Custodial Staffing

Custodial staffing is governed by the Postal Service’s MS-47 Handbook. A July 9, 2014, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlines how the handbook will be implemented. (It also resulted in the conversion of thousands of Maintenance Craft Postal Support Employees (PSEs) to career).

The Postal Service is required to staff, schedule and assure the performance of custodial duties. This is true whether the office is covered by Transmittal Letter 3 (T/L-3) or T/L-5 of the MS-47.

Item 6 of the MOU says that management must provide the local union with LDC 38 work hours that compare to the work hours shown under Line H of Form 4852.

“Line H represents the total number of hours of custodial work, factoring in training, breaks and wash-ups, to be performed in a year as determined using the criteria and standards in the MS-47. Line H is what is critical,” Arbitrator Shyam Das wrote in Case #194T-4I-C 98116745.

The same ruling also outlined certain narrow exceptions, such as the effect of holidays on the postmaster’s office (which the arbitrator assumed meant the postmaster would be absent). Das wrote, “This could provide management a legitimate basis on which to schedule and/or work fewer cleaning and policing hours than those shown on the PS 4852.” That is why Item 6 of the July 9, 2014, MOU allows for a 10 percent variance from the Line H total.

The provision also outlines a remedy for violations:

If custodial staffing falls short of 90 percent of the LDC 38 work hours shown on Line H, management is required to compensate custodial employees identified by the local union at the overtime rate. If management fails to meet the 90 percent mark again the following fiscal year, the violation must be compensated by the difference between the LDC 38 hours and 100 percent of the Line H amount.

How to Get a Custodial Staffing Review

A staffing review is an important tool for protecting Maintenance Craft jobs. We encourage locals to initiate a grievance first to secure a resolution to perform a joint staffing review if there is a valid reason to believe that your office is understaffed. This way the staffing review is only performed once and is an agreed upon joint review by the parties.

Staffing packages in the Maintenance Division can be broken into two general categories: Custodial staffing and mechanized staffing.

Custodial staffing is determined by following the step-by-step process outlined in the MS-47 Handbook, Housekeeping Postal Facilities. Management is required to abide by the handbook and to maintain the results of a proper staffing package. Three basic forms are involved:

Mechanized staffing determines the number of non-custodial positions (for example, ET, Maintenance Mechanic, Building Equipment Mechanic and Maintenance Control Clerk) in an installation, using a program called e-WHEP, the electronic Work Hour Estimator Program. Thee-WHEP was designed principally for use in the mail processing plant environment, but it also includes sections for building equipment, administrative, and field maintenance staffing.

Mechanized Staffing Review Checklist

Custodial Survey

Paperless Review Requests

To have your staffing package reviewed by a national staffing advocate — remotely or by a field visit — you must do the following:

  1. Request a complete copy of the most current staffing package in an electronic format (PDF) from your local manager. Your request should indicate whether you are interested in custodial staffing, mechanized staffing, or both.
  2. Once you receive the information from management, you must review the Form 4869, Building Inventory, for accuracy, and complete a list of discrepancies. (See below.)
  3. Once you have the list of discrepancies initiate a grievance asking for the staffing package to be corrected and\or a joint staffing review to be conducted. If the staffing package corrected no further action is necessary. If a resolution is reached to conduct a joint staffing survey make sure and allow time to complete the review i.e. 90-180 days from the date of settlement. Be sure and contact your NBA for guidance during the grievance process.
  4. If you get a resolution at Step 1 or Step 2 in writing to perform a joint staffing survey contact you NBA for assistance in securing a review from Headquarters.

Determining Discrepancies

A complete list of discrepancies is essential to conducting an accurate and effective staffing review. The list is generated by verifying the accuracy of PS Form 4869, which itemizes inventory. Follow the guidelines below.

  • If an item is missing you must add it to your list.
  • If a frequency of cleaning differs from what is listed on Form 4839, you must note it on your list.
  • If the square footage of a location has been reduced, you must note it on your list.
  • If the building has been expanded, you must note it on your list.
  • If custodians are performing non-custodial duties in addition to their custodial work, identify the tasks, and indicate the number of minutes\hours per week and provide an annual summation of hours to be included in the staffing package. Examples include delivering Express Mail, raising or lowering flags, recycling duties, etc. It is not enough to simply identify the tasks.

Including all the information listed above is crucial.

If you have any questions, or if you want to inquire about the status of a request, feel free to contact us at, or call us at 202-842-4213.

Using the Custodian Staffing Program

MS-47 Staffing Program developed by Maintenance Craft officers is designed to enable staffing advocates and/or local union officials to verify the custodian staffing packages given to them by local management in three simple steps. The program was created in July 2008 and was updated in July 2011. [MS47 Tutorial]

To utilize it, follow the instructions below:

  1. After carefully reviewing all forms, create a "discrepancy list" that includes omitted units, square feet, and frequencies.
  2. Input agency Form 4852 date “as is” onto the Form 4852 comparison.
  3. Use the data entry tab to correct discrepancies and add omitted items.

The Staffing Worksheet Program is designed to help the APWU recapture lost work-year hours. It enables locals to verify information provided by management and to input omitted cleaning items and cleaning frequencies.

USPS Cleaning Standards (Unit performance represents engineering standards that apply to each custodial task.)

We hope it also will reduce the number of hours locals must spend completing Forms 4839 and 4869. The program automatically calculates totals; it also gives locals line-by-line comparisons, showing both the USPS and APWU Staffing Report side-by-side on Form 4852. The worksheet will also stamp the date and time on the finished product when you are ready to print it.

For questions, concerns or suggestions, contact Idowu Balogun at 202-842-4213 or send an email to