Department & Division News

The End of the Fiscal Year and Custodial Hours

(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.

LDC Work Hours

An example is management’s recent attempts to circumvent our settlement regarding the total number of custodial work hours required in a fiscal year. A July 9, 2014, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlined implementation of the new MS-47 Handbook and converted thousands of Maintenance PSEs to career.

Item 6 of the MOU says that management must provide the local union with LDC 38 work hours that compare to the work hours shown under Line H of Form 4852. The Postal Service is required to staff, schedule and assure the performance of custodial duties, whether the office is covered by Transmittal Letter 3 (T/L-3) or T/L-5 of the MS-47.

As Arbitrator Shyam Das once opined, “Line H represents the total number of hours of custodial work, factoring in training, breaks and wash-ups, to be performed in a year as determined using the criteria and standards in the MS-47. Line H is what is critical.(Case #194T-4I-C 98116745, p. 19.)

The same ruling also outlined certain narrow exceptions, such as the effect of holidays on the postmaster’s office (which the arbitrator assumed meant the postmaster would be absent). Das wrote, “This could provide management a legitimate basis on which to schedule and/or work fewer cleaning and policing hours than those shown on the PS 4852.”

That is why Item 6 of the July 9, 2014, MOU allows for a 10 percent variance from the Line H total. The provision also outlines a remedy for violations: If custodial staffing falls short of 90 percent of the LDC 38 work hours shown on Line H, management is required to compensate custodial employees identified by the local union at the overtime rate.

If management fails to meet the 90 percent mark again the following fiscal year, the violation must be compensated by the difference between the LDC 38 hours and 100 percent of the Line H amount.

It is critical to understand that the LDC 38 hours are to be used for comparison; the settlement does not require that every possible LDC 38 work hour must be performed.

Anticipating that there may be some managers with nefarious motives, the parties agreed that, “The 90% of Line H work hours is not intended to permit the staffing level for the individual facility (e.g. a station, branch, VMF, annex, etc.) covered by the PS Form 4852 to be below the number of employees shown on the PS Form 4852. Where a custodial duty assignment works at more than one facility, the local parties are to agree on how to apply the work hours.”

In other words, local management cannot short-staff one facility (such as a station) and cover up the violation by using employees from another facility (such the P&DC) to perform the work.

Additionally, a set of agreed upon Questions & Answers further amplifies the point. Q&A 26 says:

Q: Regarding Item 6 of the July 9, 2014, MOU, when determining the LDC 38 work hours to be compared to Line H on the authorized PS 4852, is there an agreed upon report to use?

A: The LDC 38 work hours can be shown by whichever report, or combination of reports, will provide the best evidence. The end of FY LDC 38 work hours used must reflect the actual custodial work performed that is included in the Line H total. In other words, only custodial work identified in the staffing package and reflected on the Line H annual time will be used as the comparison. Work hours that do not reflect custodial work, improperly coded work, or custodial work not included in Line H, will be subtracted or ignored for the purposes of the LDC 38 end of FY comparison.

Local management will not be able to cover for or make-up for bypassing routes by piling on custodial hours at the end of the fiscal year. Once daily and weekly routes are bypassed, the hours are lost.

This leads to the requirement that all custodial work expected or anticipated to be performed shall be included in the staffing package. Any work that management may direct the custodians to perform must be work included under the staffing package. If the assigned work hours are not included, as noted above, these work hours are to be subtracted from the LDC 38 total. If supervisors occasionally instruct custodians to move equipment, for example, this work may not have been included, so the time spent should be subtracted.

The solution for the Postal Service is simple: Keep your word, and staff and schedule the operations properly. The recent activity by local managers to avoid doing just that suggests they prefer to pay overtime twice.

Dispute Filed on POStPlan

In the March-April issue of The American Postal Worker, we wrote about custodial work in POStPlan installations. Apparently, some managers still refuse to apply the contract. They refuse to assign our bargaining unit work to the proper bargaining unit.

Our position remains the same. The MOU on Subcontracting Cleaning Services and the Handbook MS-47 address the issue.

Article 38.2.B of the contract puts to rest the issue of whether APOs (Administrative Post Offices) and their RMPOs (Remotely Managed Post Offices) constitute a single installation. It defines an installation as, “A main post office, airport mail center or facility, terminal, bulk mail center, processing and distribution center or facility, maintenance support and repair facility or any similar organizational unit under the direction of one postal official, together with all stations, branches and other subordinate units.”

Finally, Item #27 of the Oct. 30, 2014, Questions & Answers about the POStPlan is unambiguous:

Question: How will maintenance work be addressed in “POStPlan” offices?

Answer: Per the provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.