12/18/2015 - The APWU filed a complaint in federal court on Dec. 11 seeking enforcement of a national arbitration award on staffing at Bulk Mail Centers (BMC), Maintenance Craft Director Steve Raymer has announced. The complaint asks the court to direct the Postal Service to comply with a ruling issued by Arbitrator Ira F. Jaffe on Oct. 19.
How to Get a Custodial Staffing Review
A staffing review is an important tool for protecting Maintenance Craft jobs, and we encourage locals to request reviews if there is a valid reason to believe that your office is understaffed.
Staffing packages in the Maintenance Division can be broken into two general categories: Custodial staffing and mechanized staffing.
Custodial staffing is determined by following the step-by-step process outlined in the MS-47 Handbook, Housekeeping Postal Facilities. Management is required to abide by the handbook and to maintain the results of a proper staffing package. Three basic forms are involved:
- PS Form 4869, Building Inventory
- PS Form 4839, Frequency of Cleaning
- PS Form 4852, Work Hour Analysis
Mechanized staffing determines the number of non-custodial positions (for example, ET, Maintenance Mechanic, Building Equipment Mechanic and Maintenance Control Clerk) in an installation, using a program called e-WHEP, the electronic Work Hour Estimator Program. Thee-WHEP was designed principally for use in the mail processing plant environment, but it also includes sections for building equipment, administrative, and field maintenance staffing.
Paperless Review Requests
To have your staffing package reviewed by a national staffing advocate — remotely or by a field visit — you must do the following:
- Request a complete copy of the most current staffing package in an electronic format (PDF) from your local manager. Your request should indicate whether you are interested in custodial staffing, mechanized staffing, or both.
- Once you receive the information from management, you must review the Form 4869, Building Inventory, for accuracy, and complete a list of discrepancies. (See below.)
- Your local president must submit an “e-Request to Review” letter by sending an e-mail message to MaintStaffing@apwu.org. Please be sure to specify what you are requesting and who the local point of contact (POC) will be. Please include phone numbers and an e-mail address.
- Attach an electronic copy of the staffing package (PDF) and the list of discrepancies to your request.
- If you have a previous staffing package, attach that as well for comparison purposes.
A complete list of discrepancies is essential to conducting an accurate and effective staffing review. The list is generated by verifying the accuracy of PS Form 4869, which itemizes inventory. Follow the guidelines below.
- If an item is missing you must add it to your list.
- If a frequency of cleaning differs from what is listed on Form 4839, you must note it on your list.
- If the square footage of a location has been reduced, you must note it on your list.
- If the building has been expanded, you must note it on your list.
- If custodians are performing non-custodial duties in addition to their custodial work, identify the tasks, and indicate the number of minutes per day and the number of days per year the tasks are being performed. Examples include delivering Express Mail, raising or lowering flags, recycling duties, etc. It is not enough to simply identify the tasks.
Including all the information listed above is crucial.
If you have any questions, or if you want to inquire about the status of a request, feel free to contact us at MaintStaffing@apwu.org, or call us at 202-842-4213.
Using the Custodian Staffing Program
A MS-47 Staffing Program developed by Maintenance Craft officers is designed to enable staffing advocates and/or local union officials to verify the custodian staffing packages given to them by local management in three simple steps. The program was created in July 2008 and was updated in July 2011. [MS47 Tutorial]
To utilize it, follow the instructions below:
- After carefully reviewing all forms, create a "discrepancy list" that includes omitted units, square feet, and frequencies.
- Input agency Form 4852 date “as is” onto the Form 4852 comparison.
- Use the data entry tab to correct discrepancies and add omitted items.
The Staffing Worksheet Program is designed to help the APWU recapture lost work-year hours. It enables locals to verify information provided by management and to input omitted cleaning items and cleaning frequencies.
USPS Cleaning Standards (Unit performance represents engineering standards that apply to each custodial task.)
We hope it also will reduce the number of hours locals must spend completing Forms 4839 and 4869. The program automatically calculates totals; it also gives locals line-by-line comparisons, showing both the USPS and APWU Staffing Report side-by-side on Form 4852. The worksheet will also stamp the date and time on the finished product when you are ready to print it.
For questions, concerns or suggestions, contact Idowu Balogun at 202-842-4213 or send an email to MaintStaffing@apwu.org.
11/01/2015 - (This article first appeared in the November/December 2015 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
The Postal Service has notified the APWU of management’s intent to move forward with proposed changes to the MS-1 Handbook, which identifies the duties and establishes the staffing for the “building side” of Maintenance Craft work.
In revising the MS-1 Handbook, Operation and Maintenance of Real Property, management is attempting to eliminate a substantial number of Maintenance Craft jobs. In the process, it will make the postal facilities less safe, less comfortable, and less efficient.
10/20/2015 - The APWU won an important grievance involving Maintenance Craft staffing at Bulk Mail Centers on Oct. 19, when Arbitrator Ira Jaffe issued a stinging rebuke to the Postal Service.
09/01/2015 - (This article first appeared in the September-October 2015 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
We are quite likely still heading for Interest Arbitration for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. And while that is the top priority for APWU officers, day-to-day and month-to-month battles continue.
Issues we thought were resolved often find their way back to the front burner, typically because a manager in the field disagreed with how the union and management settled a problem and came up with way to undermine it.
These stuck-in-the past types typically possess a great deal of anti-union animus. In other words, they just don’t like us. Their attitude is, if they can cause trouble, so much the better.
(This article first appeared in the July-August 2015 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
It seems some old perceptions and misunderstandings die hard, even when confronted with clear and unambiguous facts.
This applies not just to management types, who have a great deal of difficulty learning new things, but also to some arbitrators. There are those who seem to be afraid to do the right thing and some who are overly concerned about how their record will look to the USPS.
One example is the change made during 2010 contract negotiations to Article 38.4.A, which addresses vacant duty assignments in the Maintenance Craft. The changes are shown in bold type below, just as they appear on page 206 of the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement. (Note that in the new 2015 contract, the language will carry over and will not be bold-faced.)
02/18/2015 - The Postal Service and APWU settled a custodial staffing dispute in July, with staged gradual implementation as one of the requirements.
12/23/2014 - Hopefully, every local applied the procedures outlined in the July 9, 2014, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding implementation of the MS-47 - TL-5 Handbook at the conclusion of fiscal year 2014.
The agreement includes an automatic remedy for violations of custodial staffing requirements: In facilities maintained by USPS custodians, if staffing fell short of 90 percent of the work hours shown on Line H of PS Form 4852, management must compensate custodial employees identified by the local union at the overtime rate. (In fiscal year 2014, the first year of implementation of the MOU, the comparison period was prorated.)
10/27/2014 - The APWU and Postal Service have reached an agreement that prohibits management from subcontracting cleaning services based on an employee’s voluntarily transfer from an office where USPS custodians are employed. The Oct. 27 agreement settles a Step 4 dispute.
Union Disposes of Another 'Red Herring'
10/14/2014 - Maintenance craft officers recently settled an important dispute, stipulating that the Postal Service cannot declare an installation “non-maintenance capable” and then use the designation to justify excessing Maintenance Craft employees who work on Building Equipment. The work at issue was primarily that of Building Equipment Mechanics (BEMs), although occasionally the duties are performed by other occupational groups, such as Level 7 Maintenance Mechanics (MM-7s) and Level 5 Building Maintenance Custodians.
09/11/2014 - The APWU and USPS signed a major settlement on July 9 that resolved a long-standing dispute over custodial staffing and resulted in the conversion to career of all Maintenance Craft Postal Support Employees.
It was not an agreement we entered into lightly. The agreement stipulates that the MS-47 Handbook-Transmittal Letter 5, which governs custodial work and staffing, will be implemented as amended by our negotiations.