(This article was first reported in the November 2017, Local Newsletter)
Written by: Mike Wright Director of Associate Offices of AWPU, SJAL #0526
First thing before I give another long-winded article, I would like to thank the employees (Clerks, Custodians, Rural and City Carriers) in Hammonton who listened and have been giving me weekly statements, giving us the always important witness accounts that we can now use to help address the ludicrous staffing there. I preached this in a previous article, when all four unions come together, we can become a true force to be reckoned with. There will be more on Hammonton later in the article.
Here are some important tips/tricks to help our numbers in the Associate Offices. For those who weren’t at the September General Membership Meeting (GMM), brother Bill McIntyre brought up a great point. Because the Hand-held scanner and RSS units do not communicate (when doing box parcels) we can scan the parcel delivered by both the hand-held and through the RSS unit so we get credit in both the Labor Distribution Code (LDC) and the WOS score. Also, from the 37.3.A.1 class at the All-Craft Conference, we can manually input the time spent into MDAT to help increase staffing. Even in cases where management or other crafts do assist with mail and maximize the ODL, we need to document the time spent so when a Desirable Duty grievance is filed in that office down the road,
At the All-Craft Conference Assistant Clerk Craft Director Lamont Brooks stated that WOS, CSV, Lag Time reports are all tools used by management and should not be our primary focus, they’re more of a rebuttal than a main argument. So why should we continually preach them at meetings and the newsletters? Why should we bother swiping onto the correct functions? The answer is quite simple, if we can build our numbers up, it’s a fight we don’t need to have. For the offices that are having events, maybe we can use these numbers to turn the verbiage of “Earned Hours” which exists nowhere in any contract or Memorandum of Understanding, against managements favorite argument. One of the few silver linings of the 2010 CBA is the wording found in Article 37.3.A.1 which states “Every effort will be made to create desirable duty assignments from all available work hours for career employees to bid.”, nothing about earned hours, nothing about lag time, nothing about whatever knucklehead application they want to try and create and use to attack jobs. If the USPS was serious about addressing the “dire financial straits”, they would start pulling Postmasters out of Level 18 offices and let a LSSA run the office, at a much lower rate. One of Managements largest requests at the table in 2016 was to have a “More affordable work force”, I guess that an 80-85k or more per year Postmaster working 15 hours a week as a window clerk didn’t fall under that category. Clerk Craft Director Cliff Burleson mentioned that we need to shine a light to the public on what is going on regarding the staffing cuts, we can do this by informational pickets, petitions, and contacting local politicians amongst other ideas.
Another thing to look at that came out of the All-Craft Conference is the staffing increase since 2010, we’ve added almost 5,000 new clerks in part by filing grievances when management or other crafts perform our work. In MDAT (Maximization Duty Assignment Tool) we can manually input hours so we can create better jobs for our clerks. This is important because now when Supervisor Smith spends 2 hours on parcels, we can use that in our MDAT reports. This is a more valid reason to let a steward know when this is happening. I plan on using the statements from Hammonton that I’ve been getting lately to help make our arguments there on staffing. The plan is to file a 37.3.A.1 once a month (this coming from the class at the State Convention in June) to keep hammering away at management. The offices that solicit management to help them get the mail up on time, even-though standards like earned hours are the “pink elephant” that only management sees, those words are not contained in any mutually signed agreement.
In all, it was a very informative conference, with expanded issues on Small Offices, PSEs, and the September MDAT updates. We sent daily notes through the information line.
While we’re on the information line, there was concern that some people at previous conferences who went from the Union to the Dark Side shared a lot of what they were taught. We’ve had reports that some people sharing information now with management. If you’re on the line and have a contact of a usps.gov email, we need an updated email address, I will be taking people off the line at the end of the year those who still have a usps.gov contact address as a precautionary measure. So please, if you are on the line please contact me with an updated address.
The August South Jersey District Dog and Pony Show (Clerk/Mailhandler Labor Management Meeting) is starting to prove what we all knew. Words are just words at the end of the day when nothing changes. The LSSAs doing TACS, even-though it was brought up and followed up a week later with an email conversation with Labor, has gone nowhere and will be addressed in November. More concerning though is how the SJ District found there was no incident in Millville even though we had presented the smoking gun at the August LM Meeting. I had emailed Dorita Maher back the next day stating I did not agree with the findings and requested copies of all materials from their investigation; that was September 4, 2017. I am writing this article on October 5, 2017, and have received nothing. Due to the dismissive attitude of both the POOM at the time in Millville and the District, I will be forwarding everything I have, both to the National Labor Relations Board and Congressman Frank LoBiondo.
We also had a Local Dog and Pony Show in Camden, where again at the time I’m writing this, has no PSEs. We brought up our concern over 1.6 and 7 violations due to the lack of flexibility, misuse of the ODL, and reports on a scab 204b who has been on a tear since her arrival in Camden. This is the same 204b in Mount Laurel who was ok having a clerk walk from one branch, three miles in heavy traffic with no sidewalks, to another. This incident was brought up at the August District Dog and Pony Show.
Getting back to Hammonton, so far this year they’ve tried to sneak a PTF into a RMPO. They continuously work less than an 8-hour shift. NTFT employees work beyond their bid hours to include breaking one clerk with a 6-hour bid for up to 3 or more hours and then bringing them back to work. They’re likely guessing all the brilliant decisions fall under their right to mismanage in Article 3. They lost 2 of their 3 PSEs to PTF positions and would rather force the non-ODL to work. On top of that, they are treating their NTFTs like PTFs then maybe contact the district Compliment Coordinator or Labor to see what their options are. It’s to the point where a non-ODL NTFT is having to cancel appointments five hours after their tour is supposed to end due to the mismanagement.
The “work beyond the 12-hour window” game is starting up again. We had occurrences in Riverside and Moorestown (two weeks in a row) after I emailed Local Management and Labor prior to the second incident in Hammonton. We are hearing reports of this in Millville as well. ELM 432.32 clearly points out that the maximum time an employee is required to work, including breaks and lunch, is twelve hours. I’ve been successful in getting those who have worked beyond this window an additional 50% premium to all hours beyond that window. I’ve also reached out to the District Manager on both Hammonton and the 12-hour window issues.
There have also been disheartening reports of clerks punching out and working off the clock. I’m not sure of the logic on why someone would work for free unless they’re being instructed. If charity is what someone with a “Walmart-like” intent is looking for, I’m sure the Red Cross or Salvation Army are looking for a few good people. If this is happening, file two individual grievances. One to get the employee (who is likely being asked to work off the clock) paid for the free hours and the ODL employee who was harmed by the original employee performing free labor paid at the 50% additional rate.
Finally, the holidays are coming up fast! ‘Tis the season to ask us to give more, while pallets of parcels are back out the door onto the platform. The lines at the window will be back out into the lobby, and occasionally we’ll get a “Thank You”. This is usually followed in January by “New Year, new rules, here’s your discipline for (fill in the blank) which is the new district hot-button issue”. I’m sure most Postmasters, who are much too busy getting screamed at on their daily telecoms, haven’t addressed the holiday help issue which has been backed up two weeks this year. We need to keep an eye on the 1.6 and 7 violations and not solicit the supervisor or other crafts to help. Another aggravating report we’re receiving. Make sure we don’t lose staffing due to letting the violations go unreported. I’ve said this before, nowhere in any written agreement are there standards, this includes their precious “Up-Times”, which at the end of the day, is a standard. If management is that concerned with it, let them staff properly and stop using the ridiculous apps. The computers don’t throw parcels, sort mail, etc. Also, I’ve sent this through the information line in the past, if they are asking you to scan the Mail Up-Time before the mail is up, let us know and we will contact the appropriate parties; this is falsification.
Hopefully I will see you all at the November GMM where I’ll elaborate more on this article, if not, I wish all our members a safe and stressful (as much as that’s possible this time of year) holiday season.