|Arbitrator Sustains APWU’s Position on Clerk Craft Jurisdiction over Parcel Sorting Work
Arbitrator Sustains APWU’s Position on Clerk Craft Jurisdiction over Parcel Sorting Work
December 2, 2020
On December 1, 2020, Arbitrator Joseph M. Sharnoff issued a decision confirming Clerk Craft jurisdiction over operation of the Small Parcel Sorting System (SPSS) machine. The Award soundly rejects arguments made by the Mail Handlers Union which claimed that Mail Handlers should be assigned all the work on the machines. The Postal Service had issued a decision in 2015 designating the Clerk Craft as the primary craft for performing the work of “singulating/separating packages & facing/feeding packages” at the induction stations on SPSS machines. Clerks also rotate to sweeping duties after performing induction station work. Mail Handlers are assigned jurisdiction over retrieving and dumping packages and transporting full containers to a staging area. When sweeping assignments are not needed to provide rotational relief for Clerks operating the machines, sweeping is assigned to Mail Handlers.
Both the APWU and the Mail Handlers filed disputes claiming jurisdiction over all work on the SPSS machines.
“This decision secures important job protections for our members, and provides a strong basis for protecting our jobs against future challenges,” said President Mark Dimondstein. “We appreciate the good work of all the people involved in securing this important award.”
Arbitrator Sharnoff held that the Postal Service reasonably determined that singulating and facing duties on the SPSS “constituted significant aspects of the distribution function which historically and traditionally have been assigned to Clerks, as the Primary Craft”; and that the Postal Service also properly awarded sweeping duties to Clerks for rotational purposes.
The Arbitrator agreed with APWU and the Postal Service that Operation 105 in the RI-399 Guidelines, the Mechanized Parcel Sorter, provides a basis for the assignment of singulating and facing work on the SPSS machines to clerks. He observed that SPSS machines process “approximately equal amounts of first-class packages and priority packages which, as argued by the APWU, meets the definition, in RI-399…of ‘parcels…’”
The Arbitrator also agreed with the APWU that Operation 050/055 Priority Mail Distribution supports the assignment of singulating and facing the mail on SPSS machines to the Clerk Craft. He noted that “Distribution of priority mail” is Clerk work and that each of the other duties listed in Operation 050/055 are subject to the “asterisk note” which provides that “In offices where the tasks of obtaining empty equipment, obtaining unprocessed mail, loading ledges, sweeping and containerizing is an integral part of the distribution function, the entire operation is a function of the primary craft performing the distribution.”
“The Arbitrator agreed with the APWU that the work of “facing” the parcels on the SPSS, is work which is assigned exclusively to Clerks in Bulk Mail Centers, and that “[t]here is no evidence …that Mail Handlers have been assigned to face packages on parcel sorting machines.” The Arbitrator squarely rejected the Mail Handlers’ reliance on the fact that RI-399 assigns the work of “facing” mail to Mail Handlers in Operations 010 Originating Mail Preparation (which operation does not include distribution or sortation); Operation 050/055; Operation 110-129; and Operation 180-189: “The Arbitrator notes that the facing function assigned to the Mail Handlers in these operations has an asterisk which indicates that where the allied duties are ‘an integral function of the distribution function, the entire operation is a function of the primary craft performing the distribution.’ The Arbitrator notes that Clerk employees are assigned to the distribution function in each of those three operations.”
The Arbitrator’s decision also reconfirms the importance of an Award by Arbitrator Nicolas Zumas concerning the effect of adding OCR technology to mail processing equipment. As Arbitrator Sharnoff observed, “The dispute before Arbitrator Zumas involved the claim by the NPMHU that the newly created position of Mail Processor using OCR/BCS technology should be assigned to the Mail Handler Craft…The APWU argues that the introduction of the OCR/BCS technology did not change the fact that machine distribution of mail is a Clerk function. The Arbitrator finds that the holding in the Zumas Award supports the Arbitrator’s finding herein that the USPS’s determination to assign the work of “singulating”/“facing” and placing the parcel on the induction belt of the SPSS was reasonable and appropriately based on relevant considerations.”
Finally, the Arbitrator denied the APWU’s grievance asserting that all the sweeping work on SPSS machines must be assigned to Clerks for rotational reasons and because sweeping is an integral part of the distribution function performed by the machines. In doing so, Arbitrator Sharnoff pointed out that the APWU’s arguments may be presented in other cases:
The Arbitrator notes that the issue of the proper amount of the assignment of sweeping work to Clerks for rotational purposes is subject to considerations, including the proper level of staffing on the SPSS and ergonomics involved in the Clerk work on the platforms, which matters properly are not raised or resolved in this proceeding which is limited to the resolution of jurisdictional disputes. Nothing stated herein is intended to address or to resolve such other non-jurisdictional issues.
“This is an outstanding award from Arbitrator Sharnoff. The decision reinforces that the distribution function historically belongs to the Clerk Craft – protecting hundreds of Clerk Craft jobs,” said Clerk Craft Director Lamont Brooks. “I want to thank APWU National Dispute Resolution Committee head and Queens Area Local President Ron Suslak and Assistant Clerk Craft Directors Lynn Pallas-Barber and Sam Lisenbe for their hard work on this case.
“We also owe thanks to the Flushing Local and to Flushing Local Clerk Craft Director Pat Vasquez for her testimony about the operation and staffing of mail processing operations,” Director Brooks continued.
|Clerk Craft Prepares For National Arbitrations in December on Two Important Issues
Clerk Craft Prepares For National Arbitrations in December on Two Important Issues
November 20, 2020
The Clerk Craft has been preparing for arbitration hearings in December that will cover two issues – 1) the Postmaster End of Day (PMEOD) button remedy case, and 2) an RI-399 issue regarding the craft jurisdiction for the Advanced Facer Canceller System (AFCS) machine. The PMEOD button remedy hearings are scheduled for December 3 & 4, while the AFCS case will be heard on December 8 & 9.
PMEOD Button Remedy Case
Regarding the PMEOD issue, in Case #Q10C-4Q-C-16050516, national-level Arbitrator Shyam Das decided on December 8, 2017, “Unilateral deployment and use of the Postmaster End of Day button is not consistent with the parties’ agreement in Paragraph 2.A of the December 5, 2014 Global Settlement Remedy Agreement”. Arbitrator Das stated further, “The issue of back pay remedy for the violations that have occurred is returned to the parties to determine an appropriate remedy that is fair and reasonable taking into account all relevant factors”.
The APWU and USPS have not been able to reach a settlement regarding the issue of back pay. As a result, the hearing is set for December 3 and 4 and will focus on the parties’ positions concerning an appropriate remedy for the PMEOD button violation.
RI-399 AFCS/AFCS 200 Case
In the Updated RI-399 MOU, the parties agreed to combine three (3) appeals on the AFCS/AFCS 200 into one hearing that is now scheduled for December 8-9:
- APWU appeal Q94C-4Q-J-97028616 – 11/27/96
- APWU appeal Q94C-4Q-J-97028616 – 6/27/05 – Upgrade to the AFCS
- Change in jurisdiction with the AFCS 200 – NPMHU appeal Q06M-4Q-J-13009562 – 10/16/12.
The Postal Service had originally awarded craft jurisdiction on the “legacy” AFCS to the Mail Handlers Craft. However, by letter dated September 28, 2012, the Postal Service notified both unions that the new AFCS 200 had been created and that, due to “significant additional capabilities” on the 200, concerning the “jurisdictional craft determination for operation of the Advanced Facer Canceller System (AFCS 200)”, it was determined that the primary craft would be the Clerk Craft.
The Mail Handlers Union filed a dispute concerning the September 28, 2012 awarding of primary craft jurisdiction to the Clerk Craft for the AFCS 200. This issue will be heard on December 8 and 9 before Arbitrator Joseph Sharnoff through the RI-399 tripartite procedure, which includes the APWU, Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU), and the Postal Service.
|POStPlan PMR/PSE 818 Violation Remedy Payments Scheduled for June 12, 2020
POStPlan PMR/PSE 818 Violation
Remedy Payments Scheduled for June 12, 2020
June 1, 2020
(This article first appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
The first-round payments for the POStPlan PMR/PSE Usage Remedy have been scheduled to be paid on Pay Period 12-2020 (paycheck dated June 12, 2020). The remedy amounts as identified by the APWU will be included on current employee paychecks. Those individuals who are no longer working for the Postal Service will have a check mailed to the last office of record. The remedy will be identified on the paystub as adjustment/reason code 40/36.
To determine if you are eligible for payment, click here.
The eligible employees were either PSEs or PTF clerks (over 9000) in the level 4 and 6 RMPO offices and/or all career clerks in level-18 offices (over 100) from PP 02- FY2015 - PP 15-FY2017.
The Clerk Craft reached a $49.9 million dollar settlement with the USPS on POStPlan staffing violations. The monetary settlement follows a ruling by Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg that the Postal Service violated Arbitrator Goldberg’s previous Sept. 4, 2014 award and a subsequent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) dated Sept. 22, 2014.
The dispute was initiated after the Postal Service admittedly failed to honor their agreement that after December 22, 2014, the ‘POStPlan’ Remotely-Managed Post Offices (RMPOs) open 4 or 6 hours a day would be staffed with bargaining unit clerks, and Level 18 offices would be staffed with career employees. Long after the agreement, Postmaster Reliefs (PMRs) were still working in 4-hour or 6-hour RMPOs across the country and Level 18 offices reported still using PSEs instead of career employees.
New Contract – New Q&As – MOU Filling Clerk Craft Residuals
APWU & USPS Questions and Answers Explaining The Mutual Understanding Of The 2018-2021 Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) Re: Filling Clerk Craft Residual Vacancies
With the continuation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Filling Clerk Craft Residuals in the 2018 - 2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the Clerk Craft released a joint Q&A, to provide a more detailed clarification of the steps and procedures for PSE conversions and career transfers into Clerk Craft residual vacancies.
This joint document provides clarification on several issues that have remained concerns for APWU Clerk Craft employees – career and noncareer. Some of the issues addressed are:
The number of times needed to apply for a specific post office
How the ratios are applied in blocks of four or six, depending on office size
No make-up transfer opportunities within the block of four or six ratios
PTF retreat rights
Filling PTF vacancies
Dual deferment periods for SSDAs
Controlling language: Filling Residual Vacancies – Clerk Craft MOU vs Article 37.5.D
PSE conversions with the 2.5 years in 125 or more work year offices per the Goldberg award, with conversions effective 5/9/20
1:4 and 1:6 ratios being reset with June 1, 2020 posting in regular eReassign
First action review with the 1:6 ratio offices
Seniority date based on a PTF/PSE canvass for PTF vacancies
A limitation on the number of canvasses an employee can accept
I want to commend and personally thank Assistant Director Lynn Pallas-Barber for all her efforts in the implementation of this MOU and to our newly elected Assistant Director Sam Lisenbe for his valuable assistance and input. I would be remiss if I did not thank our NBAs for their input and guidance over the years on issues related to this MOU. I want to thank former Clerk Craft Director Clint Burelson, who relentlessly pushed for clear ratio language. Last, but not least, I want to thank APWU President Mark Dimondstein and Director of Industrial Relations Vance Zimmerman.
|Conversation with the Clerk Membership: Accountability
Conversation with the Clerk Membership: Accountability
DBCS Staffing MOU
The parties agreed to the normal staffing of two Mail Processing Clerks on the DBCS at all times. The exceptions described in the JCIM Q&As must not be considered an alternative to the scheduling of two Mail Processing Clerks on the DBCS. During the exception periods described in the JCIM Q&As, the parties further agree the second Mail Processing Clerk may perform allied duties as assigned in the OCR-BCS-DBCS area.
This settlement agreement addresses minimum staffing, and is not intended to impact those offices where there have been agreements and past practices involving more than two clerks per machine (due to unique rotations or other local factors).
Don’t get caught up in fool’s gold. The Postal Service would rather pay extra money to settle these violations in the short term, with the intention to justify the later abolishment of duty assignments and the eventual excessing of clerk employees with their ill-conceived and flawed F-1 Scheduler.
As members, you can do your part to protect your interests by insisting on the minimum staffing of two employees on a machine, by filing grievances when they fail to properly staff the machines. These monetary settlements will not sustain you and your job security. The APWU national union and NBAs will do our part to fight for proper machine staffing and your job protection.
Supervisors Performing Clerk Bargaining Unit Work
Everyone has a part in protecting bargaining unit work. We can’t allow supervisors to perform work that is rightfully yours. Most of the work that is being performed on the Advanced Computing Environment (ACE) computers is not managerial or supervisory work. Letter carriers deliver and collect mail. Under the many Clerk Work MOUs and Jobs MOUs dating back to the 2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement, this work should have been returned to the clerk craft or reassigned to the clerk craft.
It is this work that will allow you to gain sufficient weekly hours to be converted from a PTF clerk to a full-time clerk. A PTF clerk in a small office is only guaranteed two (2) hours of work per pay period. A full-time clerk in a NTFT duty assignment is guaranteed thirty (30) hours per week and sixty (60) hours per pay period. Postmasters in Level-18 offices are violating the 15-hour weekly limitation by underreporting hours and clerks are not notifying their union. This is falsification. Please reach out to your local union by providing them with statements and documentation to determine whether your local can file grievances to protect your work and job.
The Clerk Division will be sending out quarterly updates to the APWU local/state unions starting in 2020.
|Negotiation/Arbitration with the USPS
Negotiation/Arbitration with the USPS
November 19, 2019
(This article first appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) â
Most postal workers would be surprised to learn that during negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the top management officials did not meet with the union to discuss and resolve issues to secure a new CBA. However, management did come to interest arbitration to tell the Arbitrators what they “need” from a new CBA.
Testimony of COO Dave Williams
Chief Operating Officer (COO) David Williams, head of postal operations and second in command to the Postmaster General, bashed postal workers from every craft and utilized vague old corporate code words to indicate postal workers should be paid less and management should have more power to do whatever they want. Williams used the word 'flexibility' and its variations approximately 56 times during his testimony. He utilized companion corporate words 'agile' 11 times and 'nimble' seven times. Williams openly talked about replacing workers with automation and technology, including utilizing a fake “avatar” instead of a real person at post offices.
The USPS used a worsening financial condition to argue for lower wages and greater management control. Although management touched on it slightly, the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) changes, pushed by privatizers and the large mailers, implemented an unreasonably aggressive prefunding of retiree health care and the crippling cap on postage increases that put the USPS in this financial situation. The PAEA also stated the USPS should not offer logical expanded services like postal banking, which has provided much revenue for postal services in other countries and would help Americans keep more income as opposed to turning it over to corporations that charge outrageous sums for basic financial services.
The Revolving Door
COO Williams’ testimony sparked a reminder of the revolving door between the large mailers and the top managers of the USPS. Williams mentioned that the Postal Service was investing in automated guided vehicles to replace what are commonly referred to as “tuggers.” Williams did not mention that the USPS contracted with the Seegrid Corporation for those tuggers, and that former PMG Patrick Donahoe was on their Board. Also, former top postal managers occupy the top positions in influential large mailer business associations that pushed the PAEA and continue to push for reducing employee numbers and wages.
Williams’s performance as COO and his testimony at the interest arbitration session demonstrate to the large mailers that he is worthy of their consideration to the vacant PMG position and/or could follow similar top management officials into lucrative positions working/consulting for the large mailers.
Despite the deck seemingly stacked against us, there are plenty of reasons for hope. Poll after poll shows that the American people overwhelmingly think highly of and support the Postal Service. Millions of workers would like the opportunity for living wage postal jobs in their community. We have in our history the Great Postal Strike of 1970, along with the Sears and Staples boycott victories. I am hopeful because it really should be an easy fix.
Imagine you are observing an island with 100 people where one person lives in luxury, owns all the land and controls all the resources. He might have 19 people that he pays a bit better than the rest to try to control the 80 employees/ peasants. How long should it take for those 80 people to change the system over to a fair system?
How does the vast majority of people allow a few people to dominate them? What is needed to be done to change things for the better?
Answer these questions, and the people on the island can create a truly democratic system. Answer these questions, and postal workers can create a better Postal Service that serves our communities while providing good, meaningful work and wages and benefits that result in a better life for postal workers and their families.
|Clerk Craft Updates
Clerk Craft Updates
(This article first appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By Clerk Division Director Clint Burelson
As a result of the Clerk Craft’s win in the Sales Retention Team dispute, the USPS recently sent checks to eligible employees as part of the $36 million remedy for the USPS violations when they failed to post new duty assignments in the sites with Sales Retention Teams. The Clerk Craft’s win of $49.9 million in the Postmaster Relief (PMR) dispute should be coming out to eligible employees later this year. Part of the delay in paying employees is getting accurate information from the Postal Service.
Part-Time Flexible (PTF) and Postal Support Employee (PSE) Conversions
Given USPS’s current lack of excessing plans, which could change in the near future, now is the time to convert PTFs to regular and PSEs to career. It is difficult to convert once excessing and the withholding of jobs occurs.
Notably, the USPS asked us at the national level to convert PSEs to unassigned/unencumbered without any residual vacancies for much of last year. Despite some concerns, we support converting PSEs as fast as possible. Over 1,000 PSEs have been converted to career in this way.
Trump Task Force
The Clerk Craft, and all of the APWU, is under attack in the Trump Task Force report released on Dec. 4, 2018. The Trump Administration paid the Mitre Corporation $1.6 million for the report, which relies upon, and largely supports, the interest of the large mailers. One of their first steps is to “redefine” the universal service obligation (USO) in order to reduce service. Somewhat surprisingly, the report acknowledges the role of the large mailers in allowing slower delivery:
The Task Force’s outreach with major mailers revealed that geographic coverage, predictability on timing of delivery, and six-day delivery are more important than the speed of delivery. Mailers can, in many cases, adjust drop-off dates to accommodate slower or faster delivery.
Here are the broad recommendations of the Trump Task Force in two sentences:
The Task Force believes that the USPS must operate in a more cost-efficient manner by exercising discretion to lower service standards and to increase the use of third parties through additional work sharing and the use of third party processing and logistics providers. In addition, as postal employees are part of the U.S. federal civil service, their wages and benefits should be aligned to comparable U.S. federal employee groups, including aligning their ability to collectively bargain for wages and benefits with other federal employees.
The Task Force recommends reducing service to the public, increasing discounts/contracting out/privatization, and dismantling the power of postal worker organizations. The Postal Service has already been doing this, but there is a provision in the report that takes the recommended privatization a step further:
The Task Force recommends that the USPS explore franchising the mailbox as a means of generating revenue. This could be done by retaining the mailbox monopoly and allowing regulated access, for a fee, to certified private companies. These “franchisees” would be granted access to the mailbox for the delivery of mail and small parcels.
This would open the mailbox for anyone to deliver for a fee. If implemented, this would be a gift to FedEx, UPS, and Amazon. Mailbox franchising, like the postage discounts to large mailers, would be another way to privatize operations without transferring ownership to another entity.
It is not surprising that the richest .01 percent of the population want to use their power to benefit themselves. What is surprising is that the 99.9 percent of us allow the .01 percent to control the USPS and our society. Show that you are not going to take it anymore by showing up for union meetings, becoming an active union member, an active citizen, and otherwise fight today for a better tomorrow.
|Update: RI-399 Monetary Settlement Distribution
RI-399 Monetary Settlement Distribution
03/02/2019 - As previously reported, in 2018 the APWU, the National Postal Mail Handlers’ Union (NPMHU), and the USPS reached a tripartite agreement updating the RI-399 work jurisdiction process. As part of the agreement on the update to the RI-399 process, all pending RI-399 grievances filed prior to September 1, 2017, were administratively closed with some limited exceptions.
The Postal Service agreed that they would pay $14.5 million to each union in consideration of the withdrawal of national level disputes. The settlement agreement calls for the unions to each make their own determination on how this money would be distributed.
After consultation, much discussion, and agreement with the Clerk Craft Director, the APWU has decided that the money will be distributed in equal amounts to clerk craft employees who fall into the following two categories:
- All career clerk craft employees who were on the rolls as of September 1, 2017, in postal installations that employ both clerk craft employees and mail handlers; and
- All PSE clerk craft employees who were on the rolls on September 1, 2017, in postal installations that employ both clerk craft employees and mail handlers and who are still on the rolls as of March 1, 2019.
The exact amount of money is yet to be determined as the APWU is still determining exactly who are entitled to payment. We currently estimate this number to be around 85,000 career and non-career clerks (including any eligible career employees who retired after September 1, 2017). The number of eligible clerks is nearly double the number of mail handlers who will receive payment. President Mark Dimondstein and Clerk Craft Director Clint Burelson released a memorandum to national, state, and local officers.
Updates will be provided as the process progresses.
Page Last Updated: Dec 03, 2020 (07:20:30)