The United States Postal Service continues its onslaught on Full-Time positions within the St. Paul Installation. On December 21, 2017, Area Management and the National APWU had their third meeting of notification of excessing from a notification which was dated October 17th, 2017. This many meetings is unprecedented in my tenure with the APWU. At this meeting management acknowledged their obligation under Article 12 to reduce PSE hours and create duty assignments to minimize the excessing of full-time employees within the installation. Management informed the APWU this reduction will reduce the impact by 16 full-time employees. Management has yet to actually reduce the impact at this time.
In addition, management indicated at the meeting it was their intention to send out preference letters to impacted employees in both the St. Paul Installation and the Minneapolis Installation that evening. The Union sternly objected and stated due to both St. Paul and Minneapolis Installations being under impact they would need to meet with the National APWU to determine which jobs would be offered. On Friday, a meeting was held and with APWU NBA and LMDO for District. After this meeting, according to agreement local management is required to meet with the Local APWU to agree on how the process will happen. Needless to say management did not do this and proceeded to deliver a preference sheet to the impacted employees starting on Friday night into Saturday on Tour 1. To make matters worse, Management decided rather than bring all the affected employees in to discuss the process, they would simply hand out the letters on the workroom floor on the machines and not have the ability to answer employees questions. The exceptionally egregious part of the unilateral action is that one day before Christmas as many of these employees worked 7 days a week 12 hours a day to deliver Christmas for the Post Office then they march out and deliver news that they are no longer needed in St. Paul and rather than provide answers to pressing questions simply state we do not know.
The anger and frustration over management’s continued refusal to follow the Contractual Agreement and the lack of compassion shown for those employees who are continuing to show up and process mail for an ungrateful company is overwhelming. Despite this it has to be set aside to clearly represent our employees. As the Union President, I spent much of Saturday attempting to get answers from the Plant Manager, District Manager, and Lead District Manager of Distribution Operations. All I got was we are sorry and need to do better in communicating. This is simply not good enough.
On Tuesday, I met with the Plant Manager to have questions answered concerning the process of how these duty assignments would be assigned, since all but one of the duty assignments were offered to Minneapolis also. The Plant Manager was unable to answer these important questions. As I write this we are still awaiting answers to questions. We believe it is unacceptable that our members are handed out a preference sheet for excessing and management cannot even explain how they will be awarded. In fact they could not even tell me who they gave them to at this meeting.
Since the first Regional Meeting on November 3rd, the St. Paul Area Local has been telling local management how this process is to work and it will take time to get these jobs ready to be made available. Management ignored all this and went ahead unilaterally and violated our Contract. The St. Paul Area Local will file grievances and seek significant remedies for these violations. We will also work hard to cancel the present preference process in order to have the procedures in the Contract followed. We believe management will continue to forge forward despite the significant potential monetary liability.
It is anticipated moving into 2018, management will lay off some PSE’s employees in the St. Paul Installation, in addition to reducing hours for those remaining PSE’s. These actions will create financial difficulties for these PSE’s and families. We will continue to be a voice for these employees during this difficult period. We have to balance this with our obligation to protect the full-time duty assignments which provide additional protections from these actions the PSE are subjected to.
On December 19th, the St. Paul Area Local was in Regional Arbitration trying to protect this full-time work. We are anticipating a decision in this dispute just prior to the excessing date of February 3rd. We are hopeful this Arbitration provides clear instructions on the violation and provides a remedy which will cause Management to stand up and take notice. It is also possible the decision is not in our favor and this process which we disagree with will continue to move forward. I will communicate the decision good or bad as soon as we get it.
In the meantime, I would continue to ask your questions in regards to the duty assignments which are being offered outside the installation. If you are confident one of these positions is something you want then preference it. If not, do not fill it out and make management involuntarily assign you to the position. With nearly 100 people identified as being impacted and seven jobs many people in this group will be safe from being excessed on 2/3 The next available time to excess from the installation will occur in early May 2018.
In the middle of all these unknowns and confusion seek clear answers before you make your decision. The APWU will try and get these answers also as we move forward. I know this is a difficult time and for those being impacted especially so. Please communicate your concerns to the Stewards and we will represent your rights under the contract to the best of our abilities.
In addition, we need to be vigilant in protecting our work and file grievances where management or other crafts are doing our work. Also, we need to insist management schedule two people on every DBCS, if not, a grievance needs to be filed. Protecting our work needs to be everyone’s priority if we are to keep full-time duty assignments.
APWU St. Paul, MN Area Local APWU
Todd Elkerton , President 10/23/17