08/21/2016 - The new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) included a historic win for the Maintenance Craft.
“We have negotiated our way to an all-career workforce,” Maintenance Craft Director Steven G. Raymer, said at the National Convention. “There used to be casual employees, Transitional Employees, and there aren’t anymore. More recently, there used to be Postal Support Employees (PSEs) and there are no longer any PSEs that can be employed in the Maintenance Craft. We are very proud to be an all career workforce!”
Why is it so important that employees be career?
“When they were non-career, they only worked for a limited amount of time. Virtually at a whim, the Postal Service could remove them claiming lack of work,” Raymer explained. “We did get some ‘just cause’ protection, but more importantly to them, those jobs didn’t come with benefits, and did not pay a living wage. In the Maintenance Craft, wages were at the poverty level at $12 an hour. And they were working side-by-side with people who had career, family-supporting jobs.
Non-career employees also had no opportunities for matriculation or moving up the ranks, Raymer added. But now, they have all the protections of the CBA.
“The most life-altering thing that can happen to an individual is a conversion from non-career to career,” he said. “We’re very happy to have accomplished that for the Maintenance Craft.”
Because the jobs held by PSEs were in positions that are available on a preferential basis to veterans, having an all-career workforce will also improve opportunities for veterans. “This is big deal to us in the craft,” Raymer said.
Even with the historic win, the Maintenance Craft faces “many of the same old-age battles.”
The latest assault is on Building Equipment Mechanics, who are responsible for taking care of the physical plant and vital systems such as heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and maintaining fire extinguishers.
“It’s a huge undertaking but somebody has to take care of the building,” Raymer said. “Things need to be taken care of routinely and constantly.” When they are not, bad things happen. If pressure in a boiler goes unchecked due to a defective valve, it can explode.
“We don’t want explosions. We don’t want fires, we want our people working safely,” Raymer said. “It protects the assets of the Postal Service. If affects the customers whether they can even enter the building.”
Management is flirting with danger by pushing to automate these functions, Raymer said. Arbitration hearings are scheduled on this latest assault on Nov. 8 and 9, he said.
Despite the craft’s previous success in protecting Electronic Technicians – the highest level employees in the division – the Postal Service is planning to subcontract computer networks and software installation.
The last time the Maintenance Craft fought this type of subcontracting, it cost the Postal Service $8.1 million. Raymer expects it to cost even more this time around. Arbitration hearings on that matter are scheduled for the last week of November.
“We will continue our long struggle with many new ideas in our fight against the Postal Service subcontracting of our work,” Raymer said. “We do it the best, we are accountable for the work that we do.”