"The Struggle Continues" - Moe Biller
(This article first appeared in the September/October 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By MVS Division Director Michael O. Foster
The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the United States Postal Service (USPS) are in the process of contract negotiations. It is no secret that MVS faces very challenging times during this round of negotiations. The USPS, inspired by the White House, is pushing an agenda of privatization and trying to turn middle class jobs into part-time positions.
The Postal Service will advance an agenda of cheap labor called “efficiency” in an attempt to extract concessions from many years of bargaining between the parties. Postal management’s agenda is to duplicate the business models of Wal-Mart, Target, UPS and other for-profit corporations that have little regard for hourly employees. In this model of corporate greed, many benefits achieved by the APWU over the years – such as a 40-hour work week, penalty overtime, and scheduled off days – could become a thing of the past. Although the APWU MVS Division has submitted numerous proposals, we have yet to receive any proposals from the USPS, so we are virtually negotiating with ourselves. On top of that, our current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires on September 20.
The MVS Division entered these negotiations with a clear understanding of the current political climate and USPS concessionary demands. Despite the adversity, we will push forward to protect and grow our craft by challenging contracting out efforts and bringing work back into the bargaining unit. We will also continue to demonstrate the value of our skilled workforce and showcase what the MVS Craft brings to the table.
Our first proposals exchanged with management emphasized training, establishing new positions, a staffing model for the VMF and the elimination of 204Bs. These are the MVS Division’s first round of proposals:
(1) Include the General Clerk, Office Clerk, and Schedules Examiner as senior qualified positions.
(2) Create a new VMF position “Level 10 Diesel Automotive Technician.”
(3) Create desirable duty assignments using the language “Every effort will be made to create desirable duty assignments from all available work hours for career employees to bid.”
(4) Require the USPS to provide structured training for all Vehicle Maintenance employees.
(5) Incorporate a staffing package for VMF employees into the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
(6) Amend the MVS Jobs MOU and add back sections 1, 3, and 4 negotiated during the 2010 Agreement.
(7) Negotiate additional language to eliminate the use of 204-Bs in the MVS Craft. Amend Article 39.1.H so that the VOMA position is assigned to the jurisdiction of the Motor Vehicle Craft.
In response to various complaints the union received from the field about training, the MVS Craft submitted various requests for information. The craft sought the training billets and the location and list of enrollees from May 2015 through the present. We also requested any models or matrices used to staff VMFs. We learned that training for new vehicles in the VMFs is nonexistent except for “web-based training.” These courses are the Automotive Electrical-VLR and the LLV Maintenance course on vehicles the Postal Service is in the process of replacing. Many members have reported that the web-based training serves little to no benefit in the performance of their duties. The only VMF training offered in Norman, OK, is a course on VMF Clerk Fundamentals.
The union has requested a list of all work subcontracted at each Vehicle Maintenance Facility, since contracting out of bargaining unit work at Vehicle Maintenance facilities is due to understaffing and the failure of the Postal Service to maintain a properly-trained bargaining unit. We will continue to update the membership on the progress and challenges of negotiations. We will also continue to closely monitor the Postal Service’s proposals and their attempts to change the MVS Division in the future. Keep On Truckin’. ■