Winning 'Automatic' Remedies for Staffing Violations

December 23, 2014

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Hopefully, every local applied the procedures outlined in the July 9, 2014, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding implementation of the MS-47 - TL-5 Handbook at the conclusion of fiscal year 2014.

The agreement includes an automatic remedy for violations of custodial staffing requirements: In facilities maintained by USPS custodians, if staffing fell short of 90 percent of the work hours shown on Line H of PS Form 4852, management must compensate custodial employees identified by the local union at the overtime rate. (In fiscal year 2014, the first year of implementation of the MOU, the comparison period was prorated.)

The MOU spells out what must occur and when: Management should have provided a comparison of hours listed on PS Form 4852 and the hours actually worked to local presidents in October. Of course, locals were free to request the information if management failed to provide it. (Don’t believe managers who say they can’t get the information – they either have direct access to it or they can make a phone call and have a report sent to them.)

The agreement applies to all “facilities that are maintained by USPS custodians.” It doesn’t matter whether the facility is covered by the TL-5 (Transmittal Letter 5) or the TL-3 (Transmittal Letter 3) version of the MS-47 Handbook.

Each facility (building) in an installation has its own “staffing package,” which means the comparison must be done individually for each main post office, processing and distribution facility, station, vehicle maintenance facility, branch or other subordinate unit.

If staffing is less than 90 percent of the hours on Line H again the next fiscal year, the amount of payment at the overtime rate will be based on 100 percent of the hours listed.

Local Responsibilities

Local representatives must ensure that the hours worked were made up of duties that were included in the staffing package. For example, if custodians regularly performed duties such as moving furniture, but no time was allotted in the staffing package for moving furniture, those hours cannot be included in the year-end total. (To determine the number of hours used for moving furniture, union representatives must request the year-end report for the work order or route that was used to track the work.)

Our goal is to ensure that offices are properly staffed and our members are getting credit for performing our work. If management wants additional work performed (and we do, too, of course), it must be included in the staffing package and show up on Line H. If managers refuse, they will end up paying overtime for their decision not to perform that work every fiscal year.

Union reps should remind folks throughout the year to punch onto the proper operation and get higher-level pay whenever appropriate (for example, for driving or P.I.E. operations).

Representatives also must verify that any work performed by custodians is included in the staffing package. If it isn’t reflected on Line H, even if it is legitimate custodial work, the local should track it, including, if necessary, by filing a grievance demanding the work hours not be included in the end-of-fiscal-year LDC 38 [Labor Distribution Code 38] comparison.

If these items are properly monitored, come each October, the automatic remedy at the overtime rate will apply. Or, better yet, your office will be fully staffed and APWU members will be performing all of our work.

Questions & Answers

Management outlined their understanding of the agreement in the form of a set of Questions & Answers. While a formal sign-off was not necessary, the Questions & Answers were provided to Maintenance Division officers. Where we disagreed, the Questions & Answers were removed. We did concur with USPS responses of Aug. 6.

Of particular note is Q&A 26, which asks whether a particular report must be used to determine the number of hours worked by custodians. The answer says, “Work hours can be shown by whichever report or combination of reports will provide the best evidence.” The “work hours used must reflect the actual custodial work performed that is included in the Line H total. In other words, only custodial work identified in the staffing package and reflected on the Line H annual time will be used as the comparison. Work hours that do not reflect custodial work, improperly coded work or custodial work not included in Line H will be subtracted or ignored for the purposes of the … comparison.”

Using the agreement, many locals have been successful in ensuring that our members are getting credit for and performing all custodial duties. In October 2015, we will get to address the issue again, and if a violation is found then and a violation was found in 2014, the remedy will be based on 100 percent of the hours listed on Line H.

We prefer that our custodial workforce receive the benefit of being properly staffed.

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