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Department & Division News

New Contractual Agreements in the MVS Craft

(This article first appeared in the September-October 2016 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

After extensive negotiations and interest arbitration, the motor Vehicle Division was successful in amending key sections of Article 39 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which governs the MVS Craft. We also were successful in writing a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Re: Highway Contract Routes (HCRs).

The new agreements significantly improve the contract and add protections for members of the MVS Craft. Our fight to keep Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) work and prevent the Postal Service from undermining the contractual rights of employees will continue, but the new provisions are important steps forward.

The new contract includes amendments to the following sections of Article 39:

Article 39.1.C (Definitions)

Issue: In a national-level arbitration award (Q00T-4Q-C 06082523) Arbitrator Shyam Das erroneously stated, “The maintenance craft is the only craft with occupational groups.”

Amendment: 10. Occupational group. In the Motor Vehicle Craft, occupational group shall be determined by position designation and level.”

Article 39.1.H (Multi-Craft Positions)

Issue: The union sought to open multi-craft positions to the entire MVS Craft, not just Level 6 and Level 7 employees.

Amendment: All full-time regular Motor Vehicle Craft employees are eligible to bid for the positions Examination Specialist (SP-2-188) and Vehicle Operations – Maintenance Assistant (SP-2-195).

Article 39.1.I (Vacation Scheduling)

Issue: The union sought to expand the use of seniority for vacation scheduling, which previously applied only to Motor Vehicle Operators.

Amendment: Full-Time Regular and part-time flexible Motor Vehicle Craft employees may exercise their preference by use of their seniority for vacation scheduling.

Article 39.2.A.9 (Non-Bargaining Unit Detail)

Issue: Employees temporarily detailed to supervisory positions cannot bid on craft vacancies. The union sought to strengthen language that prevents them from returning to their craft position solely to circumvent those rules.

Amendment: For bidding purposes, the circumvention provision must be met prior to the date of posting the award notice of the successful bidder. For reposting purposes, this circumvention provision must begin prior to the end of the four (4) months.

Article 39.3.K (Special Provisions)

Issue: Since 1994 the union has tried to get management to comply with criteria outlining the circumstances under which management may use supplementary services.

Amendment: Vehicle Maintenance Agreements (VMAs) or their successors should generally not be used by offices where vehicle maintenance is available in-house. However, when the Vehicle Maintenance Facility (VMF) cannot meet its requirements, such an office may submit a VMA or VMA successor request that justifies the need for supplementary services. VMAs or their successors should not be used to acquire inventory items for a VMF.

HCR Limits

One of the biggest achievements of the new contract is a moratorium on new subcontracting of transportation in facilities with PVS employees and the creation of pilot programs to explore options for additional work.

In his ruling, Arbitrator Stephen B. Goldberg acknowledged the extensive friction between the union and management regarding the Postal Service’s attempts to contract out PVS work. He wrote:

“The contracting out of PVS work to HCR contractors has been a continual source of conflict between APWU and the Postal Service. The 2010 Agreement dealt extensively with this issue, but the implementation of that Agreement has been accompanied by disagreement, including several national-level arbitrations.

“The Union proposed a moratorium through the expiration of the 2015 National Agreement that would bar any new subcontracting of mail transportation in offices where Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) is currently utilized. The Union also asks the Panel to require the Postal Service to participate in pilot programs testing scheduling and work rule modifications for PVS drivers. The purpose of the Union’s proposals, it asserts, is to allow the parties to work through issues surrounding the contracting out of PVS work, to discuss and test potential work rule modifications that might make it more beneficial to retain work in-house, and to otherwise consider options to contracting out that might serve the interests of both parties. A mutually satisfactory resolution of this thorny issue, the Union points out, would serve the interest of both APWU and the Postal Service.”

Accordingly, the new contract will include an MOU that puts a moratorium on any new subcontracting of mail transportation by HCR in facilities with PVS employed. This won’t affect current ongoing HCR contracts, but it is a considerable change to the Postal Service’s original intent to contract out PVS work.

The MOU includes provisions for a pilot program to be developed in no more than three sites, “jointly selected by the parties, to study the feasibility of drivers performing other work during down time between runs.”

The APWU and the Postal Service will also implement a dynamic routing pilot in Louisville, KY, and Tacoma, WA, to “consider the incorporation of HCR runs or segments of runs into the dynamic routing pilots.”

Motor Vehicle Craft Jobs MOU

Arbitrator Goldberg left intact Section 2 of the 2010 Motor Vehicle Craft Jobs MOU, which stipulates that 600 HCR routes will be converted to PVS routes, with a ratio of 25 percent career to 75 percent non-career assignments.

In addition, the APWU will continue to review approximately 8,000 existing HCRs, and if the union can demonstrate that it would cost less for MVS employees to perform the work, it will be assigned to MVS employees.

Also left intact was language in Section 2, which says, “The Postal Service will consider overall operational needs when creating the new assignments including fleet needs, maintenance capabilities, parking, route logistics, etc., but these factors will not be used to circumvent the MEMO…”

The ruling is significant in that it affords the craft opportunities for continued growth.

PVS Air Conditioning

The union was also able to address one of the more pressing concerns of the postal fleet by reaching an agreement with the USPS that the air conditioning system in PVS vehicles must be “maintained as designed.”

Provisions include a one-week turnaround time from the date the VMF is notified when the temperature is expected to exceed 75 degrees, and when the heat index is above 100, the air conditioning must be repaired immediately.

Although our attention is now turned to addressing the condition of the aged fleet, timely repair of air conditioning should provide relief. A copy of the letter can be obtained at www.apwu.org.