In November 2011, the USPS implemented Phase I of the caser-streeter program after opting out of our Joint Alternative
Route Structure Test. The caser-streeter program is a unilateral test being conducted in numerous office around the country.
Here is how management has designed the routes in their test:
Letter carriers on caser assignments come in and case, pull down, and load up the hampers for two or more routes. They have everything ready to go for before the streeters get to work. The streeters come in and get their accountables, inspect the vehicle, roll the hamper out, load up and go. Then the caser carries a shorter street assignment.
There were 15 sites that made up Phase I of the caser-streeter initiative. These 15 site were offices that were receiving FSS but had not yet received their initial FSS adjustments.
The Reader’s Digest version of the story is that this system doesn’t work in its unilateral one-size-fits all form—big surprise. The casers can’t get the mail ready by the time the streeters get to work and the streeter assignments are grossly overburdened. That’s a recipe for disputes, and dinner is being served buffet-style in the Phase I sites.
Reports indicate that assignments in this system take between 9 and 12 hours to complete on average. (These times are much better than they were a few months ago.)
The Postal Service has since proceeded with implementing Phase II of this test. This second phase is for offices that are not receiving FSS. The service's goal was to have at least one site in each postal district. Many of the same problems that are occurring in the Phase I sites are also occurring in the Phase II sites.
On Sept. 28, 2011, we responded by filing a national-level
interpretive dispute on the issue of whether the Postal
Service may suspend compliance with the National Agreement under the guise of conducting a “test.”
NALC outlined three specific violations in the interpretive
- The test redefines the terms and conditions of letter carrier assignments. Article 5 of the National Agreement prohibits management from making unilateral changes to wages, hours and working conditions.
- Flat Sequencing System (FSS) sites that are included in this test will be unreasonably delayed in the compliance with the memorandum of understanding regarding FSS implementation (M-01643).
- The route adjustment methods proposed for this test do not comply with the M-39 handbook.
There is also an array of additional contract violations
that are not interpretive, as a result of implementation of
the caser-streeter concept. In conjunction with your
national business agent’s office, we will offer advice and
guidance to the local branches involved.
Non-Traditional Full-Time (NTFT) clerks
The 2011 APWU National
Agreement created a new category of clerks called non-traditional
full-time (NTFT) clerks. Many of these NTFT clerks have a regular schedule of fewer than 40 hours per
week. The problem is that management has begun to excess some of these clerks into full-time letter carrier jobs.
On February 22, 2012, the NALC notified the USPS that a case scheduled for regional arbitration out of Westerly, RI, concerning this issue was interpretive. Our position is that the newly created
APWU positions are really part-time regular positions. Clerks holding these positions can’t be properly
excessed into full-time letter carrier jobs.
On March 7, 2011, the National Association of Letter Carriers declared that a regular panel arbitration case raised interpretive issues and appealed the matter to the national level pursuant to Article 15, Section 2 of the National Agreement.
The case involves a Grade 1 city letter carrier, who was involuntarily excessed from one installation to another pursuant to Article 12.5.C.5.b (1) of the National Agreement. Accordingly, the letter carrier had retreat rights under Article 12.5.C.5.b (6), which entitles an employee reassigned under subsections b (1) or (2) to be “returned to the first vacancy in the level, in the craft or occupational group in the installation from which reassigned.”
Subsequent to the reassignment of the letter carrier, a letter carrier retired from the original office, thus creating a vacancy. At that point the excessed carrier should have been returned to the original office. Management refused to do so, taking the position that the employee is not entitled to return unless there was an available “residual vacancy." The NALC maintains a position that the employee’s retreat rights are triggered by the “first vacancy” in the level, in the craft or occupational group in the installation from which reassigned.
Video recording study
Another battle in which we are currently in the middle is the Postal
Service’s unilateral video recording study. This study is where the USPS comes into a post office,
chooses a few routes, and films letter carriers from the
time they punch in until they leave for the street and from
the time they pull back into the parking lot until they punch out to go home.
The Postal Service told us it was going to use this information for bargaining purposes, related to trying to change current office standards used to establish standard office time. President Rolando initiated a national-level grievance to protest this practice.
The national-level grievance states:
The interpretive issue presented is whether the current
study is covered by Article 34 of the National
Agreement. It is our understanding that the Postal Service’s position is that the study falls outside the
scope of Article 34. We disagree. It is the position of the
NALC that Article 34 covers the making of any “time or
work studies which are to be used as a basis for changing
current or instituting new work measurement systems or work or time standards,” even if the Postal
Service intends to achieve the new work or time standards through collective bargaining or interest arbitration. Moreover, the conduct of the study thus far fails to comply with the requirements of Article 34. For example, the Postal Service has failed to provide NALC with timely notice of when each office review is to be conducted in sufficient time to allow me, as NALC President, to designate a qualified representative to observe the making of the study, as provided by Article 34, Section B.
In addition, the study involves the use of new methods of gathering and analyzing data, such as the use of
video cameras, which themselves have not been the
subject of negotiation. This unilateral change in terms
and conditions of employment violates Article 5.
Originally, we were notified that the USPS intended to
film 400 routes, but it couldn't tell us any specifics in
advance about which routes would be filmed. Filming began on Oct. 13, 2011. We were notified that the last
day of filming was Feb. 4, 2012. That’s the last we’ve heard on