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Department & Division News

When Complement Managers Make Contact, Union Calls Foul

(This article first appeared in the May-June 2015 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

As this issue goes to press, there is no sign that management is stopping or postponing the Network Rationalization Plan and the quest to systemically dismantle the Postal Service.

Back in 2011and 2012, when AMPs (Area Mail Processing) changes were first implemented and Article 12 impacts were issued, management referred to the massive cutbacks as “consolidations.” Now that the impacts have been devastating to employees and service, they are called “Network Rationalization.” No term could be more fitting.

Everything from the bogus figures in the reports – that haven’t changed since they were first issued two to three (some four) years ago – is wrong. The numbers weren’t correct then, and couldn’t possibly be correct now. The misrepresented findings are clearly “rationalized.”

Management is using AMPs to rationalize their actions, with little basis in fact. They are moving equipment, knowing there is no place to reassign all of the impacted employees. Postal workers are constantly bombarded with realigned schedules and tour changes.

A few years back, management decided to practically eliminate Tour 2 in most plants, and forced employees on standby time, so work could be saved for the evening. Now, we have “four walls,” 24-hour clock, and employees are being moved back on Tour 2 with plans to work around the clock. Go figure.

Area Move Dates Ahead
Area move dates for reassignments based on Article 12 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement are on a 90-day cycle. Hundreds of employees were scheduled to move in April, and another move date is scheduled for July. Despite their variance models and seemingly sophisticated scientific equations and formulas, district managers cannot seem to grasp or implement the fundamental principles of seniority and reassignment.

Let me share a few examples of how they make a traumatic process even worse. Information issued to employees explaining their choices and rights misstate facts. Letters are not sent in a timely fashion. Employees get 10 working days to make their selections and return their preference sheets to management.

Unfortunately, the contract does not say how these letters should be delivered. Some are handed to employees on the workroom floor, some are mailed, and some sit in the supervisor’s box until they get around to giving them out. Considering the various options, you would think they would allow extra days to give enough time to cover all contingencies.

Instead, they issued the letters on the 6th of the month, to be returned by the 16th. Of course, that didn’t happen. Allowing two days to determine the results and have the 30-day letters in the employee’s hand wasn’t enough.

Another problem is that all residual vacancies have to be offered to senior employees to allow them to go in lieu of the impacted employees. It would make sense to offer residuals to senior employees first, so adjustments/reductions can be made to the number of impacted employees, based on how many senior employees go. That would be too much like right.

So when 10 senior employees chose to go in lieu, it’s a major issue, time consuming, and wrought with mistakes that have to be corrected before the employees can be issued their 30- day notice. Mind you, Postal Service managers didn’t have enough days between submitting preference sheets and awarding residuals to allow changes to be made, and still deliver 30-day notices in a timely fashion.

Clerk Craft MOU
The Sept. 25, 2012, agreement between the APWU and USPS stipulates that clerks will be excessed from the losing installation by inverse seniority in their craft and status, without regard to pay level. This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) also provides that impacted clerks and senior-in-lieu of volunteers may be placed as unencumbered regular clerks in the gaining installation, provided that local management has completed a bid management review with area concurrence, and that sufficient vacancies will be available for placement of all such unencumbered regular clerks (regardless of pay level), within three months of the date the employees were placed.

Although this MOU is more than two-and-a-half years old, to my knowledge, it has never been used to place excessed employees before. I know it has never been applied in the Central Region until now.

In most cases, there was little or no clarification provided with these positions when offered. Some even had job numbers. All of this had to be straightened out in short order, including making sure any employee who stated a preference for one of these schedules understood what that meant.

We can grieve mistakes, but no matter what is awarded, it is nearly impossible to make a grievant whole under these circumstances. We have to make every effort to get it right the first time.

It’s Do or Die Time
As negotiations for a new contract come to a close, there is so very much at stake.

That is why my fellow Regional Coordinators, Omar Gonzalez, John Dirzius, Mike Gallagher, Kennith Beasley, and I thank all true union activists and Contract Action Team members who have been working tirelessly to engage our members and garner support from other unions and the community.

Securing a decent contract for our members that protects you and your family’s general welfare and living standard is our quest. Ensuring we have a viable, robust Postal Service in every community, in spite of some in management, is a never ending battle that we can’t win without the support of the public, but most importantly, YOU.