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Clerk Craft Information
Arbitration Victory Creates Full-Time Assignments
Mar 27, 2017

Arbitration Victory Creates Full-Time Assignments

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

By Clerk Craft Directors

The Clerk Craft was successful in a recent arbitration regarding the USPS’s handling of the Sales Retention Team (SRT) program. The Postal Service blatantly violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in utilizing injured employees, mostly carriers, to staff the Sales Retention Teams, without first posting the jobs for bid in the Clerk Craft.

Currently, there are roughly 400 SRT jobs that are utilized to retain existing business customers. They are in 12 sites, performing Clerk Craft work during preferred hours and days off. The USPS has clear obligations to assign the work to the Clerk Craft under Article 1.5 and to post the jobs for bid per Article 37.3.A.1.

The arbitrator ordered the USPS to “(1) cease and desist from the violations of the National Agreement found in this case; (2) assign SRT positions to Clerk Craft employees; [and] (3) post SRT work assignments for bid by clerks without delay.” The arbitrator also ordered the parties to meet and discuss the financial aspect of the remedy, which we are currently doing as this issue goes to press.

Many thanks go to APWU Clerk Craft witnesses Linda Moss from the Dallas Area Local and Lorinda Miller from the 480-481 Local, who testified on the nature of SRT and call center work. Also, thanks to Assistant Clerk Craft Director Lamont Brooks, for carefully setting the case up for success from the beginning.

Improving Lives with Full-Time Career Jobs

Returning administrative and technical work from management, the conversion of Postal Support Employees (PSE) to career positions and increasing the hours for Part-Time Flexibles (PTF) as well as employees in Non-Traditional Full-Time (NTFT) duty assignments is a high priority for the APWU. It is difficult to live on part-time wages and retiring on part-time wages is practically impossible.

As our most vulnerable sisters and brothers, PSEs have significantly lower wages, lack of job security and no retirement benefits. Not surprisingly, PSEs had a turnover rate in Fiscal Year 2016 of 36.2 percent. For comparison, the turnover rate for career employees was about 1 percent.

The APWU encourages and works for the conversion of PSEs to career as soon as possible in order to bring significant salary and benefit improvements to these workers and their families. Negotiated provisions allowing conversions to residual vacancies play a major role in converting many PSEs to career status.

In addition to filling vacancies, members can also push for the creation of new and/or more desired duty assignments. Many locals and state organizations have been successful utilizing Article 37.3.A.1, which considers “all available work hours,” to create new full-time jobs and get the jobs posted. This gives more opportunities to employees in NTFT duty assignments to bid, PTFs to secure full-time jobs and PSEs to be converted to career.

Utilizing MDAT to Create Full-Time Jobs

However, there is much room for improvement. Absent other provisions (like Article 37.3.A.1), the 2010 CBA allowed the USPS to use 20 percent PSEs per district in the Clerk Craft. Although aggressive use of Article 37.3.A.1 in a few districts pushed the PSE percentages below 15 percent, most districts are near 20 percent.

The USPS’s own charts showed approximately 38 percent of PSEs were averaging over 40 hours per week, which indicates many duty assignments can be created.

The Max Duty Assignment Tool (MDAT), which utilizes the Postal Service’s own data, significantly helps create duty assignments per Article 37.3.A.1. It is important that grievances demonstrate the number of 40 hour a week jobs available without tying the duty assignments to particular time frames.

It is also essential that the best cases go forward, with National Business Agents (NBAs) handling the cases so we can establish a positive precedence in arbitration. This makes it easier to settle cases in the future without going to arbitration. NBAs are encouraged to discuss well documented grievances with the National Clerk Craft officers for consideration of placement at the top of the arbitration docket.  

By working together to create more full-time career duty assignments, we can significantly improve the lives of our fellow workers who are currently PSEs, PTFs or in NTFT duty assignments. Creating more full-time duty assignments improves staffing levels, which also improves the working conditions for all employees and improves services to the American public.

Staples Kicked Out!

The APWU victory over management’s attempt to increase privatization of the Postal Service through the transfer of work to Staples is significant and historic. Here are a few points to consider:

  • The fight to stop job loss is important for existing workers. A conversion process for Postal Support Employees (PSEs) to become career would become meaningless without good career jobs to be converted to.
  • The USPS-stated goal is to transfer Postal Service work to private interests. The victory over Staples slows down their plans.
  • The fight against Staples, even before the final victory was won, discouraged other corporations from attempting to take postal services away from the American public.

Perhaps most importantly, the victory over Staples shows that a small, dedicated and organized group of people can take on a large corporation and win significant changes for the APWU and the good of the country.

Keep the Clerk Craft Strong
Jan 09, 2017

Keep the Clerk Craft Strong

The Clerk Craft continued to grow with a net gain of approximately 5,500 new employees in the last year. Nearly all of this growth has been to career jobs. If we continue forward with increased organizing, the APWU can create even more living wage jobs for our communities. 

However, 2017 will bring challenges to continued growth. The moratoriums on plant consolidations and the expansion of private retail operations will both end this summer. We must prepare for the potential ending of the moratoriums.

Plant Consolidations

The moratorium on plant consolidations ordered by Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg in his interest arbitration award on our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) ends in April 2017.

The Postal Service went from 528 mail processing facilities in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 to 307 in FY 2015. Most of the consolidations occurred prior to 2013. The Postal Service acknowledged problems with mail delays where mail processing facilities were consolidated.

The APWU hopes with the moratorium in place, both parties will be in a better position to have a rational discussion regarding possible future consolidations. There are many in management who oppose delay of mail because it goes against the stated mission of the USPS.

Nevertheless, we must prepare for a scenario assuming the Postal Service will attempt to restart consolidating our mail processing facilities. There are powerful corporations with allies in Congress pushing the Postal Service to further serve them, at the expense of the general public.

The argument of the large corporations is simple and selfish. Many bypass mail processing facilities by drop-shipping their mail at the end facility where it will be delivered. They have no interest in paying for mail distribution networks they do not use. They do not care that mail consolidations delay the mail for tens of millions of Americans. The consolidations create second-class service for a first-class stamp. The mail is delayed and postage remains the same.

We must renew our efforts to build coalitions in our communities, win government representatives to our side, utilize media to educate the public, and coordinate with other areas undergoing consolidations.

Information on the APWU’s fight to end consolidations is available at under, “Campaigns.” 

Privatization of Retail

Arbitrator Goldberg placed a 12-month moratorium on any new contractual agreements between USPS and private businesses regarding the Approved Shipper Program, Contract Postal Units (CPUs), and Village Post Offices (VPOs). It is scheduled to end on July 8, 2017. 

The moratorium on private retail expansion provides the APWU and the USPS with the opportunity to have healthy discussion on the future of retail. Clerk Craft officers have had multiple meetings with USPS to primarily address the Approved Shipper Program and CPUs.

Our face-to-face meetings were productive and USPS representatives indicated they plan to improve existing Postal Service retail operations. However, the Five Year Strategic Plan released by USPS in late October 2016, indicates their plan is to expand “alternative access,” USPS-speak for expanding private retail operations. As this column goes to press, we are waiting to hear if they truly intend to expand private retail operations or not.

Given the USPS Strategic Plan and the history of outsourcing postal work, the APWU must be fully prepared for the end of the moratorium. A postal transaction at a private business is one less transaction done by an APWU member. A job at a private business is one less job providing a living-wage. By stopping the Postal Service from utilizing private businesses to replace post offices, the APWU preserves good service and union jobs for our communities.

The APWU successfully stopped Staples from expanding postal services to over 1,000 planned stores. The successful Stop Staples campaign also discouraged other large retail companies from performing postal work.

Unfortunately, in the last three years, UPS dramatically increased their Approved Shipper stores. UPS regularly lobbies, in the broad sense of the term, to further privatize the Postal Service for their own profit.

We are working to convince the Postal Service to keep the sacred duties of providing secure, safe, and timely delivery of the mail with public postal workers earning a living wage. If the Postal Service continues to transfer work to private companies, we will boycott those companies and picket in front of the stores. The APWU is serious about preserving a public post office and good jobs for our communities.

Page Last Updated: Mar 27, 2017 (08:48:58)
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