APWU: New Contract Safeguards Jobs, Creates Opportunities

The Tentative Agreement and the Clerk Craft: Safeguarding Jobs, Creating New Opportunities

Rob Strunk
Clerk Division Director

(This article was first published in the April-June 2011 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

Many provisions of the APWU’s tentative agreement with the postal Service directly affect the Clerk Craft. Highlights of the entire agreement can be found on pages 6-9, but several Clerk Craft items deserve additional attention.

Automation and declining mail volume have had a dramatic impact on the craft, and we continue to lose jobs. Therefore, throughout negotiations, our top priority was to safeguard existing jobs and create new positions.

More Jobs

The Tentative Agreement returns to the APWU bargaining unit a minimum of 1,100 Call Center jobs that had been contracted out. The Call Centers will become part of the nearest installation, which will allow APWU members to bid on these positions. The number of positions could increase if the USPS can bring in Call Center work from other government agencies. Thirty percent of the Call Center jobs may be reserved for APWU-represented rehabilitation employees by seniority.

APWU President Cliff Guffey and the rest of the negotiating team also were determined to return to the Clerk Craft duties that have been gradually transferred to EAS employees. A minimum of 800 duty assignments will be created in the craft to perform administrative and technical work that is currently performed by EAS personnel.

Lead Clerk, PS-7, positions will be established in mail processing plants and customer service. A ratio of those employees was negotiated for both areas. The future of these positions is to return to craft employees work that has been performed by 204Bs. Therefore, the number of 204Bs will be reduced. They will be eliminated from offices with supervisors except to fill absences of 14 days or more and vacancies of 14 days or more, not to exceed 90 days. Employees serving as 204Bs also will be required to return to the bargaining unit for a pay period in order to bid and to avoid having their duty assignments reposted.

New Assignments and Bidding Opportunities

The union negotiated new rules that authorize management to post “nontraditional” duty assignments. The following are examples of non-traditional duty assignments that may be coming soon to a post office near you:

  • Three 12-hour days
  • Four 12-hour days, with eight hours built-in overtime
  • Four 10-hours days
  • Four 11-hour days
  • Three 11-hour days and a seven-hour Day
  • Five seven-hour days
  • Five six-hour days

We also negotiated restrictions on these positions.

Percentages were set to prevent management from over-using these types of assignments. In addition, national APWU officers will review the staffing levels of all offices to address any abuses by local management.

No current full-time employees can be involuntarily assigned to a duty assignment of less than 40 hours per week or more than 44 hours per week. There will be no mandatory overtime in functional areas where non-traditional duty assignments are created. Furthermore, if the duty assignment is for less than eight hours a day, the employee will be paid out-of- schedule pay for hours worked outside of his or her schedule.

If the number of hours of work on these assignments is changed, the assignment must be re-posted.

All Part-Time Regular (PTR) assignments will be converted to fulltime assignments. In many areas where employees chose to become PTRs in lieu of being excessed, the decision was catastrophic because the employees’ schedules were reduced to just four hours per week. Under the Tentative Agreement, the minimum number of hours worked by full-time regulars will be 30 per week.

In small offices, Postmaster Reliefs will be eliminated. In addition, dual-appointment Rural Carrier Associates (RCAs) will be wiped out, and Postal Operations Administrators (POAs) will be a thing of the past. This should bring more hours and more work for our members. The Tentative Agreement also restricts the amount of bargaining unit work that postmasters can perform in small offices, and PTFs have been eliminated in Level 21 offices and above.

Employees will be allowed unlimited bidding on jobs that do not require off-site training or a deferment period.

Other Gains

Regardless of our efforts to limit excessing, we cannot protect workers from all reassignments to other installations. We tried to lessen the impact of excessing by agreeing that affected clerks may elect to transfer within 100 miles or fill residual vacancies without the loss of seniority. Allowing this voluntary action will help to reduce the number of forced relocations.

For years, the Clerk Craft has attempted to eliminate “bid blocking.” Under the new provisions, if a senior bidder withdraws or fails to fill a vacancy, the opportunity will be passed to the next senior bidder. This process continues until the position is filled.

Relief and pool assignment employees can now cover vacancies, provided notice of the employee’s schedule change is given by the Wednesday preceding the service week that the position is set to start. Relief employees can also be used to cover vacancies in other installations. This provision is primarily designed in the event the work is returned to the Clerk Craft in smaller installations.

The Tentative Agreement also creates a new type of position, the “Delivery/ Sales Services and Distribution Associate.” Employees in these assignments could be used in small offices to work the window, sort mail, and deliver to non-prescribed routes. We have been working to create this position for a long time in order to prevent non-bargaining unit employees from doing these duties, which our members are capable of.

We also agreed to discuss with the Postal Service changes to Article 37 that would require all future excessing in the Clerk Craft to be done by seniority, regardless of level. When the old excessing rules were written, we didn’t contemplate the changes we currently face, so this is an effort to “right a wrong.”

While these are some of the main provisions that will impact Clerk Craft employees, there are other important issues included in the agreement. All members are encouraged to study the Tentative Agreement, which can be found at www.apwu.org.

As Clerk Craft director, I want to thank all of the Assistant Directors — Pat Williams, Lyle Krueth, and Lamont Brooks — for their hard work. I want to also thank our many National Business Agents who contributed to the process. I’m proud of the efforts of Clerk Craft officers and of the union’s full negotiating team.

During negotiations, the APWU didn’t just think outside of the box — we broke down the sides of the box to reach an agreement that benefits both parties.

Clerk Divison.

  • Sell Out

    Yes, you broke down the sides of the box and allowed postal management to dictate to you guys what they wanted!!! They always wanted FLEXIBILITY with the workers no matter what plus lower wages for NEW workers!! You people gave them this plus the delay in our COLA and wage increase which are measly sums during these times of inflation and economic turmoil!! And now you people will eliminate FTR’s and turn them into NTFT’s. Are you people serious about running our UNION with ALL the wages and benefits which we have fought for years?? Yes you did your jobs constitutionally but you could have done a lot better!! Well, this is a democracy and voting will come around the corner!! I hope that all of you answer to the members when this time comes!! See ya then!!

  • Graywolf

    I really love how you clowns have now negotiated a 4 tier pay system and a two tier health plan. Raise everybodys health care premiums except those enrolled in the APWU health plan, GOOD JOB CLIFFY!…you just lost this member of 20 years.

  • Sell Out

    Furthermore, you people allowed $20,000 for each postal management’s VERA and not the CLERKS!! You did not question the postmaster general’s $5.5 million retirement package and you scare the members that this T/A is good for our times??? Come on!! “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time”.

  • MNCLERK

    Turncoat,

    1. Are you also getting a cut from the Union Health Benefits deal (new hires straight to the union plan or no plan) that Guffy got from Mgmt.?

    2. How long have you been harboring this love affair with the idea of destroying the 8 hour day and 40 hour week? Is your next promotion landing you a position south of Trumkas desk?

    3. When was the last time you had to sober up after a weekend of important “union meetings” and actually work a day, 1974?

    I’m just asking.

    PS, I bet you can’t wait to file the new greivances straight into the trash after this new contract (a contract out on us, not for us) gets the green light.

  • Nutzy

    This is the old smoke and mirrors trick. Read the whole contract. Mr.Strunk just sugar coated a few things.Even at that his article is very short of merit. This contract smells of skunk it stinks plain and simple.

  • Unforgiven

    yawn, same old tired garbage from the people who are either too stupid or too blind to accept the fact that arbitration would be worse.

  • Swampdog

    Unforgiven, I assume you yawn because you’ve been sleeping for decades. APWU has never done badly in arbitration, and there is absolutely no reason to think we will now. You talk about others being “stupid” and “blind”, yet it is people like you who are so shortsighted that you are willing to settle for less than we deserve, and you will take the cowards way out and ratify this pathetic agreement. Stop yawning and wake up. Open your eyes. Educate yourself. Learn something. This proposed contract is an abortion. I just hope that there are enough members willing to do the correct thing and vote NO.

  • Dc

    The clerk craft will be offered early out with incentive when this contract is ratified. A chance for management to get a lower paying work force in place. Get ready for your money apwu. This is why your contract is a go go for all.

  • Moondawg

    Yea, More jobs! at lower pay rates, that never reach the old pay scale… And who does the “Nontraditional” job hours benefit? The Post Office!, who won’t have to pay Overtime… This contract IS a sellout for us APWU members!! Worst contract I’ve seen in 28 years at the P.O.

  • Graywolf

    Huh…unforgiven, if that is the only rationale we got for accepting this proposed contract then it is truly unworthy of passage. The sky is always falling, right…chicken little?

  • RT

    Keep crying about what the apwu did or didn’t do in this contract. Wake up people. It’s not a union anyway. The post office has always dictated what the workers will get. With no right to strike there is no leverage to use against the post office. Oh yeah, I was in it for twenty years before I got out. I was tired of seeing shop stewards being appointed and senior members being screwed.

  • BAM

    If this BS contract passes I will no longer be a member of APWU they are sleeping with the enemy.

  • mary

    I didn’t expect to gain this contract but never thought we would lose so much! I’ve read the fine print and it sure looks like alot of grievences waiting to happen. And now a regular can just switch thier schedule to only work 4 days!!! I know we will lose with arbitration but am willing to take that chance.

  • BIG D

    I agree this contract is a sellout! What stops them from abolishing your 40 hour job and making it a 30 hour…nothing! 3.5 % raise will be completely wiped out by the 4% increase in health insurance premiums over the the life of this contract. All the jobs they talk about coming back to the craft will all be less then 40 hours let’s be serious. What he doesn’t say about PTR’s being converted to a “30 hour regular” is the job depending on the wording of the national agreement will be abolished then reposted with a new job number which would allow anyone to bid it making it harder for you to retain your job where you are. This is a big step in the wrong direction that will set the tone for years to come. The new hires must accept the APWU health plan which the postal service plans to give millions to the union for helping with the transition of this. Seems like our union in Washington will now have plenty of funds on hand to keep their six figure salaries going. No raises for two years you know what this does for your high three and what raise we get is wiped out by the rising health insurance costs. The negotiated excessing of 50 miles is elusive also as it states ” we will work with management to do all we can to place within 50 miles but if they can’t your going out further no doubt about it! To many loop holes in this contract for management to take advantage of at our expense. If congress lifts the prefunding of the retiree health benefits of 5.5 billion and they capture other over compensated revenue in their book keeping the postal service would actually be turning a profit! So please nobody blame yourself for this mess and cave in to this contract!

  • seth

    please help…am RCA…been trying to go full for long time…have told all area post offices around would work if ever needed to get more hours…what does this contract mean for rca’s??? I dont understand?? someone please answer…it worries me…and please do you all think rcas will still be needed if 5 day delivery happens ..please tell me all you can about rcas future at usps…help…

  • Dude

    Moondawg, in your vast 28 years have you ever seen the economy or the Post office in the financial situation it is now? further more do you really expect the post office to still be here in another 28 years…why does it matter what new employees get…they will never get to retirement anyway. I still have 15 years togo and i am hoping and praying the I will make it to then end…but the way mail is drying up…do you really think that except for people over 50 and those in rural communitees would care at all if the PO shut down right now…after a couple of monthes of no mail…i’d bet most would not even notice the differance…

  • AnthonyG

    I’m still on the fence.
    To many positives and negitives. If we do not ratifiy how do we go back to the table and try to change what was offered if this is what was the best the negociating team was able to get? If we go back to the table can we change the Rank and File Bargaining Committee see how they even say this is the best we can get and its a new fondation? Undecided.

  • Dude

    Big D…there is no way the federal government is going to give back 5.5 billion dollers a year…they need it to balance their budget…have you people figured out that the feds don’t give a rats A** about us

  • BIG D

    Well Dude,

    THe PMG himself told congress if they can’t get this rectified which no other goverment connected agency has to do (the prefunding of retiree health benefits) that we will be out of money…which he went on to say the postal service would be able to cover expenses only up until this fall. You better hope they eliminate this constraint! Let’s see what happens, the PMG made it clear that this more so then declining first class letter mail to the electronic age has crippled us the most. The concentration now is on package mail which is going in the right direction with any luck at all we get these issues alleviated even in a gloomy economy our situation will improve by leaps and bounds. Remember other companies are feeling this also. We have to stay afloat it’s vital to all of us.

  • Granny

    I quit a job i liked 3 years ago to become a PTF hoping someday to become a regular…now what?….I get shafted!

  • just a pound footer

    I have been reading everything about this contract with the Clerks’. I am a lettercarrier and whatever happens with your craft will eventualy affect other crafts’ like the NALC.

    Remember that you guy’s are leading this issue not just for yourselves but for all the workers in the USPS.

    I wish you the best of luck because whatever happens to you will happen to us.

  • BAM

    I can not believe the “I got mine and to he’ll with everybody else” attitude of some of our so called union brothers and sisters,makes me ashamed to be part of it all sometimes. I’m sure glad those who sacrificed to get us what we have now didn’t have the same selfish attitude.

  • Austin

    Exactly what jobs are these ?
    Be specific.

    “A minimum of 800 duty assignments will be created in the craft to perform administrative and technical work that is currently performed by EAS personnel.”

  • Jack Rabbet

    Turn down the offered contract and demand more. The fact that USPS continues to lose money daily has no bearing on your “right” to get what is “due”! The congress is dropping FERS, reworking OWCP/FECA, and freezing all pay for the real government. Deny this offer and allow the congress to show an arbiter how to handle such matters. They have hammered the point about arbiters not including the financial state of USPS in their decisions. Who wants to be the first arbiter to prove them right? The risk of any arbitration outweighs any possible gains. Arbitration decisions in the past were based on circumstances in the past. Huge risk for little gain…

  • Delores

    Level 7 clerk in charge.. Wow! I can’t believe you guys fell for this. All this is, is a 204B getting paid less money to do the work of a supervisor and get blamed for anything that goes wrong. Someone to blame that’s all! Management loves this. They will have no responsiblity. The level 7 will be incharge till the Supervisor comes in and then the level 7 becomes a co worker.. Come on people. Wake up.. I understand We have to give a little, but you guys are putting us on the grill to fry. Also.. When excessing. Please send someone to keep us up to date as to what is really going on. They keep us in the dark. This is a very serious situation for all of us. Even if we are ready to retire, It still puts a lot of stress on everyone. Can someone please just keep us informed. We all want to know what exactly is going on. Upper management has to know something but yet we have not seen anything in writing. Everything we hear is a rumor. Is there not anyone out there who is professional enough to come and tell us the truth?

  • Russell Like

    Dont think it can stand as a fair count or vote… Need some big union areas to check it out.. Hell how can they do it if there were errors and no one knew it or was told it… A crock and should be by law revoted… If its so good to them well vote them out of union and back into the postal system …

  • lawrence pope

    what do employees who were excessed need to do to get retreat rights?

  • lawrence pope

    what do employees who were excessed need to do to get retreat rights?