APWU News Bulletin 14-2013, Aug. 16, 2013 | PDF In response to demands from the APWU, the Postal Service agreed on Aug. 14 to convert 399 Clerk Craft Postal Support Employees (PSEs) to career status. The conversions will be the first in mail processing. The conversions will occur primarily in districts where the number of […]
Posts Tagged ‘Clerk Craft’
The APWU challenged management’s “POStPlan” at an arbitration hearing that began on May 1. The union charged that the plan, which resulted in a drastic reduction in the hours of operation at thousands of post offices, also deprives the APWU members of thousands of jobs, in violation of the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Testifying at the hearing was Abigail Schmeelk, a member of the Greater Connecticut Area Local, who is the only clerk at the Thompson Post Office. Schmeelk described the work of clerks in small offices that is typical of those affected by the plan.
“The POStPlan violates the clear language of new provisions of the contract,” said Director of Industrial Relations Mike Morris. New language in the 2010 contract stipulates that the work in question must be performed by craft employees, he testified. Assistant Clerk Craft Director Lyle Krueth also testified.
“This is a crucial case that has the potential to create and protect thousands of jobs,” Morris said.
Management will present its case at a future date.
(This first appeared in the May/June 2013 edition of The American Postal Worker.)
One of the main priorities of the union is jobs — whether it means stopping management from outsourcing our work, fighting for better hours and days off, negotiating a path to career status for Postal Support Employees or bringing back work that the USPS has contracted out.
The 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement strengthened our protection against subcontracting and we recently won an important victory in a Motor Vehicle Craft arbitration that will help us preserve jobs in all crafts.
We recently launched a new computer program in the Clerk Craft that will help locals track employee work hours to aid the fight for jobs with better schedules, address excessing issues and retreat rights, and identify part-time flexible hours that justify full-time jobs.
But one of the achievements that I am most proud of is the elimination of casuals in all APWU crafts and their replacement with Postal Support Employees (PSEs), who are part of our union.
Many PSEs spent years working as casuals and know first-hand the trials and tribulations of being a casual. But new PSEs may not realize that if they were hired prior to 2011 they would have been hired with much lower pay, no contractual rights, and no union representation. Casuals had no protection against being terminated on a manager’s whim and no procedure for obtaining career status. They were a non-union workforce and were subjected to all the indignities non-union workers suffer.
I am proud to say that is no longer the case.
‘We Want Career Jobs’
PSEs earn considerably more than the casual employees they replaced, and they are guaranteed raises over the life of the current contract. PSEs also earn annual leave and qualify for health insurance after one year.
In addition, PSEs have access to the grievance procedure. And al- though they can be terminated for lack of work, once they pass their probationary period, discharge for any other reason must be for “just cause.” When PSEs are terminated due to a lack of work, dismissals must be implemented by juniority, and rehiring must be based on their craft standing in the installation.
But what PSEs really want is to become full-time career employees — with all the rights and benefits permanent employees enjoy. And this is one of the most important rights we negotiated for PSEs — the opportunity to join the ranks of the career workforce, by seniority, provided they have passed the appropriate entrance exams and are on the appropriate register.
Enforcing PSE Limits to Create Career Jobs
The contract limits the number of PSEs the USPS may hire, and there is evidence that management is exceeding the limits. Ironically, by enforcing restrictions on the use of PSEs, we not only protect career jobs, we improve career opportunities for PSEs. Once we document the fact that management is violating limits on the number of PSEs allowed in various locations and operations, we can demand that the Postal Service create a comparable number of career positions. In accordance with the PSE Career Opportunity provisions of the contract, these career positions must be filled by the conversion of available and qualified PSEs on a seniority basis.
So, enforcing PSE limits doesn’t hurt PSEs, it benefits career employees and PSEs.
In the Clerk Craft, the total number of PSEs used in mail processing within a district may not exceed 20 percent of the total number of career mail processing Clerk Craft employees in the district, except during the Christmas period.
In retail and customer services, the number of PSEs may not exceed 10 percent of the career retail clerks in Level 22-and-above installations whose duties include working the window, and no more than 20 percent of the career retail clerks in Level 21-and-below installations whose duties include working the window.
In the Maintenance and Motor Vehicle Crafts, the total number of PSEs used within a district may not exceed 10 percent of the total number of Maintenance and Motor Vehicle employees, respectively.
Locals Must Be Vigilant
To be successful at increasing career opportunities by enforcing limits on the number of PSEs, locals and state organizations must be vigilant. Locals must monitor USPS compliance with the PSE limits carefully and file grievances when the USPS violates the restrictions.
Article 7.7 of the contract requires the USPS to provide a report every four weeks with information needed to monitor compliance with the PSE limits. (The reports are posted at www.apwu.org, on the Industrial Relations page, under “USPS Reports.”)
Where the record shows that management is violating the cap on an ongoing basis, local grievances should request that management convert an appropriate number of PSEs to career status in accordance with the PSE Career Opportunity provisions of the contract.
PSEs are part of the bargaining unit, and we will continue to fight to improve their wages, hours and working conditions. At the same time, we must protect career jobs and maximize the number of PSEs who are converted to career status, whenever conditions warrant.
The union won a major arbitration victory on March 29, when Arbitrator Shyam Das issued a long-awaited decision that will affect Clerk Craft jobs in small post offices. The ruling settles a long-simmering dispute about the amount of bargaining unit work postmasters and supervisors may perform in Level 18-and-below offices.
“This decision will mean more hours for the clerks who work in small offices and more Clerk Craft jobs,” said APWU President Cliff Guffey.
Arbitrator Das upheld the union’s position, ruling that an agreement between the union and management sets absolute limits on the number of hours postmasters may perform bargaining unit work (BUW) in small offices. A “Global Settlement” that was included in the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement, says postmasters may perform up to 15 hours of bargaining unit work in Level 18 post offices and up to 25 hours in Level 15 and Level 16 offices.
During bargaining, when the agreement was struck, the APWU proposed language stipulating that, “All time the supervisor or Postmaster spends staffing the window during the day will be counted towards the permissible BUW limits.” The USPS agreed.
The union clearly stated during negotiations that if the window is open for business, it is being staffed. If the person staffing the window is a postmaster, all time the window is open must count against the limits, regardless of other tasks the postmaster performs during that time.
After agreeing to the language in negotiations, the USPS took the position at headquarters, in the field and at the arbitration hearing that what management intended was not “all time” staffing the window but rather “earned time” or “actual time” working the window, as reported by the postmasters and supervisors themselves. “All time spent staffing the window” didn’t mean what it said, management asserted.
The arbitrator rejected management’s arguments, ruling that “All time the supervisor or Postmaster spends staffing the window . . . applies to all time the supervisor or postmaster is covering the window, which, in the absence of a clerk, includes all time the window is open.”
“This is a major win for the APWU and especially for clerks who work in small offices where postmasters have been improperly taking work from our members for years,” said Industrial Relations Director Mike Morris. “The task ahead is to enforce the agreement. We will leave no stone unturned to make sure that happens.”
President Guffey praised the ruling. “We want to thank the officers and members who supported the union through this protracted fight,” he said. “Many union officers and staffers assisted in researching, preparing and presenting this case. They did an outstanding job.”
Another disputed section of the Global Settlement dealt with offices that were downgraded under the Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) program after Nov. 21, 2010. The arbitrator ruled that the APWU agreed to an exception for offices without a clerk that are downgraded to Level 13 or-below offices. “This very narrow exception should not work to the detriment of any bargaining unit employees, because it only applies to offices that have no clerks,” Morris said.
“This award sets the table for our challenge to POStPlan, which was another full frontal attack on our union and especially on clerks in small offices,” he said. A hearing on that dispute is scheduled before Arbitrator Stephen B. Goldberg on April 16 and 17.
“The POStPlan is next,” Morris said. “Stay tuned.”
APWU Web News Article 035-2013, March 21, 2013
The March 12, 2013, settlement [PDF] stipulates that the number of NTFT duty assignments in Function 5 or Function 7 will be limited to the number of Clerk Craft part-time regulars (PTRs) and part-time flexibles (PTFs) working in those functional areas immediately prior to the date when they were converted to converted to full time, Aug. 27, 2011.
In accordance with the agreement, the NTFT assignments will have at least two consecutive days off. Six-day work weeks will not be permitted unless management can demonstrate that the specific PTRs and/or PTFs were regularly scheduled for six-day work weeks prior to conversion.
Full-time flexible Clerk Craft NTFT duty assignments may be created and utilized in Function 7 in installations where PTFs were working in that functional area prior to Aug. 27, 2011, and are limited to that number.
Exceptions to the restrictions outlined above will only be permitted by mutual agreement at the local level.
A list [PDF] identifying all PTRs and PTFs working in Function 5 and Function 7 immediately prior to their Aug. 27, 2011, conversion is attached to the MOU.
In accordance with Article 37.3.A.1 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, “Every effort will be made to create desirable duty assignments from all available work hours for career employees to bid.”