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Department & Division News

Can We Trust USPS Management?

(This article first appeared in the July-August 2018 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine) 

By Motor Vehicle Service Craft Directors 

Can we ever trust USPS management to live up to their agreements and obligations?

On August 18, 2016, during our last convention in Orlando, the Motor Vehicle Division received one of the most important arbitration decisions relating to Article 32.2.B and the renewal of Highway Contract Routes (HCRs).

In Case No. Q06C-4Q-C 11182451, arbitrator Shyam Das sustained the union’s non-notification of HCR routes dispute and awarded the Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) 110 HCRs for four years, the life of a regular term contract within six months of the award. This was a significant award for the Motor Vehicle Craft, because it gave us momentum in fighting back against the US Postal Service’s attempts to privatize PVS.

The APWU had been complaining for years about the Article 32.2 process, to no avail. On numerous occasions, the union raised legitimate concerns with the Postal Service, but those concerns fell on deaf ears. The Das 110 Arbitration is one of several pending Step 4 disputes in which the union charges the USPS with the same or similar violations.

The primary issue is that the Postal Service violated the National Agreement by notifying the union of HCR contracts after they had been let, or not giving the union notification at all.

The APWU was able to prove to the arbitrator that despite claims these violations were isolated incidents, the Postal Service had breached the Article 32.2.B process in such a broad manner that we were entitled to a meaningful remedy. The Postal Service has been extremely reluctant to comply with the Das award. This is an arbitration award that they would not like to honor.

One of the glaring significances of the award is that a national level arbitrator agreed with the Union’s assessment of the USPS mishandling of the Article 32 process and the obstacles facing the APWU in trying to secure work for the bargaining unit.

In the spirit of good faith cooperation, the APWU entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the USPS on May 17, 2017, extending the deadline for implementing the Das Award.

As of January 2018, USPS notified the APWU that they had insourced 39 of the 110 HCR routes to PVS. They complained about the difficulties they were experiencing with hiring efforts and their attempts to recruit drivers.

On May 14, 2018 the parties entered into a subsequent MOU, which allows for hiring of additional Part Time Flexibles (PTFs) instead of PSEs. The MOU states that local grievances shall be held in abeyance and requires USPS to provide the union with a monthly report on compliance of the Das Award.

The union warned the Postal Service in advance that many of the problems they would experience would be due to their attempts to modify the HCR routes to create less than eight-hour PVS schedules. The APWU for many years has extolled the values of the PVS operators who are highly skilled employees for the services they perform for the USPS.

The APWU continues to remain vigilant in our attempts to win compliance with the Das Award. If we have to invoke the arbitrator’s retained jurisdiction, we will have demonstrated that the union has taken every step possible to work with the Postal Service in implementing this award.

POM 713 Dispute
The MVS Craft on April 17-18 presented the language in 713 Vehicles Used by USPS of the Postal Operations Manual (POM): 713.1 Postal Vehicle Service - “PVS vehicles are under the jurisdiction of managers
at designated offices. They are operated by USPS personnel…”

The MVS Craft has been in dispute with the USPS to replace language that was removed from the POM since 1995.

Our position is that the language in 713.1 prohibits the USPS from providing vehicles, including trailers, to HCR contractors. The issues have been remanded back to Step 4 for further development between the parties, and then come back before the arbitrator.