(This article first appeared in the Sept-Oct 2017 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By Motor Vehicle Service Craft Directors
As we mentioned in a previous article, the union put its case for preserving the Schedule Examiner Vehicle Runs position before Arbitrator Shyam Das on Feb. 27 as the first case on the docket this year. As a long-standing issue, we considered this case an important step in preserving skilled Motor Vehicle Service work. It was the union’s position that the Postal Service was in violation of Article 1.6 of the National Agreement by assigning work normally performed by the Schedule Examiner to supervisory and Executive and Administrative Schedule employees; the Postal Service took the position that the case should be bifurcated on the grounds of arbitrability.
On June 7, Arbitrator Das ruled that the APWU and the Postal Service do not have an interpretive dispute of general application over the assignment of Schedule Examiner work. The case did not go forward, but the arbitrability hearing scored us an important victory nonetheless.
The union pointed out that Schedule Examiner work exists in all offices where there is a Postal Vehicle Service operation, but there are very few incumbent Schedule Examiners.
In response, the Postal Service conceded that:
“The Postal Service does not dispute that Schedule Examiner work is bargaining unit work, and that supervisors and EAS employees cannot perform bargaining unit work unless one of the exceptions provided for in Article 1.6 applies.”
Article 1.6 exceptions include:
2. For the purpose of training or instruction of employees;
3. To assure the proper operation of equipment;
4. To protect the safety of employees;
5. To protect the property of the USPS.
So while Arbitrator Das determined that the case is not arbitrable, the more important point is that the parties are in agreement that Schedule Examiner work belongs to the bargaining unit. National Motor Vehicle Service Craft Director Michael Foster, reacting to the decision, stated: “The concessions made by the Postal Service to get this result will give our local officers what they need to file successful grievances over these Article 1.6 violations.” The Arbitrator’s decision not to move forward with this case, therefore, is not a loss for the union but rather a significant tool we can use in our ongoing efforts to preserve skilled work in the Motor Vehicle Service Craft.
Air Conditioning Repairs
Earlier this summer, we sent out a letter to the locals in reminder of the following management instruction to the field concerning the timely repair of PVS vehicles with air conditioning:
“During summer months or times when the temperature is expected to exceed 75 degrees, these vehicles must have the air conditioning system repaired within one week from the date the VMF is notified. In the event parts must be ordered to perform the repair, the vehicle may be placed back in service for a period of up to one week until the parts are received. When the heat index is above 100, the vehicle must be repaired immediately and not delayed for the one week. Parts must be ordered in an express manner when the weather conditions are expected to exceed 75 degrees. Air conditioning repairs may be postponed until the scheduled maintenance occurs when that delay would exceed the one week time frame if temperatures are projected to remain below 75 degrees for the entire time until the next scheduled maintenance.”
What we’d like to know from local officers is:
1. Was management in full compliance?
2. If not, were you able to use these instructions to bring them into compliance?
3. In terms of timely repairs and driver satisfaction, how effective was this policy overall?