January 2011 Update
Following a hectic holiday season, the process of identifying positions for Mail Handlers being involuntarily excessed out of the Minneapolis installation is continuing. Meetings in both the St. Paul and NDC Branches designed to identify additional positions within the twin cities area are also underway. The second round of preferencing has been completed in Minneapolis and the results should be available the week of February 1st.
While I thought that the excessing provisions had been thoroughly explained at the Branch level as well as through extensive discussions at the recent General Membership meeting, it appears that some misconceptions still exist. In particular, an anonymous inquiry placed in the question box recently asked, “Why isn’t the Union following the contract and excessing people by level?” Confusion in this regard is understandable as Article 12 is likely the most complex Article in the National Agreement. This is one of the reasons that the Members Center of this website contains the Contract Interpretation Manual. This manual allows a Member to get specific explanations of contract language.
The starting point in ascertaining which part of Article 12 controls is determining what type of excessing event is occurring. When it is proposed to “Reassign within an installation employees excess to the needs of a section of that installation” Article 12.6 C4 provides that Mail Handlers are excessed by juniority within their level, when management makes a “Reassignments within [the] installation” to other crafts Article 12.6 C5a4 provides that management “Shall identify as excess the necessary number of junior full-time employees in the salary level …”, and when management makes “Reassignments to Other Installations” Article 12.6 C5b1 provides that management will “Involuntarily reassign such excess full-time employees starting with the junior …” It should also be noted that while Article 12.6 C5b1 uses the phrase "same or lower level", it does so in the context of identifying to what vacancies an exessed Mail Handler may be placed. This does not change the juniority based selection criteria; but rather, provides for determining the levels available for Mail Handlers to be place in another installation.
In sum, it generally could be said that when management selects Mail Handlers to be reassigned within the installation either in the Mail Handler Craft or in other Crafts, the selection involves the consideration of level as well as juniority; however, when management involuntarily reassigns Mail Handlers outside the installation that selection is based solely on juniority.
What is occurring in the Minneapolis Branch is involuntary excessing outside of the installation and juniority is the appropriate criteria by which Mail Handlers are to be selected. This approach has been followed with the external excessing events at the NDC Branch, the St. Paul Branch, and in all of the installations experiencing similar events throughout the country.
So the answer to the questions is that the Union is following the contract and insisting that management follow the contract as well.
As always, anyone with a question may contact me directly at the Local 323 office.