(This article was first reported in the June 2018, Local Newsletter)
Written by: Frank Bollinger, Business Agent of APWU, SJAL #0526
I know it is troublesome for a few out there to inform the Union when management violates the contract. Some worry about “rocking the boat”, retaliation, or other negatives. First remember management is constantly ready to rock the boat by cutting our staffing be it clerks or maintenance employees. They do not seem to care one bit if the boat rocks so hard it might capsize, so why would one assist them which in-turn lessens one’s protection? Next, we move onto retaliation. There are many safeguards for someone who reports violations to the contract. Not only is it a further violation of our contract but it is a violation of law. There are some members of management who just don’t care and will try to retaliate. If you ever find yourself in one of those situations then document any and all instances and report it to the Local. More so it seems that a lot of managers fall into the category of being like dogs, if they sense fear or hesitation they will bark!
Now we have also received reports from members about other employees who after the Union addresses a violation go around almost as if agents for management trying to figure out who it was that went to the Union to report the violation. For the most part it seems to be the leeching SCABS that try to be the little investigators. In my opinion what they are doing is a form of intimidation and possibly Union busting. I mean let’s look at it for what it is, they want to be able to help management single out the individual(s) who hold management accountable in regards to following our Collective Bargaining Agreement. Now we do also work the USPS and it also seems that as such nosy people who like to gossip are high in numbers as well. So, it may not always be a situation where they are being rats. That said either way if you notice this still let us know about it. We are not certain of the course of action but these things need to be documented again referring to the earlier bit on retaliation.
This has been mentioned time and again in the past but it is always good to refresh everybody and also to make our newer members aware. After an absence you have the right to fill out your own 3971, you do not have to sign the one(s) management presents you. I have seen numerous errors through the years on the 3971’s that management presents to the employees. Once you sign it, it becomes hard to challenge it. Always make sure they reflect exactly what you called out for when you reported your need to be absent.
If by chance management doesn’t follow up with you on turning them in and all of a sudden, they approach you with a “stack” of them, then take your time and recollect the dates they are citing. Fill your own 3971’s out and when you sign them make sure to put the date it is when you are actually signing them. If you are ever disciplined for attendance management has to show that you were knowledgeable to the fact of having unacceptable attendance. If they do not enforce turning in 3971’s then all at once come up to you with 3971’s to cover the last 3 months then if you date them for the current date it can be argued that you were not totally aware of your unacceptable attendance. Also, at your PDI management has to present completed 3971’s for your review.
Advanced Sick Leave Requests
Unfortunately for some of our members there are periods where they fall ill and must be out an extended period of time. They get to a point where they have or about to exhaust all of their paid leave and still need to be out. The USPS has an option available for these types of situations. The ELM section 513.5 has a provision called advanced sick leave.
513.5 Advanced Sick Leave
513.511 May Not Exceed Thirty Days
Sick leave not to exceed 30 days (240 hours) may be advanced in cases of an employee’s serious disability or illness if there is reason to believe the employee will return to duty. Sick leave may be advanced whether or not the employee has an annual leave or donated leave balance.
513.512 Medical Document Required
Every request for advanced sick leave must be supported by medical documentation of the illness.
513.521 Installation Heads’ Approval
Officials in charge of installations are authorized to approve these advances without reference to higher authority.
513.522 Forms Forwarded
PS Form 1221, Advanced Sick Leave Authorization, is completed and forwarded to the Eagan ASC when advanced sick leave is authorized.
513.53 Additional Sick Leave
513.531 Thirty–Day Maximum
Additional sick leave may be advanced even though liquidation of a previous advance has not been completed provided the advance at no time exceeds 30 days. Any advanced sick leave authorized is in addition to the sick leave that has been earned by the employee at the time the advance is authorized.
513.532 Liquidating Advanced Sick Leave
The liquidation of advanced sick leave is not to be confused with the substitution of annual leave for sick leave to avoid forfeiture of the annual leave. Advanced sick leave may be liquidated in the following manner:
Charging the sick leave against the sick leave earned by the employee as it is earned upon return to duty.
Charging the sick leave against an equivalent amount of annual leave at the employee’s request provided the annual leave charge is made prior to the time such leave is forfeited because of the leave carryover limit.
To submit a request, you should address a letter to your Postmaster/Instillation Head along with medical documentation. Your letter may benefit from having the following or something similar in it; “I am requesting ___ hours of advanced sick leave as allowed by section 513.5 of the ELM. I am a __ year employee, I plan on coming back after my recovery (or whatever your situation is) and working at the USPS until I retire. I will have more than enough time left to pay back the advanced sick leave I have requested.”
Honestly a lot of times management just denies these requests. Keep a copy of your letter and the medical documentation your provided and if they deny your request, get a copy of their denial as well. Let us know and we will review their denial reasoning and your documentation and grieve it if it turns out they violated your rights. Just because it says the word “may” in there does not mean just any reason management denies it is acceptable.