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Arbitrator Hammers USPS in Maintenance Staffing Case

Web News Article #: 
198-2015

10/20/2015 - The APWU won an important grievance involving Maintenance Craft staffing at Bulk Mail Centers on Oct. 19, when Arbitrator Ira Jaffe issued a stinging rebuke to the Postal Service. Maintenance Craft Director Steve Raymer praised the ruling.

The arbitrator directed the USPS to rescind Maintenance Management Order 112-10 (MMO 112-10) and restore the staffing and staffing regulations that were in effect before it was issued (MMO 022-04). The 2010 MMO instructed managers at BMCs (also known as Network Distribution Centers) to utilize the Electronic Work Hour Estimator Program (e-WHEP) to determine staffing, replacing a program known as “BMC-Gold.” The use of the new program resulted in the elimination of jobs at all the BMCs that utilized it, Raymer said.

Arbitrator Jaffe laid the blame for the inconvenience his ruling might cause the Postal Service squarely on management. “Any resulting disruption in the development of post-Award maintenance staffing for NDCs is unfortunate, but is the product of the Postal Service’s failures to have provided sufficient and accurate information to the Union at the time that the changes were first being considered for formal implementation,” he wrote.

He ruled that the Postal Service failed to meet its obligations under Article 19 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which requires management to furnish the union with specific information when it proposes changes to handbooks and manuals. “The Postal Service failed to introduce significant and detailed, first hand information that made clear the projected impact of the proposed changes on wages, hours, and working conditions at the time that the changes were developed and proposed or the actual impact of the changes on wages, hours, and working conditions based upon subsequent events,” he said.

Management’s “significant failures to comply with Article 19 cannot be dismissed as harmless error,” Jaffe concluded.

Speaking on behalf of Maintenance Assistant Director Idowu Balogun, who served as case officer for the grievance, and Assistant Director Terry Martinez, Raymer said, “We are all pleased with the outcome.

“This was the result of a great team effort by our Maintenance Craft officers and attorneys” he added. “The bad faith exhibited by the Postal Service at the arbitration hearing, including raising arguments there for the first time, was some of the worst we have experienced. We had our concerns about this arbitrator being new to the Postal Service and we are very glad he saw through management’s shenanigans.

“The Postal Service now has a clear, meaningful and significant path to follow in order to comply with the procedures of Article 19,” Raymer said.

Arbitrator Jaffe refrained from issuing a monetary remedy, concluding that such damages were beyond the scope of the case before him. He said, however, that grievances filed locally should address matters that could generate monetary remedies, such as overtime assignments, the effects of staffing reductions, etc.

Click here for a summary of the award.