In a letter dated July 16, 2020, the Postal Service informed NALC of a new delivery initiative test titled Expedited Street/Afternoon Sortation (ESAS).
Rather than discuss this concept with NALC in the Joint City Delivery Task Force, USPS chose to test it unilaterally without NALC participation. USPS states the purpose of this test is to determine if the Expedited Preferential Mail (EPM) program can be enhanced to assist in reducing the morning office time for city letter carriers by enabling them to get on the street earlier. EPM is a long-time program established in Handbook M-39 and Handbook M-41 that involves casing non-preferential mail in the afternoon after completing street duties. USPS believes that their new version of this program will enhance customer service by providing more consistent delivery times. The test is scheduled to begin on July 25, 2020, and anticipated to continue for approximately thirty to sixty days in 384 selected sites. The list of test sites can be found here.
This unilateral test of ESAS should not be confused with the EPM program outlined in the handbooks. EPM is a long-established program in which letter carriers normally case only preferential and time-value mail in the morning. The casing of non-preferential mail and markup work is done in the afternoon when the carrier returns from the route. This is designed to move the majority of carrier casing time to the afternoon. In an EPM office, city carriers would clock-in, withdraw and case only preferential mail, obtain and process accountable items and small parcels and rolls (SPRs), pull-down, obtain parcels, load their vehicles, and leave for normal street delivery. After completion of street duties, city carriers would perform normal return-to-office functions and then begin casing all non-preferential mail. After all non-preferential mail has been cased, the mail will be left in the case until the next morning.
Several guidelines related to the EPM program are contained in Handbook M-39, Management of Delivery Services and Handbook M-41, City Delivery Carriers Duties and Responsibilities. These and other USPS handbooks can be found on the NALC website.
The ESAS initiative, as described, does not appear to conform to the handbook provisions contained in the M-39 and M-41 relating to EPM and other office activities. The ESAS test requires carriers to clock-in, attend any service or safety talk, perform vehicle inspections, obtain accountable items, set-up their scanner, retrieve the parcel hamper, line up the SPRs, and retrieve the mail cased and pulled down the previous afternoon. Instead of casing their SPRs, carriers will line them up in delivery order prior to pulling their hot case mail and then immediately clock to the street to load their vehicle and begin delivery. Under the test, there is to be no casing of mail in the morning. Letter carriers will withdraw hot case preferential flats and are expected to route them in order of delivery on the street. Upon returning to the office, carriers will complete the normal return-to-office afternoon duties. After completion of these duties, carriers will then case and pull down all mail distributed to the route in preparation for the next day’s delivery.
As previously stated, this test as communicated to NALC, is not fully compliant with Article 19 of the National Agreement related to the applicable handbook provisions. NALC representatives are discussing the issues we have with this initiative with USPS representatives at the headquarters level. Shop stewards and branch officers should monitor the test process, review applicable contractual and handbook provisions, and file appropriate grievances where contract violations occur. Please contact your National Business Agent’s office for guidance, assistance, and communication regarding the test.