Motor Vehicle Division Officers
Pritchard to Retire
Foster to Become Craft Director
(04/28/13) Bob Pritchard has announced he will retire May 10, ending a run of more than 17 years as director of the Motor Vehicle Craft. In accordance with the APWU Constitution, Assistant Director Michael O. Foster will succeed him. [read more]
Union Wins Major Subcontracting Case
Bob Pritchard, Motor Vehicle Division Director
Mike Foster, Assistant Director
(This article first appeared in the May/June 2013 edition of The American Postal Worker.)
The APWU won a great victory on March 4, when arbitrator Stephen B. Goldberg ruled that the USPS decision to subcontract Postal Vehicle Service work throughout California violated the contract.
This was a major accomplishment and shows that the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement improves our ability to protect APWU jobs.
The decision has important implications far beyond California — it will affect other “mode conversions,” where management subcontracts Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) duties at a given location. As a result of Arbitrator Goldberg’s award, we expect management to withdraw notices of pending PVS mode conversions. The decision also will affect subcontracting in other crafts.
The arbitrator’s award was intended to interpret key provisions of the contract, but not to determine the specific steps forward. Therefore, as we go to print, the union and management are conferring about how to implement the decision. Arbitrator Goldberg has retained jurisdiction to resolve any outstanding issues if we are unable to agree.
Can’t Overlook Higher Costs
In his ruling, Arbitrator Goldberg rejected the USPS assertion that the Postal Service can overlook higher subcontracting costs when making outsourcing decisions.
“The Postal Service can no longer justify contracting out work that would be less expensive to keep in house” on the grounds that it has given due consideration to cost as well as other factors outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, he wrote. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) negotiated as part of the 2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement states that if work can be performed by postal employees at a cost that is equal to or less than the cost of subcontracting, it will be performed in-house.
Each of the factors listed in the CBA must be considered, the arbitrator wrote, “but if factors other than cost do not rule out keeping work in house, and the cost of keeping work in house would be less than contracting out, both the text and the bargaining history of the Contracting MOU require that the work be kept in house.”
In other words, if we can do it cheaper, we get the work. The only exception is if other factors listed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement prevent the USPS from using the Postal Vehicle Service. The other factors are: the public interest, efficiency, availability of equipment and qualification of employees.
Follow the Contract
Arbitrator Goldberg also ruled that the Postal Service must follow the steps outlined in Article 32.1.B of the Collective Bargaining Agreement before it can make and implement a decision to
contract out PVS in California. In doing so, he rejected the USPS assertion that Article 32.1.B does not apply to PVS.
In accordance with Article 32.1.B, the Postal Service must take specific steps when it is considering subcontracting that will have a significant impact on bargaining unit work. The USPS must:
A Great Effort
This award will help us continue the fight to protect jobs, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Now we must begin the tedious and time-consuming work of compiling the evidence necessary to demonstrate that postal drivers can run routes at a lower cost than subcontractors.
Our win was the result of a great effort by many people. Special thanks go to APWU President Cliff Guffey, who has steadfastly supported our efforts on this issue. A big shout-out goes to National Business Agent Javier Piñeres and Western Region Coordinator Omar Gonzalez, who provided expertise and testimony, as well as to Executive Vice President Greg Bell and Director of Industrial Relations Mike Morris, who provided strategic advice and assistance. As always, the union’s support staff, most notably Phil Tabbita, made outstanding contributions, along with the union’s attorneys, economist and transportation consultant.
The support of rank-and-file drivers was crucial throughout the process. The Postal Service first announced its decision to contract out its entire California Postal Vehicle Service in June 2012, prompting the union to file a complaint in federal court and a national-level grievance. Drivers attended the court hearing in November 2012, and provided information and ideas throughout the process. APWU members from other crafts also supported our efforts.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Union Fights Management Sham On Local
The requirement helps us police subcontracting and protect jobs.
Implementation of the provision appeared to go smoothly, especially in the Maintenance Craft, which developed an electronic notification procedure. Maintenance managers were able to provide the information simply by adding the union to a list of recipients of an e-mail.
Before long, however, postal officials attempted to redefine the agreement. Suddenly, they claimed that subcontracting at the local level was the domain of the “area” level — not the “field” — and therefore, local notification was not required. Management’s attempt to make a distinction between “area” and “field” contradicts decades of history and virtually every document the Postal Service has ever issued.
We are extremely pleased with the testimony presented by our witnesses. Thanks go to Executive Vice President Greg Bell for the excellent testimony he offered, and to Phil Tabbita, manager of Negotiations Support and Special Projects, for his exceptional work crunching the numbers. Thanks also go to Mike Morris, director of Industrial Relations, for moving the case forward.
We are awaiting a ruling by Arbitrator Shyam Das.