May 2014 Update
The first domino has fallen, so to speak, with regard to the conversion of MHAs in the Northland District. This involved the conversion of 12 MHAs to career Mail Handlers in the NDC Branch. MHA conversions are awaiting a determination in the Saint Paul Branch and the Minneapolis Branch continues seeking the fulfillment of retreat rights as a precursor to conversions.
There’s no doubt that our MHA Members are all eager to secure their career appointments; so, they should view this first round of conversions as a positive sign. This is just the beginning and this is where our contractual provisions begin to produce results.
The contractual provision which operated to produce the recent conversions is of course the 15% District limitation on the number of MHAs. This 15% District limitation, along with the 20% Installation limitation, represent the two contractual mechanisms currently available to compel management to convert MHAs to career Mail Handlers. Every pay period I receive a report indicating the District percentage as well as the percentages for each installation within the District. Management has been close to exceeding the District percentage for the last couple of reports and it appears they opted for conversions rather than a contractual violation. So, why convert at the NDC? The NDC simply had their conversion request approved first. The fact of the matter is that both the NDC and Saint Paul Branches are well positioned for MHA conversions in the near future. This is particularly true when considering that the NDC management is preparing for an additional 18 MHAs in that installation.
Unfortunately, the Minneapolis Branch is a different story. The Minneapolis Branch is unable to convert MHAs until retreat rights are offered to Mail Handlers who remain excessed from the facility. This process continues and Branch President Dean Abatte entered into a pre-arbitration settlement to create additional duty assignment. We experienced a set-back when those duty assignments had to be canceled duty to numerous and significant errors. While the Minneapolis Branch leadership had considerable input into the work locations, hours, and off days, these duty assignments ultimately had to be entered into the bidding system by management. I’m tempted at this point to express my opinion about management’s operation of the bidding process; but, that would not be constructive. Suffice it to say that the duty assignments have been re-posted and the process of offering retreat rights will continue as residuals shake out. Then we can get to MHA conversions in the Minneapolis Branch.