Department & Division News

New Computer Program Will Help Win Good Jobs

Rob Strunk, Clerk Division Director

A new APWU computer program that tracks employees’ work hours will help local unions fight for jobs with better schedules, address excessing issues and retreat rights, and identify part-time flexible hours that justify full-time jobs.Clerk Division

To win the fight for full-time career jobs with good hours and days off, the union must be able to demonstrate that enough work exists during desirable hours to justify posting jobs. The union accomplishes this by considering all the hours worked in an installation, office, tour or section to see if undesirable hours and part-time hours can be combined to create more desirable assignments. Over the years that task has been tedious — and sometimes impossible.

In many locations, union stewards have been charting clerks’ work hours and schedules to demonstrate that jobs with good hours and non-scheduled days exist or to show that management violated employees’ excessing or retreat rights. Stewards frequently spent weeks preparing charts and graphs. Where this has been done, locals often enjoyed a high success rate.

However, in most cases, stewards weren’t allowed enough time to develop the graphs and charts — the documentary evidence — to prove that enough work existed to create day-work jobs with Saturday-Sunday off. Where stewards weren’t able to develop the evidence, local unions relied on persuasion to support their position. In most cases, that proved insufficient.

A Random Test

The new program, the Max Duty Assignment Tool (MDAT), will eliminate many of the problems of the past. A test of the program on a random office with seven clerks covering a 12-month period was completed in less than one hour.

The Max Duty Assignment Tool allows stewards to review as many combinations of employees’ schedules as they choose, inputting up to 10 at a time. It can be used in offices with hundreds of employees. It can include all types of employees, regardless of craft, pay level, grade or type. The sky is the limit.

The program also allows officers to enter data on employees from outside the APWU bargaining unit who are performing APWU work, so that their hours can be included in the analysis. If, for example, Letter Carriers are assigned to cross crafts in violation of Article 7 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the program can track their hours — provided they are using the proper clock rings.

A tutorial on the APWU website gives step-by-step instructions on how to use the program, which is very user-friendly. National Business Agents have been trained on how to use the program, so they can help local and state officers who need assistance. Assistant Clerk Craft Director Lamont Brooks will monitor problems with the program itself, with the valued assistance of Mike Barrett of the Buffalo Local.

How It Works

Once locals determine the type of employees they wish to analyze in an installation, office, tour or section, here’s how the process works:

  • APWU representatives request clock rings. [If your office uses electronic badge readers, stewards request a CSV (Comma Separated Value) formatted file of clock rings for employees in the unit they are investigating. Locals should supply the USPS with a “flash drive” to upload the data or ask to have it provided on a disk. In smaller offices, where employees use time cards, officers will request time cards, PS Forms 1260 or PS Forms 1261 to enter the data manually.] 
  • The local officer logs in to the Members Only section of
  • A link on the left side of the page gives officers access to the Max Duty Assignment Tool
  • Users have the option of uploading a file or working on a previously uploaded file. If officers opt to upload a file, they may upload more than one;
  • After an upload is complete, officers may select up to 10 employees (by name or EID number) and a date range for which the program will compile reports;
  • After officers submit the names and date range, the MDAT renders reports including a “table” view of data and a “bar chart” for a visual presentation of the data. 
  • The data and charts will be avail- able for a minimum of six months or until a new file is uploaded. 
  • The program allows officers to manually input data about additional employees to existing or new reports. 
  • Access to the program will be granted to local and state presidents based on the APWU’s database.
  • A second phase of the program will include additional reports and analysis of potential four-day 10-hour assignments.

We are optimistic that this new program will help locals improve job opportunities and schedules for APWU members.