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”.



    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