Editorial: The USPS Number Crunchers Strike Again!
The following is an article written by Stephen Lysaght, APWU President, East Bay Area Local #47 located in Walnut Creek, CA. The issues raised in his article is happening in many USPS districts across the country–and not just in the Bay-Valley District.
After years of excessing Clerks outside their installations and thereby gutting the workforce in nearly all our offices, we hoped that management could not possibly be planning to excess any more employees outside their installations. Clerk staffing has already been reduced to its lowest levels ever, with many of our offices having no employees for vacation coverage, no clerks to clear Carriers of their accountables or do dispatch in the afternoon, and no Clerks to assist customers at will-call doors.
Our hopes were dashed recently when we received a copy of another excessing notice issued to Regional Coordinator Omar Gonzalez dated Sept. 10. The Area intends to involuntarily reassign the following numbers of full-time Clerks within a 900 mile radius to residual vacancies in the Clerk, Carrier, Mail Handler, or Custodial crafts.
Although the reassignments normally should not take place for at least 6 months, the Area also indicated that they may be begin sooner due to “the loss of workload Nationally and the financials of the Postal Service.”
Grievances have already been initiated in all 5 offices to challenge the excessing. One of the primary arguments is that the underlying staffing and scheduling reviews conducted by District number crunchers constitute improper time and work standards. These reviews are based on Customer Service Variance-a euphemism for predetermined formulas for how much time is allowed to perform all Clerk craft work. We believe that it is inherently unfair, inequitable, and unreasonable to impose any such time and work standards on all employees in an office, regardless of their age, experience, or other extenuating circumstances.
Although management invariably argues that using Customer Service Variance to determine staffing levels does not represent time and work standards, the Union disagrees. While individual employees may not be disciplined for failing to distribute a certain amount of mail pieces per hour, or for taking longer to conduct a window transaction than Customer Service Variance “allows”, involuntariy reassigning them up to 900 miles away does in fact constitute a form of “punishment” for being a junior Clerk in an “impacted” office. We anticipate an arbitrator will eventually agree with the Union’s position on one of these grievances soon.
The final number of Clerks excessed from the SFNDC (formerly BMC) was 64, rather than 63 as reported in the last issue of the Unionizer. Of that number, 5 elected to change to PTR
rather than be reassigned as far away as Santa Clarita in southern California. The good news is that priority mail will soon be processed at the NDC, which will lead to the activation of retreat rights for some of these employees. Management has also advised the Union that it will likely go back to a 3 tour operation. Updated information will be shared with our members as it is received.