(This was originally in the SJ Area Local Newsletter of February 2019. Written by: Rob Armentani)
New Executive Board
I would like to start by thanking the membership for having enough faith to allow me to lead our Local Union for another three years. The majority of the Executive Board from the previous term will continue to serve through this 2018-2020 term. The results of the elections in November 2018 were as follows, Frank Forte was elected as Secretary-Treasurer, John Peiffer as MVS Director, Malcolm Hargrove and John Santora were voted in as Trustees. Since no one ran for the position of Maintenance Craft Director, Chris Dluoik was appointed to the position by the President and Executive Board. Chris filled the position for the last four months of the 2016-2018 term after it was vacated. After winning the election for Trustee, John Santora resigned from the position. This was a personal decision that John made and we will miss him on the Executive Board. I would like to thank him for all of his hard work while he served as both a member of the Executive Board and as a steward. Michelle Maimone was appointed to the Trustee position vacated by John. The new Executive Board will be sworn in at the February General Membership Meeting by National Business Agent Vince Tarducci.
The 2015-2018 National Agreement expired on September 20th, 2018. Negotiations began in July and were extended on three separate occasions in an attempt to reach a new agreement. In December there was a tentative agreement that was brought to the Rank and File Committee to determine if the agreement would be sent out to the members for a ratification vote. The committee had several concerns with the tentative agreement and it was sent back to our National Leaders who attempted to work out these concerns with management but were unable to reach an agreement to make acceptable changes. We are now at Impasse and the next step is interest arbitration. While we wait for this process to play out, our current contract remains in full force. Be sure to check our National website APWU.org and Local website apwusjal0526.org for updates.
In August of last year, we received a letter from the clerks working in the Rosenhayn Post Office requesting to merge with our Local. At the time they were considered Members at Large. A vote was taken at the November GMM and it was decided unanimously to approve the merger request submitted. The appropriate paperwork was completed and submitted to the APWU National Union for approval. The merger was approved and the Rosenhayn office is now part of the South Jersey Area Local and I would like to welcome them aboard. Former members from our Local that have taken positions in other offices that are members at large have been inquiring how to merge with us. We have had additional merger requests from Rancocas and Woodstown. These requests will be addressed at the next GMM.
The Reversion Train Keeps Rolling!
Management continues to attack our jobs based on earned work hours. I continue to receive reversion notices for jobs that are vacated by attrition or transfer. Camden has sent three clerk craft reversion notices and one custodial craft notice. We have resolved one clerk craft reversion and a settlement is pending on the custodial craft reversion. The other two clerk reversions are currently in the grievance procedure. We also have recent reversion grievances in the system for the Bulk Mail Acceptance Unit at the Plant, Browns Mills and Medford. We also recently received Notices of Intent to Revert from Sewell and Clementon. Not to mention the grievances that have been sitting in the system for a while from Voorhees, Blackwood and Cherry Hill.
SJ P&DC LMOU Arb Award
There was a recent arbitration hearing held concerning how leave percentages are to be calculated in the SJ P&DC. Management took the position that only career employees and not PSEs would be counted when determining the leave percentages. They took this position but were still placing the names of PSEs into the leave slots. Arbitrator Strongin only took four days to issue his decision and supported the Union’s position that PSEs are clerk craft employees and that the percentages were determined based on the number employees in the clerk craft. Therefore, they will be counted. This is the second important clarification on a leave issue from our LMOU. We recently signed an agreement in June that clarified that there is no provision in our LMOU that allows management to close the leave book four days prior to the date. If you have any questions regarding either of these issues, ask your steward.
Grievance activity through the jurisdiction of our Local has been on the upward swing of late. Activity in some offices such as Blackwood and Voorhees have gone down. This can probably be attributed to a change in PM/OIC in each office. However, grievance activity has gone up drastically in both Mt. Laurel and Camden.
A climate survey was recently conducted by the Union in Mt. Laurel due to several complaints of harassment and bullying by management in that office. The results of the survey were actually surprising. Based on the phone calls we received we expected the majority of the problems to center around one particular supervisor. However, we found that three out of the four supervisors that deal with APWU craft employees in Mt. Laurel engage in behavior considered to be hostile towards employees. There are obvious issues in this facility that need to be addressed. Copies of the survey are being turned over to the Labor Department. Hopefully they won’t just brush it under the rug by promoting the perpetrators to a new position, like they did in Blackwood, and some action is taken to prevent this from continuing in not only that office but other offices as well.
Ever since the PM change in Camden there have been numerous grievances filed. The new PM has stated that changes need to be made in Camden and she is going to make those changes. I’m in agreement that some changes need to be made but they need to be made within the guidelines of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Unfortunately, it appears that the CBA may be getting thrown out the window. This is bothersome to me because the PM and I have always had a good rapport and she is a former steward that may have forgotten where she came from. Additionally, it appears that when our stewards in the facility file grievances they become the target of retaliation. One steward’s supervisor actually implied that he was told to retaliate against the steward by the PM. We will not tolerate any attempt by management to intimidate our stewards and prevent them from doing their jobs as representatives of our Union. Unfair Labor Practice charges will be filed if necessary.