Union Garners Agreement on Jurisdictional Disputes

June 7, 2007

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The APWU has negotiated an important agreement to expedite hearings on grievances involving jurisdictional disputes. In response to an APWU lawsuit against the Postal Service and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (MHU), the MHU has agreed to the re-appointment of an arbitrator to hear the cases in question, and has begun attending meetings of the National Dispute Resolution Committee. The APWU and MHU also agreed on a procedure to establish the order in which disputes will be heard.

The APWU has withdrawn its lawsuit charging that the MHU and Postal Service violated a national-level agreement that establishes procedures for resolving disputes over work assignments. [APWU court filing June 4, 2007] “The lawsuit accomplished what we set out to do,” said APWU President William Burrus. “It has restarted the process of resolving jurisdictional disputes.”

National Business Agent Mike Gallagher, the APWU’s representative on the National Dispute Resolution Committee, said, “We set out to do three things: meet, select an arbitrator, and begin to schedule cases. We have accomplished each of these goals.”

Under the terms of a June 4 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the APWU will select the next dispute to be arbitrated at the national level from among the remaining disputes. The MHU will pick the following case, and the selection of cases will alternate between the APWU and MHU.

Also contained in the MOU is the APWU’s acceptance of the Postal Service’s position on two cases (OCR mail preparation and the MODS scales), thereby closing these disputes. “This decision was made after careful analysis of the arguments in those cases, as well as a study of the arbitral history related to these issues by the Clerk Craft and the Regional Dispute Resolution Committee members,” Gallagher said. 

The lawsuit , which was filed in January, can be reinstituted “without prejudice” should the terms of the agreement be breeched again in the future. “The suit was absolutely necessary, and we are pleased to see that we accomplished what we set out to achieve,” said APWU President William Burrus. “The APWU will finally have the opportunity to challenge improper work assignments.”

The RI-399 Dispute Resolution Process outlines methods for the unions to challenge USPS work assignments they consider improper, and requires the parties to appoint a national-level arbitrator to resolve the disputes they are unable to settle. It also requires them to meet frequently enough to render timely decisions, and to schedule arbitration hearings for unresolved cases. 

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