USPS ‘Shirks Responsibility’ to PSEs

(This article first appeared in the Sept-Oct 2017 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

By Health Plan Director John Marcotte 

The APWU Health Plan receives complaints from members who were converted from Postal Support Employee (PSE) to career status and claim the USPS cancelled their health insurance without notification. My office deals with this situation as best as we can, but this is an issue that is the employer’s full responsibility.

The situation is unique for PSEs who have the USPS PSE health insurance, which is not part of the Federal Employee Health Benefit (FEHB) system. Upon conversion to career status, these employees are eligible for 60 days to sign up for FEHB health insurance plans. At the same time, the USPS determines that these employees are ineligible for their USPS PSE insurance and cancels their insurance.

My office is getting complaints from across the country that the USPS is not informing these new career conversions of their ability to sign up for FEHB health plans – and more importantly – that they are losing their USPS PSE coverage. Members are first becoming aware that they have no coverage while receiving medical care, being told they are uninsured!

This problem not only causes a gap in coverage between the date when the USPS plan was dropped and the start of their new FEHB insurance, but also means that if these unsuspecting members exceed the 60 days to sign up for career health insurance, they cannot sign up until the next open season or a “qualifying life event” – making their families uninsured that whole time.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) requires that the USPS give 61-day notice when cancelling health insurance. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires 30-day notice when health insurance is being cancelled. The USPS shirking its responsibility to notify APWU members that their health care is getting cancelled is inexcusable.

Consider the APWU CDO

I want you all to be aware of this gross injustice so we can educate our brothers and sisters who are being converted. This situation will not happen to any PSE who has the APWU Consumer Driven Option (CDO) because it is a FEHB health plan. The only change these new careers will notice is a drop in premiums when they attain career status – with NO gap in coverage.

While the APWU CDO provides superior health care coverage at a lower cost to our PSE families, this situation is yet another reason to ensure all PSEs who have been reappointed after a year learn about the advantages of signing up for the APWU CDO. PSEsare eligible for the APWU CDO upon reappointment after a 360-day appointment, with a break in service of no longer than five days. After they are eligible and if the 60-day window elapses for PSEs to sign up for the APWU CDO, they can still sign up after any qualifying life event or during the next open season after reappointment.

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.