October 2016 Update
Tis the season – That’s something that you usually hear during the month of December; but, the season we’re in now is something that Mail Handlers and the Union often experience this time of year. I refer to it as discipline season.
Around this time of year we usually see a rise in the number of disciplinary actions taken against Mail Handlers which allege deficiencies in attendance. This often involves letters of warning or suspensions issued with charges of “irregular attendance” or “failure to maintain a regular work schedule.” These are charges based on the rule requiring regular attendance and allege that someone has an excessive number of unscheduled absences during a given period of time.
But what is regular in attendance? I guess I’ll say jokingly that I don’t know, that it’s up to management to inform you of the rules, and that no precise definition of regular attendance exists. Joking or not, that’s pretty much the deal. It is easy, however, to define some outer boundaries. Someone who hasn’t been at work in the last six months probably isn’t regular in attendance, while someone that’s missed one day during the same timeframe is probably regular. Exactly where the line can be drawn between these two examples is unclear. Suffice it to say that your Representatives look at absences in the context of the timeframe when challenging attendance related disciplinary actions.
But I digress. Discipline season usually begins as soon as management realizes that they will be unable to secure sufficient staffing for holiday operations. This is either the result of a lack of hiring authorization, or usually, the inability of management to find enough people willing to be temporary, work nights, work weekends, and be treated like crap for $12.00 an hour. This is particularly the case when considering the other holiday employment options out there.
The result is that management issues attendance related discipline without the intent to be corrective, and irrespective of merit, in order to hang the threat of future disciplinary action over the recipients head during the holiday season. This is designed to raise attendance levels during the busiest time of the year. In fact, an argument could be made that discipline season is the most reliably predicable aspect of any management holiday plan.
In any event, should you be the recipient of one of these or any other disciplinary action, ask to see your Steward immediately.