Thursday, April 7, 2011

Some APWU Contract Savings Would Come at Expense of Other Postal Unions

So much for "Solidarity Forever": Much of the U.S. Postal Service's projected savings from the proposed contract with its largest union apparently comes from reassigning duties currently performed by members of other postal-employee associations.

Some tasks typically performed by postmasters, supervisors, and carriers could be shifted to clerks and other employees represented by the American Postal Workers Union -- in some cases, lower-paid non-career employees. Most of the changes would apparently be triggered by attrition of non-APWU employees rather than pushing them out of their jobs.

New roles for APWU-represented employees would include filling in for absent postmasters, delivering Express Mail and Priority parcels, performing supervisory functions, taking on some "craft" duties now performed by postmasters, and manning corporate call centers.

USPS claims it would save $3.8 billion during the course of the 4.5-year contract but has not spelled out where those savings would come from or what assumptions go into its calculations. APWU members will start voting on the contract tomorrow.

"The contract will give the Postal Service the right to employ a substantially larger percentage of temporary workers who will be paid relatively low wages," APWU President Cliff Guffey told a Congressional panel on Tuesday.

He also noted that a majority of the job cuts at USPS the past five years have involved APWU-represented positions. For more on how the contract might bolster APWU's thinning ranks, see Postal Service Agrees To Big Incentive For Employees Who Join Union and More on the APWU Health Insurance Deal.

Among the sections that would allow, or require, more duties to be assigned to APWU-represented employees:
  • USPS "shall return duties and responsibilities from Executive and administrative Schedule (EAS) positions within Mail Processing and Customer Service to the APWU bargaining unit based upon an audit" to determine whether they belong with non-supervisory employees.
  • Creation of new positions, Lead Processing Clerk and Lead Sales and Services Associate, "to provide oversight, direction and support, in the absence of Supervisory presence to bargaining unit employees in both Mail Processing and Retail operations." Every facility with at least five clerks would be required to have at least one lead clerk.
  • Stricter limits on the amount of bargaining-unit work that can be done by supervisors and postmasters in facilities with fewer than 100 APWU-represented employees. 
  • Establishment of a new position, Delivery/Sales Services and Distribution Associate (level PS-6), which will combine the existing roles of Sales Services and Distribution Associate with those of Clerk/Special Delivery Messenger. The jobs would be filled by employees in the clerk craft. These employees will apparently deliver Express Mail and parcels on days when the local post office is closed.
  • The Postal Service "shall staff Call Center locations with no fewer than a total of 1,100 Clerk Craft duty assignments during the term of the 2010 Agreement. These duty assignments will be filled by a mix of 70% career and 30% rehabilitation status employees."


Alan Robinson said...

Your title is misleading. It comes at the expense of other postal employee assoications not unions.
Also, it may allow the USPS to switch jobs between union and non-union employees depending on who retires first.

Bill Jensen said...

I agree, your title is misleading. We are "taking back" jobs that were taken away from craft and given to management. The delivery of Express is already done by clerks everywhere. The Priority and Express delivery issue in the tentative contract was a provision added in case 5 day delivery is implemented. If there are no carriers in the building, who is supposed to deliver the Express and Priorty?

M. Jamison said...

I agree with respect to the title. The jobs the APWU is slated to get are for the most part jobs now held by small office postmasters. For years the Postal Service has pushed if not violated contract provisions regarding management doing craft work.
I'm a small office postmaster and quite frankly I would have been better protected as a craft member than as a member of the management associations. It would appear that the Postal Service is moving to consolidate and redefine smaller offices it would seem that the jobs in question would be more appropriately designated craft.

Drewk86a said...

Mr. Robinson: I enjoy reading your articles, but I think you missed the point on this one. I am sorry to say that I think you misunderstand some of the language and the intent.

First, the creation of the Delivery, Sales and Service associate is in anticipation that the USPS might go to 5-day delivery. This would permit clerks to deliver priority and express mail on Saturday. this is not intended to take away work from carriers regular duties.

Second, and and all work being returned to the APWU from supervisors is work that the APWU had done in the past. Timekeeping, Data Collection, Personell work that had been taken from APWU and given to supervisors. The return of this work makes sense. Why pay a supervisor Level 17 to do work that a Level 06 clerk can do. Additionally, any work that is administrative and non-supervisory in nature should be performed by a craft employee.

Lastly, the current contract allows clerks to fill in for absent postmasters. It is called Postal Operations Assistant and is employed every Saturday when the regular postmaster is off. The new contract eliminates POAs and instead utilizes Special Postal Clerks (Level 7) to do the work.

I undersand how the language, without proper historical context, can be misleading. Otherwise, keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Don'tforget the Timekeeper positions...these were craft jobs for a hundred years, and taken away from the APWU clerks by management ten years ago. Management stole clerk work like this to justify their own positions and create work! They have to do something besides count the mail five times and read magazines and blogs for their $75,000 salaries!

Anonymous said...

"Come at the expense of other postal unions" is incorrect. Management employees are not under AFL-CIO, NLRA, or any other labor affilation or law. Craft Postal Unions owe NO solidarity to them.

Robert Nason said...

When I think of all the hours my supervisors spend doing data entry it is no wonder that carriers in my office are left to do their jobs unsupervised. Not that this is exactly a bad thing, but certainly not what you would want if you are paying a supervisor.

Anonymous said...

As a rural carrier myself. I'm glad to see some work coming back to the APWU. You know all us laborers are willing to do our part to save the USPS money. What better way to start than cutting some high paid management work. They having been cutting away at the poor old rural carriers pay for the past 10 years now.Looks like what goes around could come around.

caine said...

glad i'm out

djb said...

I've enjoyed and followed your blog for quite awhile. I'm a USPS Bulk Mail Tech in a mailer's DMU so I see a bit of both sides of it. But, as also an APWU steward and officer of my local, and knowing quite a bit from following arbitrations, you really blew it on this one.

Anonymous said...

Can a lead clerk be a union steward? Just wondering if there would be a conflict of interest... since a lead clerk can perform all the tasks of a supervisor except issue discipline or grant leave.