Retail / Sales & Service

APWU, USPS Revamp Window Training

The APWU has made significant progress recently on revamping window training — a long-term union goal, Clerk Craft officers are reporting.Last summer, after years of struggle, the USPS finally allowed the APWU to be involved in training — and even paid for the travel expenses of clerks who participated, they note.

The APWU team, which was selected by the union, included active and knowledgeable Sales and Service Associates and Lead Sales and Service Associates from around the country, who presented new ideas and concepts to improve training for retail clerks. This is an ongoing project. “We are committed to keeping the ‘boots on the ground’ concept alive as we to deal with the changing post office,” said Clerk Craft Director Rob Strunk. [read more]

Automated Postal Centers

The USPS began deploying Automated Postal Centers (APCs) in February 2004, and plans to install them throughout the country. APCs are designed to reduce lines at windows and provide customers an alternate way to send mail and purchase services. They provide many of the services currently available at full-service windows, including:

  • Weighing and rating letters, flats, and parcels up to 70 pounds
  • Dispensing variable rate postage
  • Providing mailing options and special services
  • Certified mail;
  • Express mail forms
  • ZIP Code lookup
  • Providing receipts

USPS document [PDF] provides the APWU with a list of APC sites and associated revenue as of Aug. 25, 2005.

Bulk Mail Acceptance Duties

Sales and service clerks are entitled to higher-level pay when they perform bulk mail acceptance duties, and they must receive training.  An article in the March/April 2006 edition of The American Postal Worker magazine outlines the issue.

Bulk Mail Acceptance Duties
Documenting Work for Upgrades

In the event you find it necessary to file a grievance seeking to upgrade a duty assignment because of bulk mail acceptance duties, you will need the following documentation to support your case:

  • A statement from the incumbent demonstrating how they have met the criteria found in Section 233.3 of the ELM (Employee and Labor Relations Manual).
  • Bulk Mailing Statement Forms 3602 to support the statement.
    • If you are asserting that the incumbent meets the criteria in Section 233.3a, you will need only one Form 3602 for each of the five days of the grievant’s work week.
    • If you are asserting that the incumbent meets the criteria in Section 233.3b, you will need copies of all Forms 3602 that were processed for the week
  • Trust Account Receipts and Withdrawals Forms 3083 to support the statement.

It is vital that employees who accept bulk mailings on a daily basis complete all the paperwork on the day the mail is received and that they prepare a Form 3083 each day.

If management delays completion of the paperwork, this fact should be noted in the grievance. This notation will support a contention that management’s action — or inaction – is preventing the union from demonstrating that the employee met the criteria of Section 233 of the ELM.

There are many other variables that may be of importance in filing a successful grievance. If you have any questions about how to document such a case, contact your national business agent.

Contract Postal Units

The expansion of private Contract Postal Units threatens USPS owned-and-operated post offices, stations and branches.  Many of the CPUs violate postal regulations, and are vulnerable to challenge.  A CPU Checklist provides a guide for evaluating whether the locals should demand the closure of the CPUs.

For more information on challenging CPUs, see the APWU Station & Branch Consolidation 'Tool Kit' [Members Only - PDF].

APWU, USPS Agree on New Position Description: 
Delivery/Sales Services and Distribution Associate

(10/31/11) The Postal Service and the APWU have finalized the position description and qualification standards for a new Level 6 Clerk Craft position: the Delivery/Sales Services and Distribution Associate. The new position will be filled by the senior-qualified bidder in the Clerk Craft, and will include the existing duties and responsibilities of Sales Service and Distribution Associates and Clerk/Special Delivery Messengers. [read more]

Lobby Director Program

The Lobby Director Program [PDF] may be utilized in locations where lobby traffic is extremely high in order to reduce the customers’ time in line. The guidelines recognize this exclusively as a function of the Clerk Craft.

Mystery Shopper Evaluations

Mystery Shopper evaluations have been a source of contention between the union and management since the program's inception.

An undated letter [PDF] from USPS headquarters indicates that Mystery Shopper Evaluations cannot be used to justify disciplinary action. Local projects similar to the Mystery Shopper program cannot be used to justify disciplinary action either. The letter was sent to all Area Labor Relations Managers at the request of the APWU.

Employees must follow the instructions of their supervisors, however, and may be subject to discipline based on the independent personal observations of their supervisor. They cannot be issued discipline based on the hearsay evaluation of a mystery shopper or similar third party.

Mystery Shopper Program: Priority Mail Sales Down, Parcel Post Up... Troubling?
(03/02/11) Just a few weeks after postal executives implemented changes to the unpopular Mystery Shopper Program, some postmasters and managers are second-guessing the decision. After years of APWU complaints about the program, in January the USPS vice president of Post Office Operations issued instructions to Area vice presidents: Retail Associates (RAs) would no longer be required to ask a scripted set of questions when waiting on customers. [read more]

USPS Announces Mystery Shopper Changes 
(12/30/2010) After years of APWU complaints, the Postal Service has notified the union that the Mystery Shopper Program will be altered beginning in January 2011. Retail Associates (RAs) will no longer be required to follow a precise script when waiting on customers; instead they will be permitted to “customize their questions to best address individual customer needs.” [read more]

(09/23/08) The APWU and USPS resolved a national-level grievance on Sept. 15, 2008, stipulating that, “Evaluations generated through the Mystery Shopper or similar programs shall not be used as the basis for discipline.” The agreement [PDF] settles a Step 4 dispute, filed in 2007, which challenged management’s policy of issuing discipline to employees as a result of programs that are similar to but not technically part of the “Mystery Shopper” program.

Position Descriptions

The Position Descriptions and the Qualification Standards [PDF] for Lead Sales & Service Associates, Sales & Service Associates and Sales, Service & Distribution Associates are provided.

Questions and Answers 
About the Sales and Services Associate Exam

This series of Questions and Answers about the Sales and Services Associate (SSA) Exam [PDF] dated Sept. 17, 2003, lists agreements between the union and management at the national level. The APWU and USPS are bound by the terms of this document at the local level.

WOS Time Factors

The Postal Service uses Window Operations Surveys (WOS) to analyze staffing in retail units. Management established new time factors for Quarter 1 FY2016[Excel] -for use in evaluating the number of workers needed for an operation. 

Self Service Postal Centers

July 15, 2004, letter [PDF] from management outlines USPS plans for stamp vending machines as Automated Postal Centers (APCs) are deployed. The letter reviews the previous correspondence between the union and management on the subject, and provides lists of vending machines that will be eliminated, by model number and location.

News: Retail / Sales & Service

Clerk Craft Settles 4 National Disputes with USPS

09/10/2018 - The Clerk Craft recently settled four (4) Step 4 National Disputes with the Postal Service that (1.) address the assignment of injured on duty employees in USPS “pilot” or experimental programs, (2.) Lead Clerk duties and leading other employees, same level and higher, (3.) 204B details to non-supervisory positions, and (4.) Lead Clerk and TACs training and duties.

Lamont Brooks, Clerk Craft Assistant Director, was the assigned officer for the disputes and handled the negotiations that led to the favorable settlements. 

APWU Web News Article 14-2018

APWU and Postal Service Extend Moratorium on Private Retail Outlets

02/13/2018 - In an effort to protect against further contracting out of retail operations and defend the integrity of customer service and our jobs, the APWU secured a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in the 2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement that imposed a moratorium whereby the Postal Service could not expand any Village Post Offices, Contract Postal Units and Approved Shipper outlets. The moratorium initially expired in July 8, 2017, but was extended through the end of 2017. On February 7, 2018, the parties extended the MOU until September 20, 2018, thus protecting more retail jobs from potentially being lost to these programs through the expiration of the current union contract.  

The Future of Retail: Moratorium and Discussion

05/01/2017 - (This article first appeared in the May-June 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

By Clerk Craft Directors 

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) “Re: Retail” imposes a one-year moratorium on any new contracts under the Approved Shipper Program, Contract Postal Units (CPUs) and Village Post Offices (VPOs). In addition, “For a twelve month period of time commencing on the effective date of the 2015 National Agreement, the parties will enter into discussions over the ‘future of retail’ in the Postal Service.” Absent any extensions, the moratorium and discussions are scheduled to end approximately July 8, 2017.

Keep the Clerk Craft Strong

01/01/2017 - (This article first appeared in the January-February 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

The Clerk Craft continued to grow with a net gain of approximately 5,500 new employees in the last year. Nearly all of this growth has been to career jobs. If we continue forward with increased organizing, the APWU can create even more living wage jobs for our communities. 


Important Gains for the Clerk Craft

09/01/2016 - (This article first appeared in the September-October 2016 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

Contract negotiations were challenging and arbitration was uncertain, but, in the end, the APWU was able to move forward on many issues union members identified as important. The gains were made possible by the power and leverage provided by the membership through Contract Actions Teams and other forms of activism.

APWU Web News Article 157-2016

Three New Signoffs in the Clerk Craft

07/29/2016 - APWU Clerk Craft officers and the Postal Service signed three documents on July 29:  They agreed to a new set of Questions & Answers on the POStPlan, Filling Residual Vacancies, and Travel; signed a Step 4 Settlement on Postal Support Employees (PSEs) staffing Level 4 RMPOs (Remotely Managed Post Offices) working outside their installation, and signed an addendum Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Peak Season Exception Periods and the use of annuitants.

Protecting, Expanding Clerk Craft Jobs

07/01/2015 -

Members march in Whitestone, NY, on May 14 National Day of Action.

(This article first appeared in the July-August 2015 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

We have, for the moment, stopped the bleeding of jobs as over 20,000 Postal Support Employees (PSEs) have been converted to career status in the last year. These workers now have higher pay, health care, and retirement benefits.

There are many reasons for the relatively remarkable achievement of conversions and slowing down the job losses in the Clerk Craft.