May 2013 Update
As summer approaches, we are continuing to implement the terms of the 2011 National agreement, while at the same time, addressing issues related to the accelerated consolidation schedule that was announced by the Postal Service in March. The Postal Service is also implementing the terms of the 2011 National Agreement; particularly, with the addition of Mail Handler Assistants (MHA’s) to the workforce at several facilities. In some facilities this is going smoothly, in others not so well. It is important for us to recognize that the accelerated consolidations are occurring simultaneously with the implementation of our new contact. This has created a situation where we must be ever diligent in protecting the rights of our Members, especially in circumstances where the new contract may be unclear.
We began 2013 enmeshed in the complete consolidation of mail processing operations from the Rochester plant into the Saint Paul P&DC. That involved the excessing of all but 3 Mail Handlers to the NDC. This event occurred prior to the issuance of the 2011 National Agreement; and as such, the terms of the 2006 National Agreement and National MOU’s were controlling. Put another way, that event occurred under provisions which were known and which we were familiar with administering. Yet, this event subsequently generated a significant amount of grievance activity. In fact, Minnesota State Executive Board Member Shane Ryden is still processing grievances pertaining to this event.
The March announcement of the accelerated consolidations brought the Mankato facility into focus next. The Mankato event was vastly different from Rochester in that it was not a complete consolidation, but rather, was limited to only the originating mail. This resulted in a much smaller number of Mail Handlers being requires to relocate and ultimately 3 people were excessed to the NDC. As chance would have it, all 3 of these Mail Handlers desired relocation to the metro area. This was technically the first event which occurred under the terms of the 2011 National Agreement; however, the existence of a transition period limited its application.
The current Minneapolis event is not a consolidation of operations, but rather, the involuntary reassignment of PTF’s which management claims are excess to the needs of the installation. These employees have been notified of their entitlement to retreat rights; however, the 2011 National Agreement eliminates the position of PTF in all 200 man year facilities on August 14, 2013. So, this becomes a question of: retreat to what position? The impact of this contractual change was discussed at a recent Branch President’s meeting and grievances will be initiated to address this issue.
Currently on the horizon is the St. Cloud facility. This is the result of the Postal Service’s accelerated consolidation schedule; and like Mankato, represents a partial consolidation involving only the originating mail. The announced impact is 5 Mail Handlers and this event has an anticipated implementation date of September 7, 2013. This implementation date places the event after the end of the transition period provided for in the arbitration award. The significance of this is that PTF positions will have been eliminated in all offices of 200 or more man years by that time. This change eliminates the option of full-time regulars converting to PTF in order to remain in the facility. Consequently, all 5 Mail Handlers will be excessed from the facility. Meanwhile, management will be adding MHA’s who will presumably be working a less than full-time schedule.
These circumstances are extremely troubling. Perhaps even more so when recognizing that this is not something happening only in St. Cloud, not something happening only in Local 323, but something that is happening in Postal facilities all across the country.
This is not something that Local 323 is taking lightly. Suffice it to say that we will be monitoring the situation closely in each facility. Grievances will be filed under any circumstances in which we believe a Mail Handlers rights have been violated or may have been violated. Such is the result of implementing an arbitrated National Agreement.