Workplace issues

City Delivery

Christopher Jackson

Christopher Jackson

Christopher Jackson was appointed director of city delivery by NALC President Fredric Rolando in 2017 to fill a vacancy. Full bio

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The NALC Guide to Identifying Intentional False Editing of Clock Rings

The NALC Guide to Identifying Intentional False Editing of Clock Rings was created to assist union representatives when investigating grievances concerning clock ring edits that impact letter carriers’ pay.  The guide provides instruction on reading the TACS Employee Everything Report, examples of improperly edited clock rings, and includes a grievance starter to help build successful case files.

‘Wounded Warriors’ leave

Article 8 and City Delivery Task Forces Idea Sheets

The award issued by the arbitration board chaired by Arbitrator Shyam Das established several new joint task forces through new memorandums of understanding (MOUs) included in the 2011 National Agreement. Two of these MOUs, Re: Article 8 Task Force and Re: City Delivery Task Force, are designed to develop and test methods to improve on problem areas that letter carriers deal with directly every day on the workroom floor.

NALC wants to hear from letter carriers. We have created idea sheets for both task forces:

We want to hear your thoughts or ideas of methods to test or ways to improve the overtime process, the work climate or the other areas mentioned in the MOUs. If you are interested in your delivery unit participating as a test site, we would like to know that too.

These sheets are fillable. You may type directly into them and print them out or print and write your thoughts and ideas on the sheet. Once completed, please mail the idea sheets to:

National Association of Letter Carriers
c/o Director of City Delivery
100 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001-2144

National level case on management reverting vacant full-time letter carrier assignments without current route inspection data resolved

The NALC and the USPS have reached agreement on a national level settlement on an interpretive dispute regarding whether a vacant full-time letter carrier assignment may be reverted without current route inspection data. (M-01796) In the past, management would sometimes revert a route when it became vacant without current route inspection data.  This was a widespread problem several years ago and has remained an issue in some places.

The parties agree that the determination of whether an established route is full-time will be made using one of the following procedures:

  • A six day mail count and inspection in accordance with the provisions of Handbook M-39
  • A route adjustment pursuant to Section 141 of Handbook M-39 (provided the data used is reasonably current and from the regular carrier assigned to the route)
  • Evaluation through a national jointly agreed upon route evaluation process
  • Evaluation through an authorized locally developed joint route evaluation process

Additionally, the settlement affirms that it in no way alters the maximization provisions of Article 7.3 of the National Agreement.

MOUs regarding Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) and retreat rights under DUO

The NALC and USPS have reached agreement on two Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) regarding the issue of Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO). Generally speaking, this is where all the letter carriers in an office are moved to a different Installation and the post office where they used to work stays open with window services.

M-01744 addresses resolving the differences where two or more Local Memorandums of Understanding (LMOU) are involved as well as what happens in the event USPS changes its mind somewhere down the road and decides to move the letter carriers back to the original installation.

M-01745 addresses several issues involved when a Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) occurs, including who goes, notice period, seniority, hold-down assignments, higher-level assignments (Article 25), and previously approved annual leave. It must be noted that these MOU's do not apply in situations where there are already clear contractual provisions that govern the movement of letter carriers and consolidation of post offices. This point is outlined in both MOUs.

NALC and the USPS have entered into another Memorandum of Understanding (M-01778) to clarify the intent of the previous DUO agreements as they pertain to the limited circumstance where letter carrier(s) have active retreat rights back to any installation involved in DUO. This new MOU (M-01778) requires such retreat rights for letter carriers to be carried forward to the gaining installation.

Letter carriers with active retreat rights to the gaining installation are not altered by this new MOU except the order of offering retreat rights may be affected. This is true because the seniority rosters of all installations involved in a DUO are merged.

Additionally, the new MOU requires that retreat rights to the original installation will be restored in the event the DUO process is reversed and letter carriers are returned to their original installation.

Interpretive Disputes

Retreat rights

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.

Other Disputes


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 dispute:

  • 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.

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 this matter.


FSS Work Methods

In November 2008, the NALC and the USPS signed a national memorandum of understanding on approved FSS work methods (M-01697). This MOU governs how letter carriers serving park-and-loop or foot deliveries in FSS offices handle additional bundles of mail. The MOU states:

  • City letter carriers serving park-and-loop or foot deliveries will not be required to carry more than three bundles.
  • In order to maintain three bundles on pre-sequenced mail days, letter carriers serving park-and-loop or foot deliveries may only be assigned to either:
    • case residual mail, then collate with FSS mail while in the office (the pre-sequenced bundle must meet the definition of a third bundle under the Interpretive Step agreement for case Q98N-4Q-C 00189552) or,
    • case residual mail, then collate with the pre-sequenced addressed mail during pull down while in the office.
  • There is no change to current work methods for other types of deliveries.
  • When a simplified mailing is carried as a third bundle by city letter carriers serving park-and-loop or foot deliveries, the simplified mailing will be placed on the bottom of the appropriate bundle. In order to maintain three bundles in this circumstance, residual mail and any pre-sequenced mail delivered that day will be collated with the FSS mail.
  • City carrier case configurations will be consistent with requirements in methods handbooksM-39 and M-41. City carriers working in an FSS environment will be consulted before case configuration changes are implemented.

The MOU came as a result of reviewing the final report of the joint FSS task force (M-01691). The report also memorializes each party's FSS perspectives and recommendations, as well as the conclusion of what has been jointly agreed to regarding the FSS environment.

FSS Implementation

In September 2007, the NALC and the USPS signed a national memorandum of understanding on the implementation of FSS (M-01643). This MOU established two things.

  1. Once FSS is fully implemented in a delivery unit, management will determine the methods to estimate impact in a delivery unit and make route adjustments accordingly.
  2. Sixty days after implementing route adjustments for FSS, the local parties will review the adjustments to ensure that routes are as near 8 hours as possible. This 60-day period will not count toward the special route inspection process (Section 271, Handbook M-39; Section 918,Handbook M-41). If either party determines that the route(s) is (are) not properly adjusted, then the route(s) will be adjusted In accordance with the provisions of Handbook M-39 or, if applicable, a locally agreed upon adjustment formula.

The terms of this memorandum were effective immediately and continue through all phases of Flats Sequencing System (FSS) implementation.

For a detailed explanation on your rights in and the procedures of adjusting routes in accordance with the provisions of Handbook M-39, see the NALC's Route Protection Program.