Sept. 1 and Where is the Work?
(This article first appeared in the November-December 2017 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By Motor Vehicle Service Craft Directors
On August 18, 2016, Arbitrator Shyam Das ruled in case Q06C-4Q-C 11182451 that the Postal Service had violated Article 32 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement by failing to notify the union of at least 212 Highway Contract Routes (HCRs) until after the contracts had already been let. Arbitrator Das’ award ordered the Postal Service to convert 110 of the disputed routes remaining in service to the Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) for regular, four-year contract terms.
After extensive negotiations concerning timelines and substitute routes, the parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreeing that the Postal Service would convert the agreed upon 110 routes from HCR to PVS no later than Sept. 1, 2017.
Sept. 1 has come and gone: Where is the work?
In August, the union signed Postal Support Employee (PSE) salary exception requests for most of the sites that are due to receive work from the 110 award, and local union officers have done their due diligence by sending Requests for Information (RFIs) regarding:
1. Where management is in the recruiting and hiring of operators; any problems they have in hiring;
2. Class/type of employees they plan to hire – whether new work PSE or career;
3. How much equipment will be needed;
4. What steps management has taken to lease vehicles.
We continue to receive numerous reports from the field that local management is either unwilling or unable to comply with the terms of the award and subsequent MOU, or refusing to meet or provide information at the local level. Some locals have had to file unfair labor practice charges (ULP) to obtain the requested information, and we have submitted multiple Requests for Information (RFIs) at the national level, questioning why they are not in timely compliance.
Some of the answers provided to the local officers are especially concerning, such as that local management of a certain installation was given a “tentative date”of Sept. 16 to convert only a portion of the awarded HCRs. Additional issues include insufficient trailers and vehicles to perform the work, a lack of current or newly hired employees, inadequate hiring efforts, etc.
Local managers are also claiming that they have not received confirmation or instructions from Postal Service headquarters to comply with the Das award, or that they have been told that the Sept. 1 deadline as stipulated in the MOU is not critical.The most salient fact to come from all this information is that the Postal Service will not be in timely compliance with the Das award.The parties have been in discussions since 2016, so it
is difficult to understand why the Postal Service would not be able to come into compliance by the agreed upon date over a year after the award was issued. While working out the terms of the MOU, there was no indication how truly arduous it would be to get management to comply with the award by Sept. 1; even just getting management to provide information has been like pulling teeth.
We cannot let this impede us. Our officers at every level have endeavored tirelessly to return work to the Motor Vehicle Service Division, and the Das 110 award was a significant victory for our Craft. Local officers at sites identified in the award should continue to send RFIs and follow up with management if your questions are unanswered or the answers are inadequate. This work is rightfully ours, and the Postal Service cannot abrogate their responsibility by dragging their feet and giving conflicting instructions to the field.
We will continue to pursue this issue along with the many others that affect MVS, on behalf of every member of our Craft. Please contact your National Business Agent for guidance on any local issue