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Clerk Craft Information
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.

Thriving Clerk Craft is Ready for More!
Aug 30, 2016

Thriving Clerk Craft is Ready for More!

Web News Article #187-2016

08/21/2016 - Members of the Clerk Craft have a reason to celebrate: For the first time in over a decade, the craft has grown. After losing more than 100,000 jobs since 2003, 15,000 new members have been added to the rolls.

Craft Director Clint Burelson explained that the loss of jobs was due, at least in part, to management’s policy of contracting out postal work. Now, thanks to a moratorium on new Approved Shipper programs, Village Post Offices and Contract Postal Units, the APWU is reversing the trend and protecting service.  The one-year moratorium is a feature of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Speaking at the National Convention, Burelson also praised the Stop Staples fight. “By pressing one large corporation, we discourage others from entering the postal business,” he said.

Our jobs are important to the community, he pointed out. Postal workers bring good union salaries into their neighborhoods and the public gets good service, he said.

Another impetus of Clerk Craft growth is the March 20, 2014, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Filling of Residual Vacancies, which outlines a specific process for conversion  of Postal Support Employees (PSEs) to career. Over 35,000 Postal Support Employees have become regular as a result, and more than 25,000 have joined the union.

As a result of improvements to the Memo in the new contract, conversions will take place even more quickly.

Next Up: Increased Staffing

The craft’s next goal is to increase staffing in post offices and mail processing plants.

“Right now there are lines out the door and the Postal Service does this on purpose,” Burelson said. “The customer will see the line and go to a private place to do the mailing. They are not going to the post office because the Postal Service is discouraging them.”

Increasing staffing not only provides better service for customers, it creates a better working environment for employees, and he pointed out.

Burelson applauded locals for fighting against understaffing. On many work floors across the country, only one worker is running a DBCS machine, but there should be two.

The St. Louis Gateway Area Local picketed outside the downtown post office this summer, shining a light on the safety issue and garnering headlines.

“When people get out into the streets and get media attention, this is a great influence on the Postal Service. It gives us leverage to increase staffing at the post office,” Burelson said. 

New Work

One way to provide better service is by implementing postal banking. “The Postal Service is a communication system connecting everybody across the country. We can also provide Internet and email and a public service to communities,” Burelson said, noting that postal banking would provide affordable financial services and an alternative to the predatory payday lending industry.

With understaffing so prevalent, some members have expressed concern about the extra work postal banking would bring and some have expressed concern about security.

“More work means more jobs,” Burelson said, “and any kind of issue with security can be addressed through ramped up security measures.”

Three New Signoffs in the Clerk Craft
Aug 03, 2016

Three New Signoffs in the Clerk Craft

Web News Article #157-2016

07/29/2016 - APWU Clerk Craft officers and the Postal Service signed three documents on July 29:  They agreed to a new set of Questions & Answers on the POStPlan, Filling Residual Vacancies, and Travel; signed a Step 4 Settlement on Postal Support Employees (PSEs) staffing Level 4 RMPOs (Remotely Managed Post Offices) working outside their installation, and signed an addendum Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Peak Season Exception Periods and the use of annuitants.

POStPlan, Filling Residual Vacancies, and Travel
The APWU and the Postal Service reached agreement on a series of Questions & Answers regarding POStPlan, Filling Residual Vacancies, and Travel. Among the 17 items, they agreed to the following:

  • Former postmasters who convert to the Clerk Craft in their RMPO on October 1, 2016, “
  • “Clerk Craft PSEs who have already served one full term as a PSE will not be required to serve a probationary period as required by Article 12, Section 1, after conversion to career.”
  • The parties strengthened their commitment regarding the application of Article 12, Principles of Seniority, Posting and Reassignments, of the contract in POStPlan offices.

Step 4 Settlement on PSEs Working Outside the Level 4 RMPOs
In a Step 4 settlement, the parties reaffirmed that the Level 6 PSEs staffing Level 4 RMPOs may not be utilized outside their APO (Administrative Post Office) installation, except on a limited, last-resort basis to staff Sunday package service hubs. A specific pecking order must be exhausted prior to working the PSEs outside of their installation.

MOU Regarding Peak Season Exception Periods and the Use of Annuitants
The parties agreed to a “one time modification to change the 2016 peak exception period in Function 1 from November 12, 2016 through January 6, 2017.  In Function Four, HCAs [Holiday Career Assistants] will be hired from November 12 through December 23, 2016 or November 26, 2016 through January 6, 2017.  This does not extend the length of the exception periods.”

In addition, the parties agreed:

  • The parties reaffirm that there never was an agreement to create and post so-called “Holiday PSEs,” and the Standard Position Description for a PSE (Holiday Work/Term) will be removed from BQnet.
  • Letters will be sent to eligible annuitants, notifying them of the Peak Exception Period (PEP) opportunity, no later than August 1 of each year.
  • The Postal Service will provide the APWU at the national level with the number of annuitants hired and hours utilized for each week of the exception period (this is in addition to the requirement to provide HCA numbers.)

National Negotiations, Grievance Settlements
May 12, 2016

National Negotiations, Grievance Settlements

(This article first appeared in the May-June 2016 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

At the interest arbitration hearing for a new contract in february, the Clerk Craft presented two panels of workers who explained their job responsibilities to the panel of arbitrators.

The workers’ testimony demonstrated that their work is much more complex than you might expect from reading the standard position descriptions.

They explained that they usually perform their duties with little or no supervision and described how their extensive experience on the job greatly enhanced their ability to provide good service to their communities.

In addition, two multi-craft panels of Postal Support Employees (PSEs) gave passionate, articulate, and disturbing testimony regarding their treatment at the Postal Service.

The PSEs explained that they felt like a lower class of people because a U.S. government agency – the Postal Service – pays them low, unequal wages for the same work, requires them to work long hours with hardly a day off, and is creating a culture of disrespect toward new employees.

PSEs explained that USPS wages for PSEs are so low that some qualify for government assistance.

National Grievance Settlements

The Clerk Craft, with Assistant Craft Director Lamont Brooks serving as the lead officer, recently settled four disputes with the Postal Service as part of a pre-arbitration review process agreed upon by APWU President Mark Dimondstein and management. The settlements are as follows:

Mail Processing Clerks, Day to Day Seniority, and Light/Limited Duty Employees: “In Mail Processing, when management determines the need to assign employees outside of their primary assignment area, such assignment will be based on operational needs and the employee’s qualification, in accordance with the May 9, 2002, MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] Re: Mail Processing Clerk Position. Day-to-day seniority will be applied as follows:

“1. When management determines the need to assign an employee, or a number of employees outside of their primary assignment area, the employees are moved by juniority (except when a junior employee with a scheme assignment has not reached the current minimum 30-hour sortation during the accounting period). (See Article 37.3.F.10 and the 2012 JCIM, Article 37, page 8- Q&As 33 & 34)

“2. Any employee not holding a bid duty assignment, within the principal assignment area, will be moved prior to moving any mail processing employee who holds a bid duty assignment.

“Accordingly, the parties agree that any case held pending this national dispute will be resolved in accordance with this agreement and local fact circumstances.”

Lead Clerk and Time and Attendance Collection System (TACS) Training and Duties: “The interpretive issue in this dispute is whether the MOU Re: Clerk Craft Jobs, Section 2, and the subsequent Lead Clerk Questions and Answers (Q&As) dated May 4, 2012, require that all employees occupying Lead Clerk duty assignments must be given access to the Lead Clerk Role in TACS, receive the required TACS training, and be assigned TACS duties.

“1. All Clerk Craft employees occupying Lead Clerk duty assignments will be provided the required training for the Lead Clerk Clock Office role in TACS.

“2. Access to the Lead Clerk role in TACS and assignment of TACS duties is based on local operational circumstances. Example: Where there is more than 1 Lead Clerk duty assignment within the facility, not all Lead Clerks must be assigned TACS duties. However, a minimum of one will be assigned the Lead Clerk Clock Office role in TACS to perform these duties.

“3. The parties agree that the provisions above are only applicable in facilities that meet the criteria for Lead Clerk duty assignments in accordance with the MOU Re: Clerk Craft Jobs and the MOU Re: POStPlan: Staffing of Offices, Filling of Assignments, PSE Usage and Conversions.

“4. In facilities that are authorized Lead Clerks and in POStPlan offices that are authorized Lead Clerks in the APO installation, TACS duties will be assigned to the Lead Clerk in accordance with the TACS Lead Clerk Clock Office role.”

Custodial Duties Performed by the Clerk Craft – Questions and Answers:

“When the two hours or less of custodial work cannot be combined with other maintenance duties to create a duty assignment: CLERK CRAFT

“1. How will the time be recorded when performing the custodial duties? It will be recorded under maintenance LDC 38 and the applicable operation number (747 or 748), and the custodial duties will be in addition to the clerk craft duties that are part of the bid duty assignment.

“2. How much additional time will be allowed? The time allowed for custodial duties will be based on Line H of the MS-47.

“3. Can a Part-Time Flexible (PTF) or Postal Support Employee (PSE) assigned to the facility perform the custodial cleaning duties? Yes, when the custodial duties can’t be added to an existing duty assignment.

“4. Will the employee performing custodial duties receive required OSHA training? They will receive required OSHA training based on the duties expected to be performed.

“5. Will clerks be required to perform custodial duties between waiting on customers? No. (See MOU on page 427 of the CBA)”

204-B Details beyond 90 days: “The interpretive issue in this dispute, is whether the MOU Re: Clerk Craft Jobs, Section 2.D requires that if the 204-B detail assignment exceeds the 90 day limit, the supervisory work performed by the 204-B, on the 91st day and beyond, must be considered bargaining unit work.

“The parties agree that there is no interpretive issue regarding the 90 day limitation pursuant to Section 2.D of the MOU and the Oct. 20, 2011, Q&As. Alleged violations should be investigated based on local fact circumstances, and the Union may file grievances in accordance with Article 15.”

Page Last Updated: Jan 09, 2017 (09:21:10)
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