October 2013 Update
Issues resulting from changes made in the 2011 are beginning to see some progress. This is particularly true with respect to issues concerning Mail Handler Assistants (MHAs). The North Dakota facilities of Bismarck and Fargo have been the first facilities within Local 323 to see MHAs converted to career employees. While this represents significant progress, additional follow-up will be required.
These MHA conversions illustrate the manner in which the National Agreement produces different results depending on the size of the installation. As we know, the decision of the arbitration panel eliminated the position of part-time flexible (PTF) in installations of 200 or more man years. This has produced a result where the MHAs converted in the 200 man year installation of Fargo were placed into full-time regular (FTR) positions. Conversely, the MHAs converted in the less than 200 man year office of Bismarck became PTFs; and, this will require follow-up to pursue their conversion to FTR. The installation in Grand Forks is presently adding career Mail Handlers as well as MHAs.
Additional grievances were filed in North Dakota seeking answers to other issues concerning MHAs. North Dakota Executive Board Member Brock Engstrom served as the point man in this regard and he should be commended for his efforts. One of these grievances challenges management’s placement of residual duty assignments into eReassign when MHAs are available for conversion and another protests a casual receiving more hours than an MHA during the course of a service week. These grievances have been processed through the steps of the grievance – arbitration procedure, appealed to regional arbitration, and then appealed to the step 4 national level procedure for interpretation.
Pursuing the conversion of MHAs in the twin cities metropolitan area installations is more complicated. One reason is that these installations remain under withholding for the continuation or initiation of consolidations involving the installations in Mankato, St. Cloud, and Duluth. A further complication results from having Mail Handlers who remain excessed from their installations. Complications notwithstanding, we continue working towards resolving these issues.