential damage to individual employees this “opinion” could have caused cannot be overstated

It didn’t take long for the nefarious email to come to the attention of Maintenance Craft officers at the union’s national office. We immediately intervened.

Fortunately, management’s Labor Relations Department was able to show the manager his mistake. Corrections were quickly sent out by the author of the original disinformation to those on his email list. However, we all know that once out, falsehoods like this develop a life of their own.

The MOU in question provided the entire craft with a great deal of protection that virtually all members desired. It restored the 50-mile limit on excessing, which was as important to Maintenance Craft employees as it was to workers in other crafts. Although the Postal Service initially sought to divide and conquer by excluding the Maintenance Craft from 50-mile radius rule, your Maintenance Craft officers successfully negotiated the protection for our members as well.

As a result, whether you are a preference-eligible employee or not, when it comes to involuntary reassignments, all Maintenance Craft employees enjoy equal rights and benefits.

The agreement also retained what veterans preference-eligible employees had earned, the right not to be reassigned to lower-level positions. If we had refused to allow preference-eligible employees to be reassigned beyond 50 miles, then no one in the Maintenance Craft would be covered by the 50-mile limit. We would have gone back to the pre-2010 days, when our members were being involuntarily reassigned – literally – hundreds of miles away.

Now, in the case of preference-eligible employees, the Postal Service must offer the residual duty assignment closest to the employee’s residence. Preference-eligible employees get a choice: They can take the actual job that exists (not some made-up assignment) or choose to be covered by the 50-mile MOU and Article 12, the same as other members.

That is the order outlined in the MOU. Instances have been reported where the Postal Service tried to offer jobs within the 50-mile limit first, but that’s not how it works.

In fact, that’s clear from the excessing notice preference-eligible employees receive, which says a lower-level assignment will not be provided.


Please be sure to pick out your Maintenance Craft pre-convention workshop early, because they tend to fill up quickly. This year the convention will be held in Orlando and we will get back to the basics.

One course will be Documenting Maintenance Grievances – The Line H Example. Proper research and documentation are required for successful representation. The Line H example covers a lot of territory, from time-keeping reports to handbooks, to the application of settlements and MOUs.

Our other offering is Beginning Maintenance Steward Training – Article 38 for Novices. This course will review Article 38, which covers the Maintenance Craft. It will cover each section and subsection of Article 38 and is intended for brand new Maintenance Craft representatives.




Stay in touch with your union

Subscribe to receive important information from your union.