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Maintenance Craft Information
May 22, 2017

Maintenance Craft Agreement with USPS Resolving Line H Dispute


05/19/2017 - The Postal Service and the Maintenance Division of the APWU signed an agreement resolving a national level dispute regarding custodial hours on line H of Form 4852 (case number Q15T-4Q-C 17274095). The issue in the case is “the determination of compliance with item 6 of the July 9, 2014 TL-5 MOU.

The Postal Service filed this dispute to challenge the results in the field, based on APWU locals having success enforcing the July 9, 2014 MS-47, T/L-5 agreement – in particular, item 6. The agreement continued a requirement for the Postal Service to properly staff the custodial workforce in facilities and to ensure that the custodians were performing the work that justified their staffing. When the work was not properly scheduled, a once-a-year review would take place. If the Postal Service was not properly assigning the custodians to their work, a payment at the overtime rate may be due.

District/Area levels of management responsible for approving the Maintenance Craft compliment slashed the supporting documents to the bone to try to eliminate employees. The success of the Maintenance Division Officers in negotiating the 2014 settlement resulted in ensuring that staffing levels are maintained and not artificially reduced by local management failures to properly schedule custodians.

Maintenance National Business Agents and local representatives effectively enforced this requirement. Large-figure compensation amounts were paid out for custodians who were not scheduled to perform their duties.

Initially, management in the field attempted to fabricate excuses and issues to essentially take exception to the existence of the original settlement. This effort was backed by headquarters-level maintenance operations, who engaged in bullying everyone to ignore or violate the spirit and letter of the parties’ agreement.

In the end, the dispute was resolved. The core of the item 6 agreement remains and was restated in the Line H Q&A dated May 12, 2017. The outstanding grievances involving Line H are to be resolved in accordance with the Q&A.

It remains to be seen whether local (and higher level) USPS management will honor their commitment and agreements. If not, item 6 does provide for an escalating payment penalty.

Please contact your Maintenance NBA for further information.

 Announcement (98.06 KB)
 Signed Q&A (84.36 KB)
 Signed Settlement (80.1 KB)

May 08, 2017

Safety Is Its Own Reward

(This article first appeared in the May-June 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

By Maintenance Craft Directors 

The Lehigh Valley Processing & Distribution Center was issued a fine of nearly $100,000 by OSHA for extensive “willful” safety violations. OSHA found the $99,630 violation willful because the Postal Service failed in their “ongoing responsibility [to] ensure the adherence to the machine specific procedures to affect the necessary energy control for each system component.”

More specifically, OSHA charged a violation of 29 CFR 1910.147(d)(2) because “the machine or equipment was not turned off or shut down using the procedures established for the machine or equipment.” Those procedures are contained in the Electrical Work Procedures Maintenance Management Order (MMO) and machine specific Energy Control Procedure MMOs, such as MMO 037-15, which applies to the Automated Package Processing System (APPS).

A ‘Running’ Example

Reportedly, the Postal Service required repair work on the induct line of an APPS machine while the equipment was running.

The Maintenance Division sent out information earlier to the field about a safety issue on the APPS. It was highlighted in a Safety Bulletin, sent as MMO 069-08, dated July 3, 2008. This was necessary because, as the title of the MMO said, there could be an unexpected startup of the induction belts under certain conditions.

These conditions involved maintenance work and the bulletin warned that, “To prevent personal injury or death, the following precautions are to be followed…” The bulletin continued with four bullet points outlining the safety issues and the statement that USPS Engineering and the vendor were working on a solution.

By April 26, 2010, management issued MMO 039-10, rescinding the prior MMO regarding the unexpected start-up of the induction belts. After the unexpected start-up problem was fixed, specific safety procedures were listed. These included admonitions to not defeat an interlock switch without authorization, to stop the machine before opening any access door and to follow the prescribed safety procedures. Other requirements included that auto induction lane 1 should be stopped prior to entering and working in the area. This was to prevent the risk of personal injury beyond the interlock controlled induction area access gate.

Unfortunately, local management wanted our mechanics and technicians to perform maintenance functions on the auto inductions lane inside the APPS while the machine was running. Local management believed that the Maintenance Technical Support Center (MTSC) in Norman, OK supported their position.

Thankfully, a rightfully concerned mechanic contacted the local union, resulting in consultation and information from the Maintenance NBA and headquarters Maintenance Division officers.

As a reminder to all, you can find further information on the Hazardous Energy Control Program (Lockout) in MMO 033-05 and the Electrical Work Plan in MMO 023-13. The document which “establishes policy and requirements for an electrical work plan (EWP)” is Management Instruction (MI) EL-810-2013-5.

All the documents listed here should be available locally.

Safety is Serious Business

It should be obvious that safety is its own reward. Following the sometimes inconvenient procedures required ensures your own safety and health, providing the best chance of avoiding injury at work. It is easy to engage in a kind of gallows humor about how the employer will put the bottom line ahead of individual well-being, but safety is serious business.

Employers are serious about cost avoidance, and we must be serious about enforcing our rights to a safe and healthful work location and procedures. Rushing to shortcut things is NOT in the best interests of anyone, employer or employee. The extra time and cost, if any, necessary to perform your duties in a safe and effective manner is an investment for which the reward is not being injured or killed.

Our sincere thanks go to the officers and members of the Lehigh Valley, PA Area Local and to Vice President Chris Day for swift and appropriate action. We hope and trust that the citation for a repeated and willful violation, with a hefty monetary cost, will deter the Postal Service from putting us at risk. But, to ensure our own safety, we must, as the members did in Lehigh Valley, insist on enforcement of the safety and health rules.

Page Last Updated: May 22, 2017 (07:44:12)
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