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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

APWU Web News Article 174-2014

9,000 New Jobs to Be Created

APWU Wins Major Victory on Staffing ‘POStPlan’ Offices

09/22/2014 - The APWU has won a major victory on staffing in post offices affected by the “POStPlan” – a victory that will result in the creation of at least 9,000 new Clerk Craft jobs within 90 days.

In a ruling dated Sept. 5, Arbitrator Stephen B. Goldberg concluded that jobs in four- and six-hour post offices must be assigned to clerks – not Part-Time Postmasters or Postmaster Reliefs (PMRs). A Sept. 22 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlines procedures for implementing the award.

The ruling and MOU establish a minimum of 3,000 new Level 6 career jobs in six-hour offices and Level 18 offices. Positions in the six-hour offices must be staffed with full-time employees. The ruling and MOU also establish more than 6,000 new Level 6 non-career jobs in four-hour offices, to be filled by Postal Support Employees (PSEs). The union expects thousands of additional new career jobs to be created as the process unfolds.

APWU News Bulletin

9,000 New Jobs to Be Created

APWU Wins Major Victory on Staffing in ‘POStPlan’ Offices

09/22/2014 - The APWU has won a major victory on staffing in post offices affected by the “POStPlan” – a victory that will result in the creation of at least 9,000 new Clerk Craft jobs within 90 days.

In a ruling dated Sept. 5, Arbitrator Stephen B. Goldberg concluded that jobs in four- and six-hour post offices must be assigned to clerks – not Part-Time Postmasters or Postmaster Reliefs (PMRs). A Sept. 22 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlines procedures for implementing the award.

The ruling and MOU establish a minimum of 3,000 new Level 6 career jobs in six-hour offices and Level 18 offices. Positions in the six-hour offices must be staffed with full-time employees. The ruling and MOU establish  more than 6,000 new Level 6 non-career jobs in four-hour offices, to be filled by Postal Support Employees (PSEs). The union expects thousands of additional new career jobs to be created as the process unfolds.

APWU Web News Article 094-2014

The Sign on the Door Says It All

Post Offices Close Early, Send Customers to Staples

05/15/2014 - Hours have been cut at 16 post offices within a five-mile radius of the San Francisco Staples store that has a postal counter, according to information obtained by the APWU.

A sign on the post office door directs customers who arrive after the new 5 p.m. closing time to other post offices – and to the Staples store.

APWU News Bulletin

Pay Raise Set for Nov. 16

11/01/2013 - APWU-represented postal employees will receive an increase in their annual salaries effective Nov. 16, which will be reflected in paychecks dated Dec. 6. The increase will apply to employees covered by the APWU-USPS 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

ALSO: In a decision issued Oct. 16, Arbitrator Shyam Das ruled that APWU members are entitled to retroactive pay for time postmasters or supervisors performed craft duties in excess of limits outlined in the contract.

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