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Maintenance Craft Information
Sep 13, 2017

Moving Forward

(This article first appeared in the Sept-Oct 2017 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

By Maintenance Craft Directors 

The Maintenance Division had a productive first half of 2017.

We completed arbitration on the Article 19 revisions to the MS-1 Handbook (case numbers Q10T-4Q-C14171644 /81407) which affects Building Equipment staffing and work. Hearings were held Nov. 15-16, 2016, Feb. 2 and April 25-26. Post-hearing briefs were exchanged June 26. Maintenance Assistant Director ‘A’ Idowu Balogun was our case officer and we enlisted the assistance of many Building Equipment Mechanics during preparation and presentation. Our sincere thanks to all rank-and-file members who participated, with a special shout out to those who testified as witnesses – Ken Allen, Chicago Local; Russ Siebert, San Diego Area Local; Steve Vaughn, Indianapolis Area Local, and Scott Nowaczck, Upper Piedmont Area Local (South Carolina). We are awaiting the decision of Arbitrator Goldberg as this issue goes to press.

On May 12, the parties signed a Question and Answer document, applying the MOU Re: MS-47 TL-5 Implementation. This significant Q&A reiterates in clear language the obligation of the Postal Service and the right of the union in determining compliance with item 6 of the MS-47 T/L-5 resolution. This is popularly referred to as enforcing Line H, in recognition of the line item on the custodial staffing PS4852.

Our members in custodial duty assignments must communicate with their union representatives about their work. The point of this is worth repeating – this is about your job security and our collective right to the scheduling and performance of our work. This is something to zealously guard and protect.

On June 27, we reached an agreement just before the opening arbitration hearing on the unilateral modification of leave and overtime provisions covering our Level 11 Electronic Technicians. Maintenance Craft Director Steve Raymer signed the agreement resolving case numbers Q15T-4Q-C 17340522 /40479.

This was a groundbreaking resolution of disputes, including the second National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) charge on management actions at the Maintenance Technical Support Center (MTSC). This agreement restored the status quo for these members and made them whole for the malicious treatment they were subjected to. The parties continue to move forward on implementing the contract under the new language of Article 38.7.F, including the new concept of a “virtual” installation.

On June 30, Arbitrator Goldberg issued his decision in case number Q10T-4Q-C 15206030, POStPlan, Custodial Staffing.

The award determined that a POStPlan cluster of an APO and associated Remotely Managed Post Of- fices (RMPOs), is an installation as defined in Article 38.2.B and the custodial staffing formula outlined in the Maintenance Craft “Subcontracting Cleaning Services” Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) applies.

Locals and state organizations representing POStPlan “clusters” should determine whether the above MOU is being complied with. If the result of applying the formula is 1 or greater, then management is prohibited from contracting out our Craft’s work. The accuracy of the complete MS-47 staffing package for each facility is critical to establishing custodial duty assignments. Please contact your Maintenance Division NBA for assistance.

In a somewhat rare circumstance, on July 6-7, we completed the arbitration hearing in case Q00T-4Q-C06175320 in two days. The issue is whether the USPS violates Article 32 when subcontracting the Automated Package Processing System (APPS) installation.

Maintenance Assistant Director ‘B’ Terry B. Martinez was our case officer. The USPS presented a defense that since the APPS was not accepted by the PostalService until it passed certain performance tests, it was still the contractor’s machine.

Our position included the fact that the Postal Service did own the APPS and paid for it prior to installation. The assembly of modular components which comprise an APPS were clearly within the abilities of the skilled Maintenance workforce.

Please remember to say “Hi” to your steward.

Jul 17, 2017

Maintenance Defines Custodial Staffing in POStPlan Clusters


07/06/2017 - On June 30, Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg issued a national award for Case No. Q10T-4Q-C 15206030 concerning custodial staffing in POStPlan office clusters (a group of postal facilities consisting of at least one Remotely Managed Post Office [RMPO] directly reporting to the postmaster located at the Administrative Post Office [APO]).

Arbitrator Goldberg’s award certified that a POStPlan office cluster, is an installation as defined in Article 38.2.B and the custodial staffing formula outlined in the Maintenance Craft "Subcontracting Cleaning Services" Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) applies. This means the USPS cannot continue to freely subcontract out bargaining unit work in these small offices.

“This MOU requires applying a formula which adds together the gross interior and exterior square feet of all facilities within an installation to determine if the Postal Service can subcontract custodial work,” Maintenance Director Steve Raymer explained. “Locals and state organizations representing POStPlan ‘clusters’ should determine whether the MOU is being complied with. If the result of applying the formula is 1 or greater, then management is prohibited from contracting out the Maintenance Craft’s work.”

Article 38.2.B of the CBA defines an installation as, “a main post office, airport mail center or facility, terminal, bulk mail center, processing and distribution center or facility, Maintenance Support and Repair Facility or any similar organizational unit under the direction of one postal official, together with all stations, branches and other subordinate units.”

“As the Union points out, the POStPlan office structure is almost identical to the main post office - station/branch structure described in Article 38.2.B,” confirmed Arbitrator Goldberg. “Simply switch the names from APO to main post office and from RMPO to station or branch, and the management and operational structure of the POStPlan and non-POStPlan offices are exactly the same.”

If you have questions or concerns, contact your Maintenance National Business Agent for help.

Attachments:  PDF (411.28 KB)

May 22, 2017

Maintenance Craft Agreement with USPS Resolving Line H Dispute


05/19/2017 - The Postal Service and the Maintenance Division of the APWU signed an agreement resolving a national level dispute regarding custodial hours on line H of Form 4852 (case number Q15T-4Q-C 17274095). The issue in the case is “the determination of compliance with item 6 of the July 9, 2014 TL-5 MOU.

The Postal Service filed this dispute to challenge the results in the field, based on APWU locals having success enforcing the July 9, 2014 MS-47, T/L-5 agreement – in particular, item 6. The agreement continued a requirement for the Postal Service to properly staff the custodial workforce in facilities and to ensure that the custodians were performing the work that justified their staffing. When the work was not properly scheduled, a once-a-year review would take place. If the Postal Service was not properly assigning the custodians to their work, a payment at the overtime rate may be due.

District/Area levels of management responsible for approving the Maintenance Craft compliment slashed the supporting documents to the bone to try to eliminate employees. The success of the Maintenance Division Officers in negotiating the 2014 settlement resulted in ensuring that staffing levels are maintained and not artificially reduced by local management failures to properly schedule custodians.

Maintenance National Business Agents and local representatives effectively enforced this requirement. Large-figure compensation amounts were paid out for custodians who were not scheduled to perform their duties.

Initially, management in the field attempted to fabricate excuses and issues to essentially take exception to the existence of the original settlement. This effort was backed by headquarters-level maintenance operations, who engaged in bullying everyone to ignore or violate the spirit and letter of the parties’ agreement.

In the end, the dispute was resolved. The core of the item 6 agreement remains and was restated in the Line H Q&A dated May 12, 2017. The outstanding grievances involving Line H are to be resolved in accordance with the Q&A.

It remains to be seen whether local (and higher level) USPS management will honor their commitment and agreements. If not, item 6 does provide for an escalating payment penalty.

Please contact your Maintenance NBA for further information.

 Announcement (98.06 KB)
 Signed Q&A (84.36 KB)
 Signed Settlement (80.1 KB)

May 08, 2017

Safety Is Its Own Reward

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

By Maintenance Craft Directors 

The Lehigh Valley Processing & Distribution Center was issued a fine of nearly $100,000 by OSHA for extensive “willful” safety violations. OSHA found the $99,630 violation willful because the Postal Service failed in their “ongoing responsibility [to] ensure the adherence to the machine specific procedures to affect the necessary energy control for each system component.”

More specifically, OSHA charged a violation of 29 CFR 1910.147(d)(2) because “the machine or equipment was not turned off or shut down using the procedures established for the machine or equipment.” Those procedures are contained in the Electrical Work Procedures Maintenance Management Order (MMO) and machine specific Energy Control Procedure MMOs, such as MMO 037-15, which applies to the Automated Package Processing System (APPS).

A ‘Running’ Example

Reportedly, the Postal Service required repair work on the induct line of an APPS machine while the equipment was running.

The Maintenance Division sent out information earlier to the field about a safety issue on the APPS. It was highlighted in a Safety Bulletin, sent as MMO 069-08, dated July 3, 2008. This was necessary because, as the title of the MMO said, there could be an unexpected startup of the induction belts under certain conditions.

These conditions involved maintenance work and the bulletin warned that, “To prevent personal injury or death, the following precautions are to be followed…” The bulletin continued with four bullet points outlining the safety issues and the statement that USPS Engineering and the vendor were working on a solution.

By April 26, 2010, management issued MMO 039-10, rescinding the prior MMO regarding the unexpected start-up of the induction belts. After the unexpected start-up problem was fixed, specific safety procedures were listed. These included admonitions to not defeat an interlock switch without authorization, to stop the machine before opening any access door and to follow the prescribed safety procedures. Other requirements included that auto induction lane 1 should be stopped prior to entering and working in the area. This was to prevent the risk of personal injury beyond the interlock controlled induction area access gate.

Unfortunately, local management wanted our mechanics and technicians to perform maintenance functions on the auto inductions lane inside the APPS while the machine was running. Local management believed that the Maintenance Technical Support Center (MTSC) in Norman, OK supported their position.

Thankfully, a rightfully concerned mechanic contacted the local union, resulting in consultation and information from the Maintenance NBA and headquarters Maintenance Division officers.

As a reminder to all, you can find further information on the Hazardous Energy Control Program (Lockout) in MMO 033-05 and the Electrical Work Plan in MMO 023-13. The document which “establishes policy and requirements for an electrical work plan (EWP)” is Management Instruction (MI) EL-810-2013-5.

All the documents listed here should be available locally.

Safety is Serious Business

It should be obvious that safety is its own reward. Following the sometimes inconvenient procedures required ensures your own safety and health, providing the best chance of avoiding injury at work. It is easy to engage in a kind of gallows humor about how the employer will put the bottom line ahead of individual well-being, but safety is serious business.

Employers are serious about cost avoidance, and we must be serious about enforcing our rights to a safe and healthful work location and procedures. Rushing to shortcut things is NOT in the best interests of anyone, employer or employee. The extra time and cost, if any, necessary to perform your duties in a safe and effective manner is an investment for which the reward is not being injured or killed.

Our sincere thanks go to the officers and members of the Lehigh Valley, PA Area Local and to Vice President Chris Day for swift and appropriate action. We hope and trust that the citation for a repeated and willful violation, with a hefty monetary cost, will deter the Postal Service from putting us at risk. But, to ensure our own safety, we must, as the members did in Lehigh Valley, insist on enforcement of the safety and health rules.

Page Last Updated: Sep 13, 2017 (07:45:54)
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