Safety Info

D.O.T. Physicals

   

FROM THE OFFICE OF BILL WEAVER, M.V.S. CRAFT PRESIDENT, BOSTON METRO AREA LOCAL 100
M.V.S. CRAFT BOSTONIAN ARTICLES
FOURTH QUARTER 2011 ISSUE
                                   M.V.S. CRAFT REPORT

By the time you read this article, Thanksgiving will have passed and Christmas will be fast approaching. As you all know, the union and management have been at great odds over the 2010 - 2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement (C.B.A.). It was my hope that the new language in the C.B.A. would be clear and without ambiguity, but that is not the case.


In my opinion, this is the most ambiguous C.B.A. ever. This has caused great mental and financial hardship to our members; specifically our former Part-Time Flexibles (PTFs) who were converted to Full-Time Regulars on August 27, 2011. These people are not being allowed to work their non-scheduled days and M.V.S. supervisors are telling them it’s because of the union. The supervisors are telling them the union has filed grievances saying they cannot work overtime.

I want to assure everyone that the only grievances filed on N/S overtime for the newly converted Full-Time Regulars are grievances that state their rights are being violated by management because they are being denied their contractual right to work N/S overtime. The union is fighting for them – not against them. The union has filed grievances stating they should be 40-hour employees. We have filed grievances stating they should have been awarded the holddown they bid on. We have filed over 100 grievances on behalf of our newly converted Full-Time Regular brothers and sisters. Your union will never stop fighting for your contractual rights. What the supervisors are telling you is B.S. It is unprofessional – and if it does not stop, the union will file an Unfair Labor Charge with the Labor Board.

These are trying times. We are fighting for our survival. There are politicians in Washington, DC, who think the Postal Service should be dismantled and privatized. There are those who say we make too much money. I am sick and tired of multi-millionaires and billionaires saying I make too much money because I make $55,000 a year. I am sick of politicians in Washington who say postal workers need to contribute more money toward their health care premiums. They are also saying – we need to look into their pension plans. They are trying to get us to contribute more and the Postal Service less, and make us work longer before we can retire.

These same politicians get free health care and serve one term (or 6 years) and get a pension equal to 90% of their pay – for life! These same politicians enact legislation that place bigger burdens on us (the middle class), yet they are not subject to the same rules.

Brothers and sisters, I am sick of fat cat politicians and corporate executives trying to destroy our Collective Bargaining Agreement and everything else we have worked for our whole lives – just so they can enhance their own positions. We as postal workers and union members need to band together to fight these injustices. We need to stop bashing each other and the union that is working for us. We need to redirect our displeasure and criticism towards the people who are truly trying to destroy us. Sorry for ranting but I am MAD - as you should be. In spite of all this, I hope everyone has a Happy and Safe Holiday Season.

Semper Fi,

Bill Weaver

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THIRD QUARTER 2011 ISSUE
                                   M.V.S. CRAFT REPORT

The ink on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) has barely dried and management is blatantly violating its terms.

On Monday August 8, 2011, John Timmons, Manager, Postal Vehicle Service provided me with a spreadsheet stating, "Here are the Flexible Non-Traditional Full Time Schedules we will be providing to the PTF’s for 8/27." The spreadsheet listed fourteen (14) schedules with start times and non-scheduled days, of which only three had consecutive off days.

After reviewing the schedules, I called Mr. Timmons and informed him that the union was not going to agree to split days for these non-traditional duty assignments. The CBA states, "…transportation and vehicle maintenance facility operations will have consecutive days off, unless otherwise agreed to by the parties at the local level." Mr. Timmons said that he would relay the information to Mr. Kennedy, Manager, Transportation and Networks.

A few days later Mr. Kennedy called me about this issue and stated that during the last round of local negotiations the union stated that it was not going to demand that all schedules have consecutive days off. This was true—and our position on this matter has not changed. We believe split days off can be beneficial for both you "APWU member" and the postal service in certain circumstances (e.g. Tour 1 Vehicle Operations). However, we have not agreed to split off days for these particular non-traditional duty assignments for numerous reasons.

Management carelessly put these schedules together without any input from the APWU and with willful disregard for you—our membership. Specifically, on August 15, 2011, management provided every part-time flexible with a letter stating that they were to be converted to full-time regular status effective August 27, 2011 and on that date "you will become an unassigned regular and be provided with the following flexible non-traditional full time work schedule." It also stated, "Your start times and off days may be changed from week to week subject to a Wednesday of the prior week notification."

The letter further provided each employee with a duty assignment that contained a start time, end time, and non-scheduled days. Out of the fourteen assignments, only three (3) had consecutive non-scheduled days, while thirteen of the fourteen only had thirty-four hours per week with one assignment having thirty-four and one-half (34.5).

Shortly after August 15, 2011, I called Mr. Kennedy to schedule a meeting to discuss this situation. At that meeting I put forward the union’s concerns and informed Mr. Kennedy that management’s actions were in violation of numerous provisions of the CBA. Specifically, I told Mr. Kennedy that management could not arbitrarily place unassigned regulars into newly established duty assignments. The CBA clearly states that all newly established full-time duty assignments must be posted for bid all full-time regulars. Furthermore, I informed him that unassigned regulars can only be placed into "residual vacancies." In other words, the new duty assignments must go up for bid, and then whatever vacancies are leftover at the end of the bidding process would go the unassigned regulars by seniority.

I also informed Mr. Kennedy that employees occupying these new duty assignments cannot have their start times and non-scheduled days changed week to week. Employees occupying these positions are not NTFT employees—they are full time employees occupying NTFT assignments. The term flexible non-traditional duty assignment does not give management the right to change these duty assignments week to week, rather it solely grants them the right to establish "flexible" assignments that consist of work hours that range from thirty (30) to forty-four (44) hours per week as opposed to the traditional assignments of forty (40) hours per week consisting of five (5) eight (8) hour work days.

Furthermore, in the Motor Vehicle Craft the CBA provides that the hours and non-scheduled days an unassigned full time employee works in their first week as an unassigned full-time employee are the hours and non-scheduled days they will maintain until such time that they are a successful bidder on a duty assignment. Since these assignments did not go up for bid their hours and non-scheduled days cannot be changed.

Be assured—we are pursuing each and every violation in an effort to protect your rights under the CBA and insure equity in the workplace.

While we are on the subject of protecting your rights it has come to my attention that a couple of employees in Vehicle Operations, one on Tour 1 and one on Tour 3 are spreading misinformation about the CBA. I don’t understand why these employees choose to be management tools, but their half-truths could prove costly if someone were to make a bad decision based on their propaganda.

Please, if you have any questions about your rights under the CBA—see your steward or speak to me directly. I am here Monday-Friday and I usually hit all three tours in the course of a work week. If you do not have the opportunity to see me, put a note in the union box in the General Dispatch Office and I will get in contact with you.

Semper Fi, Bill Weaver

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SECOND QUARTER 2011 ISSUE
                   
M.V.S. CRAFT REPORT

The contract has been ratified, as everyone knows. This has been the most controversial contract by far, in my memory. There was a lot of mis-information being circulated, which added to the anxiety and confusion. People thought their world was coming to an end. Don’t get me wrong; I am not trying to belittle anyone. I am a little apprehensive with some of the possible scenarios that have been voiced; but for the most part, the scenarios that have been raised - management could have done any way.

I truly believe that, as a whole, this is a good contract. This contract has great potential for the Motor Vehicle Craft to recapture lost work and gain new work. In vehicle maintenance, 740 new vehicle technicians and lead technicians will be created. A minimum of 600 Highway Contract Routes (HCR) will be converted to Postal Vehicle Service (P.V.S.) Routes.

Part-Time Flexible (PTF) and Part-Time Regular (PTR) positions will be eliminated from the M.V.S. Craft. The PTFs will be converted to Full-Time Flexible (FTF), and will be guaranteed a minimum of 30 hours a week, as opposed to 4 hours a pay period now. As a FTF, you will be able to make plans with your family for the upcoming week as you will know your work schedule by the Wednesday prior.

I believe we need to focus on the positive aspects of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). We have retained our "No Layoff" provision. That in itself is HUGE! I know of no other company in this country to have a no layoff provision in their contract. A close friend of mine was laid off from his job 4 years ago. He has yet to find a job. It’s not for a lack of trying. He is 59 years old. He goes to interviews every week, and although it’s not said, companies want to hire the younger person. Most of us fit into his category. The average age of a postal worker is 54 years old.

I feel fortunate to have a "No Layoff" provision for the next 4 years. The anticipated pay increases over the life of the contract for a level 6, step O, is $4,200.00. That will put most of us in M.V.S. at about $60,000 per year, or about $29.00 per hour base pay.

The driver for the union freight trucking company (Teamsters) that makes weekly deliveries to the V.M.F. stockroom, says they have taken several pay cuts to keep their job. He is currently making $16.00 per hour and is driving a tractor trailer with a 45' box, probably making 25 or 30 deliveries and pick-ups daily. Again, I feel very fortunate in these uneasy economic times to have this contract.

There truly are a lot of people in this country who are hurting. People are losing their homes. They are losing everything they have worked their whole life to obtain. Their families are being displaced. In that respect I do feel fortunate. That is my take on this new contract. I respect everyone’s opinion. I hope we can focus on the positive aspect of this contract and come together as a union and continue to fight the injustices.

Semper Fi, Bill
              --------------------------

FIRST QUARTER 2011 ISSUE


ARBITRATION ON P.V.S. RELOCATION TO NORTHWEST BOSTON
SUSTAINED IN UNION FAVOR


History of P.V.S. relocation to Northwest Boston

In May of 2002, the Postal Service in Boston released their report from the Breakthrough Productivity Initiative Committee (B.P.I.). The B.P.I. Committee was a postal management team that came to Boston to do a complete review of Postal Vehicle Service (P.V.S.) in Boston. Their goal was to CUT COST.

As a result of the B.P.I. - P.V.S. Review in Boston, one of the recommendations by the committee was to domicile part of the P.V.S. fleet at the Northwest Boston plant. The union never disputed management’s right to realign, or the relocation of part of the P.V.S. fleet. The union objected to the manner in which they did it. Management unilaterally abolished runs and declared the bid holders unassigned regular employees. The runs that were abolished were runs that primarily operated out of the Northwest Boston plant.

All management was doing was deleting the travel time to and from Boston and Northwest Boston from the preferred duty assignments (schedules). They then, in many cases, added in unassigned time to make up schedules of eight hours; then assigned the same runs to the very same drivers who had the runs prior to the relocation to Northwest Boston.

The union contended that the new runs should have been posted for bid as preferred duty assignments, as specified in Article 39. In some cases, the drivers that were unilaterally assigned to report to Northwest Boston had their travel time doubled, along with the cost of transportation. Some employees take public transportation to work. There is no public transportation that goes to the Northwest Boston plant. So you can see that in some cases the forced relocation caused a great burden to some employees.

On November 29, 2002, the union filed a grievance. On December 16, 2010, the grievance was heard at an arbitration hearing in Boston, MA. On February 3, 2011, the arbitrator ruled that the Postal Service violated Article 39 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The arbitrator wrote in part, "There is no monetary remedy because the positions were posted for bidding in March 2004, and there was no demonstrable harm to any affected driver. Management shall cease and desist from future violations."

It is rulings like this that make you want to pull your hair out. How can an arbitrator say there was no harm to any affected driver? Tell that to the employee who lives 3 miles from the Boston VMF and now has a 36 mile round trip to work at Northwest Boston. Tell the employee who takes public transportation to work that he was not harmed when he had to buy a car and pay insurance because management unilaterally violated the CBA and involuntarily assigned him to the Northwest Boston plant.

If the Postal Service repeatedly violates the CBA and incurs no monetary penalty, it does not behoove them to follow the CBA. When an employee does not follow the rules, he or she gets a suspension from work with no pay (a fine). Management calls it a "corrective action".

In this arbitration, management should have been given a corrective action.

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I am reprinting the following article because so many employees have questioned why doctors are questioning them about sleep apnea.


D.O.T. PHYSICALS

Recently a couple of our M.V.S. truck drivers went to take their D.O.T. physicals. During the examination, the doctor asked them a series of questions such as: Does your wife say you snore loud? Does she wake you up because you stop breathing? Do you fall asleep in a chair? Do you have daytime sleepiness, lack of energy, etc.?

If you answer "Yes" to some or all of these questions, the doctor wants you to have a sleep study. Also, the doctor would evaluate your physical appearance. If your neck size is 17" or larger, and/or your body mass index is greater than 33, the doctor wants you to have a sleep study.

A sleep study typically involves going to a hospital around 9:00PM. You are hooked up to a monitor, and they evaluate you while you sleep. You leave the hospital at around 5:00 or 6:00AM, and based on their finding, you either have sleep apnea or you don’t. This sleep study can cost $2,000.00 or more. Depending on your medical insurance, you could be responsible for some or all of the cost of the test.

One of the truck drivers answered "No" to all the questions, but based on his physical appearance, the doctor only gave him a three (3) month D.O.T. medical card, and wants him to get a sleep study.

I have asked the Postal Service to schedule and pay for the test, as it was their contract doctor who ordered the test. They should pay for it or at least pay the employee’s co-payment.

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The U. S. Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) - Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states their core mission is SAFETY. We are dedicated to eliminating crashes and fatalities on our roadways.

One of the FMCSA’s major concerns is sleep apnea and its effects on truck drivers.

This information was found on the following websites, APNEA.com, and sleepsafedrivers.com.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a chronic condition in which the air passage in the throat becomes blocked during sleep. Often caused by a relaxed soft palate (which is also associated with snoring), an apnea blockage prevents oxygen from entering the lungs for at least ten seconds or longer. When this happens, the oxygen level in the bloodstream falls. The body reacts by waking up and taking control of the throat muscles to re-open the airway. Bed partners often report hearing the person gasping or choking for air, then falling back to sleep again.

The cycle repeats itself throughout the night. In fact, blockages occurring hundreds of times per night have been reported in some patients with OSA.

The FMCSA says, from our estimates, almost three out of ten truck drivers currently suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea. And we know from our research that drivers with severe sleep apnea are known to be at a much, much greater risk of being involved in a severe crash. Fatigue is estimated to be an associated factor in 13% of all truck crashes annually, and 28% of single vehicle truck crashes, based on the large truck crash causation study.

Another study says sleep apnea affects about 6 - 12% of the overall adult male population (less for women) – but a remarkable 28 - 30% of truck drivers. This high prevalence rate is a clear result of the fact that as a job category, trucking has the highest rate of obesity, and obesity leads to Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

If you believe you may have sleep apnea, you should talk to your doctor about it. If you have sleep apnea and get it under control, your health and well being will be greatly enhanced.

Semper Fi, Bill

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FOURTH QUARTER 2010 ISSUE

CASUAL GRIEVANCE SUSTAINED


The union filed a grievance at Step 1 in September 2008. We were challenging management’s decision to employ casual motor vehicle operators after the choice vacation period. This grievance covers a time period from September 2008 through January 2009.

On September 16, 2010, the union presented its case before Arbitrator Gary Wooters. On October 15, 2010, Arbitrator Wooters ruled in favor of the union. Arbitrator Wooters’ award states, in part, "Management violated Article 7 of the National Agreement when it employed casual employees in lieu of career M.V.S. Craft employees".

Now the union and management have to work out the hours involved, and the amount to be paid. Arbitrator Wooters retained jurisdiction for purposes of administering the remedy. More info to follow as it becomes available.

In January 2009, the union filed another casual grievance which is ongoing and awaiting arbitration.

D.O.T. PHYSICALS

Recently a couple of our M.V.S. truck drivers went to take their D.O.T. physicals. During the examination, the doctor asked them a series of questions such as: Does your wife say you snore loud? Does she wake you up because you stop breathing? Do you fall asleep in a chair? Do you have daytime sleepiness, lack of energy, etc.?

If you answer "Yes" to some or all of these questions, the doctor wants you to have a sleep study. Also, the doctor would evaluate your physical appearance. If your neck size is 17" or larger, and/or your body mass index is greater than 33, the doctor wants you to have a sleep study.

A sleep study typically involves going to a hospital around 9:00PM. You are hooked up to a monitor, and they evaluate you while you sleep. You leave the hospital at around 5:00 or 6:00AM, and based on their finding, you either have sleep apnea or you don’t. This sleep study can cost $2,000.00 or more. Depending on your medical insurance, you could be responsible for some or all of the cost of the test.

One of the truck drivers answered "No" to all the questions, but based on his physical appearance, the doctor only gave him a three (3) month D.O.T. medical card, and wants him to get a sleep study.

I have asked the Postal Service to schedule and pay for the test, as it was their contract doctor who ordered the test. They should pay for it or at least pay the employee’s co-payment.

                       --------------------------

The U. S. Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) - Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states their core mission is SAFETY. We are dedicated to eliminating crashes and fatalities on our roadways.


One of the FMCSA’s major concerns is sleep apnea and its effects on truck drivers.

This information was found on the following websites, APNEA.com, and sleepsafedrivers.com.


What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a chronic condition in which the air passage in the throat becomes blocked during sleep. Often caused by a relaxed soft palate (which is also associated with snoring), an apnea blockage prevents oxygen from entering the lungs for at least ten seconds or longer. When this happens, the oxygen level in the bloodstream falls. The body reacts by waking up and taking control of the throat muscles to re-open the airway. Bed partners often report hearing the person gasping or choking for air, then falling back to sleep again.


The cycle repeats itself throughout the night. In fact, blockages occurring hundreds of times per night have been reported in some patients with OSA.


The FMCSA says, from our estimates, almost three out of ten truck drivers currently suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea. And we know from our research that drivers with severe sleep apnea are known to be at a much, much greater risk of being involved in a severe crash. Fatigue is estimated to be an associated factor in 13% of all truck crashes annually, and 28% of single vehicle truck crashes, based on the large truck crash causation study.

 

Another study says sleep apnea affects about 6 - 12% of the overall adult male population (less for women) – but a remarkable 28 - 30% of truck drivers. This high prevalence rate is a clear result of the fact that as a job category, trucking has the highest rate of obesity, and obesity leads to Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).


If you believe you may have sleep apnea, you should talk to your doctor about it. If you have sleep apnea and get it under control, your health and well being will be greatly enhanced.


In closing, I would like to wish all a Happy and Health Holiday Season!


Semper Fi,

Bill

                         - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THIRD QUARTER 2010 ISSUE

MOTOR VEHICLE CRAFT CONFERENCE

DETROIT, MICHIGAN, AUGUST 21 and 22


It comes as no surprise to anyone that the major topic of discussion was the subcontracting out of Motor Vehicle craft work, vehicle maintenance work and highway contract routes.

As you all know, Article 32 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement deals with subcontracting. The General Principles of Article 32 state, "The employer will give due consideration to public interest, cost, efficiency, availability of equipment, and qualification of employees when evaluating the need to subcontract." Management says that all they have to do when making a decision to contract out is to give due consideration to the five factors in Article 32.

It does not matter that it sometimes cost the Postal Service two or three times more money to subcontract out the work than doing it in-house.

It does not matter that we are more efficient. It does not matter that we have all the equipment and qualified personnel to do the work.

Lastly, it does not matter that the public interest would be better served if the Postal Service kept the work in-house as we could provide better service at a better rate, and better serve the American public.

We hear time and time again in the newspapers, on talk radio and TV, the Postal Service is in dire straits. Yet management continues to subcontract out our work at a greater cost than doing the work in-house by postal employees even at the overtime rate.

Management maintains it’s their right to manage the Postal Service in any way they deem necessary – even if it means mis-managing the company. As one postal manager told a V.M.F. employee, "My man-hours budget is fixed. But, as for my contracting budget, once it is depleted, I request more money and it’s replenished."


NATIONAL CONVENTION
, AUGUST 23 - 27


At the General Assembly of the National Convention, where all crafts of the A.P.W.U. meet, there was a rumor circulating the Convention floor that the Postal Service wanted to give the A.P.W.U. a contract extension for one year. The reason they wanted this was the N.A.L.C. (National Association of Letter Carriers), the Mail Handlers Union and the A.P.W.U. would all come up for contract renewal
at the same time. Then Postal Service would try to take all three unions out of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan (FEHB). Remember, this was rumor!

In response to the rumor, a resolution was drafted and introduced to the delegates instructing our leadership not to agree to any voluntary changes that would affect our participation in the FEHB. The resolution was overwhelmingly adopted.

As you all know, our contract expires on November 20, 2010. The A.P.W.U. and the Postal Service opened contract talks on September 1, 2010, in Washington, DC. The Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee was on hand for the opening ceremony. President Burrus stressed the significant role the Committee will play in contract negotiations, saying "The union negotiating team will rely upon your views as we bargain".

The Rank and File Committee is made up of fourteen individuals from all over the country. All crafts are represented. Boston Metro Local is the only local in the country to have two of its members chosen to be on this prestigious committee. They are local General President, Bob Dempsey, and M.V.S. State President, Mike McDonald. Congratulations to these two worthy brothers.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable and safe summer!

Semper Fi,

Bill Weaver

                 * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
SECOND QUARTER 2010 ISSUE

First Annual New England States Convention


The First Annual New England States Convention was held at the Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina in Newport, RI, April 30 - May 2, 2010. The participating states were Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine and Vermont. Some states had only a couple of delegates, while Massachusetts had 13 locals and 87 delegates participate; but we are confident that each convention will attract more locals and delegates.

When the Massachusetts State Executive Board first started discussing the possibility of putting together a New England States Convention, our thought process was that we live in the same region of the country. We share many of the same workplace and political issues. We are fighting the same beast. We envisioned a three day convention. Friday would be training classes. Saturday from 9:00AM to 12:00PM would be individual state’s conventions. Saturday from 1:00PM to 5:00PM, joint states session where A.P.W.U. National Officers would address the delegates.

Saturday evening delegates and guests attended dinner together with a keynote speaker. On Sunday, 9:00AM, individual states reconvene to finish their business. Then a joint states session to discuss resolutions for submission to the National A.P.W.U. for the National Convention.

We thought if we could all get together in the same place at the same time, we could pool our resources on training and the costs associated with holding a convention. We would get better room rates, meal packages, etc. The Northeast Region Business Agents could go to one convention, instead of four, five or six individual state conventions.

Our national officers in Washington, DC, have had their travel cut back drastically. They are limited to the number of state conventions that they can attend. The fact is not many national officers attend small state conventions. Assistant M.V.S. Director Mike Foster always comes to the Massachusetts State Convention, as does Clerk Craft Director Jim McCarthy, and the Northeast Area Regional Coordinator and National Business Agents. We knew if we could get all the New England States together (with a lot of political clout), our national officers would come, and they did. President Bill Burrus, along with six other national officers, came.

I thought it was a very good first New England States Convention. It will only get better.

The Massachusetts State Convention, once again, was very good! There was a lot of interaction with our brothers and sisters from around the state. National Assistant Motor Vehicle Craft Director, Mike Foster, addressed the convention and was great - as always. Mike has always been there for Boston Metro and the State of Massachusetts, as has National M.V.S. Director, Bob Pritchard.

Massachusetts State Convention delegates endorsed former Boston Metro Local General President, Moe Lepore, for National Organizing Director. We also endorsed Northeast Massachusetts Area Local 366 M.V.S. Director, Steve Mello, for Northeast Area M.V.S. National Business Agent.

Framingham Local merges with Boston Metro. I would like to welcome the Framingham V.M.F. Motor Vehicle Craft members into the Boston Metro Area Local. Boston looks forward to your participating in our local and we look forward to representing you.

Have a safe day!


Semper Fi,

Bill Weaver
                                     -----------------------------


FIRST QUARTER 2010

M.V.S. DRIVER ROBBED AT GUNPOINT

As you all know, another M.V.S. brother was robbed at gunpoint at the Porter Square Post Office in Cambridge on Friday, January 29, 2010.


It was two years and three Christmases ago that we had two of our M.V.S. trucks robbed. One driver was abducted at gunpoint from the Roxbury Post Office. He was told to drive to another location, where he was bound to the steering wheel and his coat pulled over his head. He said he thought it was all over; he was just waiting for the bang!

Two years ago, we had several meetings with postal management and the Inspection Service. The union (Moe Lepore and myself) proposed a number of ideas. First and foremost, we wanted all the Reds off the M.V.S. trucks. We proposed an armored car service pick them up.

The Service said that they had discussed the armored car service scenario, but it was too costly to have an armored car pick up the Reds at a prescribed time. The Service said they were going to look into installing something like a night deposit box like you might see at a bank. That way the armored car service could make the pick-up at any time, and would not have to adhere to a schedule, and it would be cheaper. They would do this at what they had identified some "high risk" stations. But, as you all know, this never materialized.

The union also talked about dedicated M.V.S. runs to just pick up the Reds, where the driver would be accompanied by a Postal Police Officer, but the Postal Police Force has been decimated by staffing cuts.

We also suggested training some M.V.S. drivers, where two M.V.S. drivers would be armed in a truck and just pick up Reds (dedicated M.V.S. runs). This also never materialized.

We talked about the staffing at the stations. Almost all stations only have one or two clerks at the close-out. When it is time to load the mail and the Reds, many times the drivers are left to fend for themselves. I am not blaming the clerks, as they still have things to do to close the station before they go on overtime, and overtime is forbidden. I blame postal management for the short-staffing. We were told that someone would be on the dock until the driver secured the Reds and got into the cab of the truck.

Then the Inspection Service put out a security bulletin on Registered Mail. One of the things it states on the bulletin is, "Whenever possible, have additional postal employee present to observe the transportation vehicle being loaded and secured". "Whenever possible"? With the short-staffing at stations, it’s usually NOT POSSIBLE.

The only thing that postal management did was to change the time that the Reds were picked up at the so-called "high risk" stations. That was two years ago. That is not enough to protect our M.V.S. drivers picking up Registered Mail pouches. Porter Square was - and is not - considered a "high risk" station. This could happen at any station. The bad guys know our routine. We are vulnerable! What will it take for the Service to take substantial steps to protect its employees? We are like an armored truck service – without the armor or the security – ripe for the picking.

I hope the Postal Service’s desire to increase revenue and decrease its operating costs does not get one of us maimed or killed. Budget reductions and staffing reductions are having a major impact on the safety of postal employees.

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EMERGENCY OFF DUTY STATUS FOR VIOLATING S.O.P.

In the September/October 2009 issue of the Bostonian, I wrote that an arbitrator upheld the removal of one of our M.V.S. brothers for violating the Standard Operating Procedure (S.O.P.) for receipt and dispatch of vehicles. Other drivers have been issued seven and fourteen day suspensions.

Two days before this past Christmas, one of our drivers was placed in an Emergency Off Duty Status for allegedly violating the S.O.P. This employee has no past disciplinary issues. He is a great guy – well liked. Comes to work each day and does his job, and does not complain. What did that get him? Four days off at Christmas with NO PAY.

We must follow the S.O.P. We must protect our jobs. Don’t rush or cut corners. That’s when mistakes happen; and when something goes wrong, management will discipline you up to and including Removal. It’s not worth it! Take your time. Be methodical and safe. You will still get your breaks and lunch. Who cares if we are waiting for the expediter or the mailhandler to help us? We are here for eight hours a day. We can wait on the dock or deliver mail. Either way, we get paid. And we protect our job and safety. We are following management rules.

Clerk Craft President, Bob Keough, and I talked to the tour-1 and tour-2 expediters at the General Mail Facility and Northwest Boston (Waltham) facilities. Bob was stressing the importance of following the S.O.P. – locking the keys up. He told them NOT to scan out the truck until it actually leaves. Some expediters said they were told by a supervisor that all trucks must be input as departing "on time" – even if they have not.

Bob told them NOT to do that as they would be falsifying a document, and could be disciplined for that. In fact, some expediters have been disciplined for NOT following the S.O.P. Bob is also telling his expediters to protect their jobs. We all need to work together – expediters and drivers. We need to protect each other. We are all A.P.W.U. brothers and sisters.

I was talking to someone about these very issues. That person told me I sounded like a management advocate. I am not management’s advocate! I am a union advocate. I am your advocate. I want to protect you and your job! Semper Fi.

 ------------------------------------------------

Good Bye, Moe!

Moe Lepore is retiring from Boston Metro Local 100 after thirty-plus years as a union advocate - the last seventeen years as a full time officer. He has been the General President for the last eight years. When I became the M.V.S. Craft President nine years ago, I did not know Moe. I only knew of him. But it was not long before he became one of my dearest friends. His enthusiasm and devotion to the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) is unsurpassed.

We will miss Moe in Boston but, hopefully, the APWU as a whole will reap the rewards of his many years of experience. Moe is retiring from Boston Metro to run for national office as the Director of Organization. This job is a perfect fit for Moe, as anyone who has ever heard Moe speak on "unionism" can attest.

Moe, for all that you have done for this union and the M.V.S. Craft, "THANK YOU"! I know that you can count on the support of the M.V.S. Craft in Boston, just as you did in your last run for local president.

Semper Fi,

Bill


                  -----------------------------------

NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2009

                                  
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!

I would like to start by wishing all of you and your families a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!


First, about sixteen months ago we were successful in having your Social Security Number (SSN) deleted from management’s form entitled "Employee Notification of Scheduled Drug and/or Alcohol Test". Management now uses the Employee ID Number (EIN).

Now we have become aware of a new problem. The contract medical facility, Concentra Medical Centers at One Harborside Drive, East Boston, MA, has been using the employees’ Social Security Numbers on the form that is completed by them. When they collect your drug test specimen, a copy of this form is sent to an independent lab, along with your specimen for testing. The problem is the contract medical facility and the lab now have your Social Security Number, and we have no control over them or their employees.

It is important that when you are sent for a random D.O.T. drug and/or alcohol test, first make sure that your SSN is not on the management form; and when you get to the medical facility that will be administering the test, do not give them your SSN. Only provide your postal Employee ID Number (EIN). If they have your SSN from before, make sure that they do not put it on the lab form. If they insist on using your SSN on the lab form, show them Line C which states donor SSN or Employee ID Number.

PROTECTING YOUR REDS

The Holiday Season brings us cheer, but it also brings an influx of casual employees who are here for about thirty days or so. They learn very quickly what are in those bags. In past years we have experienced a rise in robberies and missing Reds around the holidays. Also, the bad economy has made people desperate.
Remember, when you sign for the Reds, they become your responsibility. Protect them. But, by the same token, if you are held up by someone, don’t be a hero. Give them what they want. Let the Inspectors and Police take care of it.

 

MORALE AT V.M.F. EXTINCT

Morale at the Boston V.M.F. is at an all time low. This is due to - in large part - a couple of V.M.F. supervisors who, in my opinion, don’t have a clue on how to manage people. Or, maybe they do! Maybe they know exactly what they are doing. There have been orders not to sing on the workroom floor - because it bothers the supervisor - not anyone else. Another order – no staring at anyone. This order was meant for bargaining unit employees in the shop. But, it is OK for a supervisor to stare at a mechanic for long periods of time because he says he is observing the employee – even though the supervisor is not a trained automotive mechanic and does not have a clue what the mechanic is doing! These orders and others, in my opinion, are meant to create an inharmonious workplace.

Yet management recently issued a mechanic a seven day suspension, citing Section 665.16 of the ELM, which states in part, "Employees are expected to maintain harmonious working relationships and not to do anything that would contribute to an unpleasant working environment". I believe that this section of the ELM applies to management also.

Semper Fi,

Bill Weaver

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SEPT/OCT 2009 BOSTONIAN

ARBITRATOR UPHOLDS REMOVAL FOR VIOLATING S.O.P.


It finally happened. One of our M.V.S. brothers has been fired – for not following the Standard Operating Procedure (S.O.P.) for receipt and dispatch of vehicles. Arbitrator Pecklers upheld the removal. Management charged the driver with "failure to perform your duties in a safe manner / unsafe act". They stated, in part, "You did not follow the standard operating procedure and turn in your keys to the expediter to have them locked in the box".

We all know that in many cases the platform is severely understaffed. There is not a mailhandler to be found, or there is one mailhandler to unload five or six trucks. The expediter is trying to work twenty doors. You only have ten minutes to unload and reload your truck; and God forbid if you’re late departing . . . they want to cancel your birthday.

We are under enormous pressure. I know (and management does, too) that in most cases your 4533 (schedule) does not allow you sufficient time to do everything that you are expected to do and get the mail out on time. So we cut corners. We might not wait for the expediter to lock up our keys before we start to unload or load the truck (many times – by ourselves). Sometimes the expediter will not lock up your keys. They leave the box unlocked or put them on top of the box. Management knows this is happening, but they look the other way . . . until something goes wrong. Then, management disciplines you.

Drivers have been issued seven and fourteen day suspensions, and have been fired for not following the S.O.P. We need to protect our jobs. Follow all management rules. Don’t rush or cut corners. That’s when mistakes happen. Take your time, be methodical and safe. We are here for eight hours; then we go home. Let management worry about the mail getting out on time. Take your time; don’t hurry.

Work safe! Follow the rules! Protect your job!

DISCIPLINE

If you receive discipline of any kind, it is important that you give a copy of it to your steward or myself as we only have fourteen (14) days to file a grievance. There have been instances where the employee has not informed us until a month later and at that point, we have lost our time limits. It is your responsibility to inform the union that you received discipline – not management’s!

If management wants to talk to you about something that you believe may lead to discipline, it is your responsibility to ask for a union steward. If you are not sure if it could lead to discipline, ask, and then request a steward. If management does not provide you with a steward after you request one, don’t talk to them. You cannot walk out on them, but you don’t have to say anything.

STAND-BY TIME

Management has been having employees who have auxiliary time on their 4533 (M.V.S. schedule) and are not doing anything, go back to the garage and make a clock move to code 614 (stand-by time). Management is doing this to track our down time or unproductive time. They are doing this to cut jobs – plain and simple!

The other day I heard a supervisor at the garage tell employees when they come in at the end of their shift and have some extra time (15 or 20 minutes), to hit stand-by code 614. Then you can just hit out and go home when it’s time. This same supervisor told another employee with 30 minutes of auxiliary time on the beginning of their schedule, if they were not doing anything, to make a move to stand-by code 614 after they hit on the clock. THIS SHOULD NOT BE DONE.

First of all, when you clock on to begin your shift, you have to fill out the truck card and return it to the dispatch clerk. Then you get your gear that is needed to do your job. Then you must do your D.O.T. safety or circle check of the vehicle. All this is part of regular assigned duties and it’s not to be done on stand-by code 614. The same thing at the end of your shift. You have paperwork to do. You also have wash-up time. This should not be done on stand-by time. DO NOT HELP MANAGEMENT TO CUT OUR JOBS.

Semper Fi,

Bill


                                  * * * * * * * * * * * *
MAY / JUNE 2009 BOSTONIAN
. . .

SOLIDARITY OF M.V.S.

I would like to thank the men and women of the MVS craft in Boston for your solidarity on the issues that face us as a craft. You have gained the attention and respect of our national and local union officers. You have shown that we are not lambs to be herded in silence and that you will hold them accountable. In the last local election, MVS was a driving force in effecting change within the local. You voted out the people who were not producing and replaced them with people who promised to do the job.

They have been in office one year now and, so far, have done an excellent job. President Moe Lepore, Vice President Bob Dempsey, Director of Industrial Relations Paul Kilduff, Clerk Director Bob Keough and Maintenance President Wayne Greenside have been working very hard for ALL the crafts. If the MVS, Maintenance or Clerk Craft has an issue, we will all sit down and discuss it, exchange ideas and offer help to the craft in need. It is a real pleasure to work with them all.

We also have our five area vice presidents – John Uccello, Barry Holland, Bob White, Ray Bell and John Milso, who cover the stations and branches. These union brothers have been very helpful on MVS issues such as carriers transporting mail, and dock safety. For the first time in my eight years in office I believe we are all working together and with the same goal in mind: To better serve the membership. I believe it will only get better in time.

Closer to home, your MVS Stewards deserve credit for what they do to represent you. Often, they are working off the clock, on your behalf; and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all. They are: in Vehicle Maintenance, Tour 2: Ned Hogan and Duke Penison, and Tour 3: Jim Brogan and Nick Morelli; in Vehicle Services, Tour 1: Dennis O’Connor and Russ Hudson, Tour 3: Bill Elms. I consider it a privilege to work with them and to serve you and this union. I thank you for your support.

                                               
C.O.P.A.

The MVS Craft in Boston has always been supportive of our C.O.P.A. drive. Each year we sell 100 tickets. But this year you all have gone above and beyond. We, as a craft, have bought over 200 tickets! Thank you and good luck in the drawings.

                                   EMPLOYEE SURVEYS

As most of you know, we have a local program for collecting the USPS Employee Surveys. The Postal Service conducts the surveys which ask a variety of questions such as how you feel about your job and its working conditions. They interpret this data to state that you are all very happy with your jobs. They then use this in their propaganda with the public and in contract negotiations. In negotiations it comes out that all is well and everyone is happy and so there is no need to give the employees any more than what they already have. Hand in your survey to your Union Steward – and not to the Postal Service. You will be entered into a drawing held quarterly. If your survey is drawn, you will receive one of the five one-hundred ($100) dollar prizes.

                                    
GRIEVANCE SETTLEMENTS

As you all know, the union is constantly filing grievances on overtime, out of section work, management doing bargaining unit work, and so on. Some of these grievances are being settled at Step 1 or 2 of the Grievance Arbitration Procedure and result in a monetary settlement for the grievant. Management is then supposed to in-put the settlement for payment. Increasingly, this is not being done. You must monitor your pay stubs to insure you receive your settlement. It should appear within two pay periods. If this does not happen, notify the union.

      M.V.S. SOLIDARITY COOKOUT AND POOL PARTY

To all M.V.S. craft union members, in appreciation of your support of the union and craft, I will be hosting a cookout and pool party for your enjoyment at my house on Sunday, July 19, 2009, from Noon to 5:00PM. We will have horseshoe pits, 8 ball pool table and pool volleyball games, along with swimming, food and fun. Bring your own towel. Come and make new friends and enjoy old ones. All M.V.S. craft union members and their families are welcomed. FYI: No union funds will be used for this event.

Semper fi,

Bill Weaver
                                * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
APRIL 2009 BOSTONIAN
By now most of you are aware that our National President, Bill Burrus, negotiated and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Postal Service concerning a Pilot Program that deals with amended work rules on the Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) side of the Motor Vehicle Craft.

Let me give you a little history of the negotiation process, as I understand it. About one year ago, the Postal Service sent our National Officers, Bob Pritchard and Mike Foster, a proposal to amend work rules concerning hours of work for MVOs and TTOs. This was to be a Pilot Program at some of our smaller facilities.

In case you didn’t realize, the Postal Service has been coming after the driving jobs in our craft for some years now. The Postal Service calls it a "Mode Conversion". They come in and abolish all the PVS jobs, then subcontract out the work to Highway Contract Routes (HCRs), and excess the protected employees to other facilities up to 500 miles away. Additionally, members who have not attained the six-year No Lay-off protection, or were not hired before the signing of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement, face the real possibility of a lay-off. In fact, the Postal Service already undertook such "Mode Conversions" at four installations (Fairbanks, AK, as well as Fresno, Pasadena and Stockton CA.).

In this environment, our craft officers needed to look at the Postal Service’s proposal seriously. Their efforts focused on protecting our work and preventing our members from being excessed to other locations, possibly out of their current geographical locations, as well as reclaiming work currently performed by HCRs.

They asked Mike McDonald from the Boston Metro Local, and Kevin Meyer, the Motor Vehicle Craft Director from Minneapolis, MN to come down to Washington, DC, to work with them on a counter-proposal to the Postal Service’s correspondence. This first response included provisions that would limit the program to installations with less than a certain threshold of work hours, as well as providing guarantees that the MVS Craft would be the sole provider of transportation within a certain mile radius of each postal installation that had PVS.

In October 2008, I went to Washington, DC, as a member of our National Transportation Committee, to work on the Postal Service’s response to our counter-proposal. As a committee, we formulated a response that included language that would return work to the craft from HCRs within a 50 mile radius of installations that had PVS. It should be noted that these changes only affected locals that chose to participate in the Pilot Program.

I left Washington, DC, returning to Boston, never hearing another word about the discussions until February 2009, when I was meeting with Steven Kennedy, Manager, Transportation and Networks, and he informed that there was a sign-off on amended work rules. I had a "sinking" feeling in my stomach and went back to my office and called the National and found out that President Burrus had signed the Memo in its current form. Apparently, the Postal Service could not attain the language they wanted while negotiating with our National Craft Officers so they went directly to President Burrus who signed it. This Memo also affects the Clerk and Maintenance Crafts, and neither of those Craft Officers had any knowledge of the Memo. Both Jim McCarthy and Steve Raymer stated that they were not consulted and were not even aware of the Memo until after President Burrus signed it.

When I first read the Memo in its signed form, I was very upset—as are most people in the craft. It sucks! We gave up a lot and it seems we got very little in return. The only thing this Memo does is temporarily hold-off a Mode Conversion in a targeted facility.

The Memo provides no guarantee that the Service will not convert in the future. Another concern is that local transportation and network managers will try to run amok with this Memo and attempt to institute it in facilities that were not intended to enter the Pilot Program. One important consideration regarding this fact is that both parties have to agree to enter the program. The Service or a renegade manager cannot force it upon us. A lot of research will be done before any local decides whether to participate in the program.

At a recent seminar regarding the Memo our National MVS Director, Bob Pritchard, stated that he will not agree to enter any local into the program unless the local wants to participate.

Currently, this is a dynamic process and we will keep you updated as things evolve.

Semper Fi,

Bill Weaver
                                --------------------------------


JAN/FEB 2009

It has been one year since two of our M.V.S. drivers have been robbed, and we must not forget the supervisor who got amused when he came up behind one of our drivers at the dock and said, "This is a hold-up, give me all the money". Can you believe how incredibly stupid that was? I reported to you that the union had meetings with the Postal Inspection Service, Labor Relations, the Manager of Transportation, and the District Manager, about our drivers’ safety. The union put forward a number of suggestions we had on ways to better protect our M.V.S. brothers and sisters and the Registered mail pouches.

Management told us they were looking into a number of different options to protect the employees and the mail. Well, it’s been a year! The only thing that has changed is the time the Reds are dispatched to the GMF, and that is only being done in a few stations. One of the changes that was to be implemented was that someone would be on the dock with the driver until the truck was loaded and secured and the driver was in the cab of the truck. In many cases, that is not being done either. Because of the short-staffing at the stations, many times there is just one clerk at the station to do the close-out, and the driver is left to fend for him/herself.

The bottom line is nothing of any substance has been done, and I fear nothing ever will. We are on our own.


D.O.T. MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS


In the past, I have published the D.O.T. requirements on blood pressure. I am doing so again because a number of drivers in the last few months have inquired about the requirements.

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE: People who have NOT been previously diagnosed with high blood pressure who, at the time of examination, have a systolic BP of 140 to 159 and/or a diastolic BP of 90 to 99 will be considered to have Stage 1 hypertension and may be medically certified to drive for a one-year period. But when that person comes up for re-certification, (having been previously diagnosed with high blood pressure), that person will now fall under the new guidelines which are considerably more stringent. No longer eligible for a two-year certification, he will be required to undergo re-certification exams annually. Blood pressure will now need to be at or below 140/90. Should blood pressure fall into the range of more than 140/90, but less than 160/100, certification may be extended for three months – but ONE TIME ONLY, and you will be required to have your blood pressure under control within the three-month period. If you don’t, you will not be issued a new medical card and will not be allowed to drive a commercial vehicle until it falls into the 140/90 range or less.

Other medical conditions that need confirmation of treatment and control from the treating physician may include Diabetes, Sleep Apnea, Cardiac conditions and, sometimes nervous or Psychiatric disorders that require medications that may be sedating.

All drivers with Diabetes should have a note from their doctor that confirms the condition is not treated with insulin, that they are not subject to hypoglycemic episodes, and the results to the most recent HbA1c blood test that confirms adequate control.

All drivers with Sleep Apnea should be aware that the D.O.T. recommends annual sleep testing to confirm that the condition is controlled adequately.

Drivers with Cardiac conditions who have had any change in their conditions and required a procedure such as angioplasty, stent placement, CABG surgery, etc., should be aware that there are waiting times before they can return to driving, and that follow-up stress testing is also mandated in many instances.

                     ------------------------

                         
NOV/DEC 2008

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL

The holiday season is upon us and normally it is a time to spend with friends and loved ones, to rejoice, share and be thankful for what we have. I hope all of you can do that. I hope you don’t dwell on the fact that some in management are trying to destroy our company and our jobs, in short, ruin our future. Try not to dwell on the fact that they have accelerated the contracting out of our work.

You all know on September 26, 2008, I sent a letter to John E. Potter, Postmaster General, outlining a number of concerns I have, one of which was the subcontracting of vehicle towing and vehicle shuttling. I told Mr. Potter that we had four (4) tow trucks in Boston. I said that our tow trucks sit idle while management subcontracts out that work at a cost of, on average, $7,345.00 per week since February 2008. Even though Postmaster General Potter and Vice President of Northeast Area of Operations, Timothy Haney (who also received the letter), never responded, they have sent a clear message to the VMF employees. They have taken away two of the four tow trucks in Boston. One went to Texas. It would not surprise me if they sold it to a subcontract tow company for half its value and they, in turn, will tow postal vehicle at three times the rate.

Now that management is getting rid of our tow trucks, it will be much easier to justify subcontracting out that work under Article 32.1A because one of the five factors of due consideration is availability of equipment. Management may say: "we have to subcontract out towing, we have no equipment!" No wonder the Postal Service is in such bad shape, when they have upper management making such bad business decisions.

Management Review of MVS

At one time they called it Breakthrough Productivity Initiative (BPI). I think they now call it Zero Basing Review, but whatever name they are calling it, the function of this review of Motor Vehicle Service, according to management, is to reduce waste in vehicle service. They are looking at cutting service between the hours of 0900 and 1300. Management at headquarters thinks there is no need to operate large postal vehicles at this time of day.

They only need MVS to get the mail to the stations in the early morning and then get the mail back to the plant in the evening to be processed. They figure the carriers can transport smaller quantities of mail between postal facilities during the day in their more fuel-efficient vehicles. They figure the carriers are out there anyway they can have them do MVS work.

For the larger quantities of mail to be transported between the plants they plan to use HCRs. Brothers and sisters, we are being attacked on all fronts on a daily basis. I know many of you are doing your part by providing the union with statements on dock and station staffing problems, as well as carriers doing our work, HCR drivers not following the SOP, and a number of other issues that effect our jobs everyday. Our union applauds your involvement in trying to protect our jobs, but we need everyone to get involved, together we will make a difference.

I would like to wish you and your family a joyous, safe and healthy holiday season.

Semper fi, Bill Weaver
                     * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


SEPT/OCT 2008

POSTAL MANAGEMENT = MISMANAGEMENT


I have always believed that the better the company I work for does, the better I will do (in terms of wages and benefits). It is much easier to negotiate a fair and equitable contract with a company that is doing well, than one that is struggling. That being said, I am writing not just as a union official, but also a concerned employee and citizen.

We have all read and heard that the Postal Service has fallen on hard times. From Postmaster General Potter on down, we are being told that we must go that extra mile for the service: sell more and be more productive. The mail volume is down, the cost of fuel is killing us. Every time that fuel goes up one penny, it cost the Service 8 million dollars. I agree that the mail volume being down and fuel prices being up, are contributing to the Service’s woes . . . but, brothers and sisters, that is NOT all that is hurting our company. It is gross mismanagement! If we worked for a "real company" where our top executives were held accountable, the ones who are making the decisions to subcontract vehicle maintenance would be fired! Vehicle maintenance is currently being subcontracted out at a cost, in some cases, two or even three times more than doing the work "in house" – even when paying the overtime rate!

Let me give you an example. In April 2008, Boston management made a unilateral decision to cut out all non-scheduled (N/S) overtime and to subcontract out that work. Boston management has contracted out scheduled maintenance of trucks at a cost of $115 per hour. Compare that cost to the $40 per hour with the work being done by our own mechanics – on overtime! I have talked to a number of management personnel in Boston and other districts about this issue. They all agree this is nuts, but they all say there is nothing they can do about it. They are being mandated from their superiors to cut overtime and increase subcontracting of vehicle maintenance.

OK, so you are thinking that this is an isolated example. Well, here’s another . . . the Boston VMF has three tow trucks and the Chelsea VMF has one. While they sit idle, management is subcontracting out vehicle towing. It costs $171.20 for a one-ton vehicle, and $197.60 for a two-ton vehicle to be towed – EACH WAY! On a quiet day, if you listen closely, you can hear our tow trucks rusting.

The union has filed many grievances on subcontracting for vehicle maintenance and highway contract routes (HCR). In all grievances, management inevitably cites Article 32 and Article 3. Article 32 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) deals with subcontracting. Section 1, General Principles, states: The employer will give due consideration to public interest, cost, efficiency, availability of equipment, and qualification of employees when evaluating the need to subcontract.

In all cases, management states that they gave due consideration to these five factors, but nothing in Article 32 states that they must keep the work in-house if it does not meet one, any, or all of the five factors.

But the AS 707A Section 1.4.1, which places certain restrictions on management’s ability to subcontract vehicle maintenance work through Vehicle Maintenance Agreements (VMAs). Specifically, Section 1.4 of the AS 707A is titled "Restrictions", and Section 1.4.1 states, "USPS Maintenance Available: VMAs should generally not be used by offices where vehicle maintenance is available in-house. However, when the Vehicle Maintenance Facility (VMF) cannot meet its requirements, such an office may submit a VMA that justifies the need for supplementary services" (emphasis added). Just because management wants to reduce overtime is not a justification to subcontract.

Management will also invoke Article 3 of the CBA entitled Management Rights. The entire article has six small sections, giving management the right to run the company; but nothing that I read in Article 3 gives management the right to run our company into the ground.

These decisions that are being made by management defy the basic principles of business, defy logic, and make me sick! If we ran our personal finances like this, we would go bankrupt. I am convinced the only way to stop this insanity is to tell our elected officials and the public what the Postal Service is doing and to hold them accountable.

                                          SECURITY

All postal employees are carefully scrutinized and have background checks. They have to be trained on the postal vehicle that they are entrusted to operate and are instructed that the security of the vehicle and of the mail is paramount. We are taught to secure the vehicle at all times. After all, a postal vehicle is the most trusted and recognized vehicle on the road today. A postal vehicle can go anywhere, virtually unchallenged. We would not want one of our vehicles to fall into the hands of terrorists and have the same thing happen that happened when the Oklahoma Federal Building was bombed.

With this in mind, in Boston we have a subcontracted vehicle maintenance repair company that sends one of their employees to the VMF to pick up one of our postal vehicles to be transported to their facility for repairs. Management just hands them the keys and away they go! Their identification is not checked or recorded. We don’t have a list of their employees and their background checks. They are not trained to operate our vehicles. We know nothing about them; all we have is their word that they were sent by the company to pick up a vehicle.

I brought this security concern to management at the District Labor Management meeting some three-plus months ago. To date – no reply! I have also brought this to the attention of VMF management. I think they look at me like I am paranoid. I am not saying that this will happen, but we never thought that 9/11 and Oklahoma would happen either. That is why these security measures were put in place originally. Now we are disregarding them. My God, who is steering this ship? We are headed for the rocks!

-------------------------------------


M.V.S. Craft Articles from Past Issues . . .
JULY/AUGUST 2008 

                            B.P.I. RETURNS TO BOSTON

B. P. I. is a postal acronym that stands for Breakthrough Productivity Initiative. B.P.I. is a management program that comes to a district such as Boston and evaluates postal vehicle service (P.V.S.). It is made up of management personnel from outside of the area being evaluated. When the B.P.I. team does a P.V.S. review, they look at everything. They review work hours and vehicle utilization for postal-owned and leased vehicles and trailers. They review unscheduled service (extra trips not on a 4533), and duplicate service for P.V.S. and H.C. R. They also evaluate unassigned time on existing runs.

Although they say that their function is to eliminate waste and reduce cost, their sole purpose is to cut P.V.S.. The last time the BPI team was in Boston was February 2002. At that time we had 201 runs. When the team left, three weeks later, they had proposed cutting the number of runs to 158. Today we have 125 full-time runs.

We anticipate the BPI team to return to Boston sometime in September 2008. It is important that we do everything we can to protect our work. We must do everything that management directs us to do, including following the S.O.P. for dock safety to the letter. Don’t cut corners to save time. Make sure that we get credit for everything that we transport. Make sure all equipment is scanned in – or if it cannot be scanned, make sure the expediter inputs your load percentages. Make sure your arrival and departure times are inputted correctly (not necessarily what your schedule says). As you all know, our 4533 (schedule) only gives us (in most cases) ten minutes from the time we back into the dock and do all that is expected of us.

We all know that this is not a true reflection of the actual time needed. It is imperative that we document the actual time so that the BPI team sees how long it really takes to do our job; that way our schedules can be changed to reflect the actual time needed. The B.P.I. team will be looking to greatly reduce the unassigned time on all runs. In most cases, if possible, they will be looking to eliminate it altogether. So if you have some extra time, don’t go into Central Control and hang out with the supervisors or park on the avenue with your feet out the window for all to see.

Management notices this and, unless you are on swing or break, they will scrutinize what you should be doing. When you return from a station, take their empty equipment or anything else that they want you to take. It is better to return from a station with a load on the truck, rather than empty. If they see you come empty, they will take a hard look at that trip and may try to eliminate it. Unless your 4533 tells you to dead head back, take whatever you can. Protect your run.

The Postal Service would also like to eliminate all PVS between the hours of 0:900 – 13:00 (with the exception of Express Mail). The Service in Boston is curtailing station hours, opening stations at 0:500 instead of 0:300 or 0:400. We have already seen some of our early deliveries cancelled and runs changed. Management also notified the union that run 12149 is being reverted because of operational changes.

The Postal Service essentially has two crunch times, as far as PVS is concerned: 0:430 – 0:930 and 13:30 – 19:00; getting the mail to the stations in the morning, and then getting all the mail back to the GMF to be worked on in the evening. You can all see where this is going. The Service would love to have split shifts, just as the MBTA and Fed Ex does: 8 hours within 12 hours. You work 4 hours in the morning, get off the clock for 4 hours, and return for 4 hours in the afternoon. With technological changes and the drastic drop in mail volume, the Postal Service is looking to make big changes in the near future that will affect all of us. Let’s all do what we are supposed to do and protect our jobs!

V.M.F. Mechanics

Management is always telling you to account for, or cover, your time. It is up to management to cover your time. It is their job to make sure that you are gainfully employed. If you are nearing the completion of the job that you are doing and there is no other work in the shop, do not stay on that work order to cover your time. Complete the job and close out the work order. Then, if there is nothing to do, just stand around. It is not your job to cover your time.

The reason there is nothing else to do is that management is contracting out everything they can, and we are helping them do it by showing that we are gainfully employed. On the other hand, if we show that there is not enough work to keep us gainfully employed, and we have undistributed labor hours, management cannot justify contracting our work out. For example: let’s say that you have a job that should be 6 hours, there is nothing else to do, so (as management says) you need to cover your time, so you take 8 hours for the job to cover your time. There are two problems here: First, you are falsifying your hours to cover your time (even if management told you to) and you are stealing time. Second, when the union meets with management concerning contracting out, we argue that it is more economical and efficient to keep the work in house. Management inevitably counters that by bringing up the fact VMF mechanics consistently exceed the E.R.T.s for the job and argue that they can get an outside contractor to do the job for the E.R.T., thus saving (in our example, 2 hours) labor.

You can see that, by you covering your time, we are just hurting ourselves and helping management accomplish what they want. Let’s not help management screw us. Let’s do what we are supposed to and protect our jobs.

Semper fi,

Bill Weaver, M.V.S. Craft President


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MAY/JUNE 2008 BOSTONIAN


REMOVAL ISSUED FOR VIOLATING S.O.P.

In previous articles I stated that we should all follow management instructions on the Standard Operating Procedure (S.O.P.) for dock safety. The S.O.P. is there for our safety and our co-workers’ safety. I also stated that failure to follow the S.O.P. would result in discipline.

To date, M.V.S. drivers have been issued letters of warning, seven day suspensions, and fourteen day suspensions. Now a driver has been issued a removal. They took his ID badge, and his parking sticker, and escorted him off the property. He is out of work with no income. He has a mortgage and a family and he is screwed!!!

Management has, in many cases, severely understaffed the platform with expediters and mailhandlers. Many times we are left to fend for ourselves – unloading and loading our own truck – not following the S.O.P., and management knows this. They will allow you to violate the S.O.P. They will look the other way so they can get the mail processed, but as soon as something goes wrong, they will be looking to affix the blame to someone.

I know (and management does too) that, in most cases, your 4533 (schedule) does not allow you sufficient time to do everything that you are expected to do and get the mail out on time. Protect your job and your family’s future. Follow management’s rules. If we follow all the rules, you won’t be doing ten stops a day. You won’t have time to. Management will have to increase staffing on the platform and/or give you less stops, creating more jobs for us. Be safe!

Semper Fi,

Bill Weaver

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M.V.S. CRAFT . . . Miscellaneous Info

Drivers Signing Truck Rental Agreements

It has come to the union’s attention that when a driver picks up a truck at Ryder Truck Rentals, the driver is required to show their license (Ryder makes a copy of your license); the driver inspects the vehicle and signs a rental agreement. By signing the driver agrees to, among other things, all of the following. Customer is totally responsible for all loss or damage to the vehicle; agrees that the vehicle is received full of fuel. Rental rates do not include fuel, and the driver is responsible for all fuel. Driver agrees: "I have read, understand and hereby agree to the terms and conditions on both sides of this agreement."

In essence the driver is taking responsibility for this vehicle individually, even though 20 – 30 other drivers may use this vehicle during the course of the rental agreement. God forbid this vehicle be involved in a fatal accident; if so, we believe this exposes the signer to be named in litigation, which could possibly tie up your home and personal assets until adjudication. The Postal Service is renting this vehicle to conduct their business. Postal management should sign and take responsibility for the vehicles they rent.

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Getting Help Loading and Unloading

First, let me state that the job description of a TTO and MVO is to assist with the loading and unloading of the vehicle. Yet management is consistently understaffing the GMF and certain stations and branches leaving the MVS drivers to fend for themselves. We have reported this problem time and time again to management. We have written 1767s (report of an unsafe condition) on this issue. The response is always the same. If there is no help, notify your supervisor or the station supervisor, who will get you help.

We have been assured over and over again that the drivers will get help. Well, this is all a bunch of CRAP and just rhetoric on management’s part. Do we, or do we not, have schedules? And do those schedules not have precise loading and unloading times and locations? So why is there no help where and when we need it? It’s not that we are catching management off guard – they make the schedules, they know the times and locations.

One can only conclude that this is by design on their part, but why? Is it to keep the budget down so they may reap a bigger bonus? I wonder what would happen if our drivers just kept to their job description and didn’t go that extra mile for the Service.

I wonder what would happen if we waited for help to arrive. The mail might be a half to an hour late getting to the station. What would that mean? The carriers might hit the street late resulting in hours of overtime that day for that particular station. What would happen if this happened day in and day out? I wonder how long it would take for the station and area managers to ‘hit the roof’, after all they’re budget-driven also, and don’t they get bonuses too? What is it going to take for MVS drivers to get the help they need?

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DISCIPLINE

It is very important that if an employee receives discipline of any kind, that you inform your steward or me, as we only have fourteen (14) days to file a grievance. There have been instances where the employee has not informed us until a month later and at that point we have lost our time limits.

If management wants to talk to you about something that you believe may lead to discipline, it is your responsibility to ask for a union steward. Also, if management wants to talk to you about something and you are not sure if it could lead to discipline, ask, and then request a steward.

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FORM PS-1767 REPORT OF HAZARD, UNSAFE CONDITION OR PRACTICE

We in M.V.S. have had many instances where our members have reported verbally what they believe is an unsafe condition at a certain station, only to return a day, week or month later to see that the same hazard or unsafe condition or practice still exists. If this happens, you should file a Form PS-1767 (Report of Hazard, Unsafe Condition or Practice).

On the form, describe the hazard/unsafe condition and what you would recommend to correct the area you are currently working at, and request an inspection of the hazard/condition. You should get the blue copy of the form as your receipt. Save that copy for your records. If it is determined that a hazard does exist, it should be fixed as soon as possible, but no later than fifteen (15) days, and you should be notified of the status of the reported hazard or unsafe condition.

It is important that we create a paper trail because if someone gets hurt or if someone has an accident as a result of the unabated hazard or unsafe condition, we can hold management accountable. Although, we hope this will not happen and all unsafe conditions will be abated and each employee will return home to their family as healthy as they left them.

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