St Paul, MN APWU

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President Todd Elkerton

Happy New Year! I want to start by wishing you all a great 2019.  On a personal note, my wife lost her 40-month struggle with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer on November 2nd.  I want to thank all the Officers, Stewards, and Members who supported my family as we worked hard to accomplish all the goals my wife set before her death.  We were able to accomplish them and because of this we found victory in the process.  It was an odd Thanksgiving and Christmas for me as my two boys and I celebrated these events for the first time without her.  It is truly great to work for and to represent all the great people of this Union.  Thanks for all you have given me.

 

On December 21, 2018 the National APWU President Mark Diamondstein announced the APWU and USPS had reached Impasse in the negotiations of a National Contract.  This means the parties will begin the mediation process and prepare for National Interest Arbitration to create the next Agreement.  In the meantime, the present Contract remains in full effect.  Please keep wearing your APWU swag in support of the efforts to achieve and Contract. It is expected sometime late summer early fall for a Contract.

 

2019 will be a busy year, Local Elections will take place in March with nominations for office at the February Membership Meeting.  Also prior to nominations the membership will determine the number of "at large" representative who will attend the National Convention in 2020.  Also, this fall will be a National APWU election.  Please make sure we have your current address on file to ensure you are mailed a ballot and so you can vote. 

 

Make Plans to Vote November 6th

 

I ask each and every one of you to find a way to vote in the upcoming elections.  It is the greatest single power you are given as an American to determine your future.  As the election process ramps up, we will be inundated with TV commercials, mailings, phone calls, and visits to our homes with information concerning candidates for office.  Many of the TV commercials produced are designed to cast doubt into your mind of the candidate you wish to support.  Relying on this doubt to convince you not to vote.  Everyone must resist this division and manipulation and still vote.

Modern day politics have done a great job at dividing people of the electorate to ensure they vote a certain way.  This division has not been good for workers as parties have been able to carry the mantle of social issues to make you support one side or the other.  This division dilutes our power as workers to influence the process.  The end result is a degradation in working conditions and ability to work a full-time job and live with dignity and respect.

We as Postal Workers see this from the President of the United States as he is demanding we as public civil servants to a cut to our pensions to the tune of 143 billion dollars.  In addition, soon after the election, the President will release a proposal which sells off the USPS to a private enterprise.  This will be the first time a President has proposed this for the only federal agency defined in the US Constitution.  Further, legislation has been produced and promoted by the Republican party run by the President to make the entire United States a "right to work" country.  The facts are, in the States with right to work, wages and benefits of workers decline significantly.  I am into my 8th year as President of the St. Paul, MN APWU and I have rarely stepped into encouraging you to take sides in an election.  This year is different in light of outright disdain shown to workers over the last couple years. 

When you vote this fall, I hope you consider your job as the means to provide dignity and respect to your families.  I hope you understand the real threat the Republicans and the President of United States are to these jobs with decent wages, benefits, and retirement and vote accordingly.  We can argue over the social issues, but at the end of the day, we as Postal Workers need to protect our jobs.  It has never been so clear and stark who is threatening them.

If we can mobilize and exercise our power in this election we can protect the United States Postal Service from privatization and your right to be able to retire with dignity.  Please do not miss this opportunity to stand with working people in the upcoming election.  Your job depends on it.

The Minnesota AFL-CIO and the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation have screened candidates and endorsed those who are willing to stand with workers on our issues. 

 

POSTAL PRIVATIZATION IS PROPOSED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES from the September 2018 Postmark

 

The threat is real! The Presidential Commission on the Postal Service was set to release its report from their expedited study of the Postal Service.  The conclusion of the Commission is to recommend Privatization.  However, it was not released in August as previously reported.  The latest information is that the report will be issued after the election this fall.  Privatization has a very clear record of degrading workers wages and benefits, as well as, their voice in the workplace.  Further, this election will carry very clear consequences to the future of the USPS employees and retirees.  I am not typically a sky is falling guy, but if we continue to let social issues divide, we as workers will pay a heavy price in the dignity we have come take for granted.  This is not hyperbole, it is simply the truth and we as workers must stand up this fall and use our voice through voting for candidates who support a public post office. These attacks only highlight the need for our members to engage in the political process to ensure continued dignity and respect for the hard work we do.

Recently House of Representatives tacked on a rider to legislations which would have significantly reduced the USPS ability to continue to increase revenue.  It was a late addition, the APWU was alerted and we worked hard with the other Postal Unions to defeat the legislation with the support of 18 Republican legislators, which our leadership has said they will recognize for their help in protecting the public Post Office.

At the National Convention, which was held in late August we participated in a rally to call attention to first ever proposal from a President of the United States to PRIVATIZE the Post Office.  It received news coverage in Pittsburgh, PA and has started to spread to other parts of the United States. We must continue to educate ourselves and family members to the threats we face in the near future.

The St. Paul Area Local continues to follow our principles of protecting dignity and respect in the workplace and will stand up to these threats.  Please do not sit out this election and when you do vote, vote to protect your job which provides for you and your family.  The National APWU, in conjunction with the AFL-CIO Labor 2018 program, has elevated MN to a tier 1 State which means will get added support in this election promoting candidates who support working people's issues. If you would like to get involved both current members and retirees contact the Union Office at 651-778-1637 and we will connect you with people who can use your abilities.

 

STAND UP FOR SAFE JOBS

After repeated call by the St. Paul APWU on behalf of its members to management to not just talk about safety but to do something about it.  The Northland District Manager has decided with the support of the Unions to develop a District Safety Team.  The parties have spent some time developing an working document for this group to start addressing safety concerns in the workplace. It is expected this team will be assembled and kicked off this fall. 

The team members consist of people who are concerned about safety and have knowledge of safety issues within facilities appointed by their representative organization to serve on a team full time which will work on safety issues and give direct reports to the District Manager concerning safety issues within the facilities of the Northland District.  The St. Paul APWU was asked to provide two members to this team.  As President, I have talked to these two and they have agreed to participate. 

The St. Paul APWU has been encouraging the District Manager to do something to change the culture in regards to safety for many years.  So, when he asked us be part of the solution we have chosen to participate in this process.  As with all management plans there is some cynicism this is just another ineffective program in addressing safety.  However, I believe optimistically this new team and process agreed to has to potential to make a difference in providing a safer work environment for our members. 

As an employee you also have a responsibility to report unsafe working conditions through the USPS Form 1767 which is required to be available to all employees.  If they are not available please contact your supervisor and ask they be provided, if the supervisor does not respond contact the Union and we will ensure management is complying with their obligations to have these forms available to you.  Under the Employee Labor Relations Manual (ELM) 814.1.e ; Employees have the right to participate in the USPS safety and health program without fear of restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination of reprisal.  The instructions on the PS Form 1767 states once an employee reports an unsafe condition in the workplace management must immediately take action to abate the safety issue. If management is not responding to the 1767 report with an immediate response please contact the Union. 

Together we can make the USPS a safer place to work.

Todd Elkerton

 

 

from the June 2018 Postmark

 

 

Hard to believe, but summer is upon us.  This month my article is not on the front page as a tribute to the first St. Paul, MN Area Local President Jim Bryan who passed away on May 2, 2018 at the age of 93. I tell everyone as the President of the St. Paul Area Local, I stand on the shoulders of the Giants who came before me.  President Bryan was one of those Giants I refer to.  President Bryan as the first president was required to form a Local Union which comprised the clerks, maintenance, motor vehicle, and special delivery crafts, along with the NPU who represented the majority of the union members in St. Paul.  Through the work of many and with his leadership, he was able to get this group together and fighting for all the crafts.  President Bryan negotiated our first Local Memorandum’s of Understanding which to this day had many of the provisions they agreed to.  The St. Paul Area Local members continue to benefit from his contributions and this is his legacy.  I know I am a better person and leader from his sage advice over the years.  I will truly miss him and his counsel. 

 

On the heels of President Bryan’s passing came word on May 19th, 2018 Former National APWU President William Burrus passed away at the age of 81.  Mr. Burris also leaves a legacy of working hard on behalf of the members and serving with dignity for many years as a National Officer. 

 

With the passing of these two individuals, I am reminded of the importance of a good Union negotiated contract and the benefits it provides working people.  This month the National APWU opens negotiations with the USPS with hope of negotiating an agreement prior to the expiration of the National Collective Bargaining Agreement on September 18, 2018.  Every contract negotiation is difficult and great efforts will be made to protect our advancements.  However, the Postal Service’s financial condition will make this round especially tough.  Add to this the attacks the current President is making on our pensions and income structure, there is a large storm brewing.  While I do not want to be Chicken Little running around saying the sky is falling, because I have hope the members can find solidarity and stand strong with our negotiators to protect us.  This process can not be done alone, it will take us all standing together. 

 

The St. Paul Area Local will be working hard this summer to protect our jobs.  We will also be sending 11 delegates to Pittsburgh, PA in August to participate in this years National Convention.  By the time of the National APWU Convention the negotiators will have a pretty good feeling on where negotiations are headed.  We will commit to getting our members up to date information concerning these negotiations through our Flash Bulletins.

 

I want to wish each and everyone of you a great summer.  It is always humbling to be your leader and rest assured I take it seriously.

 

 Todd Elkerton

 

 

 

 from the  March 2018 Postmark

The struggle is real! Our National Collective Bargaining Agreement expires September 20, 2018.  The APWU is preparing for these negotiations and over the next few months the St. Paul APWU will be working with other Local and State APWU organizations to provide direction for the upcoming negotiations.  The 4 State Caucus representing MN,WI, N. Dakota, and S. Dakota will be meeting to discuss and provide resolutions for consideration to provide direction in these negotiations.  Once these resolutions are developed they will presented over the next few months at each State convention and if passed by these bodies will be submitted to the National Convention held this summer.  We go through this process every other year and this is how change is made within your Union.  St. Paul APWU works hard to provide thoughtful input from the many hours we put in representing the members in all crafts, we also take any written idea submitted by members and spend time developing them in resolution format.

This process is extremely Democratic in nature and provides an opportunity for discussion and debate along with three representative bodies passing by a majority for it to move to the next step.  This vigorous debate allows a vetting of ideas and many times opens one's eyes to struggles being experienced within one's local area.  I want to thank the members for their continued support in sending your representatives to these gatherings and allowing us to advocate on behalf of our shared interests.  Pay attention as we move forward to the reports of what has been accomplished over the next several months.  This is an important negotiation for our future and the future of the USPS. 

Locally, we are still working very hard to have the Article 12 Excessing from the St. Paul Installation cancelled.  In December, Management indicated they would reduce the impact due to overtime and PSE work hour reductions.  Seventy days from this commitment management has still not done what they committed to do.  This is frustrating to say the least.  We have met with management on a weekly basis concerning staffing at the St. Paul P&DC and as of February 28, 2018 they have still not been able to show us a completed staffing for the Plant.  The same is true for Customer Service. To date we still have not received management's proposal for all the Stations and Branches within St. Paul.  While we gained significant ground in the most recent Arbitration award concerning job reversions, management has been slow to accept the ramifications of the award.  The St. Paul Area Local is standing its ground and asking the reverted jobs since last year be brought back to St. Paul Installation.  Over the next few weeks we should find out what management intends to do.  Watch for Flash Bulletins for any updates to this process.  Keep communicating with the Union so we can protect you full-time jobs.

 

from the February 2018 Postmark

 

The St. Paul Area Local Takes A Significant Step Forward in Fight to Protect Full-Time Work

In Regional Arbitration on January 30th, 2018, Arbitrator John C. Fletcher upheld an Article 37.3.A.1 dispute from a clerk craft job reversion in March of 2017.  The award summary stated the "Postal Service violated Article 37.3.A.1 when it failed to consider all available hours, to create full-time traditional duty assignments at the St. Paul Minnesota Post Office.  Postal Service violated Article 37.3.A.1 when it reverted duty assignment #95018741.  Management directed to post bid for position #95018741.  Out of schedule premium ordered successful bidder."

In March 2017, USPS St. Paul Plant Manager informed the Union the new Function 1 Labor Scheduler has indicated they will be required to reduce a significant number of full-time duty assignments and result in more than 90% of the duty assignments in the St. Paul Processing and Distribution Plant to be reposted.  The result of this implementation was felt by nearly every clerk within the St. Paul Processing Plant.  The resulting reversions and abolishments became the subject of grievances for each and every full-time position management was attempting to reduce.  The above cited duty assignments are the first of these disputes to reach Arbitration.  Management at the Area Level has indicated they are willing to settle the other cases in light of the Arbitration decision.  Time will tell if they follow through on their word.  Because these positions have significant remedies to the people who receive them I will try and let the members know which jobs in the future carry the out of schedule remedy for the successful bidder, provided the cases which were held in abeyance pending the decision are settled in the manner provided by the Arbitrator.

This is an important case in our fight to protect full-time work in the St. Paul Installation.  I want to thank the members who bore the brunt of management's arbitrary and capricious actions over the last several months.  It is invaluable to have members who willing provide the Union with information concerning the use of future career PSE employees.  I also want to thank Jason Stevens for his hard work at Step 1 and Bruce Gutzke for his work at Step 2.  The work they did to put together the documentation for these cases is significant, more than 5000 pages of documentation for each case was provided to management in the form of clock ring data, graphs, and charts which supported the position of the Union.  Further, I would like to thank NBA, former St. Paul, MN Local President, and alternate St. Paul APWU steward Willie Mellen for his hard work in getting the case before the Arbitrator and articulating so eloquently the contractual violation which was occurring.  Lastly, the National APWU Clerk Craft Director Clint Burelson and Assistant Clerk Craft Directors Lamont Brooks, Lynn Pallis-Barber for their support in this fight.  I sent them a letter last night personally thanking them on behalf of the St. Paul Area Local members.

When we fight we win! It is especially gratifying when the membership and the National Officers work on probably the most pressing issue over the last year, the preservation of full-time duty assignment.

Todd M. Elkerton

 

 

 


from the January 2018 Postmark

 

  Looking forward to a busy 2018

As we put the bow on the 2017 Holiday Season it is clear the package delivery has taken over at the Postal Service.  We have been told this year again saw record volumes of packages delivered.  This volume pushed the overtime to levels we have not seen in many years.  While the St. Paul Area Local worked hard to not have non-list employees forced to work overtime it did occur on a few days in December this year.  With all the problems increased work hours and volume creates for our members, it is clear we survived another Christmas as expected.

Early in 2017 management implemented a new Function 1 Labor Scheduler and the people in Washington DC who crunch the numbers decided the Postal Service was experiencing a financial shortage and the solution was to attack full time positions in the Processing and Distribution Plants.  This plan was to reduce 16,000 full-time duty assignments in these Processing Plants.  St. Paul was not immune to this reduction.  Starting in March, local management was told by the adjustments of some expectations in the programs the Plant was no longer efficient and needed to reduce full-time duty assignments.  The St. Paul Area Local is using the grievance process to protect as many full-time duty assignments as possible.  The first case on this attack had an Arbitration hearing on December 19. We hope to hear the results by the end of January 2018 .

In November 2017, management determined it needed to reduce even more full-time duty assignments and met with the Union with its plan to excess full-time employees from the Installation in February 2018.  On December 23, 2017, management presented the members with a preference sheet of seven positions which were available to full-time employees within the 50 miles radius required in the contract.  There were numerous contractual violations in how the jobs were presented and the St. Paul Area Local educated management on these issues.  Just after the closing date on the preference process the St. Paul Area Local was informed by Lead MDO for the Northland District the preference process was being cancelled and they would look to move people at the next moving date.  While not stating specifically, the next moving date will be in early May 2018.  This preference process created a great deal of stress and unknowns for those affected over the holidays.  While we were not able to solve this stress for our members, we are happy the process was cancelled and delayed for 90 days.  This will allow us to continue to work hard to minimize the impact and maybe remove the threat of excessing from the installation over this time period. 

Our National Contract will expire on September 30, 2018 and the summer of 2018 will be a period of significant negotiations between the   APWU and USPS.  It will be a difficult negotiation with the present financial condition of the USPS.  The contractual provisions which have allowed us to protest the reduction of full-time jobs will be under a great deal of pressure as management tries to tilt the scales towards the ability to reduce full-time duty assignments.  Contract negotiations need the members to be involved through their solidarity support of the Union.  We are better together as we try and negotiate a better tomorrow.  I know many members think the Union not been strong in this struggle.  However, looking at the history of the APWU it has been a steady march forward in protecting good paying jobs which provide many benefits to family members and its communities.  It is clear when we fight we win.  The St. Paul Area Local will continue the fight in 2018 to protect these good full-time jobs. We ask the members continue to support us in this struggle.

 

 

from the November 2017 Postmark

Outside the Installation Excessing for St. Paul Installation

As the financial crisis for the United States Postal Service deepens, management continues its attack on full-time jobs.  On November 2, 2017, management conducted a regional notification of their intent to reduce full-time duty assignments from 425 to 404 in the St. Paul Processing Plant.  This reduction according to the Postal Service will cause an excessing of  37 full-time employees from the Installation.  Article 12 of the National Agreement requires this meeting. In addition, the Minneapolis Area Local was informed management intends to excess 98 full-time employees.  This excess event is supposed to occur the first week of February 2018.  Contract limits the excessing to a 50 mile radius.  The 50 mile radius for both installations will create a significant issue for management to find 135 full-time residual duty assignments to place employees into.

In a Flash bulletin in late October I informed the membership of this possibility from looking at the proposals to change the start times of 80 full-time duty assignments and repost 219 duty assignments.  The St. Paul APWU does not believe the proposals are in compliance with the National Agreement. The St. Paul Area Local has initiated and processed grievances concerning the first round of this slash and burn process and appealed many of them to Step 3 of the grievance arbitration process. This crux of this dispute is scheduled for arbitration December 19, 2017.  It is anticipated the decision will be received prior to the February 2018 excessing date.  If we are successful in the contractual dispute the impact out of installation could be reduced due to the return of duty assignments improperly reverted.  The next set of cases being processed presently at Step 2 are the abolishments which occurred September 30, 2017 and the employees remaining unassigned regulars. The St. Paul Area Local is committed to defending full-time jobs being reduced.

One of the most offensive and confusing parts of these actions is the same week we are being told we have all these excess employees, a lawn sign goes up in front of every post office and the processing plant in St. Paul stating the USPS is hiring.  The bold letters send the person interested to the website usps.com/careers.  When management was asked how many people they are hiring, we are told up to 100 new hires are required to process the mail.  It is very deceiving to on the one hand say we have to many employees on the rolls and need to reduce and on the other hand advertise that postal service is  hiring career employees.  The Union offered they should use the present claimed over staffing to process the mail for the upcoming holiday schedule.

The Union was told new the staffing models are made on staffing projections which they do not know if it will occur.  However, presently they need everyone to be successful in processing the mail and delivering to our customers.

This slash and burn on some projections not made in reality are extremely short sighted and it will degrade service to our customers.  The Postal Service management is hell bent on resolving the financial crisis on the back of its employees is at best disrespectful to its employees and customers.  There needs to be legislation which provides for the financial needs of the public post office.  They need to be planning to grow the postal service by leveraging its delivery and retail service to provide needed products to its communities and customers.

We have experienced financial crisises in the past and have survived.  We will need to rely on this resilience as management calls plays from the same playbook they have used previously.  Hang in there and continue to help the union protect good paying desirable jobs from those in power that appear to want to destroy the historical compact the United States Postal Service has with the public.

 


from the October 2017 Postmark

 

Protecting Full-Time Jobs Is Everyone's Responsibility

In April of 2017 management started attacking full-time jobs.  The St. Paul APWU has been working hard to save these positions.  We have filed grievances protesting all reversions in the St. Paul Installation Clerk Craft.  The St. Paul APWU was also informed shortly after the assault started the Processing and Distribution intended to abolish more than 45 duty assignments and repost more than 90 percent of the remaining duty assignments.  Over the summer we worked hard at trying to minimize the affects of this staffing proposal.  In the end, we were able to reduce the abolishments to Tour 2 Automation, Tour 1 Pouch Rack, and Tour 1 FSM sections.  In addition, we were able to reduce the number of duty assignments reposted to less than 5% of the duty assignments.  This was not a small feat and working with a management team who changed their minds sometimes three times a day.  There were many letters sent to employees which were wrong and re-issued.

Historically, the Union has been successful and keeping non-career employees from working in downsized sections.  In this case, Tour 2 Automation, Tour 1 Letter Auto, and Tour 1 Pouch Rack due to the language in Article 12 of the contract which states PSE hours must be reduced to the maximum possible. This has resulted in local agreement preventing non-career employees from working in downsized sections.  Management has already indicated they do not plan to honor these agreements. This means we will need the employees in this sections to ask for Stewards when PSE is working these downsized sections.  Further, we need our members to ask for Stewards and file grievances with management is performing bargiaining unit work, mailhandlers performing clerk work, or employees being asked to fund DCBS machines by themselves.  These all are violations and need to be documented to restore the jobs management is attempting to eliminate.  We can only do this with the involvement of our members on the workroom floor.

If we all continue to be vigilant we can preserve full-time duty assignments. 

 


Managements War on Full-Time Jobs

from the September 2017 Postmark

A great deal of the summer has been dealing with management's war on full-time duty assignments.  Since May, management has been working on complying with its Function 1 Labor Scheduler.  There were numerous revisions of the proposals and changing numbers of total of full-time positions.  Management chose for most of the process to do this without input from the Union, which usually occurs to ensure compliance with the Contract.  So, they have issued and reissued letters to employees affected numerous times.  Just over the weekend the last of this layered process was provided to the Union. This is the reposting of duty assignments.  The letters were reviewed and mistakes were pointed out to management.  They initially stated these would be posted in the September bid process for the St. Paul Installation.  The Union has many objections to what has occurred to its members and believes the "earned" workload determined by the Function 1 Labor Scheduler is not based on Contractual requirements. We are determined to fight this process in the grievance arbitration process.

I have attempted to communicate with members in the St Paul Installation when there has been concrete information to provide.  The problem most of the time, management provided information and stated this is not the final and they are still processing revisions of the plan.  The process has been extremely frustrating to say the least as management provides us reversions many times a week.  We will commit when we have information we will get it sent out as soon as possible through a Flash Bulletin.

When management started reverted duty assignments in April and May we filed grievances disputing the reversions.  These grievances have been appealed to Step 3 of the grievance arbitration process.  NBA Willie Mellen is now scheduling some of these case for arbitration.  We are being told a case could be heard as early as early October.  We will keep you updated on the status of these cases and the results of the arbitration process.

The end of the month the St. Paul Area Local will be sending 10 people to National APWU Craft Conference in Las Vegas. This conference is held in Las Vegas every other year.  All crafts will be represented of the St. Paul Area Local.  It will be a time for training, discussing, a proposing for our future. 

 

Protecting Full-Time Duty Assignments

May Postmark 2017

The most important job the Union has is to protect full-time duty assignments.  When management reverts and abolishes duty assignments they attack the future of all the St. Paul APWU members.  The St. Paul Area Local works hard to maintain the full-time duty assignments using the contractually negotiated rights mutually agreed to in our National and Local Agreements.  In 2010, the APWU main objective was work protection.  The APWU did this by making concession which resulted in a 3.7 billion dollar savings to the USPS.  Within this agreement was the right for management to hire up to 20 percent PSE's on a District-Wide basis.  To protect duty assignments in Clerk Craft the parties agreed to language which required management to use all available hours to post desirable full-time duty assignments for bid.

Management has hired PSE employee's while trying to circumvent the work protection provisions of Article 37.  Theses action have formed the basis of disputes when management attempts to adversely affect the complements of full-time assignments made available to our Clerk Craft employees.  In 2013, the St. Paul Area Local went in front of an Arbitrator to have this dispute resolved at Industrial Station specifically.  The Arbitrator ruled in favor of our dispute and stated "all means all" when it comes to posting duty assignments for our members to bid. As a result of this Arbitration we have been successful in protecting our full-time complement on more than 40 different occasions when management had reverted duty assignments.  Each time the St. Paul Area Local received a job reversion we complied the work hours of the non-career PSE work force which shows the job was improperly reverted and maintain the status quo of the full-time complement.

Management is again attacking full-time duty assignments on a grand scale.  The last bid cycle management reverted all the duty assignments except two which were posted for bid.  To further throw salt on the wound management notified the Local it intends to abolish duty assignments in three sections Pouch Rack Tour 1, FSM Tour 1, and Letter Automation Tour 3.  The Union met with management and informed them of our position which is basically as long as 144 non-career PSE's are working more than 5000 hours a week in our installation a reduction of any duty assignment would be a violation of the Contract. 

We are unsure of what management is going to do after the meeting.  We anticipate management may start reducing PSE hours in an attempt to reduce our full-time complement.  WE do not believe they can do this without severely impacting their ability to process the mail in a timely manner.  I want each and every member to know, including the PSE's we represent, our future depends on us maintaining this full-time compliment and a future for PSE's to move into full-time career duty assignments with all its right and benefits under the contract.

We will continue to update members as management moves forward in this attack.  In the meantime, we need to your to report and file grievances every time management performs bargaining unit work, asks you to work a Letter Automation Machine alone, see other crafts performing your work.  Protection of these positions will require each of you to communicate and file grievances where appropriate for the understaffing which always occurs in these attacks. 

 

New Function 1 Labor Scheduler

The month of March 2017 brought some surprises in regards to the Processing and Distribution Plant.  Management unilaterally implemented a new Function 1 Labor Scheduler which apparently indicates there are too many clerical duty assignments in the plant.  A Labor Scheduler is the modern day work and time standards which takes measured volume and time standards and produces an "Earned" value.  If the computer generated "Earned" value does not match the complement, management is required to make the appropriate adjustments to staffing to become efficient in the eyes of Big Brother.

This resulted in two things happening.  First, management improperly reverted a number of duty assignment from the March Clerk Vacancy Posting.  All the reversions came after we met with management and they agreed to post them.  Two were kept off the vacancy announcement and a number of duty assignments were reverted after the vacancy notice was posted to the St. Paul Installation.  The Union has filed grievances for all these duty assignment asnd will put up a vigorous fight to have them restored.  Second, management met with the PSE employees who were working in the St. Paul Plant and they were given new work hours of six hours a day, six day a week.  Unfortunately, PSE scheduling can be changed like this contractually.  Time will tell if management will be able to process the mail from the facility in a timely manner.  If the past is any indication of the future this type of scheduling is short lived and the PSE hours will begin to expand greater than the schedules indicate. We will update the membership as the grievances move forward on this issue.

Election Return at an Historic Low

The St. Paul APWU completed its election for all the officers in March and we saw a historic low turnout of 27 % return rate.  We will have some discussion in the near future on how to increase this return rate.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who submitted their names for consideration from the members.  None of the positions are easy and it is nice to see people willing to work on behalf of the members.  The Executive Board will see three changes for the next term of office. Dianne Richardson will be the Industrial Relations Director.  Jim Thompson will be the Trustee Chairperson. Shelley Fleming will be the Local Secretary. Also, Dave Cook will be moving to Local Vice President.  I look forward to working with each and every Board member over the next two years.  At the Annual Steward Appreciation Dinner, I was able to say thanks to Jerry Jacobson and Steve Letendre for their years of service to the members and who are retiring.  We were truly blessed to have these individuals involved in the Local and their years of experience will be greatly missed.  Last, I would like to thank the Election Committee chaired by Pat Hawkins for their work on this important committee.

Retirement Seminar draws big numbers

The retirement seminar hosted by the Local in March drew 80 members and spouses.  The seminar was given by Brent Ford a financial advisor who has worked with many local members in their retirement decisions.  Please beware of other financial advisors who are sending inquiries to your place of work.  We have heard some stories which indicate they are not working on your behalf.  If you need contact information for Mr. Ford call the office.

 

 

FROM THE MARCH 2017 POSTMARK

The impasse items concerning Local negotiations have been settled prior to Arbitration.  Management has decided to accept our proposal on where to place PTF employees in the pecking order. The agreement was simply to re-insert PTF's into the holiday pecking order in the position they were prior the 2010-2015 agreement when PTF's were eliminated from the St. Paul Installation.  We are presently preparing the new LMOU with management and will mail each member a copy of it as soon as we get it back from the printers.

The St. Paul Processing Plant has its ninth Acting Plant Manager in the last two years.  This revolving door has made it a struggle to have any stable Labor Management continuity.  The newest Plant Manager comes from an In-Plant Support background which means numbers are his knowledge base.  With that said, the first two Labor Management meetings have been spent discussing  increasing the throughput of the automation machines.  The new Plant manager is again trying methods which do not work in St. Paul and tend to lower these numbers.  His focus has been to increase the throughput of the machines on tour 2 with his goal to reach 27,000 pieces per machine.  The supervisors on this tour have been badgering employees to reach these goals and attempting to bribe employees with chocolate if they are able to reach a certain number.

For many of the Clerks running the machine this has been frustrating, demeaning, and disrespectful.  We have discussed these issues with Management at length.  It culminated in the Plant Manager calling a meeting with the tour 2 automation employees.  I was proud of the Clerks as they explained to the Plant Manager that most of the production issues are related management decisions on how to process the mail.  The problem is management is unwilling to look at themselves and the choices they make concerning this issue.  The clerks informed the Plant manager of six months prior where the MDO for their tour decided they were not going to run mail which was in the building and ready to be processed on tour 2 and told the Clerks to just stand by the machines and do nothing.  They informed the Plant Manager they raised complaints and stated this will negatively affect staffing and result in the computers saying there are too many positions on the tour.  Four months later management downsized the unit by eliminating 7 positions.  The Plant Manager states he is not sure this was the right move and will be looking to at it to see if the positions can be added and assured the Clerks they have mail for them to run.  This circular logic just seems to continue Plant Manager after Plant Manager.  In the meantime, each Plant Manager seems compelled to upset people's lives in thinking reinventing the wheel will produce different results. It quite simply has not and until management comes to grips with the realization the production numbers are a result of their own decisions things will not get better for them. 

Last, please be aware there are some unscrupulous financial advisors who are sending retirement questionnaires to your work locations. These advisors are in no way supported by the St. Paul APWU and from what we have seen are not working on your behalf.  The St. Paul Area Local has sent out letters to your homes with our letterhead and signed by me regarding financial advisors who we have worked with for many years and are confident they are working on your behalf.  If the retirement questionnaire did not come to your house with a letter from the St. Paul APWU proceed with caution.

 

FROM THE FEBRUARY POSTMARK

 

At the writing of this article, I am being told the Local Negotiation Impasse for the St. Paul Installation has been settled.  The issue of where PTF's would be inserted into the holiday pecking order was in dispute.  In the end, it is being told to me by NBA and Lead Negotiator of the USPS, the PTF's will be restored to the pecking order in the position which they were prior to the 2010-2015 agreement when the PTF's position was eliminated but returned for the MVS craft in the 2015-2018 CBA.  Once we receive the signed agreement we will meet with management to finalize the St. Paul Installation LMOU and will have the agreement printed and sent out to the members we represent.  I want to thank the membership for their patience as we finalize the document.

I was contacted in early January concerning management wanting to move the Nokomis Station carriers to the LDC.  Management was proposing to move the carriers and coup them at the airport and bring the clerks from the Nokomis Station to the airport facility.  This would mean Minneapolis represented clerks would be working in a St. Paul installation.  After consultation with Minneapolis Local President and NBA, I informed management this would violate the agreements we have concerning the movement of operations between the two Local's affected.  I was contacted by the District Manager last week and was told after consultation with the Unions, management was attempting to figure out how to move the Nokomis Carriers to the Main Office in Minneapolis.  So, it appears for the time being the Nokomis Carriers will not be couped at the LDC.  If this changes we will let the members know through a Flash Bulletin.

This month will be nominations for all St. Paul Local positions at the General Membership meeting at 6:15 pm on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.  Pat Hawkins has been appointed as the Election Committee Chairperson and along with his Committee will conduct the election.  Please see the Election Call for the specifics which have been sent to all installations we represent.  Further, watch for the ballots in the mail in March and follow the directions to vote.  I encourage everyone to take the time and return your ballots.  Pat Hawkins has been the chair of many elections for this local and always conducts elections with the utmost professionalism. 

Todd Elkerton, President

 

 From the January 2017 Postmark

                Greetings and Happy 2017 to the members and retirees of the St. Paul Area Local, this year will be filled with Local Elections, a new Plant Manager (9th in two years), job realignments, Impasse Arbitration for St. Paul Installation LMOU, and many unforeseen issues as we advocate for the members of this Local.  It will be a large task which I am certain the Stewards and Officers will confront and work hard on your behalf. 

There is a need for Stewards on Tour 1 and Tour 3 in the St. Paul Processing and Distribution Plant.  We are looking for people who are willing to work hard on behalf of the members and advocate for their rights.  If you believe you may be one of these of people, please contact me at 651-778-1637 so we can schedule a meeting to discuss the possibility.  I usually am able to meet during your scheduled work hours.  Please consider joining us in our struggle with USPS management and ensuring the rights of our members are secured. 

The St. Paul Processing Plant has come upon another gimmick to try and solve their staffing issues and the resultant failure to meet dispatch times.  The newest is a countdown clock which will digitally countdown to dispatches.  The St. Paul Area Local was told about this just prior to management having a service talk on the new clocks.  This is just another attempt in their Lean Six Sigma toolbox to squeeze more out of employees who are presently working hard every day to get the mail out despite the obstacles management puts in front of the hardworking employees of the USPS.  Anyone who has worked an automation machine for more than two weeks knows the dispatch times of the mail which is being processed and a countdown clock does nothing to improve this.  The only thing we think it may help is the supervisors on the floor who may not realize when the mail is to leave the machines to make the scheduled truck dispatches.  This is another reality show playing out within the Processing and Distribution Plant titled "Minute To Win It" in which the payout is always zero.  It is a zero sum game,  if it works employees will be required to give more with less and with no recognition of the enormous work exerted to overcome understaffing.  In the end, if the clocks do not motivate employees and improvement to dispatched times is not achieved the employees will be blamed.  It is time USPS management gets serious about addressing their long standing staffing issues and ensure there are enough employees to accomplish the goals of this organization to deliver mail on time to the American public. I encourage the employees we represent to continue to come in each day and give a fair day's work for a fair day's pay and ignore these thinly veiled gimmicks. 

On behalf of the St. Paul Area Local, I look forward to 2017 knowing the members of this local will stay engaged and communicate with the Stewards and Officers their concerns of what is happening in their workplace.  Further, thanks in advance for this activity and giving this organization the opportunity to advocate of your behalf.  Here's to great year filled with many challenges!

 

From the  November 2016 Postmark

 

Greetings and Happy Holidays, the month of October has been a busy one for the St. Paul Area Local.  We opened Local Negotiations for all the Offices we represent, at this time it appears there will be very small changes for the Associate Offices and re-signing the existing LMOU's for the offices.  The St. Paul Installation looks to be heading to Impasse over the placement of PTF employees in the holiday pecking order.  We still have until November 7th to resolve, but at this time it appears Management and the Union will Impasse the holiday pecking order.  Other than that, the parties came to agreement on sections concerning pouch rack operations, the LMOU will now have the City Outsides, Clearance, and SPSS which were previously agreed to by the parties.  Also, Tour 2 Pouch Rack will no longer have LCTS #2 it will be move back with the Automation Sections. 

The St. Paul Area Local anticipates it will have a Labor Management meeting in the near future concerning the upcoming holiday season.  This is our yearly meeting to discuss how the USPS intends to deal with the yearly increase of mail in December.  By all accounts we will see another increase in package mail which has been occurring over the last few years.  This increase is significant and will require a great deal of manpower to move the anticipated package increase.  The USPS originally was planning for a holiday annex in the Eagan area and this plan fell through because they were unable to secure the lease.  We are told now this facility will be in Minneapolis.  Management has not shared with us yet on how they plan to staff this facility.  However, it is anticipated it will be done similar to last year which resulted in a grievance.  We are working hard to try and avoid grieving the issue this year but are unsure it this will happen. 

To further complicate the holiday season, management at the St. Paul Processing and Distribution Plant in Eagan is planning on moving a large number of duty assignments starting times by the end of the month.  With the Interest Arbitration issues in July of this year it resets the one hour window for change within the contract period.  Therefore, if management changes a start time by more than one hour the position is required to be reposted.  The extent of these changes will be communicated as soon as the Union and Management get done discussing the issue to ensure all the contractual provisions are followed during this change.  We will have our second meeting on this issue on November 2nd, 2016 and hope to send a Flash Bulletin to inform all of the planned changes.

As we head into the holiday season, please take care of yourself by working safely.  With the increased volume of mail there are safety issues which present themselves due to the high volume.  Remember, being safe requires you to keep vigilant to these potential safety risks and reporting them so they can be abated as soon as possible. The St. Paul Area Local is addressing some issues from last year concerning the stacking of cardboard mail transportation equipment that was stacked on top of each other and stacking letter trays on pallets, both resulted in unsafe situations where the stacks fell due to the improper stacking.  We hope to have management ensure these do not occur this holiday season.

 

 From the October 2016 Postmark

Democracy relies on your participation!

Voting is one of our fundamental rights to participate in our workplace and community. The APWU prides itself on being one of the most democratic labor unions in the world.  The reason for this claim is, each and every member has the right to vote for its officers.  In many unions, this right is reserved for the select few who are elected by delegates of the National Convention and the election takes place during the proceedings.  This right for each member was not something which was given without a demand.

Prior to the merger and creation of the APWU, there was a rank and file union called the National Postal Union which organized bargaining unit postal workers regardless of craft.  The National Postal Union was founded in 1958 with the goal of One Big Postal Union and was the precursor of the merger of Craft Unions of Clerks, Maintenance, Motor Vehicle, and Special Delivery into the APWU. When the NPU formed in 1959 it was the first time postal workers were granted the right to vote by referendum; meaning "one person, one vote" and with it the right of each union member to participate in the election of its officers.  This right was never given to the members of the Craft Union's prior but was demanded by the rank and file and moved into the very first National APWU Constitution.

This right  is something many of our members take a pass on as we see the participation of members who actually do vote continue to decline.  One week prior to the deadline for ballots it was reported that 34,000 ballots of the 294,000 which were sent out had been returned.  This is a sobering number.  While the final number of ballots will certainly go up.  It is clear that a minority of members  will decide the leaders for the next three years.

What strikes me as I think about this is the number of members I talk to on a daily basis in unison,  profess the need for change.  Let me  be extremely honest if "change" is what you seek you must participate.  Change does not occur while you sit on the sidelines and complain about it.  It is difficult for those of us in the battle to hear the constant chorus of the Union does nothing for me.  When the bare hard truth is many amongst us do nothing to ensure a vibrant and healthy Union.  Someone said to me the other day, do not become pessimistic because many members have a learned helplessness and are comfortable in not participating.

The APWU makes voting as easy as possible, they deliver a ballot to your home with pre-paid postage.  The leadership and members of the St. Paul APWU provided endorsements for who we believe will serve your best interest and sent it out twice to your work areas.  The only thing you were required to do was take 10 minutes of your time put it the envelope and bring it with you to work and place in the mail.  This is a very little commitment on your part but has huge consequences in your workplace. I hope St. Paul Area Local leads the nation in participation as it has in the past for many years.  Please continue your participation and let your voice be heard.

The struggle is real and requires your involvement to make the change you seek. Get involved stand up for yourself and fellow workers.  The Union needs your participation to be effective.  Let's work together to make changes because, we are better together.

 

From the September 2016 Postmark 

Greetings, we have just returned home from the National APWU Convention in Orlando, FL.  The St. Paul Area Local was well represented at this convention.  Three of our Delegates served on National Committees and were part of the discussions that lead to recommendations to the Convention Delegates on the issues we were debating, Dave Cook, MVS committee, Bruce Gutzke, Appeals committee, and myself on the Constitution Committee.  This was my ninth convention representing the members of the St. Paul Area Local, I am always humbled by the opportunity to represent the members.  I said at one point, the more I conventions I attend the more I understand the saying “the struggle continues”.  The resolutions submitted continue to seek more for our members in improving working conditions.  In the end, this is where it starts as we debate these ideas and understand how a good idea in one place could be a bad idea for others, it is through this process that we provide the direction to our National Officers in negotiations. It was a pleasure working with the 10 other delegates from our local they worked hard each day on your behalf.

I would like to welcome the members of Clear Lake, WI our newest office that we represent.  This process took nearly a year to complete with the National APWU.  We appreciate the patience of the members in Clear Lake, WI while this took place. 

This fall will have LMOU negotiations for many of our offices with negotiations opening this month.  Once negotiations open we have a thirty day window to meet and come to agreement.  All negotiations must end by November 7th and Impasse items need to be submitted by December 12th.  Please watch for updates as we move forward on this important process.  There is still time to submit your suggestions concerning these negotiations.

We are being told by the District Manager new staffing proposals for the Stations and Branches will be submitted soon and we will be allowed to provide our input prior to implementation.  Over the last several years these proposals cut staffing at our Stations and Branches significantly and we anticipate similar proposals again.  We will as in the past seek input from the members working at each station concerning the proposals.  Further, if the proposals do not use all available hours we will file appropriate grievances and use the Industrial Station Arbitration we prevailed on in 2012.  This arbitration has provided direction to the St. Paul APWU as we have had many proposals over the last four years with no reductions of full-time duty assignments during this time.  In preliminary correspondence with the District Manager it appears management is going to try and staff according to the earned work hours that were flatly rejected by the Arbitrator. 

Apparently, we are heading into a dispute again. 
September 30th is the end of the 2016 fiscal year and we anticipate many violations concerning custodian staffing.  The 2015 fiscal year established many violations and management has done very little administrative change to end the violations so we believe the remedy will be increased to 100 percent of the Line H hours for many offices.  The MS-47 grievances for the LDC and St. Paul Processing Plant have been denied at Step 3 and we are awaiting a Arbitration date for both cases.  According to the NBA he thinks we can get it scheduled this year.   


from the June 2016 Postmark

Union Member Involvement


The recent disagreement with Management concerning workplace involvement schemes that was discussed last month is being effective because St. Paul APWU members are standing with the leadership of this local in not participating in these processes.  We ask for your continued solidarity in this endeavor and thank you for your help.

The Union is not its leaders it is the members who support the leaders through collective action.  Any effective Union needs its members to stand up for each other when faced with USPS management schemes to reduce staffing to unacceptable levels and degrade our jobs and workplaces in chasing the so called efficiencies which the so called labor scheduling programs call for. 

In a recent District Labor Management meeting, we were told that management intends to give "belt training" to all Northland District employees.  Despite the St. Paul Area Local's notification that our members are not participating in Lean Mail Processing/LSS processes.  This caused us to make a call to Labor Relations and put management on notice that we expect the members of the St. Paul APWU will not be required to attend these trainings.  If you are told to go see video that provides instruction of Lean Mail Processing and its corresponding processes, follow the order and ask for a steward to report what you were required to do.  We believe that if management moves forward to train St. Paul APWU members after being put on notice of us not participating that we have an unfair labor practice and we will seek remedy for the violation.  Thanks in advance for taking the time to inform us what is going on in your workplace.  Communication allows us to better represent your interests.

I was recently conducting a steward training for a PSE who is interested in becoming a Steward.  In this training the PSE told me that most people are unaware of their obligation to timely file a grievance.  Article 15 of your Collective Bargaining Agreement defines the process.  It states that we have a right to file a grievance within 14 days of knowing or reasonable knowing of a violation.  One of management's most effective arguments is that a grievance was not filed in this 14 day period.  Please be aware of the time limits and if you think there is a violation of the contract ask for a steward right away to give them time to research your issue and file an appropriate grievance on your behalf. 

Last, at the time of writing this we have not received the Arbitrated National Agreement.  We expect that sometime this month that will occur.  When it does we will send out information so you are aware of the results of the important Contract.

Have a great summer and look for the Postmark again in September.



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from the May 2016 Postmark

 

Earlier this month, I sent out the following Flash Bulletin to explain the St. Paul APWU objection to Lean Six Sigma projects within the installations that St. Paul APWU represents.  I followed that up with a letter to the managers within the Northland District that the St. Paul APWU does not find it in the interest of the employees it represents to participate in these programs.  The letter goes on to demand that any such employee involvement that has not received written approval by the Local be immediately ended. If you know of such or have been appointed please notify us as soon as possible.  The Local is looking into filing an Unfair Labor Practice through the NLRB for management's exclusion of the St. Paul APWU in these type of activities.

The Hunger Games comes to St. Paul Processing and Distribution Plant through Lean Six Sigma employee involvement schemes.

Over the past couple of years, the USPS has been promoting a process known as "Lean Six Sigma" for most of the early part of this process it was introduced by putting signs up, cleaning the building, in some cases painting.  It was rolled out as a streamlining of processes within a facility to ensure mail flowed through operations with the least amount of barriers. 

The Wikipedia definition of Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that relies on a collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing waste, combining lean manufacturing/lean enterprise and Six Sigma to eliminate eight kinds of waste; Time, Inventory, Motion, Waiting,  Overproduction, Defects, and Skills.

Notice the definition requires a collaborative team effort, while the early part of implementation looked to be organizational.  Lean Six Sigma is quickly evolving into an employee involvement process. The APWU has a long history of consistently rejecting Employee Involvement programs from the National level down.  The goals of these programs is to pit worker against worker to get you to work harder, take advantage of your knowledge of your job, hold down the size of the workforce, and have your fellow employees harass you for the production you obtain on a daily basis.  A labor history of this type of involvement has resulted in they win, you lose. 

The bedrock of this process management is data and the use of this data to squeeze the employees to work harder.  It is sort of an employee shamming process, in which management provides production numbers on boards to show how each worker (machine) performed the day before for all others to see.  This visibility and information then create an atmosphere that pits employees against employees to force all to perform at the highest level achieved within the unit.  Thus, turning the workplace into a sort of "Hunger Games" production of the survival of the fittest worker and where the weakest must be sacrificed.  The members of the St. Paul Area Local have historically stood together as management tries to implement these processes of public embarrassment by producing less not more and the game quickly ends.  Remember, the success or failure to this program requires your participation and you can chose not to participate.

We are now being told that we will be a pilot site for employee involvement concerning production of the machines we operate.  Management is erecting a "war room" in the middle of the floor where they will put up production numbers from the previous day, week, and month.  Then they will require the mail processing clerks to leave their machines and visit the "war room" where they will be presented with the volume of mail they ran and asked to provide information by writing it on the charts what were the barriers for them not to meet the production goal established.  The mail processing clerks will be required to explain their lack of performance and why the goals are not being met.  This will be done by telling you that none of the information will be used against you personally only to "fix the problem" and make the facility more productive.  Again, this participation voluntary; hence you have a choice not to participate.  Please join the St. Paul APWU in saying NO!  

To further create stress, management is installing "Operations Huddle Boards" with three components; First Section-reporting Past Performance, Second Section- What's our plan? Success for the day, Third Section-How are we doing? Real time Quality Performance. The Huddle Boards are information boards to Track & Report progress and goals throughout each unit by specific sort plan and machine #.

The Local Union has many problems with this type of approach and believes that management by stress is not a proven way to improve moral or working conditions.  We are presently looking for ways to combat this.  We need your help to provide information to so we are better armed in defending this attack on our members.  We need to stand together and not let management pit workers against each other. 

It is not a coincidence that those who have been indoctrinated into the "Lean Six Sigma" have been given belts for their progress similar to those awarded in Karate for their discipline and progress.  For "Lean Six Sigma" the process is the elimination and dumbing down of jobs and managers will be rewarded for their discipline in implementing this "Hunger Games" approach.

As members of a Union we have to understand the underlining goals of these innocuous programs  and not allow or participate in this competitive selection process.  The results have not benefited the workers, the move to automation has resulted in loss of allied positions, prepping positions, loss of people to rotate, asking people to operate machines by themselves, the postal facilities have turned into high tech sweatshops where the throughput of the machine will be put up on the scoreboard to show who is losing the battle of the goals. 

Let's be perfectly clear on this issue, the St. Paul APWU has determined it is not in its best interests of the APWU bargaining unit employees to participate in this "pilot project". 

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We are quickly heading into summer and as usual it is looking like it will be busy.  This month is the Wisconsin State APWU convention and because we have Wisconsin members we will be there to represent those members.  First week of May is the Minnesota State APWU convention in Minneapolis.  The convention's purpose is to prepare resolutions that will be presented and voted to be presented at the National Convention in August 2015. Those resolutions which pass all these steps will be the priorities for those National Officers that negotiate the National Agreement.

Further, it is expected that we will receive an Arbitrated National Agreement sometime the end of June or early July.  Once the contract is presented to the members and ratified the process of local negotiations start and we attempt to negotiate LMOU provisions that are needed or need to be changed.

Custodian staffing has been one of the main things that is in dispute at the writing of this article.  Management is implementing a new version of MS-47 known as the TL-5. This roll-out has been occurring since 2014 and has now reached many of our facilities.  This revision of the MS-47 updates custodian cleaning to industry standards now in place and requires standardize cleaning equipment and products for cleaning.  This standardization allows the USPS to use its buying power to negotiate a national supply contract and save money due to the volume of products needed.  However, there have been many complaints about the ability of the new cleaning chemicals to clean the affected areas.   In addition, the move to these new procedures has a negative impact on the amount of work hours needed to keep the facilities clean.  We have noticed in the Eagan Processing and Distribution Plant that the facility cleanliness has been declining steadily under the new procedures.  If you encounter a dirty work area, such as a bathroom, swing room, drinking fountain; please document it through a PS Form 1767 and help us expose those areas that are being neglected under the new procedures.  We really need everyone's help to ensure that we are able to come to work and not get sick from the facilities we work in.  I thank you in advance for your help on this issue.

Also, in every facility that we have a Custodian assigned, the St. Paul APWU has filed a grievance on behalf of its members for management failing to comply with the Memorandum of Understanding that allowed the implementation of MS-47 TL-5.  It appears as with just about everything in regards to the 2010-2015 National Agreement, that management is quick to implement the parts that benefit them and force the union to file grievances to enforce those that benefit the workers of the APWU crafts.  In many of these cases the St. Paul APWU is seeking a large monetary remedy for the violations.  In all associate offices the Postmaster is required to issue daily work assignment sheets to ensure all the duties that are defined as requirement are accomplished.  We have found that not one single Associate Office is doing this, in violation of this requirement.  Further, we have found that the Custodians that we represent are performing many duties that are not included in the approved staffing packages.  As a custodian please ask management to provide you with a PS form 1776 daily to document the work you are doing.  If the Postmaster refuses contact the St. Paul APWU so we can help you in getting this important document issued to you. All these grievances are being denied and sent to Step 3 for resolution.  We are six monthS into fiscal year 2016 and management has not started to comply with the requirement.  Thus, we anticipate that many offices will have a second year of non-compliance.

Keeping on the Custodian issue, the 2010-2015 National Agreement has a Memorandum of Understanding that states management and the Union agree that when in small post offices there are two hours or less of contracted out custodian duties that cannot be combined with other maintenance duties to create a duty assignment, those duties will be assigned to existing APWU bargaining unit duty assignments.  The National APWU had to file a Step 4 dispute on management's unwillingness to implement this memorandum and has just signed off on a Question and Answer to resolve how it is implemented.  The Q and A states that Clerk PSE's and PTF's can be assigned this work assigned this work where it cannot be added to an existing Clerk duty assignment.  When performing these duties the Clerk is required have these hours recorded under the Custodian function and be assigned to operations 747 or 748.  When performing these duties a clerk cannot be required to wait on customers.  Last, management is required to provide the required OSHA training based on the custodian duties expected to be performed.

This means that if you have a contractor who is performing custodian duties at your office.  It is likely that these hours belong to you, this includes lawn care and snow removal.  If you are in a small office and the custodian duties are being done by someone other than APWU represented employees you need to ask for a steward and have a grievance filed.  These work hours likely belong to you.  Do not allow our work to be done by someone else.

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National Interest Arbitration

Begins

National Interest Arbitration began on February 17, 2016. Both parties will present their corresponding case over the next few months with a decision expected this summer.  National Maintenance Craft Director reported at the Four State Caucus in Fargo, ND, that the APWU is presently laying out its position to the Arbitration Panel.  The presentation has included testimony from rank and file members from the floor.  The Director stated our members did a great job explaining their present situations in regards to their positions with the United States Postal Service.  Director Raymer went on to explain the APWU has taken great lengths to show how the last contract which was a concessionary agreement that management took all their and failed to comply with the items that benefited the members and they are seeking to have this recognized.  Last, the National APWU asks that we continue to wear our stickers to show support of our negotiators as we continue this process to secure a decent contract that recognizes the efforts of postal workers to the success of the USPS.

Maintenance Jobs Under Attack

With the implementations of the new MS-47 TL-5 locally, management is reducing custodial positions.  On February 23rd, by certified letter the USPS notified the St. Paul APWU of a reduction of seven (7) Full-Time Regular custodial positions for the P&DC. This does not include the Station and Branches or the Airport LDC custodial positions, which are expected in the near future.  We have met with management and they are presently trying to present to us the impacted positions.  We discussed with them their obligation under Article 12 if there is a excessing from a section.  Management indicated that they have too many positions on Tour 2 and need to add positions to Tour 3 and Tour 1.  We hope to meet and get specifics as soon as possible.  It is clear that there will be disruption to the custodians as this process is implemented.  Further, it is possible that PSE's will be let go for lack of work.  The St. Paul Area Local is discussing how to reduce this impact if needed.

There has also been a great deal of rumors swirling around BEM work at the Station and Branches.  According the National Maintenance Craft Director, management appears ready to unilaterally implement changes to the MS-1 after to failing to negotiate the changes with the APWU. The National is prepared to file a National Level dispute on the implementation when it occurs.  According to Director Raymer this will be as early as April of this year.  Local management has been unwilling to discuss these rumors to date and the impact to the BEM's in the St. Paul Installation.

The St. Paul APWU will send out Flash Bulletins as information concerning these two important issues with Maintenance employee comes forward over the coming weeks.


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  Workplace Surveillance
 
In the October 2015 edition of the Postmark, I provided an abridged version of work and time standards in the work place and its evolution within the United States Postal Service.  The information gathered from these sophisticated labor scheduling programs is the modern day equivalent of work and time standards.  The “data” provided by these programs are the evidence that management uses to justify staffing cuts and label workers as lazy and inefficient.  The term most used is “earned complement” or the dated term matching work hours to work load. 

Then earlier this month, I posted to my Facebook account with a question concerning me wondering how many cameo appearances I made on surveillance videos that day.  I was struck by how many times that day I saw video surveillance cameras while I went about my daily business. 

Shortly after, I read an article in the NALC newsletter discussing the new scanners that the carriers have been assigned which have GPS tracking capabilities tied to a computer program that tracks their route to determine if they are reaching each stop as required by their route on time.  This program is also monitored by individuals in Denver and their own station.  If they are not making adequate progress the vehicle turns red and soon after they have their supervisor talking with them on intercom through the scanner. 

Couple this with an article concerning MIT developing an employee badge which gathers 4 gigabytes of information concerning the workers habit each day sent me thinking on how much data the United States Postal Service gathers concerning individuals work output each day and the corresponding surveillance an employee is subjected to in the work environment.
I have had discussions with Plant Managers concerning this information on many occasions.  If goes something like a DBCS machine on tour 3 only ran five hours while two employees were assigned to it for eight hours.  The report showed when the machine ran when it was not running and finally who was assigned to it.  Another discussion was why is it so hard for employees to punch the right operations while they are working.  The Plant Manager stated sometime in the near future it was believed that the employees badge would be needed to start the machines and sweep them.  Thus, ensuring the proper operations would be correspondent to the programs being run on the machines.

This is not unlike a world found in a novel called 1984 by George Orwell in which he boldly states: “Big Brother is Watching You.”  when I started at the USPS the ubiquitous inspectors’ catwalks were in all facilities, these have been replaced by video surveillance and computer programs that provide the secret surveillance in our workplace today.It used to be  that we as Americans fought  for our right to privacy at work and home. However, it is quite clear that this freedom we are supposed to care about and guaranteed in the Constitution has been eroded quite quickly.  While I do not have a solution to the erosion of personal privacy to identify it as a problem which we must confront is a start. 

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  The Year Ahead

It is anticipated that 2016 will bring a new National Agreement.  We have been told that the process of picking a neutral Arbitrator is in process and should be announced soon, with National Interest Arbitration to begin shortly after the selection.  This will mean sometime during the summer we should have a Contract.  After this announcement the Local will begin Local Negotiations to negotiate LMOU’s for all the Installation’s we represent.  I will be assembling the Local Negotiation Teams over the next few months.

If you want to see something change with the LMOU please send your suggestions to St. Paul APWU PO Box 21128, Eagan, MN 55121.  The committee will consider your suggestion and follow up with you if we need to clarify of what you are suggesting.  If you want something changed, now is the time to communicate with the St. Paul APWU. 

Looking into to other areas, it is anticipated that Management will attempt to implement a new staffing package for Customer Service in the St. Paul Installation.  We have been discussing various proposals over the last year and half. At some point, management is going to move forward with a proposal.  In the Processing and Distribution Plant it has been indicated that adjustments will be made to Tour 1 start times and number of duty assignments in sections.  There will also be a new Plant Manager named soon.  With every new Plant Manager, we see change as they try to put their personal stamp on the facility.  We will continue to meet regularly with Management in Labor Management meetings to provide input to proposals.  When there are concrete plans we will notify you as soon as possible to what management are up to and how we have responded.

It is hoped that this Christmas season shone a light on our short staffing and the need to correct it.  We hope that this year will bring proposals to increase the full-time complement, rather than reduce and degrade service even more.  While this may be a pipe dream, discussions with Management have revealed that they understand how not having enough staffing has been negatively impacting service obligations. We hope to continue to convert PSE’s to career status.On the Associate Office front, we continue to spend time trying to get management to comply with the POstPlan implementation process.  There are many issues concerning management performing bargaining unit work and PSE’s being used improperly. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Custodial Staffing will be front and center over the next year as we process the grievances concerning failure to staff in accordance with the MS-47.  Management has also implemented the TL-5 version of the MS-47 in the Processing Plant and they will soon be providing a new staffing package in accordance with the new procedures. 

Subcontracting continues to be a problem in the MVS and Maintenance Crafts.  The Craft Officers are working hard to combat these contracts.  The Clerk Craft also experiences subcontracting issues with the movement of Non-Machineable Outsides to a contractor for Christmas. 

from the January 2016 Postmark

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