February 2017 Update
And we’re off! The ratification of the 2016 National Agreement starts us down the path of implementing our new contract. I’m always eager to implement a new National Agreement and Local 323 is well prepared to move forward.
Before addressing implementation, I’ll acknowledge that not everyone is satisfied with the outcome. Even though I supported ratification, to some degree I’m one of those people. But I’m never satisfied. I always want to see continued improvement in the terms and conditions of employment for our Members. Yet, I cannot hesitate to recognize that it’s unlikely we’ll accomplish all our goals in any single round of collective bargaining. This is progress and the progress will continue.
Different aspects of the 2016 National Agreement will be implemented within different timeframes. There are wage provisions which will be implemented retroactively, contractual provisions which will take effect immediately, provisions which have a transition period, provisions that are in effect but won't be implemented until the first occurrence, and in fact, there's one Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that we won't have to implement in Local 323 at all.
The Article 6 MOU concerning Layoff Protection is effective immediately and protects each employee who was in the regular workforce as of May 20, 2016. An example of a provision with a transition period would be Article 7.1B. This provision identifies the percentage of casuals allowed in each installation. That provision changed from 5% to 3% and a MOU provides for a transition period of 120 days from the date of ratification.
The changes to Article 11 which provides 6 holidays to MHAs became effective immediately; although, the first occurrence has not yet happened. In fact, I was contacted shortly after ratification with a question of whether this provision was in effect and whether MHAs working on Presidents Day would be able to elect annual leave instead of additional pay. My answer to the question was that the provision was in effect but the change did not give MHAs the Presidents Day holiday. Holidays for MHAs are New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. As such, the first holiday on which MHAs may elect to receive annual leave instead of additional pay will be the 2017 Memorial Day holiday.
It’s also worth mentioning that nothing has changed with the selection process or “pecking order” by which Mail Handlers are scheduled to work their holiday or day designated as their holiday. Moreover, MHAs will always have the service day of the date on which the holiday occurs as their holiday. MHAs do not have fixed non-scheduled days; so, their holiday will never move to another day.
As I previously mentioned, there is one MOU which Local 323 doesn’t need to implement at all. There is an Article 7 MOU for a One-Time MHA Conversion which provides that MHAs “… in 200 Man Year offices with a relative standing date prior to 2.5 years from the ratification date of the 2016 National Agreement shall be converted to career status.” So, why doesn’t Local 323 need to implement this MOU? It’s because nowhere in the States of Minnesota and North Dakota do we have anyone who’s been an MHA for this long. Quite frankly, there isn’t anyone even remotely in the ball park. Yet, the fact that this MOU was negotiated indicates that there are places in the country where people have been MHAs for 2.5 years or more.
When we first began implementing the 2011 National Agreement I wrote about a change in what I called our “permanent industry.” That change was a shift from the pursuit of PTF conversions to the pursuit of MHA conversions. This permanent industry means that day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, we continue to pursue MHA conversions. Put another way, MHA conversions are on our “to do” list every day. Now the conversion MOU gives us a context to evaluate our results. While not absolute or all telling, this situation seems to indicate that our permanent industry has been effective in each installation. The Branch Officers and Representatives are to be commended for their persistent efforts in this regard. All we need to do now is keep going. It is a permanent industry after all.
There are many provisions of the 2016 National Agreement which we continue to implement. The Officers and Representatives of Local 323 remain committed to ensuring that the Membership receives all the benefits to which their entitled.