A Significant Step Forward for Remedies

(This article first appeared in the July-August 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine) By Clerk Craft Directors 

The APWU took a significant step forward in holding the Postal Service accountable for violations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), as a result of Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg’s award in the dispute regarding the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Clerk Craft jobs.

The decision provides a remedy for all employees harmed when the Postal Service fails to post duty assignments in a timely manner. As a national award, this ruling can be applied to all crafts in similar situations, such as the reversion (elimination) of a vacant duty assignment.

The dispute was in regard to the proper remedy when the Postal Service failed to provide the 800 administrative and technical jobs promised in the 2010 contract, as part of the Clerk Craft Jobs MOU. The USPS did transfer some work performed by Executive and Administrative Staff (EAS) employees to the Clerk Craft by providing the Mail Flow Controller and the Address Management Systems jobs in 2013; however, they then failed to provide the remaining 362 jobs.

The USPS kept telling the APWU that the remaining jobs were forthcoming all the way up to the day of the arbitration. During the arbitration proceedings the USPS made the amazing argument that management officials in the operations department told them there were no jobs available, and if there were any, they would be going away soon.

However, despite the USPS argument that suddenly there are no longer administrative and technical jobs available, evidence provided by the APWU showed an increase in the number of these jobs performed by EAS employees – and a reduction in those same types of jobs performed by Clerk Craft employees – over the same time frame.

The arbitrator ruled that the USPS should have complied with the award no later than August 2013, and therefore back pay will start from then until the USPS posts the jobs.

Following the award, the USPS identified 362 administrative type jobs which should be posted for bid in the near future.

Precedent Setting

It is the remedy for the failure to post those jobs by August of 2013 that is most important moving forward. In the past when the Postal Service failed to post a duty assignment in violation of the CBA, a common remedy was out-of-schedule pay for the employee who ultimately was the successful bidder on the job after it was eventually posted. That remedy did not capture the harm to other employees who would have moved up to more desired jobs.

Moreover, the standard remedy was not strong enough to discourage the Postal Service from violating the CBA. USPS was making a calculated decision that it was in their interest to violate the CBA, partly because locals did not file grievances each time it was warranted. Even when the APWU grievance was successful, the standard remedy was not enough of a deterrent for the Postal Service.

In his award, Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg explained employees directly or indirectly affected by the Postal Service’s failure to comply with the MOU “Subject: Clerk Craft Jobs” were entitled to relief:

“One group of employees clearly affected by the Postal Service failure to comply with the MOU consists of those who would have successfully bid on one of the 362 administrative or technical positions at the time that position should have been filled. All such employees are entitled to be made whole in the amount of all pay and benefits they lost as a result of the lapse in time between the date they would have filled one of the 362 positions had the Postal Service filled them in a timely fashion and the date on which they are actually awarded one of those positions.

Another group of employees entitled to remedial relief is composed of those who were indirectly affected by the Postal Service violation. As Mr. Burelson testified, this group consists of employees who would have been the successful bidders on the vacancies created by those employees who should earlier have been placed in an administrative and technical position. There may be more than one employee indirectly affected in this fashion since each vacancy filled later than it should have been may lead to another – all the way down to a PSE whose conversion to career status is delayed by the original violation – and the Postal Service shall be required to make each such employee whole for any loss in pay and benefits sustained as a result of that violation.”

The common understanding of relief is to make the bargaining unit whole, which most remedies fall far short of accomplishing. The award is a significant step in addressing all the harm done to the bargaining unit. Much appreciation goes to Assistant Clerk Craft Directors Lynn Pallas-Barber (lead case officer) and Lamont Brooks, as well as our APWU attorneys Mindy Holmes and Jason Veny.

USPS Attempting to Eliminate Needed Jobs

The award came just in time to assist in the fight to address the Postal Service’s recently aggressive “recommendations” to the field to revert vacant duty assignments based on unrealistic ideas of how many hours they would like to see worked in the installation, instead of utilizing the actual hours worked.

The Postal Service is using a dashboard complement tool that allows the user to see all the relevant local information on one page. However, that dashboard view also shows how ridiculous it is for management to revert a job when the local data confirms PSEs are averaging 35 hours a week and overtime is being utilized on a regular basis.

With Goldberg’s award, the APWU can and should request compensation to all employees directly and indirectly harmed as a result of the Postal Service’s decision to revert a job and, therefore, fail to post a duty assignment for bid.

It is important that the union fight back at the local, area and national level against attempts to squeeze workers and reduce service. Our success in stopping the Postal Service will depend on whether we are able to put enough pressure on them, so they make the calculated decision that it’s not worth messing with the APWU.

MVO/TTO Qualification Standards Settlement

(This article first appeared in the July-August 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine) By Motor Vehicle Service Craft Directors 

The APWU and the Postal Service finalized a settlement on May 9, 2017 resolving national case A19V20021, concerning the 2002 changes made to the Motor Vehicle Operator (MVO) and Tractor-Trailer Operator (TTO) Qualification Standards. The union filed an appeal to arbitration in 2002 in response to unanswered questions and concerns with the changes that had been made, including increasing the experience requirement from one year to two and the elimination of the language, “those who pass the Postal Service road test on a tractor-trailer will be considered the meet the six month requirement.”

It was the APWU’s position that the Postal Service’s changes went far beyond their claim that the only revisions to the MVO and TTO Qualification Standards consisted of “removing outdated language.” It was also our position that the elimination of this language made it virtually impossible for an MVO with no prior TTO experience to be promoted to TTO.

The settlement affirms that the subject changes to the Qualification Standards will remain in effect, but significantly it provides clear guidance as to the circumstances under which an MVO may be awarded a TTO position, including the providing of TTO training per the language in Article 39.1.B.9. The terms of the settlement are as follows:

  • An MVO may bid for a TTO position with a valid commercial driver’s license, air brakes certification for relevant work vehicles from their state of residence, and two years of general driving experience with at least one year full-time, or equivalent, of driving 7-ton trucks and/or buses with a minimum of 16 passengers;
  • At least six months of the required driving experience must be operating a tractor-trailer;
  • An MVO who holds a state license to operate a tractor-trailer and qualifies for a certification on a Large Truck Skills Course will be considered to meet the six month requirement;
  • When tractor-trailer assignments are established, MVOs who are not qualified to drive tractor-trailers will be given on-the-clock training, starting with the senior MVO (Article 39.1.B.9 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement);
  • An MVO who obtains the proper state issued permit to operate a tractor-trailer may receive USPS training in accordance with Article 39.1.B.9 to prepare for the state licensing test. An MVO who then qualifies for certification on a Large Truck Skills Course as part of this training will have met the six month qualification;
  • In addition to these guidelines for MVOs looking to bid on a TTO position, the settlement reaffirms that it is not the policy of the Postal Service to require the tractor-trailer driving test for an MVO position, as is stated in the Joint Contract Interpretation Manual (JCIM). The question asks, “Are Motor Vehicle Operators required to have a Class A commercial driver’s license?” The MVO qualification standards do not have any requirements for the applicants to be TTO qualified.

The intent of this settlement is to enable interested MVOs without the six month’s experience to be trained and to further have the opportunity to exercise their right pursuant to Article 39.1.B.7.b and seek a promotion to TTO. This settlement provides guidance to the local parties to establish training practices and procedures.

PSE Salary Exception Issues Resolved with Recent MOU

Postal Support Employee (PSE) salary exception issues have been ongoing causes of concern and disputes for the Motor Vehicle Service (MVS) Craft. Different Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) have been issued throughout the past several years in an attempt to correct the numerous oversights and missteps occurring when a PSE is converted to career status.

On March 10, the APWU signed an MOU with the Postal Service that remedies the situation where Motor Vehicle Service PSEs who had been granted a salary exception were converted to career status within the same craft, but to a lower level and received a starting salary rate in accordance with the June 6, 2014 MOU “Re: Resolution of Postal Support Employee (PSE) Salary Exception Issues,” and its April 3, 2015 addendum.

The MOU protects both newly-converted PSEs and established career employees by achieving the following:

  • Restores the salary rate of Level 8 PSEs who were converted to a career Level 7 position within the Motor Vehicle Service Craft and subsequently forced to take the Level 7 salary rate.
  • Upgrades the salary rate of any Level 7 MVS employee who is senior to the newly converted PSE but is receiving a lower salary rate.
  • Preserves the principle of step progression.
  • Rescinds any Letter of Demand that was issued to a PSE receiving a higher rate of pay based on their salary exception after being converted to career.
  • Resolves national dispute HQTV20160071.

The parties agreed to address any issues as a result of this MOU at the national level. If local management is not in agreement or compliance with the terms of this MOU, local officers should bring this to the attention of the national MVS Directors.

This MOU should provide stability and equitable pay for all employees impacted from the salary exceptions and the conversion to career.

MOU Signed on the Implementation of 110 Routes Das Award

On May 17, 2017, the APWU and the Postal Service signed an MOU on the implementation of Arbitrator Das’ award in Case Q06C-4Q-C 11182451, on the 110 HCR routes to be converted to PVS.

This MOU achieves the following:

1. The Postal Service will convert 110 routes from HCR to PVS service no later than Sept. 1, 2017.

2. The Postal Service will begin the staffing process and any necessary hiring immediately. It will give the APWU written notice concerning the transfer of routes, identifying each route and stating the date on which a transfer was completed and the postal employees assigned to the route, and PS Form 4533’s.

3. If for any reason, any of the routes identified in Exhibit A cannot be converted by Sept. 1, 2017, the Postal Service will notify the APWU as soon as reasonably practicable of the reasons therefore. The parties will discuss possible alternatives.

This MOU does not modify the Arbitrator’s retained jurisdiction.

Maintenance Defines Custodial Staffing in POStPlan Clusters

(This article first appeared on the Web News Article #: 67-2017)

On June 30, Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg issued a national award for Case No. Q10T-4Q-C 15206030 concerning custodial staffing in POStPlan office clusters (a group of postal facilities consisting of at least one Remotely Managed Post Office [RMPO] directly reporting to the postmaster located at the Administrative Post Office [APO]).

Arbitrator Goldberg’s award certified that a POStPlan office cluster, is an installation as defined in Article 38.2.B and the custodial staffing formula outlined in the Maintenance Craft “Subcontracting Cleaning Services” Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) applies. This means the USPS cannot continue to freely subcontract out bargaining unit work in these small offices.

“This MOU requires applying a formula which adds together the gross interior and exterior square feet of all facilities within an installation to determine if the Postal Service can subcontract custodial work,” Maintenance Director Steve Raymer explained. “Locals and state organizations representing POStPlan ‘clusters’ should determine whether the MOU is being complied with. If the result of applying the formula is 1 or greater, then management is prohibited from contracting out the Maintenance Craft’s work.”

Article 38.2.B of the CBA defines an installation as, “a main post office, airport mail center or facility, terminal, bulk mail center, processing and distribution center or facility, Maintenance Support and Repair Facility or any similar organizational unit under the direction of one postal official, together with all stations, branches and other subordinate units.”

“As the Union points out, the POStPlan office structure is almost identical to the main post office – station/branch structure described in Article 38.2.B,” confirmed Arbitrator Goldberg. “Simply switch the names from APO to main post office and from RMPO to station or branch, and the management and operational structure of the POStPlan and non-POStPlan offices are exactly the same.”

If you have questions or concerns, contact your Maintenance National Business Agent for help.