APWU: PSEs Should Beware of ‘Voice of Employee’ Surveys

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APWU Web News Article #060-14, April 3, 2014

Postal Support Employees should beware of management’s latest ploy, union leaders are warning: Beginning in April, the Postal Service plans to ask non-career employees to take Voice of the Employee (VOE) surveys.

Management is after a lot more than meets the eye, according to APWU Executive Vice President Debby Szeredy. “What management won’t tell you is that historically the USPS has used the Voice of the Employee data against workers at the negotiating table,” she said. The surveys have been a point of contention between the USPS and APWU since 1998, when management first cited survey data during bargaining; the APWU National Executive Board responded by adopting a resolution opposing “the use of surveys, focus groups, polls, audits, as a means of interviewing employees and union officials to evaluate job-related and internal issues.” Continue reading

APWU: Maintenance Memo Outlines Steps for PSE Conversion to Career

APWU Web News Article #055-14, March 29, 2014

apwulogoA March 28 agreement with the USPS [PDF] outlines the procedure for the conversion of Maintenance Craft Postal Support Employees to career, Maintenance Craft Director Steve Raymer has announced. The Memorandum of Understanding is a follow-up to an agreement signed by President Mark Dimondstein on March 20 that outlines the procedure for filling residual vacancies in the Clerk, Motor Vehicle and Maintenance Crafts, which will lead to the conversion of PSEs.

“The opportunity to secure a career position is of critical importance to PSEs, who are always at risk of being released due to lack of work,” Raymer said. “I am pleased to report that we have reached an agreement that will give Maintenance Craft PSEs the opportunities and upward mobility they deserve.”

First 399 Clerk Craft PSEs to be Converted to Career Status

APWU News Bulletin 14-2013, Aug. 16, 2013 | PDF

apwulogoIn response to demands from the APWU, the Postal Service agreed on Aug. 14 to convert 399 Clerk Craft Postal Support Employees (PSEs) to career status. The conversions will be the first in mail processing.

The conversions will occur primarily in districts where the number of PSEs exceeds the 20 percent district-wide cap outlined in the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement, and will take place within 60 days of the signing of the agreement. For a list of locations, click here. [PDF]

“This is an important breakthrough in our fight to enforce the contract and ensure that PSEs have a genuine path to career employment,” said President Cliff Guffey. “After months of meetings, discussions, arguments and grievances, we have made progress.

“But this is just a first step,” Clerk Craft Director Rob Strunk said. “Discussions will continue on several outstanding PSE issues, which we believe will result in many additional conversions.”

The settlement agreement [PDF] also stipulates that the union and management will explore ways to prevent the hiring of PSEs in excess of contractual limits.

In the meantime, Strunk notes that numerous installations are in violation of the installation-wide limits on the number of PSEs involved in retail and customer service operations.

Those violations must be monitored and addressed at the local level, he pointed out. “Locals should be diligent in reviewing PSE Compliance Reports and filing grievances where necessary,” Strunk said.

More than 575 Motor Vehicle Service Craft PSEs have already become career employees.

Discussions are continuing on the conversion of PSEs in the Maintenance Craft and on additional conversions in the Motor Vehicle Service Craft.

Arbitrator: MOU Requires Union Agreement When Exceptions to PSE Wage Rates are Needed

APWU Web News Article 090-2013, Aug. 2 , 2013

In a victory for the APWU, Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg issued an award [PDF] on July 25 that will help protect our members’ interests if the Postal Service proposes to increase hourly rates for Postal Support Employees (PSEs) when it is necessary to do so to recruit or retain them.

The Memorandum of Understanding Re: Postal Support Employees contains the following sentence:

Should it be necessary for recruitment or retention of PSEs, the Postal Service may pay higher hourly rates, with the concurrence of the Union.

The parties negotiated the language because the union believed that PSE rates might be too low to attract and retain employees for skilled positions, especially those in the Motor Vehicle Service Craft.

At the hearing, the Postal Service contended that this sentence precluded the union from conditioning its concurrence on issues other than the amount of the hourly rate proposed by the USPS.

The union asserted that the APWU has a right to decline to concur on a proposed exception to PSE wage rates and is free to propose other demands as a condition to concurrence.

Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg rejected the Postal Service’s position and ruled that the APWU’s authority to concur — or not — with a USPS proposal to increase PSE wage rates may be conditioned on “matters reasonably related to the Postal Service’s proposal, including, but not limited to, the amount of the proposed increase.”  Goldberg remanded the matter to the parties for discussion of an appropriate remedy.

The decision makes it possible for the union to address circumstances where the Postal Service has set hourly rates of some more recently-hired PSEs higher than rates of previously-hired PSEs with greater seniority as well as where salary rates of certain PSEs are higher than the starting rate for new career employees in the same classifications.

 

APWU loses PSE arbitration case

From the American Postal Workers Union:

apwulogoIn an award dated June 17, 2013, Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg rejected the union’s argument that the USPS was required by Article 12.5.B.2 to cobble together the work hours of PSEs in installations within a 50-mile withholding area in order to create duty assignments to minimize the impact of excessing on career employees.   Goldberg concluded, “The sole obligation imposed on the Postal Service by the quoted language of Article 12.5.B.2 is that of identifying and separating those PSEs within the appropriate radius who are holding posted duty assignments, whether they have opted into those duty assignments or have been assigned to them by Postal Service management.” Continue reading