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MVS Craft Information
Lawsuit Against Arbitration Award Dismissed
Mar 27, 2017

Lawsuit Against Arbitration Award Dismissed

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

By MVS Craft Directors 

The National Star Route Mail Contractors Association’s lawsuit against the Postal Service over the American Postal Workers Union’s (APWU) arbitration award regarding Highway Contract Routes (HCRs) was denied by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

In an effort to prevent the USPS “from taking any action to implement the portion of the Aug. 18, 2016 APWU-USPS arbitration case No. Q06C-4Q-C 11182451 (Das), in which the arbitrator ordered the Postal Service to terminate 110 HCR routes to PVS,” the Star Route Association filed a lawsuit against the USPS on Nov. 30, 2016. On Dec. 2, 2016, they requested an expedited hearing upon their Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction.

The USPS entered into a motion to dismiss the complaints of the Star Route Association, and the APWU, as the intervenor, also entered into a motion to dismiss.

The case was filed before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“Upon considering of the pleadings, the relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court GRANTS Defendant’s and Intervenor’s Motion to Dismiss and DENIES Plaintiff’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction…Lacking jurisdiction over the matter, the Court does not address Plaintiff’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction on the merits, as it lacks the authority to grant such relief.

Finally the Court shall DENY WITH PREJUDICE in this court Plaintiff’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction...

Because Plaintiff has failed to establish standing in this matter which is not yet ripe for adjudication, the Court finds that it would not be in the interest of justice and accordingly shall not transfer this matter to the Court of Federal Claims.”

As we reported in our November-December article, the Motor Vehicle Service (MVS) Craft scored an important victory in this Aug. 18, 2016 ruling by Arbitrator Shyam Das, inet ripe for adjudication, the Court finds that it would not be in the interest of justice and accordingly shall not transfer this matter to the Court of Federal Claims.” which he stated, among other points, that the Postal Service must convert 110 Highway Contract Routes (HCRs) to Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) within six months of the date of the award.

The HCR association’s argument was based on the grounds that they would incur serious monetary damages with the termination of their contracts, and the MVS Craft bargaining unit employees would not suffer equivalent damages without these contracts, as they were not previously performing the work.

The union immediately pushed back against this motion, which sought to overturn Arbitrator Das’ decision and prevent the Postal Service from returning work to the MVS Craft. We have fought for years to bring the USPS in compliance with Article 32 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), as our members continued to suffer loss of work to outside contractors.

The APWU’s argument against the preliminary injunction was strong. We stated not only does the D.C. District Court lack proper jurisdiction in such a case, but the outside contractor also had no legal recourse to demand renewal of their contracts with the Postal Service.

The APWU quoted a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision as further evidence:

“We think it plain that the bargaining unit is adversely affected whenever bargaining unit work is given away to nonunit employees, regardless of whether the work would otherwise have been performed by employees already in the unit or by new employees who would have been hired into the unit.” (Mi Pueblo Foods, 360 NLRB No. 116 (2014))

It is very disturbing to the APWU to have an organization that is not part of the USPS or the CBA between the parties attempt to interfere with the parties’ agreements or processes.

This is not the first time this HCR group tried to interfere with the union’s collective bargaining efforts, as they previously attempted to stop the union from receiving the PS Form 7463A, the negotiated cost of HCR contracts, after the NLRB administrative judge ordered the USPS to provide this form.

Compliance with the Das Award

Early reports from the field indicated local management was attempting to negotiate some of the 110 routes for substitution, which Arbitrator Das allowed for, but not on the local level.

Arbitrator Das stated, “By agreement, the parties may substitute other route(s) to be converted to PVS service pursuant to this order based on particular circumstances.”

In response to the APWU’s requests for information regarding these reports from the field, the Postal Service confirmed that “since this was a National level arbitration we would agree that the parties the arbitrator refers to are parties at the National level.” Local management has no authority to negotiate the substation of any routes from the original 110 named in the award.

We are still in the process of finalizing the list of HCRs to be insourced and will notify the membership once the list is complete.

Dynamic Routing Optimization Pilot Underway

The Postal Service began a Dynamic Routing Optimization (DRO) pilot at several locations, with plans for further testing and possible nationwide rollouts. According to USPS material on the pilot, DRO aims to:

  • “Decrease surface transportation costs by reducing mileage using dynamic routes created by a Transportation Management System (TMS).
  • “Replace the use of static trips with dynamically generated trips based on mail volume and mail availability forecasts from the Run Plan Generator (RPG).
  • “Achieve savings through a combination of reduced mileage and reduction in related transportation costs (i.e. fuel).”

The union met with USPS to discuss this pilot, and we also sent a request for further information as to the possible impact to PVS drivers as well as to potential conflicts with the CBA. Any proposals and material considered prior to the application of the DRO pilot were also requested.

We have serious concerns and doubts about the Postal Service’s rights under the CBA to implement this program and initiated a Step 4 dispute. We will continue to keep you informed about its progress.

Motor Vehicle Service PSE Salary Exception Agreement Reached
Mar 27, 2017

Motor Vehicle Service PSE Salary

Exception Agreement Reached

Web News Article #30-2017

03/23/2017 - On March 10, the Union signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Postal Service that remedies the situation where Motor Vehicle Service Postal Support Employees (PSE) who had been granted a salary exception were converted to career status within the same craft but to a lower level and received a starting salary rate in accordance with the June 6, 2014 MOU “Re: Resolution of Postal Support Employee (PSE) Salary Exception Issues,”  and its April 3, 2015 addendum.

This MOU achieves the following:

  •          Restores the salary rate of Level 8 PSEs who were converted to a career Level 7 position within the Motor Vehicle Craft and subsequently forced to take the Level 7 salary rate;
  •          Upgrades the salary rate of any Level 7 MVS employee who is senior to the newly converted PSE but is receiving a lower salary rate;
  •          Preserves the principle of step progression
  •          Rescinds any Letter of Demand that was issued to a PSE receiving a higher rate of pay based on their salary exception after being converted to career
  •          Resolves national dispute HQTV20160071

The parties agree to address any issues as a result of this MOU, at the national level.

SEAM Challenged in National Arbitration
Jan 09, 2017

SEAM Challenged in National Arbitration

As we traveled across the country, we began to hear stories and concerns from our members concerning the new program Solution for Enterprise Asset Management (SEAM), including the obvious shifting of work between the occupational groups and supervisors. We heard the difficulties Vehicle Maintenance Facility (VMF) employees experienced performing the work they previously were able to do in their daily duties.

The MVS Division appeared before Arbitrator Stephen F. Goldberg on October 12 – 13 to challenge SEAM’s application in the VMFs.

The USPS presentation on SEAM included this description; SEAM is an Oracle web-based application designed to improve inventory tracking and visibility in the VMFs. SEAM has many roles in the VMFs. One of the primary functions is to capture data in real time as work is performed and parts are issued. The Postal Service started implementation of the program in February 2012. The APWU was not in agreement with the USPS description or the functions of this program.

The APWU Files Dispute

After the Postal Service began implementing SEAM throughout the country in 2012, the Motor Vehicle Service Division began receiving information from its members in the field that this new program created numerous violations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). While the primary complaints from the field were centered on the shifting of work from one occupational group to another, the Postal Service’s failure to provide adequate notice of the impending changes was a violation of the CBA as well.

On May 13, 2013, the APWU initiated a national dispute citing several violations, such as those of Article 7.2. Since occupational groups are part of work assignments and are clearly encompassed in wages, hours and working conditions, they are therefore the subject of mandatory bargaining.

Furthermore, the Postal Service violated Article 19. They stated the SEAM program was implemented to replace the Vehicle Management Accounting System (VMAS), which is part of Handbook PO 701. The SEAM program consequently falls under the provisions of Article 19 of the National CBA, as part of a handbook, and the MVS Craft was never given the appropriate notification required for a change of this nature, nor does it meet the fair, reasonable and equitable standard of Article 19.

The APWU started a series of communications attempting to better understand the SEAM program. Management’s responses were vague and incomplete.

When we were engaged in the 32.1.B attempts to contract out Postal Vehicle Service (PVS), we found that SEAM was being utilized to track various components of PVS. Much of the information concerning the labor cost per hour of both PVS and the VMF employees is being challenged at the national level.

In this dispute we claimed the USPS arbitrarily changed the accounting system that was in place and went to SEAM without notifying or bargaining with the union, because these changes certainly impacted wages, hours and working conditions.

We claimed SEAM shifted work from the general clerk to lead automotive technicians, storekeepers, and supervisors among other jobs impacted by SEAM.

We were assisted by MVS APWU members Valerie Streety from the Houston Area Local, Dave Cook from the St. Paul Area Local, Michael McDonald from the Boston Metro Area Local, and Larry Tynan from the Tampa Area Local.

The Future of SEAM

A USPS manager testified at the arbitration hearing that he envisions SEAM to continue to evolve as the Postal Service moves forward into a technology-based operation. He stated the future applications for this system are far-reaching, as plans include the potential replacement of the kiosk with hand-held tablets.

The APWU is concerned with the USPS implementing numerous changes to SEAM without any notice, discussions or notification to the union. We will address this issue before Arbitrator Goldberg in the SEAM post hearing brief.

The Postal Service envisions instead of the automotive technician or mechanic using a terminal at one of the kiosks to input the work and the parts needed to repair a vehicle, the technician would use a tablet with Wi-Fi capabilities to go around the vehicle as they perform a PMI. The technician would enter the same information into the hand-held tablet as they would onto a work order or at a kiosk.

SEAM is nothing more than a sophisticated program used to reduce MVS administrative positions: the general clerk, the tool and parts clerk, and the storekeeper, further impacting the different occupational groups through a system that is shifting work and violating the CBA.

If the information captured by the SEAM program is corrupt, the information coming out from SEAM is corrupt as well. It is like the old adage, “junk in, junk out.” Ultimately, transparency is the key to determining if SEAM can work correctly within the requirements of the contract.

Merlie Bell Retires, Wright Elected

Merlie Bell 

Central Region Motor Vehicle Division National Business Agent (NBA) Merlie H. Bell retired on Nov. 10, 2016, after 15 years of dedicated service. Bell began his career as a Motor Vehicle Operator at the Chicago, IL, post office and quickly rose through the ranks to become the local MVS Director. He became a fierce fighter for the MVS Craft and a regional arbitration advocate. 

One of his most significant awards for the MVS Craft was the April 20, 1993 decision C0V-4G-C 10706 out of Fort Wayne, IN, before Arbitrator Belshaw. It gave a practical example of bulk quantities of mail.

Bell was elected as an NBA in 2001 when he unseated the incumbent in a landslide victory.

A wonderful family man, Bell is looking forward to spending time with his devoted wife Sharon, his children and grandchildren.

William Wright

The Motor Vehicle Division Council congratulates Bell on a long and successful union career. Keep on trucking.

William Wright was elected MVS Central Region NBA to replace Bell. He is a proud member of the Indianapolis Area Local.

“W.W.,” as he is fondly known, has a long career in the MVS Craft, starting as the local MVS Craft director and also serving as the local president.

Welcome aboard, “W.W.”

Page Last Updated: Mar 27, 2017 (08:54:29)
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