Union Wins $56 Million Remedy for Postmasters Performing Craft Work
12/08/2014 - The APWU reached a $56 million settlement with the USPS on Dec. 5 to resolve a long-standing dispute over postmasters and supervisors in small offices performing bargaining unit work.
The agreement includes provisions that are intended to prevent future violations of the limits on the number of hours managerial personnel may spend performing craft duties. Most notably, it includes a mechanism for reporting and monitoring the amount of hours involved.
The agreement also makes it easier to enforce the contract. Clerks no longer have to fear reprisals for filing a grievance, as the contract can now be enforced without a union officer having to set foot in an office.
Recording Postmaster Hours
All hours that postmasters and supervisors in affected offices spend working alone will be considered time they spent staffing the window.
When they work on the window in conjunction with a clerk, they will be charged for all time spent, from the moment they log into POS or similar window technology until they perform their end-of-day report in POS or similar technology. (This requires completion of a PS Form 1412.)
Postmasters and supervisors will be charged with non-window bargaining unit time for hours spent using TACS clerk operation numbers, the Mail Arrival Profile (MAP) report and the Facility Database Report.
Reports to be Posted Online
“The USPS will develop a modified, automated PS Form 1260 to be used by all postmasters/supervisors, covered by this agreement, to record the performance of bargaining unit work on a daily basis,” the settlement says. The operation numbers and time worked will be included on the new form.
The bargaining unit work information will be shared with the national APWU, which will post the reports online, similar to the way PSE Compliance Reports are currently posted.
Local and state union representatives will be able to monitor violations by reviewing this information.
Automatic Payment for Violations
When an employee or union representative notices that a postmaster or supervisor has exceeded the limit on bargaining unit work in a service week, the union representative will contact the installation head to arrange the payment to the appropriate clerk.
The USPS will pay the appropriate clerk as determined by the union, without the need to file a grievance.
Employees will receive lump-sum payments through the use of TACS AdjustPay.
When Grievances Are Necessary
In the event employees are not paid or other disputes arise (including discrepancies over the number of hours reported), the 14-day time limit for filing a grievance will start from the union’s receipt of the report at the national level. The APWU will annotate the date of receipt on the reports.
Ongoing, Repetitive Violations
In areas where the USPS continues to violate work-hour limitations, the union will have the right to report the ongoing problems “directly to the respective USPS Area Manager, Labor Relations, or if unresolved, directly to the USPS Manager, Field Labor Relations.”
The ability to address ongoing problems quickly to designated management officials is important; in addition, it is noteworthy that the current USPS Manager of Field Labor Relations signed the agreement and has expressed a commitment to work to end the long-standing problems associated with bargaining unit work violations.
In some instances, ongoing violations may demonstrate the need to hire a career employee.
$56 Million to Clerk Craft Employees
The USPS will make payments totaling $56 million to Clerk Craft employees identified by the union as a remedy for past violations.
Implementation of this provision of the settlement is expected to take 90 to 120 days. Numerous documents must be requested, provided and review to identify the employees who lost hours due to postmasters and supervisors performing bargaining unit work.
Members should stay abreast of development through their local representatives.
Many of the grievances that involved violations of Article1.6.B of the Collective Bargaining Agreement also addressed other issues, such as excessing, reversions, etc., that were intentionally left unresolved by this agreement.
These issues require discussion of the unique fact circumstances for each grievance filed. The parties have agreed to discuss and attempt to resolve these issues at the regional level within 60 days of the signing of the agreement.
If the issues are not resolved, then parties may proceed to arbitration.
The dispute arose as a result of management’s failure to adhere to the “Global Settlement” of violations of Article 1.6.B of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Global Settlement was negotiated during bargaining for the 2010-2015 contract. Despite several arbitration wins by the union, management refused to implement the agreed-upon language.
“Many people were instrumental in reaching this important settlement, starting with the individuals who filed grievances at the local level and the stewards who documented the cases,” said Clerk Craft Director Clint Burelson.
“State and local presidents supported them, effectively appealed grievances and stood strong through the appeal process. National Business Agents worked with local and state organizations to refine and improve the grievances. Previous national officers worked on this issue and moved the ball forward.
“Industrial Relations Director Tony McKinnon assisted in addressing the issue with the USPS in the early stages. Assistant Clerk Craft Director Lynn Pallas-Barber reviewed documents, discussed the case and helped finalize the language.
“Finally, as the lead case officer, Assistant Clerk Craft Director Lamont Brooks helped negotiate the best possible settlement based on a review of the grievances and input from NBAs, local officers and stewards, and arbitral precedent. At all times he kept the long-term good of APWU members at the forefront of his consideration.
“This settlement is the result of decades of hard work of many people who helped to serve the best interests of the union. Much appreciation is owed to each and every one.”
“Our approach to settling disputes with the Postal Service is to be prepared for war, but pray for peace” McKinnon said. “That is what we did in this case.”
APWU President Mark Dimondstein praised the settlement. “Congratulations to the Clerk Craft officers for this outstanding settlement,” he said. “It concludes years of hard work. In addition to remedying past contract violations, it will fix the problem for the future.”