|From the office of Wayne Greenside, Maintenance Craft President, Boston Metro Local 100, A.P.W.U. - GMF Boston, MA 02205 (Phone 617-728-4975)|
BULLETIN . . . January 3, 2012
Laborer-Custodian Mutual Swap Opportunity
My office has been contacted to initiate a mutual swap offering for a laborer-custodian (LC-4) position at the Osbourne Post Office Branch in Phoenix, Arizona.
The current bid holder in Arizona is interested in a mutual swap with a laborer-custodian in the Boston District.
Mutual swaps involve each party assuming the bids of the other party. Establishment of seniorities will be in accordance with Article 12 and 38.
Interested parties may contact me for more information at the Boston GMF union office at 617-728-4975 or via e-mail at:
In Union Unity,
Wayne Greenside, Maintenance Craft President
|Fourth Quarter Issue 2011 Bostonian
So, itís the Holidays
Unfortunately Iím not too cheerful. Weíve hit another holiday season and it arrives, instead, as another season of uncertainty. As I write this quarterís article, our National Officers are still in the middle of trying to deal with Postal Headquarters management and the Postmaster General. Management has walked away from our negotiated agreement and has gone to persuade Congress to let them out of provisions in our contract so they can FIX the Postal Service via the backs of us Postal Workers. It has been self evident over the past few months that there are plenty of politicians in Congress that would like nothing less than to destroy the Postal Service and turn it all over to privatization.
They have presented to Congress proposals that are diametrically opposed to everything the APWU stands for and to what the needs of the workforce are. With the exception of Steve Lynchís bill, HR 1351, the few legislative bills that have come out will not fix the financial problems of the USPS. These other bills, in my view, will only massage things a little, and harm the workforce a lot. Havenít we Postal Workers made enough concessions in our new contract to help the Postal Service stay afloat? Does management expect us to give up an arm or leg too? Now weíre stuck waiting for certain decisions to be made through Congress. Iím keeping my fingers crossed that some good may come out of this.
In the meantime Postal management has gone into slice and dice mode. They are threatening to close facilities where thousands of our brothers and sisters work. This could potentially mean excessing for large numbers of people being forced to relocate in order to maintain their employment. Believe me, doing that is a whole lot easier said than done. But before any of that is done, Postal management must make their decisions as to what they are going to do. Until that time all we can do is wait and hope that our Rallies and our letter writing campaigns to our Congressional Representatives and Senators has not fallen on deaf ears. We need them to speed up their legislative process so that the correct legislation can be passed and put things back to some sense of sanity and normalcy. I know everyone is keeping a close watch on the news, going to the Union meetings, reading the bulletin boards and visiting the various web pages trying to stay informed. As long as we keep up our pressure on the legislators to get or stay on our side, we can still win what we need out of all of this.
On another note Iíd like to take some space here and go over something that has been recurring here in the Maintenance Craft. This is primarily geared toward the Boston Installation. With the exception of the Associate Offices, the Boston Installation which encompasses all the stations and branches and the Northwest P&DC is one entity for the purposes of bidding on maintenance positions within the craft. Through our local agreement the Cambridge Installation is also included with the Boston Installation for that same purpose.
The issue that has been recurring is where folks have been losing track of our maintenance bidding process. People are sometimes ending up in bids that they donít want or being promoted to positions that they donít want. In maintenance, to bid for a position within an employeeís same occupational group he/she must use a Preferred Assignment Selection form. This form, also referred to as a "Dream Sheet", is designed so that employees can "pre-bid" for positions even if they are not currently posted. It also allows employees to place multiple bids on the same form and those bids can be numbered in a priority order. An employee can make as many selections on the form as there are positions on the form for that given occupational group.
Once a Dream Sheet is submitted, it will remain in effect until the employee rescinds it by filing a new Dream Sheet or if that employee acquires a promotion or otherwise moves to a different occupational group. What has been commonly occurring is when folks lose track of their Dream Sheets or forget what selections they have made and folks get bid or promotion they no longer want. This becomes extremely problematic once a Notice Of Intent (NOI) is posted. Thatís the official name of a maintenance bid. In maintenance, the bids are run through a computer system called A-Bid and movement of the employees occurs through a "Round Robin" method. Employees have up until the closing date printed on the NOI to modify their Dream Sheet or file a Promotion Rejection form, otherwise whatever they currently have on file will be used by the computer to process the bids.
So itís hugely important that you also keep a copy of every form that you file. If your form goes "missing" by management, without your copy it becomes impossible to prove that you even filed one, let alone what you put on it.
Following the pecking order from Article 38 of the contract, when a successful bidder acquires the bid that is posted or someone is promoted to it, that movement created another vacancy from where that employee came from; and the selection process must continue through the occupational group and then ultimately through all of the other lower levels until a vacancy is created that no one has on their bid sheet or has not rejected as a promotion. At that point the remaining position, whatever occupational group it ends up being, will be declared as a residual position and the process stops.
That residual position is now no longer available for bid and is expected to be offered to someone being hired from the street. What really needs to be said here is about the importance of folks keeping track of what theyíve selected on their Dream Sheets. It is the individualís responsibility to know what they have selected on their Dream Sheets. An NOI that may be posted at any time may not be the only position that gets filled through the process. What other employees have selected on their Dream Sheets can cause a lot of movement and affect everybody else who have made selections too.
This leads me to another very important point about the maintenance bidding process. This involves promotions. Anytime an NOI is posted, it may also result in a number of vacancies opening up and cause movement through people being promoted. What this means is not only must people keep track of what they have selected on their Dream Sheets, but they also have to keep track of what Promotion Eligibility Registers that they may be on. An employee can "pre-bid" what particular promotion that they would be willing to take by using a Promotion Rejection form. Promotion Rejection forms are occupational group specific and an employee would need to file a separate sheet for each Promotion Eligibility Register that they are on. The rejection form is filled out in the opposite way that a dream sheet is filled out. On a rejection form an employee is checking off the positions within an occupational group that they are not willing to accept.
For example: all the tour-3 positions or a Tuesday/Wednesday on tour-1. Anything that is left unchecked is deemed open and shows that the employee is willing to be promoted into that particular position through the Article 38 selection pecking order. What this also means is that if an employee fails to file a rejection form for a particular Promotion register, then they are making themselves open for promotion to any position in that particular occupation group that may go vacant through the process. What this all boils down to is the need for each and every one of us to keep track of our own forms and what weíre bidding for and what weíre allowing ourselves to be promoted into.
What also is extremely important is the need to fill out the forms correctly. You have to follow the instructions on the form exactly. Donít expect someone else to know what your intentions were if you make an error on the form. If youíre not sure how to fill out a form, then ask to see your steward or if absolutely necessary have a coworker who really knows help you out. But remember, at the end of the day your signature is what is on the form so you are responsible for what you select or reject. No one else. SO, KEEP COPIES OF EVERYTHING!
What I always tell everyone is this. Every time you see or hear of a "Notice of Intent" being posted, go back to your locker or tool box or wherever you keep your copies of what Dream Sheets or Promotion Rejection forms that you filed, and review them. Make sure that they still reflect what bids that you still want to get or what promotions that youíre willing to accept. If you also check your Dream Sheets and Rejection forms in between postings from time to time, itíll save you from having to rush around during the short seven day window that an NOI is posted to change your forms to whatever your new desires are.
In closing, stay positive, keep informed and I want to wish everyone a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season and a wish that 2012 will be better than 2011.
Third Quarter Issue 2011 Bostonian
Here We Go Again
Well, why am I not surprised? The ink isnít even dry on our contract and management at all levels is looking for ways to get around it, violate it and just plain break it. Iím sure all of you have read or heard the news. Management has told us that they are not going to follow many, if not all, of the provisions put in place in the new contract. They have called for legislation in Congress to bypass or eliminate provisions that they themselves had already agreed to; including our "no layoff" clause. Management has made a mockery of the contract negotiation process. There is no trust here anymore. While I didnít trust them very much before, I have zero trust in them now.
Management now has told us that they are not going to create new bid assignments for custodians for the work that was supposed to be returned to our bargaining unit from the contracted out stations and branches within the Installations. Trying to get this work back to the membership was one of the biggest items for the Maintenance Craft in the negotiations. What was supposed to happen under the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was that the combined square footage of all the facilities within a single installation was to be used to determine total custodial staffing for the entire installation and whether or not a Postal employee or a contract employee would be staffed for custodial maintenance functions. So long as the combined square footage was above the 18,000/500,000 interior/exterior combination, then Postal employees were to be staffed for custodial maintenance duties in all the facilities.
Instead, management is now violating the new contract and refusing to follow the MOU. They should have returned the contracted out custodial work at the stations and branches within the Boston Installation to Postal employees, and new bid assignments should have been created for them. Associate Offices, such as Framingham, Marshfield, Natick and others, that also have satellite offices as part of their installations should have had the same custodial staffing review with new bid assignments being created for them. This whole business was about retaining and creating jobs. Itís what we pushed for in the negotiations. Itís what our economy needs right now.
However, it now looks like weíre back to square one and we will have to file grievances everywhere. Management has two goals here: cut and cut again.
I knew that implementing this new contract was going to be challenging (it always is), but I certainly did not expect what weíre seeing from management now. How can anyone be a productive worker for an organization that is untrustworthy with a management team that will not adhere to a negotiated agreement? We all want to be fairly compensated for our labor, but we also want to be treated with dignity and respect. We want to know that if we have an agreement that it will be followed. Is that so much to ask? I canít even describe how frustrating and infuriating dealing with these people can be.
Things have now taken on a new direction. We used to fight our battles with management on the workroom floor and in the grievance procedure. Now weíre fighting in the halls of Congress. As I wrote in my previous article, the attacks that were being made on public employees at the state level are hitting us now at the federal level. When you read on our APWU website or in our APWU magazine that youíre being called upon to write or call your congressman and senator to ask that they support or co-sponsor legislation favorable to Postal employees, then you need to do just that. If it involves doing the same thing to get them to oppose an unfavorable bill, then we need to do that too.
This is where we are folks; writing letters, making phone calls, holding signs and whatever else it takes. This takes everyone, not just the officers and stewards. We need to do these things in larger numbers. The rank and file member will need to take some of their personal time to help out making those calls, writing those letters and yes, walking on an information picket line holding a sign. Get and/or remain active as a Union member. Participate. Read your contract and discuss it with your fellow union members and stewards. It was born from two sides of the table; management and craft.
Thereís a lot to our contract. Learn it and understand it. Under article 19, our contract includes all the Postal handbooks and manuals and other Postal regulations. An informed union member is someone that management canít take advantage of. Remember, when you have a question or concern, request to see a steward. You donít need to have a grievance to file to do so. That meeting with the steward can also be used to determine if a grievance even needs to be filed. If you see something going on thatís a violation, it doesnít have to directly affect you for you to request to see the steward. Sometimes we are our brotherís keeper. Weíre a Union. At any rate, take the time and get off the workroom floor and meet with that steward; discuss the issue or write a statement. That time off the workroom floor is one of the things that will get our voices heard. Thatís how this process is supposed to work. Donít stay on the sidelines.
Iíd also like to remind everyone of our Maintenance e-mail address email@example.com which is linked through our Boston local website at www.bostonmetroapwu.com. I invite all maintenance members to e-mail me with any questions or comments. I can also be reached by phone at the GMF union office at (617)-728-4975 on tour-2, Saturday through Wednesday. Our monthly Union meetings are also a good time for us to get together and discuss any and all union issues Ė giving every member an opportunity to have his or her voice heard and ask questions and provide their opinions.
The End Of An Era
July 1, 2011, marked the end of an era for the maintenance craft in the Boston Metro Area Local. This was the date that former Maintenance Craft President George Tarquinio retired from the Postal Service. George holds the record as the longest serving Maintenance Craft President in the history of our local, serving from 1986-1999. But thatís not all. George has been an active unionist for more than thirty years. Beginning his postal career back in 1973 as a Custodian, he worked his way up to MPE Mechanic through various positions such as the old Fireman/Laborer and Assistant Engineman jobs. All through that time George was always there as an active rank and file union member, Alternate Steward, Steward, and of course, Craft President. Fighting the fight. Year after year.
Even when George stepped down from the presidency in 1999 he remained as a Steward for the last 12 years right up until his retirement. He also took on the mantle of Tour-2 Chief Steward for the last two years, handling some of the complex Clerk Craft issues along with the Maintenance Craft issues. You couldnít ask for a more dedicated unionist. I remember over twenty years ago when I was hired as an MPE Mechanic, George was there for my orientation and signed me up to be a member. It was he who convinced me a few years later to become an Alternate Steward, then Steward, and to now fill his former slot as the Craft President after Bob Brennan passed away. All the while, he was there, teaching me everything I know. Everything from lacing a conveyor belt and replacing a cart on the old sack sorter to writing grievances and working on arbitrations. George has been a friend and mentor to many of us in the Boston Metro Local in all three crafts. Thereís a boat load of wisdom in that big brain of his and there is a whole lot of common sense too. George gets it. He understands how to talk to people. How to get them to listen. I should live a long time and probably will still not get those skills at his level.
George worked a lot of years trying to win grievances and take care of everyone in the Maintenance Craft. He didnít win them all but it never stopped him from trying. Maintenance issues can be difficult sometimes because of how many occupational groups we have and the vague overlap areas that exist between each job.
Nevertheless, George was always there doing what needed to be done. And you know what else? Heís still there for us. Still dedicated. Even after he retired, George returned to testify at an arbitration hearing recently. Hopefully his testimony will put us over the top and help us to win that grievance.
So there it is in a nut shell. George Tarquinio, our co-worker, our Union Guy, our teacher and mentor. Oh yeah, and one hell of a pinochle player. Enjoy your retirement George, and stop counting the trump.
|SECOND QUARTER 2011 BOSTONIAN ISSUE
Maintenance and the New Contract
Well, itís finally here. As I write this quarterís article Iím at the Oklahoma training facility getting training on one of the mail processing machines. Iíve read the news and our fellow members who voted have voted in favor of the new contract by a 3 to 1 margin. Whether you were in favor of the new contract or against it, I hope that you took the time to mail in your ballot and have your vote counted. Here in the six New England states the margin was 58% in favor, with 42% against. That being said, as of May 23rd, President Cliff Guffey had signed the new agreement with Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, and most of the new provisions will go into effect right away with others being phased in. However, it must be understood that not everything can happen instantly and there will be a learning curve for craft and management alike. Some changes are large and sweeping and cannot be implemented instantly. My job as Craft President, as well as all of the Maintenance Stewards, is to watch over the implementation of the new provisions and their enforcement, as well as continuing to enforce the things that did not change.
For maintenance the biggest change weíll see is with the advent of all the smaller stations & branches within the Boston Installation being included as one when determining custodial staffing. Management will now be required to redo the MS-47 staffing package for the entire Boston Installation as one whole and include all the spaces and work in those postal facilities that are currently being done by a sub-contract cleaner. Once this is done it will result in the establishment of new Laborer-Custodian bids that all LC-4s, except those who are in Associate Offices, will be able to bid for. Laborer-Custodians who hold positions in Associate Offices such as Norwood or Framingham will still be required to apply for transfer under "e-Reassign" in order to move from one Installation to another. Contrary to the thoughts of some folks, in the new contract, the establishment of Non-Traditional Full Time (NTFT) assignments will not occur in the Maintenance Craft. The provisions for maintenance bid assignments will not change.
If you check your copy of the tentative agreement that was mailed to every member prior to the vote, you can see that all new contract language is shown in bold print. Read further and youíll see another change for maintenance will be the re-positioning of employees on the promotion eligibility registers where seniority will play a larger role on an employeeís position on a given register where seniority will determine an employeeís position on the register within a scoring band. That change can be seen under Article 38 section 5.B.8 paragraph A.
It should also be noted that for those employees that received their qualifying scores under the old Maintenance Selection System (MSS), they will continue to be grandfathered in and remain above employees who received scores from the new Revamped Maintenance Selection System (RMSS) that went into effect a couple of years ago. Thatís because the tests are entirely different and those with the old scores canít be merged with those with scores from the new tests. That also means if an employee who is already on a promotion register after qualifying under the old MSS, and then retests under the new RMSS to try and boost their score, then they will hurt themselves by negating and eliminating their MSS grandfather status. My advice is if you qualified under the old MSS, then leave your score alone and maintain your MSS grandfather status. For those who have already tested under the new RMSS, they can still request - every 120 days in writing - to retest and either correct a failed exam and become qualified, or boost an already qualifying score. For those that tested and failed under the old MSS, they must request to retest under the new RMSS and can still retest every 120 days to become qualified. That is now the only way to qualify and be placed on a promotion register.
For me this new contract had elements that I liked that benefit our craft, such as the changes I already mentioned and there are more; but it also had other elements that I did not care for. Such is the makings of labor contracts where negotiations are intended to get the best contract for the members of the Union as a whole, but not everything is attainable. But, to be truthful, in my more than two decades of experience through all of the past contracts, theyíve always contained something that I wasnít happy with. Yet, I do believe that if we had pushed our contract to arbitration, that the time it would take to resolve it would have drawn out much longer, harming ourselves even more with the loss of more COLAs than weíre deferring under this new contract. Also, some of the other contract provisions would not likely have come about from an arbitrator. After the expiration of any contract and we end up going through arbitration, then during that period there are no raises that take effect nor are there any COLAs being calculated or paid out.
If we arbitrated this contract, then you have to know that the current state of the economy would factor into an arbitratorís decision making process. Even though itís not mandated by law, you know an arbitrator would probably also consider the Postal Serviceís financial condition as well. I did not see this as an advantageous position for us. While there were some backward steps in the new contract concerning lower wages for new hires, this is nothing new. Two separate arbitrators in two separate contracts have imposed similar provisions on us before when economic conditions were better. I remember back then the arbitrator imposed step BB on the custodians. Today there would be nothing stopping an arbitrator from doing the same thing, and we might not have achieved any of the good provisions of our contract.
There are still a lot of people in the Congress, as well as the public at-large, that would love to tear us Postal employees down. A lot of those same anti-worker laws that have been passed at the state levels have now been introduced in Congress at the Federal level. Members of the House of Representatives summoned our APWU President, the Postmaster General and two members of the Postal Board of Governors to testify at a hearing before one of the Congressional committees and then the Chairman of that committee, Darrell Issa, proceeded to tell those who gave testimony that the new contract was too "generous" to us Postal employees. Too generous? I donít think so. I watched the entire hearing. Chairman Issa had a lot of nerve. The suit he was wearing cost more than the entirety of the raises that weíll receive from the new contract. But, listen, thatís part of the fight here. Those politicians have been fueling the (anti-Union & anti-public employee) public opinion fire, as well as feeding off it, for quite a while.
In our case, sometimes you must grab and hold the ground that you have and come back and fight to gain new ground later. Maintaining No-Layoff protection for our members is huge. If youíve never been laid off from job, you couldnít really put a dollar value on a provision like that. Also, maintenance of salary levels and then achieving raises, albeit later in the contract, is still an important achievement under the current climate. I know people want to compare our contract with what has been achieved by other public employees at the state and/or local level. Well, that really is a different animal. Our salaries and raises are determined on a national level. Those state and local employees donít get cost of living adjustments (COLAs), donít have layoff protection, and have been working without contracts and no raises for up to four and five years All in all, this new contract may be a mixed bag but it is now our contract. The real work begins anew with the implementation of the new language and the vigorous enforcement of it, as well as that which remains unchanged.
Lastly, Iíd like to wish for everyone to have a good summer and to start looking forward. Get and/or remain active as a Union member. Participate. Read your contract and discuss it with your fellow union members and stewards. Learn it. An informed union member is someone that management canít take advantage of.
Iíd also like to remind everyone of our Maintenance e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org) which is linked through our Boston local website at www.bostonmetroapwu.com . I invite all maintenance members to feel free to write to me at the Union hall or e-mail me with any questions or comments. I can also be reached by phone at the GMF union office at (617)-728-4975 on tour-2, Saturday through Wednesday. Our monthly Union meetings are also a good time for us to get together and discuss any and all union issues, giving every member an opportunity to have his or her voice heard and ask questions and provide their opinions.
FIRST QUARTER 2011 BOSTONIAN ISSUE
Weíve finally hit it. A contract crossroads. Weíre heading in one direction and management in the other. However, there is one common denominator that I hope management will agree with us on and that is the continued existence of the USPS. While we all know about the Postal Serviceís budget problems, we also know that they cannot, and should not, be solved on the backs of the workforce. There seem to be quite a few politicians out there (and this number seems to grow by the minute) that believe the workersí wages and benefits are the cause of the budget problems of every Federal, State and Local government agency.
Just look at whatís happening in Wisconsin. As I write this article, the governor of that state wants to void the employeesí union contracts and force wage and benefit reductions by legislative action. The bill he proposed would also block academic staff and faculty (teachers) from being represented by a union in collective bargaining, and state employee unions would only be allowed to negotiate over wages. This would take away employeesí ability to file grievances and also to bargain over benefits such as health care, vacation, sick leave, job security and other workplace protections and work rules.
Similar legislation that would jeopardize collective bargaining rights for public employees has also been introduced in other states, including Ohio, Tennessee, and Indiana. The Wisconsin governorís proposals sparked a massive uprising in the state capital. Tens of thousands of employees and labor activists flooded the state Capitol building in a demonstration of solidarity against the governorís attack on public workers and unions. Activists accused the governor of using the budget problems as an excuse to void those union contracts, to weaken unions and by extension, the middle class.
Iím keeping my fingers crossed and hope that the current U.S. House of Representatives doesnít try to pull the same thing on us. With U.S. Congressmen like Issa and Ross, anything can happen. They have zero love for the Postal Service. I hate to sound partisan but the Republican Party is showing its true colors here. They donít want the workers to have anything to say about their employment. They just want to treat us like machines or serfs. I know I didnít vote for anyone on Capitol Hill who wants to cut our pay, reduce our benefits, demand that we pay a higher percentage for our health insurance and take away our right to negotiate for those things. Itíll be up to each of us to stand up in one way or another to stop this from happening to us. Something as simple as a card or letter to your U.S. Congressman or U.S. Senator would be a good start. Carrying a sign at a protest rally may need to be next. Are you willing to participate to save your livelihood?
Budget problems aside, we all know from previous Bostonian articles and the news from our National APWU headquarters that the retiree healthcare pre-funding payments and long time overpayments to the CSRS and FERS retirement funds are a major cause of the USPS budgetary woes. But what also needs to be looked at is the money that is spent on subcontracting. If the OIG could only focus their efforts in this area, image how much money they would find that is being overspent. Something that comes to mind here is when about ten years ago management in the GMF gave $45,000 to a subcontractor to move two FSM1000 flat sorters 100 ft. across the workroom floor. The subcontractor used three guys and they moved each machine in three days. No special equipment was used. You could have used 10 of our guys on overtime for those total six days and still saved a ton of money. But no, management would rather be overcharged up the wazoo than let the craft do the work at a savings.
On the building side of the maintenance craft the cost of subcontracting is even worse. This is where we need to be vigilant as to whatís going on and take steps to at least lessen it if not stop it. Everyone needs to participate if weíre going to get anywhere with this issue. We have fourteen days from the time we discover that work that we could have done has been subcontracted. That means workers need to ask to see a steward right away and give a statement and report the subcontracting.
Help that steward gather the info. He canít do it alone. Once thatís done, the steward can begin formally investigating the issue and gather information about the subcontract from management and the steps (or lack thereof) that management took before they contracted out the work. Under article 32, management is required to take certain steps and meet certain criteria before making the decision to subcontract out maintenance work. For example, they have to consider whether or not there is a cost savings (economic advantage), whether or not any of the occupational groups are qualified to perform the work (if a special license is required for over 600 volts), whether or not special equipment is needed that the postal service doesnít have (a crane to mount a rooftop AC unit). However, local management tends to make snap decisions to contract out the work and without really going through the criteria. They do this because they believe itís easier to just pay someone else to do the work rather than developing a plan and giving instructions to the employees do get it done. They also do this to avoid using overtime.
By contracting out the work, the money comes from a different budget and itís easier for them to justify the expense to the bean counters at the area level or higher up. We all know the bean counters donít want to see any Oís or Vís on anyoneís pay check. When management fails to follow Article 32, thatís when we can win these cases and start getting the work back to us, the craft. This is also going to take a group effort from all of us.
This moves me on to staffing. Everything from building equipment maintenance to custodial maintenance to MPE maintenance is constantly on the chopping block. Every time a position goes vacant management wants to eliminate it. For the MPE maintenance side the "work hour estimator program" or the WHEP uses hours from preventive and operational maintenance routes (area assurance) for the mail equipment all with historical work order time as a major criteria for staffing. (Remember, the routes are developed by the USPS so they are already suspect in my book.)
On the Building maintenance side, the WHEP uses routes that are mostly developed from very basic info and by local management, because a lot of building equipment tends not to be standardized nationwide. They then depend heavily on historical work order data for the rest of the work hours. If work orders are not being generated then there will be very little data to use. This is why I must remind everyone out there about the significance in correctly filling out your employee assignment sheets. Make sure youíre taking credit for the work you do and not inadvertently signing off work that wasnít completed or even started. Donít sign off on your assignment sheet at the start of your tour. If your assignment changes during your tour you wonít be able take credit for the time.
As the Postal Serviceís financial condition will continue to be an issue, management is looking for ways to make cuts in maintenance. So instead of cutting back on what they pay subcontractors they want too cut out our jobs. Letís not help them find or make those cuts. The data that you create via those sheets is essential in demonstrating the continued need to maintain current staffing levels and/or find areas where we can get management to increase them. With that said, everyone will also need to ask their supervisor to generate work orders when they repair something so that you have a number to connect your labor hours to. If the supervisor wonít do it, donít give up there. Ask your favorite maintenance support clerk to generate one for you. You donít need the physical piece of paper. You can just call them on the phone for it. The work order number will do just fine, so that you can put it on your assignment sheet.
This has been a push by the Union all the way down from our national officers to the local officers. Without documentation it is very difficult to prove our cases in the grievance arena when we believe staffing is inadequate. Donít think that this is too much to do. Remember the job you save may be your own.
|FOURTH QUARTER 2010 BOSTONIAN ISSUE
The Holidays - A Season of Uncertainty
Weíve finally hit the holiday season; unfortunately, for us as Postal employees, it arrives as a season of uncertainty. As I write this quarterís article, our National Officers are in the middle of contract negotiations with seemingly no agreement with management in sight. Management has already put forth proposals diametrically opposed to everything the APWU wishes to achieve, including maintaining ground that we already have. With the retirement of President Bill Burrus on November 12, the negotiations will continue with President Cliff Guffey now at the helm. Cliff Guffey, as our former Vice-President, is a veteran of the negotiating process and I have no doubt that he has a handle on things and the best interests of the entire membership of the APWU in the forefront of his mind, and will do everything possible to achieve a favorable contract.
Recent OIG reports have shown that the dire straits the Postal Service finds itself in are directly related to the current overly burdensome pre-funding obligations, as well past retirement fund overpayments and poor management decisions (overpaying for the FSS comes to mind). And when we speak of these issues, they are now measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars. How is it possible that they can be ignored? It is clear that these issues have played a huge role in the financial condition of the Postal Service and are now weighing heavily in our ability to try and negotiate a fair contract.
This brings me to another point concerning those financial issues. The uncertainty here is that the new majority coming into the U.S. House of Representatives could possibly turn back the legislative efforts that could have relieved much of the Postal Services financial woes. Many of the chairmanships of the House committees dealing with Postal related legislation will now be turned over to the other party in January, and weíll not likely see legislation favorable to Postal employees come out of those committees.
In short, most if not all of the Representatives in the new majority are not friends of Postal workers. Many in the new majority believe that there are too many Postal employees and that we make too much money or have too many benefits. I can only hope that we can achieve agreement on a new contract soon; otherwise weíll be fighting a whole new uphill battle in arbitration and with the incoming congress. (I remember the raises that the arbitrator didnít award us in 1995 for the expired 1990-1994 contract when congress changed hands back then in 1995.)
On the home front things are just as uncertain. Management is still hell bent on reducing staffing and trying to get employees to do more with less help. In some cases, management is trying to downgrade work and assign it to lower level employees. Primarily, management has been trying to get the level 7 maintenance mechanics to do the work of the AMSs, BEMs and the MPEs.
And the latest attack now is the maintenance manager at the GMF has embarked on the systematic replacement of ETs with MPEs. The three most recently vacated ET positions have been replaced with MPE positions. Itís now clear that this manager wants to reduce the number of ETs at the GMF by a large number. Right now it has been done through attrition, but will it continue that way? Will it spill over to the Northwest facility? Only time will tell because theyíre not telling us.
This type of action on the part of management has reduced the ability of the current complement of ETs to be able to bid for more desirable tours and days off because thatís where the likely vacancy will occur when someone retires. It also crushes the hopes of those employees on the promotion registers who looked forward to eventually being promoted into residual vacancies created after the bidding is finished. If the job never gets posted for bid, then there will be no residual and, of course, no one will be promoted. The aftermath will be employees doing higher level work for lower level pay. Do we want to be party to this? Of course not.
Donít allow yourself to be tricked into playing that game by accepting dubious overtime assignments or other devilish gifts. Are you really willing to do level 10 work for level 9 pay or level 9 work for level 7 pay, and so on through the rest of the maintenance levels, and for what? Remember, itís not just about an individualís capabilities, itís about being properly paid for the job that you hold and the work that youíre doing. Letís not be a party to the downgrading of our jobs, and then the lowering of our salaries. The job you save may be your own.
This kind of brings me to a strange segue. I once again have the sad duty to report to you the loss of one of our own. In October, ET-10 Jack Doherty lost a long fought battle with cancer. For those that knew Jack, he was a true blue friend and always willing to help his co-workers with just about anything. I personally had the privilege of working side by side with him for most of the past twenty years. Jack was an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and served there during the early stages of the war from í64 to í66. He was also a dedicated union man with a history of having been a steward with the Teamsters back when he was a Greyhound Bus driver. As I count him a close friend, I will personally miss Jack and all the advice that he gave me over the years. Simply put, Jack was a "Good Guy". Rest in peace and Godspeed Jack.
Oh yes. That strange segue that I wrote of was simply this, management has honored Jack in his death by eliminating his ET-10 job and recreating it as an MPE-9 position. Nothing against an MPE-9, but what better way to honor a man in his death than by saying the work that he did was not worth what he was being paid and that he was not needed. Where will it end? For now all I can say is this, even though these uncertainties exist, we will continue to fight to enforce our contract and file grievances where the violations occur.
In closing, with all these uncertainties I hope that everyone can still have a happy and healthy holiday season. I hope that you all get to spend time with your families in celebration and thankfulness for each other. Families and time are commodities that we will always hold dear. Make the most of them when you can. Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to everyone.
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THIRD QUARTER 2010 BOSTONIAN ISSUE
2010 APWU CONVENTION & OTHER NEWS
In August, I had the honor of representing our local at the APWU Biennial 2010 convention in Detroit, Michigan. Along with Maintenance Steward and Trustee Joe Joyce, the Boston delegation participated in the equivalent of our Unionís congress. Many resolutions were brought forth to the convention floor for the delegates to vote on. Everything from Labor-Management issues (items for contract negotiations) to Constitutional issues (how we run our Union) and a host of others in between.
Prior to the delegateís deliberations during the General Session, I had an additional honor by having been selected by National Maintenance Craft Director Steve Raymer with the recommendation by our Business Agent Rich Logan to serve on the Maintenance Resolutions Committee. Along with the Committee Chairman and Pittsburgh Local Maintenance Craft Director Ed Devey, Salt Lake City Local President Charlie Cash and San Antonio Maintenance Craft Director Doug Yarnes, we were tasked with reviewing all the submitted maintenance resolutions, checking for proper language, whether or not a resolution had been previously adopted in past conventions, as well as separating out any duplicative resolutions.
It was also our duty to inform the delegates if any resolutions, if adopted, would conflict with other parts of the contract. After the committee adjourned on Friday, Joe Joyce and I then attended the Maintenance Craft conference (Sat & Sun) where those resolutions specific to the Maintenance Craft Article 38 were debated and voted on before they were sent to the General Session of the Convention (Mon-Fri) for the final vote by all the delegates. There were a number of other resolutions that were submitted that were either previously adopted or were voted down by the delegates for various reasons. All of the previously adopted resolutions can be viewed on the APWU website at www.apwu.org
Those Maintenance specific resolutions that were approved by the Maintenance delegates are as follows:
Resolved, that the language in Article 38.4.A.2 & 38.4.A.3 be modified, that when necessary, and after consulting the local union, any vacated duty assignments must be posted or reverted within 20 days of a vacancy. (Currently, management has 40 days)
Resolved, that the language in Article 38.4.A.4 be modified, that when necessary, and after consulting the local union, any additions or changes to duty assignments may only be made to vacant duty assignments unless otherwise agreed to locally. (Currently management may make changes under certain conditions to a filled duty assignment)
Resolved, the union will negotiate an opportunity for maintenance employees to apply for any ratings (tests) in all occupational groups during open season. (Currently maintenance employees can only apply for ratings in occupational groups at open season that they have never applied for before)
Resolved, that the language in Article 38.7.D be changed to "Full-time or Part-Time Regular." The intent is to allow part-time as well as full-time maintenance employees to bid VOMA or Examination Specialist positions. (Currently only full time employees can bid for those positions)
Resolved, that Article 38.7.E be amended to add a limit on 204B details to a cumulative total of 90 days within a 12 month period. (Currently maintenance employees are limited to 204B details of four continuous months with no cumulative limit)
Resolved, that when an employee is offered to retreat back (to their former occupational group or craft), they be given 7 days to make that decision. (Currently employees must decide immediately when offered the retreat rights)
Resolved, that one of the priorities of our negotiators in the 2010 contract negotiations shall be: 1. to negotiate language to provide career opportunities in all post offices of the United States Postal Service, with specific emphasis on all Associate Offices and Stations and Branches of larger offices that do not meet the criteria as defined in ASM 535.261 for APWU career bargaining unit positions. 2. Our APWU negotiators, in attempting to negotiate this language, shall explore every option in achieving this result. (Currently offices of less than 18,000 interior square feet and less then 500,000 exterior square feet may have their custodial services contracted out) Resolved, the APWU at the national level negotiate the addition of Sunday premium pay for all employees who normally work on Sunday while attending training at any location. (Currently only night differential is paid during daytime training to those employees who normally receive night differential)
Resolved, that employees who are entitled to a clothing allowance be allowed to purchase jeans as part of their clothing allowance. (Currently jeans are not allowed to be purchased with the clothing allowance)
During the General Session there was a multitude of other resolutions affecting all crafts. For example: from pay rates to Article 12 excessing to annual and sick leave to subcontracting issues and many more. All in all, the Convention was very productive, allowing us as Union from Locals all across the country including the territories to come together and get on the same page regarding what we want in our contract and they way we will run our Union.
On the home front weíre still waiting for the FSS machines in Waltham to begin running. Management still says that theyíre sticking to the last reported time line with having the first machine running by October and all three running by Thanksgiving. Iíll believe it when I see it.
Management has rolled out their Electrical Work Practice (EWP) policy with the issuing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to maintenance employees and new lock-out/tag-out procedures in order to comply with the OSHA NFPA 70E standards. Our APWU National Officers are not in agreement that managementís new policy fully complies with the OSHA standards but they have let us know that they want us to follow the new procedures and use the PPE while they work out the details with management.
At the Boston plant, management has almost completed their "modifications" to "automate" the cargo elevators. Seven of the nine cargo elevators at the GMF have been "modified" with the last two currently shutdown during the work. As a result, the remaining Elevator Operators were excessed from their occupational group on July 17th and they have been placed into residual Laborer-Custodial positions with the exception of 6. Two were promoted to level 7 Maintenance Mechanic and the remaining four have retired or are currently in the process.
My thanks go out to T-2 Steward Howie Holloman with the help of T-3 Steward Mike Sacchetti and T-1 Alternate Steward Tanya Svenson for their efforts in putting together many class action grievances concerning the loss of the Elevator Operator work. Iíd also like to thank all the other maintenance & clerk stewards and the rank & file members who stepped up and provided us with statements as evidence for the grievances. This is going to be a long process. Management hasnít given up and neither will we.
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In closing, I hope everyone had an enjoyable summer and had an opportunity to take a vacation. Also, donít forget to keep up to date with all the news by reading the bulletin boards and the APWU National website (www.apwu.org) and Boston Local APWU website (www.bostonmetroapwu.com) Remember, when you have questions or concerns, donít hesitate to ask to see your steward while on the clock. Itís your right. Exercise it.
SECOND QUARTER 2010 ISSUE
Well, weíre still waiting
For months now, Iíve been trying to nail down and report to the membership when the FSS machines were going to be up and running. Well, apparently the same old delays have kept, and still keep, this hugely expensive project from becoming an operational reality. The Boston District manager had sent out letters to all the Postal employees telling us that each of the three FSS machines were to be up and running in July, August and September, respectively. Well, guess what. I had a meeting with management on May 12th and, lo and behold, the machines have been pushed back now one more month each.
Iím glad that these machines were not some kind of medical equipment where our membersí lives depended on them. If that were true, then we postal employees would be dead and buried by now. Like Iíve said in the past, Iím not going to hold my breath. Weíre all just going to continue doing what we were doing before and when they throw that FSS switch, maintenance will be there when management complains that the machine wonít sort and move the mail like they thought. Management has been sold a "bill of goods" by the manufacturer that still has not lived up to the original proposals that they put forth to sell us these monstrosities. What else is new?
Also in the News, the first two of the GMF cargo elevators have had the controls modified. Now management is going to use it as an excuse to take the work of operating, loading and unloading of these elevators away from the Maintenance Craft and give the work to the Mail Handler Craft. Actually, Clerk Craft members have also been ordered to do some of this work. Also some supervisors have been caught doing it as well. I want to say "thanks" to those Clerk Craft members who have not made it easy for management to force them to load and unload and operate these elevators. Keep asking to see a steward and give statements or file a grievance. When you do these things, you get off the workroom floor and withhold your labor for as long as it takes to give that statement or file that grievance. This is going to be a war and we have to be prepared for the long siege. We want to make it as expensive as possible for management to fight us on this issue.
On another note, I had the distinct privilege to represent our local at the first ever New England States convention in Rhode Island on May 1st and 2nd. Along with the other delegates from the Boston Metro Local, we had very good opportunity to meet with our counterparts from the other locals across New England. We heard a report from Loyd Brazie, the Maintenance Craft Director of APWU Local 387 in Providence. He informed us of the details of the OSHA complaints that were filed, and told us about the subsequent citations and enormous fines that were issued to management at the Providence P&DC.
Evidently, management down there didnít know what they were doing when it came to safe electrical work practices. They failed to purchase and issue to the employees the necessary electrical safety personal protective equipment (PPE). They failed to provide them with the required training. They even had the aggies to throw OSHA out the building down there. They were arrogant.
So OSHA just came back with their citation book and fistful of fines for them. I hope this will teach them a lesson. However, none of this surprises me. In my 20+ years of employment with the USPS I have seen management be penny wise and pound foolish. Theyíll spend twice as much to save only half as much. OIG will then come out with a report and tell us about how much of a waste of money it all was, and nothing will happen to any of the people truly responsible. There has been many a postal manager who will come in with that new "mouse trap" plan and change a boat load of the operation. For what? Probably to justify their own job and give the pretense that their job is necessary. Then somebody else will come back through in a year or two and change it all back again. But if the day comes when somebody from management, instead, asks us workers to give them our ideas on ways to improve the operation or to save some money and they actually take us seriously, Iíll probably clutch my chest and have a heart attack right there on the spot. Because it will be beyond belief.
|FIRST QUARTER 2010 ISSUE
The Future is Now
A few months ago I reported to the membership that the FSS machines were finally here at the Northwest Boston plant in Waltham. While the trucks transporting it had arrived and the unpacking had begun, the machine, lo and behold, would not be up and running when management said it would. Instead, itís been delayed again. At least until April. And then, who knows? Suffice it to say that Iím certainly tired of writing about it only to have the information that I bring forth immediately become stale and inaccurate by the time you, the member, read about it. Anyway, like a rowboat adrift in the harbor, it will eventually float to shore. When it does, we will all see then with our own eyes that it has arrived and is actually up and running.
Also on the forefront still is the pending excessing of the Elevator Operators from the Boston GMF. Management is still hell bent on their plan to modify the elevator controls so that they can use it as an excuse to get rid of the Elevator Operators. By the time this article goes to print, an outside elevator is supposed to have begun the work modifying the controls for automatic operation and adding visual and audible warning lights and bells to each elevator car and at each floor.
This whole idea is just plain crazy. While they try to make these elevators run automatically, theyíre also taking the work of operating, loading and unloading of these elevators away from the Maintenance Craft and giving the work to the Mail Handler Craft. This is managementís idea to cut jobs and take peopleís livelihoods away. They have the idea that theyíll eliminate the cost of the Elevator Operatorsí salaries and benefits from the maintenance budget, and then get the Mail Handlers to do this work without them needing any extra bodies or overtime to do it. Ha! I think we all know how this is going to work. For all APWU members working in the GMF, weíre going to need everyone to step up to the plate on this one. Weíll need you to ask to see a steward and provide a statement every time you see anyone other than an Elevator Operator load, unload or operate the cargo elevators.
However, as it was said before, we are fighting this issue through all available avenues. To date, seven grievances have been filed related to this issue, with more to come. So far management has reverted (eliminated) all the vacant Elevator Operator positions that currently exist, and has also attacked the maintenance craft again by reverting custodial vacancies that were created by the recent retirements. This also caused the loss of two custodial jobs to sub-contractors at the Canton and Hyde Park Post Offices.
Theyíve also been performing so-called custodial staffing reviews in the GMF and all the other facilities, stations and branches within the Boston District/Installation, and in the AOís (Associate Offices) in order to try to manipulate the data and cut more custodial jobs. These staffing issues have been a huge problem all over our local from Marshfield to Natick to Medford. Itís bad enough when we catch management improperly reassigning custodians in the stations and AOís to perform express mail and vehicle maintenance duties instead of their own work, then we hear they want to cut custodial jobs in all those places too. This is management twisting the knife in our backs.
When management informed us last spring of the upcoming modifications to the elevators, they also told us that the Elevator Operators would be excessed into the vacant custodial positions when the work was done. But they want to cut those jobs too. So there will be virtually nowhere to go. This must be their way of making our employment so miserable for us so that weíll either retire or quit. As you can see, they donít care about you, not one iota. All they care about is reducing the workforce at any cost so that theyíll look good in the eyes of their superiors. What else is new? Well, enough of my rant.
The date of Elevator Operator excessing still has not been set by management. When the elevator modifications are done, each of the remaining Elevator Operators are supposed to be notified of the effective date of the excessing and are also supposed to be provided with the equivalent of a "Dream Sheet" to select, in order of preference, from the available custodial vacancies in the Boston District. This will be done according to Maintenance Installation seniority and taking into account the contractual and legal requirements for those employees that are designated as Veteranís Preference Eligible employees.
Excessing can only be done according to occupational group and level (EO-4). If there are insufficient vacant level 4 positions in the Maintenance Craft in the Boston Installation/District to accommodate those who are excessed, then the remaining folks could be excessed to the only other craft that has vacant level 4 positions in the Boston Installation/District Ė the Mail Handler Craft. As such, management will have to provide us with a list of all the Boston District Mail Handler vacancies. Any level 4 maintenance employee that is excessed outside the Maintenance Craft will become the junior full time regular in their new craft, but will retain retreat rights to return to the next available level 4 Maintenance vacancy in the Boston Installation/District and will have their Maintenance seniority restored upon their return. Article 12 is the governing article on this issue, along with Article 38. However, the details of who will go where and when will depend on the available vacancies and what each individual chooses to do, and those choices cannot be made until all the vacancies are identified and firmly established.
For those who are unaware, the Boston District/Installation encompasses postal facilities in the 021, 022 and 024 zip codes. If there are insufficient level 4 positions available in the Boston District/installation, then the excessed Elevator Operators may be reassigned outside the Boston District/Installation. Therefore, it will also be necessary for management to identify all available level 4 Maintenance Craft vacancies outside the Boston Installation/District up to a 500 mile radius, including closer locations in the Southeast New England District or the Massachusetts District.
The Southeast NE District encompasses all the cities and towns in the area south of Boston, including Rhode Island; while the Massachusetts District encompasses the cities and towns in areas north and west of Boston. Any level 4 maintenance vacancies that exist in those areas and out to a 500 mile radius have to also be made available to those EO-4ís who are excessed. Any maintenance employee excessed outside the Boston Installation/District will retain the same retreat rights as described before. However, I recommend that anyone who is excessed out of the District should meet with me before accepting any offers in any out-of-district locations in order to ensure that their rights are protected and that they have all the necessary information.
While this fight against managementís actions goes on in the grievance procedure, my main hope is that none of the excessed members are harmed too deeply and will be working somewhere and/or on a tour that they can deal with.
Lastly, it is my sad duty again to report to you the recent deaths of two fellow Maintenance Craft members. The first was the passing of Tour-1 Laborer-Custodian Les Walter after a long battle with cancer. Les came into maintenance as a custodian in Boston back in 1986. I must confess that I didnít know Les very well. Because he worked tour-1 and I worked tour-2, I only would be able to say hello to him in passing in the basement corridor or the locker room during the tour change in the mornings. His closest friends and family were there to pay their respects at his burial at the Veteranís cemetery in Bourne, MA. He will sorely be missed by all his coworkers. At least his suffering has ended and he is in a better place.
The other passing was the sudden death of GMF Maintenance Mechanic Dave Loomis on February 1st. Dave was one of the old Mechanicís Helpers from years ago and came into maintenance in 1988. It was my understanding that Dave passed away during the night while he slept. I can only hope that it was peaceful and that he did not suffer. Dave will also be sorely missed by all of us that knew him. With his wacky unbelievable stories, his crazy sense of humor and that unmistakable laugh, he kept everyone chuckling. It was something of a sight to see him in his fur cap that he would wear every day throughout the entire winter season. It was like his alter ego. Not a day would go by that Dave didnít say or do something that would bring a smile to your face. However, underneath that eccentric exterior beat a heart of gold. Dave would practically give you the shirt off his back even when he didnít have it to give. He would never hesitate to loan someone money or even his vehicle, or at the very least give someone a ride into work. Thereís a lot to be said for guys like that. Now, I hope that he is also in that same better place like so many that have gone before him and that he is with his old partner Ken "Mac" McDonald looking after him. Rest in peace Les and Dave, and Godspeed.
November / December 2009
The FSS is finally here
For that past 18 months we have been waiting for the FSS machines to arrive in the Boston District. And lo and behold, it has finally arrived at the Northwest Boston facility. The first of three machines is now under assembly and it is expected to be running before the end of December. The second machineís assembly will begin on the heels of the first, with the third machineís schedule still yet to be set. This will be a welcome change for the members of the MPE maintenance section in NWB for they are eager to get their hands on this monstrosity.
There are still eight ET-10s "temporarily" domiciled at the downtown Boston facility on tour-1 and tour-3 who have been waiting these nearly eighteen months to move into their bids. It will be interesting to see how well these machines will run. They contain a lot of technology and many moving parts and the ETs and MPEs of the NWB MPE maintenance section will likely have their hands full.
As was reported in a previous issue of the Bostonian, the pending elimination of the Elevator Operator occupational group at the GMF is still perched on the horizon. As of the writing of this article, local management has informed us that the first cargo elevator will be modified just after Thanksgiving. Management has not yet informed the Local as to the date for official excessing of the Elevator Operators, but it is just a matter of time. As it stands right now due to recent retirements the number of impacted Elevator Operators will be reduced to approximately 24.
Once the cargo elevator modifications are completed, it will be necessary for every APWU member to stand with us and ask to see the steward, give them a statement, and file grievances every time someone other than an Elevator Operator loads or unloads a cargo elevator or operates a cargo elevator. "Automatic operation" not withstanding, if you load or unload a cargo elevator or simply press a button and/or ride it, youíre doing the Elevator Operatorís job. Please donít look the other way and let this happen. The stewards will not be able to fight this by themselves. Weíll need everyoneís help on this one.
Next, Iíd like to remind everyone out there about the significance in correctly filling out your employee assignment sheets. Make sure youíre taking credit for the work you do and not inadvertently signing off work that wasnít completed or even started. As the Postal Serviceís financial condition will continue to be an issue, management is looking for ways to make cuts in maintenance. Letís not help them find or make those cuts.
The data that you create via those sheets is essential in demonstrating the continued need to maintain current staffing levels and/or find areas where we can get management to increase them. With that said, folks will likely see management giving out proper route sheets to many of us who have never used them. This has been a push by the Union all the way down from our national officers to the local officers. Without documentation it is very difficult to prove our cases in the grievance arena when we believe staffing is inadequate. This will ultimately be a positive step in the process especially where the MS-47 custodial staffing is concerned.
Switching gears for a moment, I would like to reflect back upon our trip to Arlington National Cemetery in September for the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. I had the distinct privilege not only to visit this great national treasure, but to witness first hand a very moving tribute to all our honored deceased veterans. While I watched the Boston Metro Localís four distinguished representatives participate in the ceremony, I experienced some personal pride as I watched ET-10 John Fraughton distinguish himself with discipline and honor representing the Maintenance Craft as well as our Local. John, who is also a personal friend, is the senior-most ET-10 in the Boston District and an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War, and he has a son who is also an Air Force veteran. On behalf of our Local I would like to say "Thank You" to Kevin Jones, Jeff Baird and Bill Weaver and especially to John Fraughton, a true patriot from head to toe.
Lastly, as we pass Thanksgiving and enter December, I would like to wish everyone a happy, healthy and safe Holiday Season as well as a Happy New Year, and I hope everyone gets the opportunity to enjoy themselves with their families and friends at their side.
The Fall Foliage of The USPS
The fall season is now upon us and as we see the color of the leaves on the trees change so do we see the continuing changes in our employment with the USPS. Weíve listened to doom and gloom financial reports from Postal Headquarters. Weíve seen management performing staffing reviews in every station and facility eliminating positions anywhere and everywhere.
While the Clerk Craft (our brother/sister craft in the APWU) has borne the brunt of these impacts, MVS and Maintenance are not immune to them and as such we in Maintenance are now experiencing the fallout of some these management decisions as well.
As was reported in the previous issue of the Bostonian, the pending elimination of the Elevator Operator occupational group is still on the table as a point of contention. That impact on these Maintenance members still looms over our heads like the Sword of Damocles and is keeping everyone on edge. As of the writing of this article local management still has not secured a final contractor bid to perform the work nor have they received final approval for their project to convert the elevators over to the so-called "automatic" operation.
While this gives us some breathing room while we continue to find ways to fight this action, we also have a moratorium on any excessing until at least October 9th which came out of the recent Memorandum Of Understanding on the One Time Retirement Incentive. As it stands right now the first Class Action grievance on this issue has been filed with more to come as the issue continues to create the openings in which to file the necessary grievances. Rest assured that this isnít over yet and we will continue to fight to retain these jobs not only for our current membership but also for Veterans returning home who will be in need of jobs.
Now weíve also discovered that custodial maintenance workhours are being examined nationwide. I recently received a copy of OIG audit report concerning Custodial Maintenance standards and staffing. The audit report claims to have done a nationwide review of custodial cleaning standards and staffing but in reality they only visited 11 sites within the Pacific, Southwest and the Capital Metro (Washington D.C.) areas. The rest of their audit was done via the data pulled from managementís Electronic Maintenance Activity Reporting and Scheduling (EMARS) system. The OIG felt that management should reduce cleaning frequencies of many cleaning tasks so that the staffing workhours could be reduced and they also recommended that management go after changing our contract so that they could contract out the custodial work at larger facilities than they are able to do now.
The OIG advised management that many cleaning tasks need not be done on daily or weekly basis and could be scheduled with less frequency. The OIG believed that this would be on a par with other Federal agencies and employers in the private sector. They also advised management to try and re-negotiate our contract in 2010 so that facilities larger than 18,000 sq. ft. could contract out their cleaning services.
We all know that sub-contracted cleaning companies pay "poverty level" wages and, more often than not, only employ part-time workers who receive no benefits such as health care coverage, vacation/sick leave, or holiday pay and of course no retirement benefits. Here again we see the OIG sticking their nose in areas where we, as a Union, consider these to be issues that strictly belong at the collective bargaining table.
One of the many bad things about the OIG report is that much of the data that they relied upon came from managementís EMARS system. This is where we as members can make sure that we are doing our part to make sure that we are getting credit for the work that we are doing.
We as maintenance members should be making sure that the "work assignment sheets" that are issued to us are correctly filled out and turned in at the end of our work day. Without this paperwork being turned in there is no history of the time we actually spend on any of tasks that we perform. Management will then be free to record those minimum estimated times you usually see on those work sheets instead of what really was used or worse, recording a task that you didnít even perform. Also employees should request that a new sheet be issued when management makes a verbal assignment change after the initial assignment sheet is given out at the beginning of your tour or if nothing else fill in the extra assignment you performed in your handwriting at the bottom.
Another area that needs attention is within the BEM and MPE sections. Many mechanics and technicians will receive preventive maintenance routes which require cleaning and/or inspection of the equipment. It may also tell you to "repair as necessary" any problems that you find. What this means is, that if you must repair something that takes longer than fifteen minutes then a work order should be generated and the employee should take credit for that work order on his/her assignment sheet and turn it in. If the repair takes less than fifteen minutes, then you can include it in the route time which allows for a 20% variance over the estimated time.
In some cases you may have a standing or open work order for area assurance (operational maintenance). In those cases you should still apply that fifteen minute rule-of-thumb. Donít be shy. Have your supervisor or a MOS clerk generate a work order for you when necessary. Always take credit for the work that you do. Take credit for every call that you answer. Whether it is a dead photo cell in a machine or a leaky faucet or belt on an AC blower or snow removal or mopping up a spill, every recorded work hour is important. We wonít get any credit for the unrecorded work and it may result in the loss of jobs when an entity like the OIG does one of those audits or when local management submits their staffing package to their superiors. We need that data as much as management needs it but we need it more to retain the jobs.
Lastly Iíd like to devote some space here to extend my and General President Moe Leporeís personal compliments as well as those of the members of the Boston Metro Executive Board to the Maintenance members of the Field Maintenance Operation (FMO section) at the Boston GMF. Back in the May issue of the Bostonian I reported to the membership of the untimely death of Maintenance Mechanic Dana Dunk after his battle with cancer and shortly thereafter the Maintenance brothers of the FMO section took it upon themselves to erect a memorial to Dana at the home of his family.
Just prior to Fatherís Day, the guys from the FMO erected a flagpole flying the American flag with a solar powered lamp for the night hours in front of the Dunk family home. I found this to be a very fitting gesture in memory of Dana as an all around good guy and a Veteran of two branches of the military (Army & Navy). I hope that this can be the beginning of a tradition for our Local members to find ways to memorialize our fallen brothers and sisters. Well done, gentlemen.
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|BOSTONIAN... JULY/AUG. 2009
Here We Go Again
Right after my last article was published in the Bostonian, the training billets management had acquired for the FSS machines were put on hold again. Only this time managementís moves created plenty of stress on the part of the ETs and MPEs who were scheduled to go to the training. This time around management got so far as having actual class dates scheduled, airline tickets acquired, and cash advances for per diem that were given to those who were scheduled to go.
Now weíre back in a holding pattern again, and everyone has to give back the per diem advances, and the airline tickets have been canceled. It may sound simple, but it can be a pain in the neck to put everyone back to rights. Needless to say, whether you were a volunteer for the training or not, having the training disrupted like this puts a burden on those who have planned their life around being away from home for the duration of the training. Instead, those same folks are back to not knowing if or when theyíre going to have to go off to the training. However, now the rumor mill is saying that the FSS machines are now scheduled to start being installed in September. (Now, if we could only pin them down on which year.) So now weíre back to waiting for the "bus". Itíll get here when it gets here, I guess.
On the national front, National Maintenance Craft Director, Steve Raymer, informed us of some sweeping changes to the Maintenance Selection System (MSS). Bulletins that were posted near the end of June depicted some of changes. Many of the changes are beneficial to the members who are seeking to become qualified for promotions. Some of those changes highlighted were the elimination of the evaluation by an employeeís supervisor and the elimination of the Candidate Supplemental Application (CSA) booklets.
The review panels will remain, but the Postal Service refused to budge on releasing the "handbook" guidelines that will be used by the review panel. (Itíd be interesting to see what the guidelines and criteria actually say.) However, one of the most positive changes, in my view, was the change to the "Update" process. Prior to the change, individuals who failed a given exam process had to acquire additional training, knowledge or experience relevant to the failed Knowledge, Skill or Ability (KSA) before one would be allowed to retake the exam process. Now, one does not need to go through all that. Instead, an employee need only wait 120 days since their last exam and they will then be allowed to retest. This can be done as many times as necessary until the testing process is passed. This is especially important to some of our custodians who had no access to training in order to get access to the test again. This change eliminates that roadblock. A more detailed depiction can be read and downloaded from the National APWU Website Maintenance Section at www.apwu.org.
The latest news, and by far the most important in my opinion, is managementís most recent effort to eliminate all the Elevator Operator positions at the GMF. Back in May, management at the Northeast Area level had sent a letter to APWU Regional Coordinator, Liz Powell, expressing their intent to modify the nine cargo elevators at the Boston GMF by automating their control functions and thereby (in their mind) no longer needing the services of all the Elevator Operators.
They also indicated that offices in the Northeast Area would also go under whatís called Article 12 withholding for all Level 4 and below vacant positions in all crafts, prohibiting hiring from the street due to the excessing of the Elevator Operators, and to provide positions for them to be excessed into. However, managementís notification of their intent gave us no specifics. So a date was set on June 25th to meet with management and gather more information. The APWU showed up in full force with me, Maintenance National Business Agent Rick Logan, General President Moe Lepore, Vice President Bob Dempsey, and Director of Industrial Relations, Paul Kilduff. As an added bonus, Tour-2 Maintenance Steward, Howie Holloman, was also there to explain the true nature of the work that the Elevator Operators do every day. Howie does this work every day, starting with moving out the morning dispatches, and then on to getting the Letter Carriers and their mail out as well; and he is well versed in the work that is done on Tour-1 and Tour-3.
At the meeting, it was discovered that management wanted to make changes to the elevators to the degree that the elevator doors would automatically open and close on each floor similar to a passenger elevator, and they would then turn over to the Mail Handler craft what is really the bulk of the Elevator Operatorís work, the loading and unloading of mail & mail transport equipment and other materials on and off the elevators. Management believes that the Mail Handlers would utilize these units like the VRCs, and that there would be a monetary savings by doing this; but, as we pointed out at the meeting, they would only be shifting the cost of this work from one craft to another with no savings. Additional Mail Handler positions will surely have to be created in order to provide the necessary bodies to perform the work the Elevator Operators are now doing.
Instead, as we discovered, they are only going to disrupt the lives of all the Elevator Operators and place their livelihoods in jeopardy. Some of the Elevator Operators who had come into the Maintenance Craft very recently had done so through the NRP and are now in jeopardy of being sent home if their medical restrictions keep them from qualifying for other maintenance positions.
It was also clear at the meeting that management had already made up their minds on going forward with their grandiose scheme and that the meeting, from managementís perspective, was for notification and not negotiation. Everything we said fell on deaf ears. We did discover one more important point, which we had to practically dig from their cold souls, was that this scheme was hatched by the GMF maintenance manager. It was not mandated by the Postmaster General in Washington D.C. It was not mandated by USPS Vice President Haney in Connecticut. It was the brain child of Maintenance Manager Francis Squatrito. He doesnít have to do this. He just wants to. I donít know. Maybe he expects to get a feather in his cap or maybe heís just bucking for a higher level job. In any event, we held a second meeting on July 6th, at which time all of us from the first meeting were once again in attendance. We brought forth some counter proposals and more detailed information on the work our Elevator Operators are currently doing, and we also painted a picture for management of how their new operation will likely fail and what responses they could expect from the members of the APWU. Instead, management really only wanted to hold the second meeting with us so they could create a notification date and send the employees their letters indicating that their positions would be abolished and that they would be declared excessed from their occupational group and possibly the Boston installation. Managementís intent here is clear. They want to get rid of the Elevator Operators.
Approximately 30 positions currently filled by 27 members will be lost if managementís plot comes to fruition. Folks, let me put this in perspective. The loss of the 27 filled positions will reduce the Maintenance Craft membership of our Local by 5%. It would not surprise me at all if part of managementís plan included this as an attempt to reduce the effectiveness of our Local by taking away these craft positions. Preparations are now underway to fight this action through all available avenues, including lobbying the Mass. Congressional delegation for support. Elevator Operator positions like those of the Laborer-Custodian are reserved for Military Veterans when being filled from the street. In todayís economy, itís all the more important that these positions remain in existence for Veterans and DAVs returning home from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In the meantime, I will be coordinating our efforts with General President Moe Lepore, and the other local full time officers, as well as Maintenance Craft National Business Agent Rick Logan, to try and put a stop to this.
Lastly, it is my sad duty to report to you the loss of one of our own once again. Iíd like to express our collective condolences to the Lyons family on the passing of Laborer-Custodian, George "Mickey" Lyons. Mickey came to us in Maintenance more than a decade ago after working many years with the Carpenters' Union. A true unionist at heart, he will be sorely missed. Rest in peace, Mick.
BOSTONIAN . . . MAY/JUNE 2009
Spring Ė A Welcome Change ??
Finally we have now seen some action on the part of the Postal Service concerning the impending deployment of the FSS machines at Northwest Boston P&DC. Management at that location is now in possession of some of the training billets for those machines and will have posted them, soliciting for volunteers. The delay in deployment of the FSS started out as a software problem from the manufacturer, along with other engineering problems which not only delayed the deployment, but also threw a monkey wrench into the works at the NCED training center in Oklahoma, effectively shutting down the training program.
Apparently, enough of the problems have been corrected so as to reinstate the training program and offer training billets to the facilities where the machines will be located. These training billets will be offered to MPE Mechanics and Electronic Technicians at NWB, as well as those NWB ETs temporarily domiciled in the Boston GMF. For those employees interested in volunteering, make sure that you refer to the training solicitation posting and that you fill out your training volunteer card correctly to ensure that you acquire the correct billet at the correct time of year.
For many of us, the most important factor of offsite training is when youíll go. For some, winter is the best time and for others it might be the fall. To each, their own. Nevertheless, training selections for volunteers are to be done by Tour, Occupational Group and Level (e.g. Tour-2, MPE Mechanic, Level-9) and utilizing Maintenance craft Installation Seniority. If there are no volunteers for the billet, then management may select a non-volunteer by Tour, Occupational Group and Level and utilizing inverse Maintenance craft Installation Seniority.
Switching gears here, as the Local Step 2 designee, I have noticed that attendance discipline in maintenance is on the rise again. Here, I would like to impart some basic concepts for all to remember if you are ever put in this position. First and foremost, employees should never sign a 3971 that shows that you have been cited as AWOL. Any and all AWOL citations should never go unchallenged. If you are ever cited as AWOL (for any reason), make sure that you meet with a steward and file grievance. Never wait to challenge an AWOL citation until after you have been disciplined. By that point, enough time may have elapsed to make it appear that you have accepted the AWOL citation and do not dispute it, and you might also have exceeded the 14 day time limit to grieve the AWOL.
Donít allow yourself to fall into the AWOL trap. AWOL and unscheduled LWOP are not the same thing and are viewed differently. It is possible that management might discipline you for a single instance of AWOL instead of reviewing your whole attendance record before issuing discipline. Always see your steward if youíre cited as AWOL.
This now brings me to concept of FMLA protection for serious health conditions for yourself or a family member. Remember, FMLA is not a separate leave category. FMLA is a protective "umbrella" under which, whatever type of leave you use during an absence cannot be held against you. FMLA further requires management to allow you the time off they otherwise would have denied you (e.g. request denied; services required). At some point, each member should look over the information on the FMLA that the Union has made available. Look at the definitions of serious health conditions and the standards you must meet in order to be protected, along with which family members with serious health conditions that you can acquire protection for.
This protection can and will be essential so that you can do what you need to do in order to take of yourself or a family member. One common question that pops up a lot is: does the FMLA protect you so that you can care for your children or grandchildren while your spouse or the childrenís parent is ill? The answer to that one is No. The FMLA can protect you so that you may provide care only to that individual family member that is ill. The regular daily care of children is separate issue and not covered by the FMLA.
Additionally, it was reported to the membership in previous issues of the Bostonian that some of the standards for FMLA protection have changed. In April, National Asst. Legislative Director (and former Boston Metro General President), Steve Albanese, came to our local Union meeting for the purpose of educating us on the changes made to the FMLA by former President Bush. He spent a lot of time going over the new forms and answering questions from the audience. If you were unable to attend the meeting, you missed out on getting some great first hand info. Nevertheless, one of the important things that Steve imparted to us was what weíll need to do if we have to call in an FMLA unscheduled absence. That, at the time of the call, weíll need to either state, then and there, that the absence is for FMLA, or provide other sufficient information so that management can make a determination that the absence might be FMLA protected. (e.g. "Iím in the hospital" or "my son broke his leg", etc.). That will be the trigger for management to send you the Department of Labor FMLA forms; but I recommend using the APWU forms because theyíre easier to fill out. Youíll then have 15 calendar days to return the forms to acquire the protection. If youíre unsure as to whether or not you need this protection, I advise you to meet with your steward and discuss the issue and look over the FMLA forms.
I now come to the concept of Hoover Act protection. The Hoover Act is a protection provided for disabled veterans who must take time off for treatment of their military Service Connected Disability. Hoover Act protection is similar to the FMLA in that it will protect you from adverse action for your absences that occur because of a Service Connected Disability. However, the standards for this protection are different than the FMLA. First, the original Hoover Act from the 1930s only protected you for scheduled treatments at a VA hospital for your disability.
Since then, there was a change to the Employee and Labor Relations Manual (ELM) which now states that the treatments need to be scheduled in advance when possible, and can be provided by either the VA or your primary care doctor. That change provides for the possibility that an employeeís treatments might have to occur at times in an unscheduled fashion. Those treatments can include the initial eaxm and/or treatment by the doctor and a number of days for recuperation (also part of the treatment).
So, if that happens to you, make sure that you inform your supervisor at some point during the absence or upon your return to duty that you were out for treatment of your Service Connected Disability. Donít forget to put the words Service Connected Disability in the remarks block on the 3971. You may be requested to provide medical evidence from the doctor stating why you were absent, and also showing the number of days or dates of the absence. Like any other absence, you still have to call and report the absence and the number of days if you are able. If your condition is serious enough that you are unable to call and report the absence, make sure that your evidence depicts this fact so that it will offset any effort by management to cite you as AWOL and deny you the Hoover Act protection.
It is important that we all take these steps to protect ourselves under these circumstances. The Family and Medical Leave Act and the Hoover Act laws are essential worker protection benefits. The FMLA can provide up to 12 weeks or 480 work hours of protection, and the Hoover Act protects Service Connected Disability absences. All we have to do is make sure each and every one of us follows the procedures as laid out by each law and in conjunction with our contract and weíll be protected.
Lastly, Iíd like to express our deepest condolences to the family of Dana Dunk. We have once again lost one of our own with the untimely passing of Tour-2 Maintenance Mechanic Dana Dunk at the age of 51. He lost his battle with a very aggressive form of cancer which took his life in a very short time. I also have the sad duty of reporting the passing of recently retired Tour-2 MOS clerk, Sarkis "Sikey" Dostoomian. Death is an eventuality that we all must face. It always occurs sooner than should. Rest in peace, Dana. Rest in Peace, Sikey.
Maintenance Selection System Open Season
BULLETIN. . . June 9, 2009
POTENTIAL EXCESSING IN THE MAINTENANCE CRAFT
We have received notification at the Northeast Area level that management intends to modify the nine cargo elevators at the Boston GMF by automating the control functions of the elevators. Management also stated that they intend to abolish the Elevator Operator positions in the Maintenance craft in the Boston District, and excess 27 Elevator Operators from the Boston Installation. However, this number of impacted employees may be subject to change. Additionally, all residual Laborer-Custodial vacancies will be withheld under a declaration of Article 12, Withholding.
I and the other officers of the Boston Metro Local, along with National Business Agent Rick Logan, will be meeting with management in the coming weeks to discuss this issue with them in an effort to stop this action.
General President Moe Lepore has vowed to make every effort to fight this assault on the Maintenance Craft and the Boston Metro APWU. More information will be brought to the membership as it develops.Yours in Solidarity,
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The March time frame noted in Article 38.5.B.7 is commonly referred to as "Open Season." Open Season occurs every three years. This Open Season opportunity based on the contract language will be March 1st through 31st, 2009.
All maintenance positions in an installation are available for employees to submit "Attachment Two" applications for inclusion on the appropriate Promotion Eligibility Register during open season.
Management must complete the Maintenance Selection System process for inclusion on the promotion eligibility registers within 150 days from March 31.
During the month of March 2009, Maintenance Craft employees who are not on a given Promotional Eligibility Register, may apply for inclusion on that Promotional Eligibility Register. Management will have posted notifications on the bulletin boards on or before March 1st of this open season year. The maintenance employees who apply will receive the results of their application(s) no later than one hundred fifty (150) days from March 31, provided the applications have been properly completed by the applicants.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The Open Season opportunity is not for maintenance employees who previously received an ineligible rating for a given occupational groupís Promotion Eligibility Register. An employee with an ineligible rating for a given register must use the update process in order to be retested.
It is my personal recommendation that every member should take a close look at this and to not let this opportunity pass you by. If you do, youíll have to wait until the next open season in 2012. Bring any questions you have to the attention of your steward; or you can write to me at the Union Hall (137 South Street, 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02111), e-mail me at bostonmaint@ hotmail.com, or call (617)-728-4975 Saturday through Wednesday, from 6:30am-3:00pm.
In Union Unity,
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Wayne Greenside, Maintenance Craft President
|APRIL 2009 BOSTONIAN
THE USPS HOLDING PATTERN ??
Since my last article it was assumed that things in the Postal Service were heading into a "holding pattern" for the coming spring season. We all knew, back at the beginning of the year, because of the financial condition of the USPS, we werenít going to see too many Postal construction projects going forward nor were we going to see many other capital projects come to fruition. The proof was in the delay of up to 90 days in the deployment of the FSS machines at Northwest Boston P&DC in Waltham.
Between the USPS budgetary problems and the economy in general it was expected that everyone, including postal management, were just going to "batten down the hatches" and weather the economic "storm".
But just when I thought that things couldnít get any worse, the USPS holding pattern is turning into slicing and dicing. Rumors of USPS facility closings are now running rampant through our workplaces. There are rumors of plant closings and the closing of local post offices. If itís not a rumor about a closing, itís a rumor about plant consolidations or curtailment of processing or retail hours. You name it. Pick a rumorÖ.
As it turns out there is some truth to some of the rumors. As of the writing of this article, Postal management has consolidated the administrative functions of the Massachusetts district and split it between Connecticut and Boston. The northern New England states, having once been separate districts, have now been consolidated as one administrative district called the Northern New England District.
Itís also taking place at various other areas of the country as well.
The Postal Service also officially notified APWU Headquarters that they have abandoned plans to outsource the work performed at 21 Bulk Mail Centers, and instead will revamp the Bulk Mail Center network. Management said that the change in strategy was prompted by the nationís financial crisis and the subsequent drop in the volume of flats.
Back in July 2008, the Postal Service announced plans to outsource work performed at the BMCs, and informed the union of plans to locate Flat Sorter Sequencing (FSS) machines at those facilities. Instead, the revised plan calls for a three-tiered network in which some BMC facilities would distribute only local and destinating mail. The renamed Network Distribution Centers (NDCs) would continue to process standard mail, packages, and some periodicals. Significant changes also are planned for transportation within the network.
According to the plan, which is scheduled to begin in mid- to late-April, Tier 1 NDC facilities will be responsible for local and destination standard mail, periodicals and package services. They also will perform STC containerization and dispatch operations for outgoing and incoming mail.
Tier 2 facilities will be responsible for all Tier 1 activities, plus distribution of outgoing standard mail, periodicals, and package services to the network. Tier 3 facilities will perform all the Tier 1 and 2 functions and also will act as a consolidation point for less-than-truckload volumes from Tier 2 sites.
Phase 1 of their plan will begin in the northeast corridor, and will affect the Springfield (MA), Philadelphia, and New Jersey BMCs. Staffing is expected to decrease in Tier 1 and 2 sites, and to increase in Tier 3 facilities.
The APWU is pleased that the Postal Service has decided against contracting out BMC operations, but weíre going to withhold any endorsement of the new plan until we are able to determine its impact on service and on the employees represented by the APWU. The APWU headquarters will monitor the progress of the new plan closely, and will vigorously enforce the Collective Bargaining Agreement as this plan is implemented.
What does that mean for the craft employees? Only time will tell. With Boston taking on the Saturday ongoing mail operations from Middlesex-Essex (North Reading) and Central Mass (Shrewsbury), Clerk and MVS members are already feeling it with certain bids being abolished or have their report times altered. When that happens, it usually affects maintenance eventually. When it will, or what management will do, no one can know for sure.
Iím not too sure they even know yet. It appears that right now, maintenance management is kind of flying by the seat of their pants with all these edicts that have been filtering down from Postal Headquarters in Washington and Connecticut where they seem to be responding to them one by one. Unfortunately, thatís the same way we as a Union may need to deal with lot of what may come down the road. We will have to address each change the Postal Service makes one by one to make sure that it all complies with our National contract and the Local agreements.
The USPS financial condition seems to be what is driving all this. The APWU national officers have already blasted USPS officials about their response to the current financial problems. APWU President William Burrus decried Postal Service plans to address its financial crisis in a letter he wrote to the Postmaster General on Feb. 9. "It is extremely disappointing that not a single step is aimed at reducing the loss of revenue from Ďworksharingí discounts or from subcontracting. Considering the severity of the current crisis, I fail to understand USPS strategy, which continues to subsidize private mail Ďpre-sorters,í transportation providers, drop-shippers and others," he wrote.
Burrus also said he is particularly disturbed by USPS plans to consolidate so called "excess" capacity in its mail processing and transportation networks while postal policy encourages the growth of private entities that perform these duties. He also wrote that "The challenges facing the Postal Service require a review of the entire postal network; simply cutting USPS-operated facilities and USPS employees is unfair and will not solve the Postal Serviceís financial crisis.
The Postal Service has already reduced postal work hours by more than 100 million hours over the last four years," he noted, "without a single adjustment in the billions of dollars lost to mailer discounts and subcontracting. The USPS cannot survive if it continues to subsidize the revenue stream of private service providers through subcontracts and Ďworksharingí discounts,".
Postal finances aside, what about the finances of our maintenance members? Weíve all seen the severe reduction in the availability of overtime work. While this might be the result of the filling of the added positions for the "delayed" FSS machines and the filling of many of those vacant maintenance positions that had languished for the past couple of years, it still does not account for all the work we had been doing.
Because of this, I ask that every steward in each location look very closely at the maintenance routes that are being assigned, everything from the custodial to building to the mail processing equipment. Make sure that the allotted times on the routes havenít been unilaterally changed. Make sure that many other routes havenít disappeared or arenít being assigned at all. We need to protect our work and also be vigilant in finding it where it exists and make sure it gets assigned to our people.
On another note, by the time your read this article, the open season window for "Attachment Two" applications to take the maintenance tests and qualify for the various occupational groups will have closed. I hope everyone heeded my advice in my last article and took a close look at this and did not let this opportunity pass you by. If you did, youíll have to wait until the next open season in 2012.
In the interim, for those that did file "Attachment Two" applications, management has 150 days to complete the process and provide the applicant with a rating for whichever positions that were selected on the form. For those employees who must make requests to utilize the "update process" in dealing with a failed MSS rating, the time limit for management to process that request is only 37 days. If management exceeds either of these time limits, it will be necessary for you to see your steward and file a grievance.
Lastly, Iíd like to express our deepest condolences to the Connors family. We have once again lost one of our own with the passing of Tour-3 GMF Custodian Steve Connors. He will be sorely missed. He is survived by his brother Dave (Tour-2 GMF Custodian), and both are a credit to what it means to be Union members. Rest in peace, Steve.
2009 Ė Whatís next?
I recently had a conversation on the work room floor with another Maintenance Craft member who peppered me with questions as to what management was going to do to us this coming year. I really appreciate that the gentlemen had the faith in me that I could answer such an open ended question, that I had ESP or a crystal ball and could predict what the future would bring. All I could provide to him was my heartfelt opinions based upon my experience as a Maintenance Craft member for the past 19 years and as a Union activist for the past 14. I told him that the current economic climate has put a strain on everything with the Postal Service crying poor-mouth about everything too.
I was not surprised to hear through the grapevine that the USPS has issued instructions (not always formal written instructions mind you) to every level of the service to reduce costs. The first hit is always the availability of overtime work. In locations where there may have been a fair amount, there is now very little and in locations where there was very little, there is now none. Much of the project work that we would perform as extra work hours is drying up do to lack of funding by Postal Headquarters at both the national and regional levels. New or replacement equipment or tools are not being purchased and weíre told to make do with what we have and/or to reuse/recycle as much as possible. While that might "look like" good business sense to some, instead it is more often the USPS being penny wise and pound foolish.
The changes in the FMLA regulations are another point of uncertainty for 2009. President Bush signed in to law, via an Executive Order on Nov. 17, 2008, what I consider to be major negative changes to the way employees are allowed to use FMLA protected leave and the requirements for certifications. I see none of these changes as being worker-friendly except for the ones that expand FMLA protection for employees with family members who are military service members that have been injured. While I am glad that particular change came about, I did not like the price that we had to pay by virtue of all of the other changes. Remember, the average age of a Postal Worker in the Boston Metro Area Local is approximately 52 years old, which usually carries with it the health concerns for that age group. It usually means more in-depth medical exams, bad backs, knees, foot problems and a whole host of other health concerns that affect our lives.
In short, were all getting older and the Postal Service wants us to do more with less while they grab at the chance to make it more difficult for us to maintain our health by either them paying a smaller share of our health insurance premiums or by lobbying former President Bush to make sweeping negative changes to the FMLA, putting more roadblocks in our way. Nevertheless, APWU officials at both the national and local levels are now studying these changes to determine the best way to help our membership navigate these changes to the regulations.
On a more positive note, nearly 400 homeless veterans received new backpacks, blankets, and care packages that were donated by APWU state and local organizations as well as by individual union members from throughout the country. The contributions were the result of the APWU having answered the call to take part in the Department of Veterans Affairsí "Winterhaven Stand Down," which took place Jan. 10 at the Washington VA Medical Center. The unionís efforts were organized by Natíl APWU Human Relations Director Sue Carney.
Various organizations set up distribution points. At the APWU station, backpacks filled with gloves, hats, scarves, hand- and foot-warmers, can openers, flashlights, toiletries and a variety of other items were given to homeless veterans, who also received new undergarments and socks. Along with the backpacks were care packages stuffed to capacity with ready-to-eat food items to help sustain Americanís neediest veterans. At the suggestion of the VA, the APWU also provided vinyl "portfolio" briefcases to help the homeless veterans protect their important documents. Other stations at the event offered social services. Community agencies from around the D.C.-metro area provided legal and medical aid, HIV testing, flu shots, dental care, employment counseling, and housing assistance. Hot meals, haircuts, showers, coats, shoes and other necessities were also offered to participants.
VA Sec. James Peake, VA Med. Ctr. Asst. Dir. Paula Gorman, and the centerís Chief of Staff, Ross Fletcher, each stopped by the APWU station to express appreciation and offer congratulations to our organization, our members, and volunteers for a job well done, but director Sue Carney said "the true appreciation belongs to the men and women who volunteer to wear our countryís uniform." APWU Executive Vice President and Marine Corps veteran Cliff Guffey told the VAís top official that the unionís efforts on behalf of all veterans would continue. "The APWU will support our troops in every way we can," he said. "We want to ensure that our veterans are well taken care of. Itís especially important that we reach out to the less fortunate who find themselves homeless. We want to make sure that they receive the attention they need. They deserve all that we can give them."
Thanks to the generosity of individual APWU members and fund raising by local and state organizations, the union was able to provide more than $33,500 in food and necessities to veterans during this one-day event.
By the time this issue of the Bostonian reaches the membership, the month of March 2009 will be almost upon us and with it will be the 2009 open season for Maintenance members to apply to take exams and qualify for various promotions and lateral occupational group changes. Every 3 years during the month of March, Maintenance members can submit an "Attachment Two" application to take the tests and qualify for the various occupational groups.
It is my personal recommendation that every member should take a close look at this and to not let this opportunity pass you by. If you do, youíll have to wait until the next open season in 2012.
There are three main tests. The first, known as the 931 exam, covers all the building maintenance positions from level 5 Maintenance Mechanic all the way up to the level 9 Building Equipment Mechanic and level 9 Area Maintenance Tech. Next, there is the 932 exam for the Electronic Tech positions and then the 933 exam for the level 9 MPE Mechanic position. The custodial, elevator operator, MOS clerk positions have different tests but are still applied for via the "Attachment Two" form. An important point for all to remember is that when you fill out your "Attachment Two" form, take your exams and go through the interviews you will only receive ratings for the positions that you selected on the "Attachment Two" form. Even though a test like the 931 exam covers more than one position, if you did not select a particular position on that form you will not receive a rating for it after completing the testing process unless you originally selected it on the form.
This now brings me to a very common question. If a maintenance member has taken an exam in the past for one of the various occupational groups and received a failed rating for 1 or more KSA elements for a given occupational group then that member cannot reapply to take the test for that given occupational group via the Open Season. Instead, that member must go through what is called the "Update" process to retake a test to correct that failed rating. The Update process can be done at any time when a member receives new training, knowledge, or experience relevant to the failed KSAís. The rating summary a member received after they took their tests will depict which KSAís they failed. When a member receives new training, knowledge, or experience relevant to those failed KSAís then the member must request to update within 30 days of having received that new training, knowledge, or experience. Not every KSA failure can be corrected with a single training class or self-study course (it might take more than one); nevertheless the update request must still be made within 30 days of have received any training, knowledge or experience and will be kept on file. Then, after all the failed KSAís have been addressed then the member will be retested. Maintenance members can forward their update requests to the Maintenance Selection System coordinator Patti Matthews at room B-41 at the GMF or send them there through their supervisors. Remember to keep copies of everything. There are specific time limits regarding this process for both craft and management alike so stay aware of your dates when wending your way through it. Bring any questions you have to the attention of your steward or you can write to me at the Union Hall or e-mail me at bostonmaint@ hotmail.com or call 617-728-4975 Sat-Wed 6:30am-3:00pm.
In closing, I hope that everyone is not getting too bogged down with all this snow and ice that weíve had this winter. With such a bleak economic picture itís easy to let other things weigh you down as well. However, I look at it this way. President Burrus and his team at the Natíl APWU Headquarters were successful in 2006 when they negotiated a contract for APWU members which provided us with many positive steps forward but also provided us with continued wage and working condition protection until 2010. Not least of which, the most important protection, is our no lay-off language. Just look around at entire job climate and at the methods the USPS is using to cut their costs and youíll see just how important that protection is.
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THE HOLIDAYS AND A CHANGE OF SEASONS
As I write this article for this edition of the Bostonian, Veteranís Day will be upon us in a few days. Veteranís Day, which was once called Armistice Day, marked the end of World War I back on Nov. 11, 1918. Since then, the day has become a Federal holiday and has become a day of recognition for the service and sacrifice of those of us who have served in our countryís military. On this day we should all say a special "Thank You" to not only those of us APWU members who are veterans but to our co-workers from our sister unions (Letter Carriers, Mail Handlers and Rural Letter Carriers).
We should also say "Thank You" to the veterans we know from our neighborhoods & home towns and also to those we might casually meet in passing on the street. They are deserving of at least that, if not so much more.
In a way to express those "Thanks", the Veteransí Administration runs an annual program called "Stand Down" and Sue Carney; our National APWU Director Of Human Relations has spearheaded an effort to solicit donations for the program from the various APWU locals as well as individual members. The program is designed to give a "hand up" to homeless and under-served veterans. The program will offer veterans in need a variety of social services, such as legal and medical aid, employment counseling and housing assistance and much more.
The APWU will be distributing donated backpacks filled with items to help those homeless and under-served veterans get through the cold days & long nights of the upcoming winter. A list of items that can be donated and/or placed in the donated backpacks, along with the address where they can be sent, can be seen on page 33 of the Nov/Dec issue of the National APWU American Postal Worker magazine or can also be found under the Support Our Troops link in the Human Relations Department page at the national APWU website (www.apwu.org).
This program, among others, means a lot to me as I watched my own uncle, a Korean War Vet who passed away at the young age of 67, fail to recognize his own need for VA assistance until late and a brief few years before his death. Had more or better programs for veterans been available back then he might have lived longer with a better quality of life. Anything that any of us as veterans, citizens and APWU members can do to assist in this effort, no matter how small, will be greatly appreciated.
As reported in the previous issue of the Bostonian, preparations are still underway for the forth coming FSS machines at the Northwest P&DC in Waltham. Additional ET-10 positions are still being filled with promotions and new hires as well as the filling of existing MM-7 and MPE-9 vacancies. However, the fight continues on in the filling of BEM-9, Laborer-Custodian and Elevator Operator vacancies. With the negative change to our economy and thus the mail volumes, there may be potential impacts for tour-2 clerks, mail handlers, and letter carriers.
These impacts may end up causing some maintenance vacancies to be withheld under Article 12 again due to the potential for excessing because of the new FSS machines. Only time will tell. In the meantime we will be closely monitoring managementís decisions as there will be the call for a lot of "belt tightening" & other "cost cutting" decisions. Many of these management decisions will likely appear nonsensical to us. I fully expect that management will want us to cut a lot of corners in just about everything we do from floor cleaning to building and machine maintenance. I also fear that building maintenance will see the biggest cost cutting attempts and suffer most. It will be necessary that all of us keep a close eye on this so that the economizing of the USPS doesnít jeopardize the health and safety of us employees.
While we all have a vested interest in the continued survival and success of the U.S. Postal Service and will do our part, it need not be necessary to compromise the working conditions under which we are employed in order to achieve those goals.
Lastly, by the time that you read this article, Thanksgiving Day may have already passed by with the Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years holidays fast approaching. As such, I hope that everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends by your side and I sincerely wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season. We look forward to 2009 but we also recognize that there are concerns from the membership on what the coming New Year will bring. I wish we had a crystal ball and could see what the future holds for us but instead we remain here in the present in 2008 fighting the good fight. Enforcing our contract and assisting the membership whenever and wherever we can.
One more thing; Iíd like to say a special thanks to those clerk craft stewards out there in those locations where there are no maintenance craft stewards. They have taken on the role representing clerk as well as maintenance APWU members. So, in closing, I say a special "Thank You" to those stewards, including Area VPís Ray Bell, Barry Holland, John Milso, John Uccello and Bob White, for their efforts. Happy Holidays everyone. GO PATS!! GO CELTICS!! GO BRUINS!!
In Union Solidarity,
HOT TOWN, SUMMER IN THE CITY
It appears that the summer of 2008 has been one of the hottest on record grievance-wise for the Boston Metro Area Local. As of August 31st this Local has been forced by management to file more grievances up to this point than the 12 month totals of each of the last 2 years. And thatís only the first eight months. This is also due in no small part to the higher number of maintenance grievances being filed. This is actually somewhat of a good thing to the degree that the members of maintenance are speaking their minds and not meekly accepting whatever management dishes out.
To start things off we can discuss the Maintenance Conference and APWU Convention this past August. The first day of the conference became a sad one as it was reported to the delegates that a Maintenance Brother from California lost his life at the swimming pool of his hotel. Bill Delaney, a staffing advocate from Riverside, CA, suffered what appeared to be a heart attack while swimming in the pool. Unfortunately, efforts to save him were not successful and his loss placed a sad shadow over the entire conference and convention.
To my knowledge nothing like this has ever happened at an APWU conference or convention before and one of our own lost his life while serving as delegate for our Union. The collective hearts of all the delegates went out to his family and a collection was taken up forwarding the proceeds to the family. I never had the opportunity to personally meet Bill but nonetheless I wish to give my personal and the collective condolences of the Boston Metro Local to his family.
Such a sad event aside, the maintenance conference debated resolutions brought forward by locals from Florida to Minnesota and California to Maine. Some of the hotbed items were the treatment employees have been receiving while attending training at the NCED in Oklahoma. Resolutions were put forth instructing our negotiators to try and bargain for better contract language in 2010 concerning everything from the exorbitant fees for spousal visits to being housed at other off-site motels/hotels while at the NCED.
While some maintenance members might enjoy being housed away from the NCED and receive full per diem, you end up being a slave to their (managementís) bus schedule forcing you to be on your own time while traveling back and forth to class. This activity is being grieved in all locals of the country but it will still be necessary for new contract language to be negotiated to properly address it.
Subcontracting resolutions were next on the list. Our current subcontracting language of Articles 19 and 32 in the Collective Bargaining Agreement is still insufficient to address all the subcontracting that is going on across the country as we speak. All too often management will subcontract untold number of MPE or Building Maintenance functions to the detriment of the workforce. What is needed here is that when subcontractors are in the buildings, Techs, MPE Mechanics, Building Mechanics and Custodians must walk right up to their supervisors and look them in the eye and say "Youíre contracting out my work. I want to see a steward right away." If you are not willing to do that; then youíre willing to let management give away our work and get away with whatever else they want.
More often than not, management is assigning our work to subcontractors out of their own personal convenience (less paperwork) and in violation of the language of Articles 19 & 32 and they are hoping that weíre either not paying attention or glad to not have to be doing that given job. The membership should never allow this to happen. All of us as members have to be willing to step up to the plate and see the steward off the workroom floor on the clock as is our right. Federal labor law prohibits us from going on strike but it does allow us to take time on the clock to meet with our stewards off the workroom floor and file grievances. General President Moe Lepore has been telling this to us for years "Withhold your labor! Meet with your steward!"
We should all listen to his advice and act upon it. If done collectively AND in large numbers it can be a very, very effective tool in our fight against management. Theyíll respond one way or another when they canít get all the work done because weíre spending time meeting with our stewards. You see, you canít expect your stewards to fight these fights by themselves. Itís needed for the membership to make those requests to see their stewards and withhold their labor if any of our efforts are to come to fruition.
This also leads me to one of the latest workroom floor fights. Clock hits. Management unilaterally changed the policy of allowing the maintenance employees the ability to clock in within eight units of our begin and end times. What is known as the "five-minute leeway rule" (8 units) allows us to hit the clock within 8 units of our begin or end times and/or our lunch hits so long as our entire day adds up to between 792 and 808 units. Management has been locking up the time badges and withholding them until the exact moment of your begin time and sometimes causing employees to hit late after their actual begin time, costing some us of units of Holiday premium, Sunday premium and even Overtime pay.
I ask each member to get with their stewards individually or as a group (preferably as a group) and develop a strategy on how to respond to this latest assault by management. Our ability to hit the clock 8 units in either direction of our scheduled time is in compliance with our contract and all postal regulations and has been a past practice in place in the Boston District for at least 3 decades. There are numerous arbitrations that support this and the awards force management to come to the bargaining table if they want to change a past practice. But they donít want to bargain over this because they know theyíll have a fight on their hands and canít demonstrate any burden. Theyíre hoping that weíll all just roll over for them like lambs and let them get away with it. I have no intention of doing so. Do you? Then see your steward. There are currently 14 grievances in the system on this issue with many more to come. Thatís a start.
Lastly, Iíd like say a special thanks to steward Howie Holloman for his efforts in spearheading the fight against management for their excessive usage of Laborer-Custodians on elevator operator assignments. Unfortunately, there are certain conditions when these assignments are allowed but instead, management has crossed the line and is doing this all the time, not allowing our people to perform their cleaning routes and are still doubling up routes on other Custodians to compensate. Thatís not in compliance with our contract or the MS-47.
In closing, Iíd like to mention to the membership that we have created a new local Maintenance Craft E-mail address which is linked through our local web page Ė (email@example.com ) The membership can E-mail information to us or ask questions in addition to attending the membership meetings.
Hope everyone got a chance to take a vacation & have a decent summer.
In Union Solidarity
Wayne Greenside, Maintenance Craft President
|Articles From Past Issues . . .|
|JULY/AUGUST 2008 BOSTONIAN
The Loss Of One Of Our Own
Iíd like to preface this article with my thanks to General President Moe Lepore and all of the members of the Boston APWU Executive Board for having the confidence in me to appoint me to fulfill the term of the late Maintenance Craft President Bob Brennan. Also, a special thank you goes out to Steward and former Maintenance Craft President George Tarquinio for nominating me for consideration before the Executive Board. If it were not for both George Tarquinio and Bob Brennan, I would not have been in a position to accept this appointment. These two gentlemen have taught me everything I know and in accepting this appointment I pledge to do my level best in representing the interests of the Maintenance Craft of the Boston Metro Area Local #100.
However, this article is not about me. This is about the loss of one of our own. In the early morning hours of June 1, 2008 the Boston Metro Local lost one of the most dedicated Unionists we have had representing us. The loss of Maintenance Craft President Bob Brennan struck a blow not only to the Maintenance Craft but also to this great Local as a whole. While vigorously representing the Maintenance Craft on so many levels, Bob had also spearheaded many issues dealing with both the safety and security concerns of the rank & file. Many of his efforts benefited all three crafts of this Local as he held managementís feet to the fire on those issues and forced them to improve a host of safety and security conditions within all the facilities in which we work.
For those of you who did not know Bob Brennan, he began his Postal career back in 1989 as one of the old level 6 MPE mechanics at the GMF. After putting his time in on both Tour-1 and Tour-3 he became a level 9 ET in 1991 and came to Tour -2 where, shortly thereafter, he recognized the need to participate in the enforcement of our contract. He then became a steward at the GMF under then General President Steve Albanese and Maint. Craft President George Tarquinio and very quickly let management know that a new soldier was added to the ranks of the maintenance stewards. In 1999 Bob was elected to the position of Maintenance Craft President and served this local in that capacity for three terms until his untimely death this past June. For us in maintenance, Bob joins the ranks of the many maintenance craft members we have lost over the years. We remember them all as Union Brothers and friends. Folks like Steve Clifford, Harry Branch, Ken McDonald, Nick Bird and Don Toland. Jim Kane, Bob Dovidio, Herb Robey and Jim McCormack. Frank Costa, Ken Cerone, Rich Varteresian and Paul Hanlon. I could go on and on. Sadly, each one of these members and so many more left us all too soon. However, for Bob, his loss is felt differently. He was the man who helped us with our FMLA paper work or argued on our behalf at Step 2 hearings or testified for us at MSPB and arbitration hearings. On many occasions he was there to straighten out that bid we were supposed get or to get us out of that promotion we didnít really want. He was there trying to keep management from running roughshod over our custodians and he was also there to help minimize the impact on us when management closed or reduced a station or branch and excessed our jobs. Those that used to work in Braintree, Chelsea, the PMF and MTEC all know what Iím talking about. They still have jobs at the Postal Service within our Local because Bob demanded that the contract be followed. Bob was a dedicated Union activist who truly believed in what he did and he developed a style of dealing with management that made him a force to be reckoned with. He put on a face that always kept management guessing as to what his next move would be, but beneath that gruff exterior beat the heart of man that cared about all of us as he aided a lot of people over the years as both Steward and President and always acted on our collective behalf with our best interests at heart.
Among the stewards, his loss will also be felt for a long time to come. Bob taught us all as stewards to write our grievances as if they were going directly to an arbitrator because he knew that management would avoid settling cases at the lower levels at all costs. He reminded us so often that many arbitrators have no clue as to what our grievances are about and he had us write them in such way as to educate those arbitrators and get our point across to them as clearly as possible. He knew that we could not always win every grievance but it never stopped him from trying. In many a discussion in the Union office, Bob would play devilís advocate to both clerk and maintenance steward alike, helping us to refine and solidify our position on many an issue. Like Paul Kilduff said, Iím sure that Bob is in heaven debating with someone.
However, our loss cannot hold a candle to the loss that Bobís family now endures. Bob is survived by his wonderful wife Cindy (a clerk at the GMF) and three equally wonderful children ranging in ages from 13 to 27. He was the patriarch of his family and was deeply devoted to them, always putting them first. He and his wife have raised three extremely intelligent and successful children and he always expressed a deep sense of pride in their accomplishments. Without a doubt, he was the proud papa. I can only imagine how they must feel and ask that we all keep them in our prayers.
In closing, it is with a heavy heart that I write this article because for me, Bobís death was not only the loss of a co-worker and fellow Union Brother but he was also my close friend. He imparted to me many life lessons from concepts of friendship and loyalty to discussions on sports and even religion but most of all, he taught me to live life for life itself and to cherish and enjoy every day. For that, and so much more, I will miss him dearly. Rest in peace, Bob.
Farewell my friend. FarewellÖ
In Union Solidarity,
Maintenance Craft President
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|JUNE 2008 BOSTONIAN
Maintenance In TransitionAs reported in the previous issue of the Bostonian, many changes were on the horizon for the maintenance craft. Changes that can have a major effect on all of us. For the most part, these changes, are having a positive effect.
Northwest and the FSS
The latest news on the coming FSS machines is that managementís plans are still on track with the target date for the first machine installation to be 10 months from now in March of í09. Our last report spoke of the new ET-10 positions that were being added to the compliment at NWB. As of the writing of this article, 2 new positions have been awarded to successful bidders with another 2 currently posted for bid. Personnel who acquire any of the ET bids relative to Northwest will assume the schedule of the bid but will temporarily remain at their current facility until notified to relocate. Relocation will occur as additional staffing is needed at NWB and/or when the FSS machine installations begin.
Those Northwest personnel who remain domiciled at the GMF will be co-mingled with the GMF personnel for purposes of holiday, vacation and overtime scheduling but they will have a separate list with which to bid for training billets. With that being said, it appears that the first FSS training billets will not to be ready until the beginning of the next fiscal year in little less than 5 months. A quick glance at the training program shows that there will be a 6 week MPE-9 Mechanic course and a 5 week ET-10 course. However the ETís will not get off so lightly. The ETís will have to attend both the 6 week MPE course as well as the 5 week ET course for a total of 11 weeks. Whew! Reminds me of the days with the old OCRís and the old LSM-ZMTís.
Just donít bring back the old Couch Tower. Once the training billets have been acquired they will be posted for bid for all the Northwest personnel who are domiciled in Northwest and the GMF combined. Training billets are to be awarded to those employees in accordance with Article 38 section 6 even though they may be domiciled in different locations. The Boston Metro Local and management have entered into a Memorandum Of Understanding concerning this and copies will be sent out to all maintenance stewards. MS-47 and other maintenance staffing
Management had been in the process of reviewing the custodial staffing at each Postal facility, station, branch and Associate Office of the Boston Metro Area Local. The information on these staffing packages has been coming in by dribs and drabs and we are reviewing them one by each. It appears on the surface that management will not make any changes to the buildings where a sub-contactor is being used. Unfortunately, the formula (the 18,000 sq. ft. rule) regarding their authority to utilize sub-contractors in certain sized facilities was unaffected by the recent Shyman Das settlement award.
In the meantime we will be working closely with APWU National Business Agent Rick Logan. Rick, as a former staffing advocate, has a great deal of expertise in this area and he will be of great assistance to us in gathering and reviewing the staffing packages and ensuring compliance with the award. He also has knowledge of the USPS Southeast New England District management personnel which will help us gather and review the custodial staffing packages for all of the 020 associate Offices south of Boston.
Since the end of April we have added 8 new Laborer-Custodians to our craft. One had transferred from the Motor Vehicle craft with another 7 transferring in from the Clerk craft. Weíd like to welcome these members to our craft and we wish them well in their new maintenance careers. The addition of these folks to the ranks of the Laborer-Custodians will be a great help in relieving some of the staffing shortage that occupational group had been experiencing. However, more vacancies still exist and additional people will still be needed. There are a number people still wending their way through the hiring process and we should see some of them filling those vacancies in the near future.
Weíve also seen the addition of 2 new ET-10ís, 4 new level 9 MPE Mechanics as well as 3 new level 7 Maintenance Mechanics. These employees have filled some of those vacancies that were causing staffing shortages in the ET-10 and MPE-9 occupational groups; especially on Tour-3 at the GMF. Weíd like to welcome those folks to maintenance and to the ranks of the Boston APWU seeing as some came in "off the street" and the others transferred in from the Letter Carrier and Mail Handler crafts. FMO and the 4/10 workweek
General President Moe Lepore has entered into a new Memorandum Of Understanding concerning the 4 day/10 hour per day workweek for the Field Maintenance Operations section. Once again the FMO personnel were afforded the opportunity to participate in the 4/10 pilot program. The pilot program created via the 2006-2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement requires both parties to be in agreement to participate in the program. The FMO section participated for 12 months in 2007 but management was only willing to restart the program for 6 months in 2008 during daylight savings time.
Thus, an agreement was reached to open the program again and approximately 70% of the FMO personnel have opted to participate and will begin their new schedules effective May 10th. The Boston Metro Local is hopeful that the continued success of the 4/10 program at Fort Point Station and the FMO section of maintenance will someday provide the same opportunities for other APWU members in the future.
In closing, weíd like to thank the members of maintenance who have heeded our advice in standing together with their brothers & sisters by requesting to meet with their stewards and providing statements to them concerning a variety of issues. This level of solidarity and participation by the membership is always necessary and was extremely helpful in dealing with many battleground issues on Tour-3 at the GMF. As such, we were able to achieve some dťtente with management and we can now get back to doing our jobs. That is not to say that the fight is over. The fight will never be over. It is just hotter in some spots than others. It appears now that Tour-1 may be the latest hot spot in our battles with management. It always seems that when new supervisors are brought in to a section we end up fighting the same battles anew. Well, thatís why weíre Union members. We have to educate management that we have a contract and that all of us stand ready to enforce it.
In Union Solidarity
Wayne Greenside, Maintenance Steward Tour-2 GMF
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BOSTONIAN ARTICLE October 2007
Asbestos, what you do not know will kill you!
Asbestos fibers can enter the body whenever a person is in the presence of airborne asbestos particles. These particles can become embedded in the tissues of the respiratory or digestive systems through simple inhalation or digestion. Exposure to asbestos can cause disabling or fatal diseases such as asbestosis, an emphysema-like condition; lung cancer; mesothelioma, a cancerous tumor that spreads rapidly in the cells of membranes covering the lungs and body organs; and gastrointestinal cancer.
The real danger of exposure is that you may be unaware that you are being exposed to asbestos and the symptoms of these diseases generally do not appear for 20 or more years after initial exposure. This is why the OSHA standards are so exacting! This being said, know that the USPS has identified all ACMís (asbestos containing materials) with a red letter A. All except the floors. It is common knowledge that some floor tiles have asbestos in them. This has caused a great deal of anxiety/concern amongst those working on or around these tiles.
How safe working around these tiles as well as the correct way to handle/remove and dispose of these tiles will be the subject of this article. First let me give you some information. OSHA classifies various kinds of asbestos removal/construction in order to ensure that they are handled properly. The OSHA standard establishes a classification system for asbestos construction work that spells out mandatory, simple, technological work practices that employers must follow to reduce worker exposures. Under this system, the following four classes of construction work are matched with increasingly stringent control requirements:
Class I asbestos work is the most potentially hazardous class of asbestos jobs. This work involves the removal of asbestos-containing thermal system insulation and sprayed-on or troweled-on surfacing materials. Employers must presume that thermal system insulation and surfacing material found in pre-1981 construction is ACM.
That presumption, however, is rebuttable. If you believe that the surfacing material or thermal system insulation is not ACM, the OSHA standard specifies the means that you must use to rebut that presumption. Thermal system insulation includes ACM applied to pipes, boilers, tanks, ducts, or other structural components to prevent heat loss or gain. Surfacing materials include decorative plaster on ceilings and walls; acoustical materials on decking, walls, and ceilings; and fireproofing on structural members.
Class II work includes the removal of other types of ACM that are not thermal system insulation such as resilient flooring and roofing materials. Examples of Class II work include removal of asbestos-containing floor or ceiling tiles, siding, roofing, or transite panels.
Class III asbestos work includes repair and maintenance operations where ACM or presumed ACM (PACM) are disturbed.
Class IV work includes custodial activities where employees clean up asbestos-containing waste and debris produced by construction, maintenance, or repair activities. This work involves cleaning dust-contaminated surfaces, vacuuming contaminated carpets, mopping floors, and cleaning up ACM or PACM from thermal system insulation or surfacing material.
Any wholesale removal of (ACM) will fall under class I or class II. The main difference between class I and II is, class I is considered friable materials and class II is non-friable. Friable is used in thermal applications (Heating systems, ducts etc.). Whenever the Postal service removes class I or Class II they use contractors like the one that performed the test in the GMF on the asbestos containing floor tiles on the platform.
l, along with John Coburn, a fellow member of the Boston District safety and health committee, was present during this testing and monitored the conditions and the (interim) results. The purpose of the testing was to gather objective data on the safety and efficiency of 4 different models of hepa-drills used to drill into these tiles. Objective Data is a necessary requirement of OSHA in fashioning an acceptable method of removal. We currently use Hepa-drills here in Boston.
The rest of the country uses different drills depending on what part of the country they happen to work in. The purpose of the testing here in Boston was two fold first to gather objective data to establish that the Hepa-drills met the OSHA standards of 0.1 f/cc (fibers per cubic centimeter) as an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA) and an airborne concentration of no more than 1 f/cc average over a 30 minute sampling period. This was accomplished easily we do not have any worries using these Hepa-drills. The second test was a shaving cream test. During this test the contractorís piles shaving cream on the tile then drilled through the tile without any Hepa-vacuum attached. the ambient air was monitored and tested to standard and the initial testing results looks like it is also meets the OSHA standards. Both of these tests are being compiled/formalized and upon completion will be provided to the UNION.
Based on my observations and experience, I believe the shaving cream, which is widely used in the industry, will work in the drilling application and will eventually be adopted by the USPS as an acceptable method for drilling in the floor tiles. We will always be able to use the Hepa-vacs if we wish, but trust me I believe the vast majority of my trained mechanics will use the shaving cream method because of its simplicity as well as ease of use/safety. Currently, when there is a need to remove a small amount of these tiles from the floor, approximately 9 feet by 9 feet, the field maintenance office has trained employees who are capable of removing these tiles safely. Just what is safely I will now discuss.
OSHA states that employers may use different or modified engineering and work practice controls under the following conditions:
If they can demonstrate that employee exposure will not exceed the PEL (permissible exposure limits) under any anticipated circumstances; and
If a competent person evaluates the work area, the projected work practices, and the engineering controls and certifies, in writing, that these different or modified controls will reduce all employee exposure to or below the PELs under all expected conditions of use and that they meet the requirements of the standard. This evaluation must include, and be based on, data representing employee exposure during use of the controls under conditions closely resembling those of the current job. Also, the employees participating in the evaluation must not have better training and more experience than that of the employees who are to perform the current job.
This is the reason for gathering objective Data, it is to establish that the exposure will not exceed the PEL. Further, OSHA considers the removing of these tiles as maintenance or repair activities, therefore no negative pressure containment requirement is necessary.
However OSHA mandates that when removing any Class II ACM , employers must ensure that the trained employees observe the following:
The area to be cleared must not contain friable asbestos material.
The project must be limited in scope, it cannot be a wholesale clearing of materials. (9ft X 9ft is standard)
Identify and contain the area that will be worked. Tape, cones etc are sufficient.
Do not cut, abrade, or break the material unless infeasible; Remove the material intact, if possible
Use a Hepa-vacuum when removing tiles.
Wet the material thoroughly with amended water before and during removal; Bag or wrap removed ACM immediately or keep it wet until transferred to a closed receptacle no later than the end of the work shift.
The Bags must be marked, labeled as asbestos and the name of the generator (USPS) applied.
The question then becomes how dangerous are the tiles that break when being removed? How dangerous are the tiles that are on the floor and are damaged? What about tiles that are breaking up when equipment go over them? Can the breaking of tiles place asbestos into the ambient air? How can we be sure? Because of the nature of the danger we must be absolutely sure! How could I fashion a test that would completely alleviate any reasonable fears? I decided to conduct my own test, one that I believed would answer these questions!
I first had to duplicate the possible conditions under which these tiles could present a danger. What if there were tiles that were broken slightly and heavy equipment/traffic were pounding them repeatedly? Could this scenario place asbestos fibers into the ambient air? This is a plausible scenario! I had to figure out a way to abuse the already damaged tiles, control the environment, monitor the results as well as incorporate them into the testing already going on!
For this I had to ask help from my good friend John Freitas, the senior project manager for URS company, they were overseeing the tests. I observed that the floor tiles were covered with holes from the test drilling. I knew that since the test area was already contained and sealed the contractors would just remove the damaged tiles quickly and be gone. I asked John Freitas if he would have his contractors continue to monitor the ambient air while removing the tiles. This was done to see how the breaking of the tiles affected the sampling.
To help create the worst case scenario, one that recreated the pounding of the broken tiles by heavy equipment, I asked that the tiles not just be removed, but be broken as they were being removed. In fact the contractor took a hammer and chisel to the tiles before placing them in the double bagged containers. If this did not create asbestos fibers in excess of the PEL (permissible acceptable limit) then certainly no equipment or rolling stock, of any kind, would either!
Mr. Freitas agreed and stayed until the wee hours of the morning breaking each and every tile, all the while recording the results. The initial results confirm what we believed all along, the tiles do not pose a threat when removed properly, drilled into according to current standard or when subjected to normal wear and tear!
What this does prove is that when slightly broken tiles are pounded with postal equipment they do not pose an asbestos danger. This does not mean that we will condone broken or damaged tiles, on the contrary, please report any damaged tiles to your local safety and health committee, because even though they do not pose an asbestos problem, any defective tile represents a slip trip and fall hazard and this will not be tolerated.
When the official results are finalized I will give you the actual statistics from the ambient air testing. I would like to thank John Freitas personally for his invaluable help in creating and testing the conditions necessary to prove or disprove our hypothesis. I would also like to express my gratitude to our General President Moe Lepore for his insisting that the safety and health committee investigate the possible dangers that these floor tiles may pose and then take whatever measures necessary to protect the safety and health of all our members!
This gave me the opportunity to become involved in the testing procedures and learn more about the dangers of asbestos. I can now answer, with even more confidence, the questions and concerns of our members on this most important of safety issues!
Thank you for your time.
Bob Brennan, Maintenance Craft President!