APWU: Maintenance Craft Defeats Improper Excessing

apwulogoSeptember 19 2014 – The APWU and USPS settled an important dispute, Maintenance Craft Director Steve Raymer has announced, stipulating that the Postal Service cannot declare an installation “non-maintenance capable” and use the designation to justify excessing Maintenance Craft employees who work on Building Equipment. The work at issue is primarily that of Building Equipment Mechanics (BEMs), although occasionally it is performed by other occupational groups, such as Level 7 Maintenance Mechanics (MM-7s) and Level 5 Building Maintenance Custodians.

In accordance with the Sept. 15 settlement:

  • Where BEMs were excessed because management considered their facilities non-maintenance capable, an equal number of BEM assignments will be re-established. This will be done for the sole purpose of providing retreat rights to the excessed BEMs.
  • BEMs who were excessed from their installation and/or craft as a result of the improper excessing will be paid $2,700 each, irrespective of their current duty assignment or whether they exercise their retreat rights.
  • If there is only one BEM duty assignment in an installation and the BEM chooses not to return, Section 110 of the MS-45 will apply. (This is because the office will no longer have an employee with the requisite skill level.) In such cases, the single duty assignment may be reverted in accordance with Article 38 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. In such cases, locals may request verification that an appropriate number of work hours have been transferred to the appropriate Field Maintenance Office (FMO).
  • Regardless of the number of BEM duty assignments that are re-established, the MS-1 Handbook will apply. If the USPS must re-establish and return more BEMs than MS-1 staffing procedures call for, when those duty assignments become vacant management may revert them. If fewer BEMs retreat to the duty assignments than the MS-1 staffing procedures call for in the installation, management must post and fill the BEM duty assignment(s) supported by the MS-1 staffing. In instances were an installation has only one excessed BEM excessed and the BEM fails to retreat, Section 110 of the MS-45 will apply.
  • Local cases that were delayed pending settlement of the dispute and that involve only BEMs will be resolved in accordance with the agreement.

The remedy is a one-time, non-precedent-setting agreement.

The dispute arose when, after consolidating installations and removing all Postal Equipment, the USPS expanded the impact to the building side, using phrases such as, “This position is no longer authorized,” or, “The work will be shifted and coverage provided by the FMO.”

Management attempted to justify the actions by claiming the facilities were no longer “maintenance capable.” The USPS further claimed that the MS-45 Handbook controlled the staffing and work assignments at the newly designated “non-maintenance capable” installations rather than the MS-1 Handbook, which controlled staffing when the installations were considered “maintenance capable.”

The APWU asserted that whether an office was maintenance capable or not is irrelevant to the determining whether employees can be excessed and forced from their duty assignments based on management’s unilateral assertion. Further, the fact that Level 9 BEMs, were still assigned meant the installations met the definition of “maintenance capable.”