Arbitrator: USPS can’t use custodians to transport mail

From the Tulsa APWU: Member’s Forum:

This is a summary of Regular Panel Arbitrator Leroy R. Bartman in case H06T-4H-C 09241417 regarding the Postal Service’s decision to transport mail between two postal facilities. The arbitrator sustained the Union’s grievance; he directed the Postal Service to cease and desist from continuing its practice of utilizing the two assigned custodians from transporting mail to other Gulf Coastal facilities. He remanded back to the parties the "make whole" aspects of the remedy so that the parties could determine Clerk Craft and/or other eligible qualified employee(s) who were denied the hours worked by the two custodians for the period of fourteen (14) days prior to the grievance filing until the award is implemented.

The Union contended the Postal Service violated the National Agreement when it used lower level employees to perform assignments and duties inconsistent with their respective job descriptions. It was the Union’s position that the Service violated the boundaries of occupational groups and crafts established by the clear and precise requirements of the standard job descriptions. To be specific, the Union argued that at the Moss Point MS Post Office Management has two custodians scheduled on a regular daily basis two (2) hours each day to transport missent mail to other postal facilities. Management has paid the two employees the higher level Clerk PS-6 wages to transport the mail. The Union argues that the MS-47 custodial staffing for the Moss Point office requires in excess of two custodians. By requiring the two employees to spend two (2) hours each and every day, the Service clearly is in violation of MS-47 standard of 2.09 custodians approved for the Moss Point facility. The Union requested that the Postal Service be required to meet the Maintenance Series Handbook (MS-47), Housekeeping Postal Facilities staffing at Moss Point. The Union asked that the Service cease and desist in assigning the two maintenance employees the daily duty of transporting mail and that the "make whole" language of the JCIM be applied at the appropriate overtime rate to the available and qualified clerks who would have been scheduled to transport the mail that was wrongly delivered by the custodians. It is further requested that the two custodians be awarded, at the overtime rate, two hours pay for custodial work not being performed.

The arbitrator properly sustained the Union’s grievance; in so doing he stated:

The Arbitrator has read all of the numerous case citations submitted by the parties. The overwhelming consensus of the awards are that the Postal Service "cannot" (emphasis added), without following the required steps of analysis as outlined in the MS-47, unilaterally alter the number of custodial staff assigned to the postal facility. In this case, Management essentially and factually reduced the required 2.09 custodians, as determined by the PS Form 4852, to a lesser amount by using the custodial staff to perform the clerk craft and duty of delivering for two hours per day missent mail. The overwhelming evidence supports the Union’s position that the Moss Point facility’s custodial staff have been performing on a regular (emphasis added) basis two (2) hours of clerk craft duties. Nowhere in the custodial job description does one find any reference to duties that could conceivably be misconstrued to include clerk craft duties. In paying the Moss Point custodians two (2) hours of PS Level 6 pay on a regular daily basis, Management recognized that it violated the MS-47 and PS Form 4852 standards of custodial staffing. The Union has met its burden of proof that the Service violated the National Agreement, Article 19, by reference the MS-47 Handbook when it regularly scheduled the two custodial employees assigned to Moss Point to Craft Clerk duties. The use of the custodians for two hours each day to deliver missent mail to other Gulf Coast postal facilities was in direct violation of part 116 of the MS-47 Handbook.

Gary Kloepfer

Assistant Director

American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO

via Tulsa APWU Member’s Forum: Article 38 – Transportation of Mail by Custodians.


    Based on the write up, the practice of using custodians to run missent mail was found to be an MS-47 violation. His reference to “doing clerk work” is dicta. The transportation of mail isn’t exclusive to any one craft or for that matter even to the bargaining units. The USPS would save billions subcontracting out the entire maintenance craft and have the work done better, faster, and with a smile. As for the USPS being bound to burdensome and antiquated MS-47 criteria…these bozo arbitrators nor the APWU feeding their greed couldn’t care less that this agency is sinking like the titanic…and the APWU band plays on…

  • Steve

    See why the USPS is going down the drain? Petty nonsense like this has to be dealt with instead of dealing with the major issues.

  • american postal worker

    This happens quite frequently. The p.o. has been using custodians for everything else, VOMA, repairs ect. This is nothing new. This is why our buildings our in such a disgrace.

  • Dennis

    I agree with the union and the arbitrator. For those who disagree, how would you feel if someone was assigned to take away hours from your job? If you continue to agree, that could be your reality. Do you want to lose what the unions have fought for, for us, throughout the years? This is a WE situation — we must support each other so WE don’t become part-time employees, without any benefits, or worse — like the millions of other hard working Americans unemployed with little hope of finding a good job. STAY STRONG

  • robertP

    This really all the APWU is about, filing petty grievances. No new contracts with the unions should be signed by management, until the phrase,”and ALL other duties as assigned” is included in every postal job description.

    There should be no such thing as crossing crafts. Job titles and descriptions need to be much more generic. Instead of having 800 different job titles, I would change every craft employees title to “postal associate”. The job description would be one sentence. “All duties deemed appropriate and assigned by management.”

  • ZACK

    As usual, management knowingly, arrogantly, blatently, and repeatedly, violates the CBA, and a bunch of idiots blame the Union for filing a grievance and getting it’s members money for the violation(s). What’s worse is that management will continue to use custodians in spite of the Arbitrator’s award, and it will be the Union’s fault once again, when a grievance is filed and subsequently won. It’s like blaming the cops for criminal activity, or the amount of money it costs the tax payers to house these criminals. Had it not been for the arrests, tax payer’s wouldn’t have to pay so much. Sounds pretty stupid huh?
    If supervisor’s and managers cannot get the mail out, without violating the CBA, maybe their not fit for the job!

  • TammyJ

    here,here zach!! and as for robertp you are obviously a member of the know everything and piss on my rights outlined in the contract overpaid management club!!! If management didn’t feel a daily need to dehumanize and disrespect they’re employees(the ones that actually make the post office run!) there would be no need to file grievances,but that day will never come. Hopefully your union is as strong and dedicated to you when that 16 percent management cut comes down! Karmas a bitch!!

  • Paul G.

    When reading some of these blogs it tells me of the lack of knowledge and in-
    sight the writer has on the issues. It is clear to any sane and reasonable per-
    son that the guidelines are set up so security and processing of the mail is doneeffectively. When you allow the system to be perverted by management that has no idea of running a business then the rules that are in place will be dismissed and agreements that have value will be broken. Let me inform all who are reading these comments that guardianship of the rules falls to those who believe in the spirit of the law in which these guidelines have been a-
    greed to. When Arbitration Settlements are arrived at it does not allow one side or the other to dispute the outcome. If the rules had been followed to begin with then the process of Grievance/Arbitration would not have to be engaged. You would not take a lawyer and have him do plumbing if he were not qualified to perform the work. Within the USPS the requirements put into place are to protect the public and the workers involved in the distribution of the mail. So before you speak on something you have no insight on. THINK
    FIRST and get the facts.

  • Clerk

    The custodians in our office only clean maybe 10% of their time, the rest of their time is spent doing management, carrier and clerk duties. They also get the Mon-Fri schedules with 30 minute lunch breaks. While the clerks jobs were abolished and all made less desirable, 2 hour lunch breaks, split days off, 6 day weeks etc. The custodians also deliver pkgs using scanners? They don’t have barcodes on their badges??? This happens everyday for the last several years. A lot of the time two of them will go out in the van, one drives the other puts the mail in the box. There are so many outrageous examples I could give. Things are so upside down at our office in El Dorado Arkansas. Is there anyone out there that can make this right?

    • Sam not your Uncle

      Your Union. If you know the situation is not right then start documenting (Who, What, When, Where) the Union needs that info to file a grievance, talk to your steward. The key is in the documentation, if this is an ongoing issue and can be documented, push the issue. Sometimes you have to push the steward as well. If your steward does not give you some specific contractual feedback on the actions of mgmt. then bypass your steward and go a step higher, contact the Local Union Pres., then if continued no response the district Union Business Agent. FYI You do not need the steward to file a grievance you can . Be aware though that there are some sections of the National Agreement that allow for dual assignments across crafts. I am a steward in Wi. and after reading what you state here, if occurring in my office I would definitely investigate and determine the best course to follow including these.
      Article 7.2 Employment and work assignments
      Article 7.3.B Maximizing Full Time Duty Assignments
      ****Art 37.3.A.1 ” Every effort will be made to create desirable duty assignments from all available work hours for career employees to bid”. This just had a major arbitration decision come out in favor of the UNION, in which all hours not just earned hours must be counted when determining clerk hours. I just successfully argued an increase in the clerk hours above the cap the district put on our clerks. It can be done just need to be motivated, investigative and diligent in documentation. Hope this helps. .

  • Headshaker

    Printed this up and gave it to the Custodians at the Waldorf MD post Office where they are mandated to transport mail from the DDC to the AO and Mall Office. Shame that they can’t bring it to the Shop Stewards attention because she is not allowed in the Building. A Class Action needs to filed

  • Custodial Maintenance

    I must ask…
    I just started as a Custodian/Maintenance person and have found that my duties include (among cleaning and fixing things), running express mail to customers; picking up mail from the facility; picking up mail from other post offices; running late arrival mail to carriers; changing locks on CBUs at apartment complexes and condominiums; and taking over a route to deliver mail. The reason I was told was because the previous Postmaster always did that, and now she’s gone and her replacements have started doing this. This can’t be right, can it? I work in the Columbus, Ohio area.

  • Larry Braide

    Savvy post , Apropos , if anyone needs a IRS 4852 , my business filled out a sample form here


    Good article, Thanks!