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Jun 05, 2017

USPS Private Contractor Pleads Guilty to Fraud

Beam Bros. Trucking caught stealing from and endangering employees

06/02/2017 - On March 16, 2017, Beam Bros. Trucking, Inc., a private trucking company, was indicted on multiple counts of fraud and abuse in their capacity as a Highway Contract Route (HCR) operator for the USPS.

The APWU Motor Vehicle Service Division has fought for years to return this type of work in-house to Postal Vehicle Service employees from such HCR subcontractors, citing fraud and abuse as one of the many significant reasons that these routes should be returned to USPS Motor Vehicle Service employees.

Multiple Counts of Abuse

The indictment stated that Beam Bros. had, amongst other abuses, encouraged and permitted its employees to violate federal safety regulations by exceeding legal speed limits and driving while fatigued or otherwise significantly impaired.

The company also encouraged drivers to falsely record their duty status as “off-duty driving” when they were in fact on “driving” status, and to falsify their time sheets.

Further, they failed to pay their drivers as required by contract, they failed to comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations, and they obtained an improper and unfair competitive advantage over other potential contractors.

"We have continuously questioned the operating tactics and business practices of some HCR companies,” said MVS Division Director Michael Foster. “This is another example why USPS employees are the proper employees to perform this work." 

In total, Beam Bros. was charged with serious crimes including:

  • Conspiracy to Obstruct a Lawful Function of Government
  • Conspiracy to Commit an Offense Against the United States
  • Falsification of Records in Contemplation of Federal Matter
  • False Statements
  • Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud
  • Conspiracy to Engage in Monetary Transactions in Property Derived from Specified Unlawful Activity

Beam Bros. ultimately pled guilty on May 16, 2017 to the counts of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, by falsification of records in contemplation of a federal matter and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The trucking company was hit with a fine of $250,000 and a mandate to forfeit $2 million in proceeds and pay $1 million in restitution to their own drivers.

 “This indictment underscores why postal work must stay in the public sector,” said President Mark Dimondstein. “For a private company, the bottom dollar is everything. Too often companies make greedy decisions to make a quick buck, at the expense of the workers and the American people.”

May 22, 2017

Step 4 Agreement Reached on
MVO and TTO Qualification Standards


05/19/2017 - Clarifies qualifications for Motor Vehicle Operators, Tractor Trailer Operators, and establishes training opportunities for MVOs in tractor-trailer operations

A settlement was reached between the APWU and the USPS clarifying the changes that the Postal Service made to the Motor Vehicle Operator (MVO) and Tractor Trailer Operator (TTO) qualification standards in 2002. The significance of this settlement is that the parties recognized that Motor Vehicle Operators are afforded the opportunity for tractor-trailer training consistent with Article 39.2B.9 which states, "When Tractor-Trailer assignments are established, motor vehicle operators who are not qualified to drive tractor-trailers will be given on-the-clock training, starting with the senior MVO."

The settlement also reaffirms that an operator need not be TTO qualified when hired for a MVO position.

The local parties should establish a process that provides training for MVO's before a residual TTO vacancy occurs.

"I am satisfied that this settlement will correct the qualification standards language that was changed in 2002, which allowed for the waiver of TTO experience if an employee successfully passed the USPS road test,” said MVS Division Director Michael Foster. “This settlement took many years of negotiations to resolve, and I hope that any MVOs who participate in this training will take the promotion to TTO when it becomes available."

 Agreement (81.69 KB)

May 08, 2017

The Protection of Skilled Work Continues

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

By Motor Vehicle Service Craft Directors 

As the Motor Vehicle Division continues this year's national arbitration schedule, we are focused on preserving and upgrading highly skilled work in Postal Vehicle Service (PVS). The first case on this year’s docket was the Schedule Examiner Vehicle Runs position, scheduled from Feb. 27-28, before Arbitrator Shyam Das.

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) challenged the Postal Service’s shift of highly skilled bargaining unit work to Executive and Administrative Staff (EAS) positions. The Schedule Examiner is an essential part of PVS. This position carries through to completion all steps in the process of developing schedules for transit and local mail transportation throughout the entire area, properly coordinated with transportation contractors, special delivery and carrier delivery schedules and units.

The Postal Service has slowly been eroding the duties of the Schedule Examiner as network rationalization results in the reduction of supervisor positions. Claims by management that this work is becoming less and less are nothing more than smoke and mirrors. The Postal Service is systematically reducing the number of Schedule Examiners across the country and shifting the work to the Supervisors Transportation Operations and the Network Specialists.

Article 1, Section 6, draws a clear line between the work of supervisors and the work of bargaining unit employees. The work of the best qualified Schedule Examiner Vehicle Runs has been shifted to EAS positions in violation of those lines. Management may not perform these duties where Schedule Examiners are assigned. In offices where full-time Schedule Examiner positions are not established, Article 1.6 still prohibits the performance of bargaining unit work by supervisors and EAS employees.

Instead of going before the arbitrator with the merits of the dispute, the Postal Service decided to bifurcate the case under the pretext that the union failed to raise an interpretive issue.

However, the APWU presented two witnesses during the bifurcation portion of the hearing: Assistant MVS Director Javier Piñeres and MVS Central Region National Business Agent William Wright, a former Schedule Examiner, who testified to the duties and work a Schedule Examiner performs daily. Additionally, the union testified that during the actual Step 4 meeting, MVS Director Michael Foster clearly stated the interpretive issue the union would present to the arbitrator.

MVS Division Seeks DIE/DSI Upgrade

On March 29 and 30, before Arbitrator Shyam Das, the Motor Vehicle Service Division sought the Driver Instructor and Examiner (DIE) – the current Driver Safety Instructor (DSI) position – to be upgraded one level higher than those employees they train. The MVS Division takes this position from a previous Step 4 award granting a higher level of pay for employees who train another employee of an equal level.

Arbitrator Das is very familiar with the issues surrounding the DIE position since his involvement goes as far back as 2004, when he sustained the union’s challenge that the Postal Service’s revision altering the language of the existing qualifying standard was a violation of Article 19. In that case, he found the language was unnecessarily ambiguous, and therefore not fair, reasonable and equitable as required by Article 19.

Subsequently, as part of the Postal Service’s 2005 “Safe Driver Program” the existing title of the Driver Instructor and Examiner changed to the current Driver Safety Instructor. As part of a general upgrade, the DSIs received a one pay level upgrade during the 2006-2010 National Agreement, upgrading the DSI position to a PS-07 position. The duties have remained the same despite the change in title and the subsequent upgrade.

The DSI is a highly skilled position and an integral part of the Postal Service’s “Safe Driver Program.” The program itself grew out of unfavorable publicity in 2004 concerning a number of children’s deaths in accidents. It should not have taken a national-level dispute (much less a national-level arbitration) to achieve a well-deserved upgrade for these positions.

SEAM Case Outcome

Arbitrator Stephen B. Goldberg rejected the APWU’s contention that the introduction of a computer program called Solution for Enterprise Asset Management (SEAM) to manage vehicle repairs at Vehicle Maintenance Facilities (VMFs) violated existing handbook and manual provisions.

The APWU filed a dispute asserting SEAM caused the reassignment of work across occupational groups in violation of Article 7.2. The union’s dispute stated how the program violated the PO-701 Fleet Management Handbook and violated position descriptions in the EL-201 Handbook. The APWU also argued that SEAM resulted in supervisors performing bargaining unit work in violation of Article 1, Section 6.

Arbitrator Goldberg reaffirmed that Articles 7.2 and 1.6 of the National Agreement limit management’s right to make changes in the workplace. However, he ruled “the essential nature of the work performed by technicians and stockroom employees under SEAM is not meaningfully different than it was” before SEAM’s implementation.

The Arbitrator’s finding that SEAM “did not change any Postal Service Handbook” led him to conclude that “the Postal Service did not violate Article 19 by implementing SEAM without Article 19 notice to the Union.” However, he remanded to the parties the question whether or not the Postal Service violated Article 19 “by not furnishing the SEAM Coordinator Guide to the Union upon its issuance.”

Arbitrator Goldberg also rejected the Postal Service’s contentions that it had complied with Article 19. The Postal Service claimed it complied because it gave the union all it was entitled to under this article. It also argued the union’s appeal to arbitration under Article 19 was untimely.

Under the Award, the APWU has a right to meet further with the Postal Service on SEAM and, if necessary, to seek a remedy for the Postal Service’s untimely provision of the SEAM Coordinator Guide to the union.

The Award reconfirmed the principles that management cannot assign our work across occupational groups and must follow the requirements of Article 19.

As evidenced by the SEAM award, there is still much to be done in the MVS Craft towards protecting our work and significant contributions to the Postal Service. As always, we will continue the fight.

Page Last Updated: Jun 05, 2017 (07:45:22)
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