St Paul, MN APWU

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President Todd Elkerton

New Function 1 Labor Scheduler

The month of March 2017 brought some surprises in regards to the Processing and Distribution Plant.  Management unilaterally implemented a new Function 1 Labor Scheduler which apparently indicates there are too many clerical duty assignments in the plant.  A Labor Scheduler is the modern day work and time standards which takes measured volume and time standards and produces an "Earned" value.  If the computer generated "Earned" value does not match the complement, management is required to make the appropriate adjustments to staffing to become efficient in the eyes of Big Brother.

This resulted in two things happening.  First, management improperly reverted a number of duty assignment from the March Clerk Vacancy Posting.  All the reversions came after we met with management and they agreed to post them.  Two were kept off the vacancy announcement and a number of duty assignments were reverted after the vacancy notice was posted to the St. Paul Installation.  The Union has filed grievances for all these duty assignment asnd will put up a vigorous fight to have them restored.  Second, management met with the PSE employees who were working in the St. Paul Plant and they were given new work hours of six hours a day, six day a week.  Unfortunately, PSE scheduling can be changed like this contractually.  Time will tell if management will be able to process the mail from the facility in a timely manner.  If the past is any indication of the future this type of scheduling is short lived and the PSE hours will begin to expand greater than the schedules indicate. We will update the membership as the grievances move forward on this issue.

Election Return at an Historic Low

The St. Paul APWU completed its election for all the officers in March and we saw a historic low turnout of 27 % return rate.  We will have some discussion in the near future on how to increase this return rate.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who submitted their names for consideration from the members.  None of the positions are easy and it is nice to see people willing to work on behalf of the members.  The Executive Board will see three changes for the next term of office. Dianne Richardson will be the Industrial Relations Director.  Jim Thompson will be the Trustee Chairperson. Shelley Fleming will be the Local Secretary. Also, Dave Cook will be moving to Local Vice President.  I look forward to working with each and every Board member over the next two years.  At the Annual Steward Appreciation Dinner, I was able to say thanks to Jerry Jacobson and Steve Letendre for their years of service to the members and who are retiring.  We were truly blessed to have these individuals involved in the Local and their years of experience will be greatly missed.  Last, I would like to thank the Election Committee chaired by Pat Hawkins for their work on this important committee.

Retirement Seminar draws big numbers

The retirement seminar hosted by the Local in March drew 80 members and spouses.  The seminar was given by Brent Ford a financial advisor who has worked with many local members in their retirement decisions.  Please beware of other financial advisors who are sending inquiries to your place of work.  We have heard some stories which indicate they are not working on your behalf.  If you need contact information for Mr. Ford call the office.

 

 

FROM THE MARCH 2017 POSTMARK

The impasse items concerning Local negotiations have been settled prior to Arbitration.  Management has decided to accept our proposal on where to place PTF employees in the pecking order. The agreement was simply to re-insert PTF's into the holiday pecking order in the position they were prior the 2010-2015 agreement when PTF's were eliminated from the St. Paul Installation.  We are presently preparing the new LMOU with management and will mail each member a copy of it as soon as we get it back from the printers.

The St. Paul Processing Plant has its ninth Acting Plant Manager in the last two years.  This revolving door has made it a struggle to have any stable Labor Management continuity.  The newest Plant Manager comes from an In-Plant Support background which means numbers are his knowledge base.  With that said, the first two Labor Management meetings have been spent discussing  increasing the throughput of the automation machines.  The new Plant manager is again trying methods which do not work in St. Paul and tend to lower these numbers.  His focus has been to increase the throughput of the machines on tour 2 with his goal to reach 27,000 pieces per machine.  The supervisors on this tour have been badgering employees to reach these goals and attempting to bribe employees with chocolate if they are able to reach a certain number.

For many of the Clerks running the machine this has been frustrating, demeaning, and disrespectful.  We have discussed these issues with Management at length.  It culminated in the Plant Manager calling a meeting with the tour 2 automation employees.  I was proud of the Clerks as they explained to the Plant Manager that most of the production issues are related management decisions on how to process the mail.  The problem is management is unwilling to look at themselves and the choices they make concerning this issue.  The clerks informed the Plant manager of six months prior where the MDO for their tour decided they were not going to run mail which was in the building and ready to be processed on tour 2 and told the Clerks to just stand by the machines and do nothing.  They informed the Plant Manager they raised complaints and stated this will negatively affect staffing and result in the computers saying there are too many positions on the tour.  Four months later management downsized the unit by eliminating 7 positions.  The Plant Manager states he is not sure this was the right move and will be looking to at it to see if the positions can be added and assured the Clerks they have mail for them to run.  This circular logic just seems to continue Plant Manager after Plant Manager.  In the meantime, each Plant Manager seems compelled to upset people's lives in thinking reinventing the wheel will produce different results. It quite simply has not and until management comes to grips with the realization the production numbers are a result of their own decisions things will not get better for them. 

Last, please be aware there are some unscrupulous financial advisors who are sending retirement questionnaires to your work locations. These advisors are in no way supported by the St. Paul APWU and from what we have seen are not working on your behalf.  The St. Paul Area Local has sent out letters to your homes with our letterhead and signed by me regarding financial advisors who we have worked with for many years and are confident they are working on your behalf.  If the retirement questionnaire did not come to your house with a letter from the St. Paul APWU proceed with caution.

 

FROM THE FEBRUARY POSTMARK

 

At the writing of this article, I am being told the Local Negotiation Impasse for the St. Paul Installation has been settled.  The issue of where PTF's would be inserted into the holiday pecking order was in dispute.  In the end, it is being told to me by NBA and Lead Negotiator of the USPS, the PTF's will be restored to the pecking order in the position which they were prior to the 2010-2015 agreement when the PTF's position was eliminated but returned for the MVS craft in the 2015-2018 CBA.  Once we receive the signed agreement we will meet with management to finalize the St. Paul Installation LMOU and will have the agreement printed and sent out to the members we represent.  I want to thank the membership for their patience as we finalize the document.

I was contacted in early January concerning management wanting to move the Nokomis Station carriers to the LDC.  Management was proposing to move the carriers and coup them at the airport and bring the clerks from the Nokomis Station to the airport facility.  This would mean Minneapolis represented clerks would be working in a St. Paul installation.  After consultation with Minneapolis Local President and NBA, I informed management this would violate the agreements we have concerning the movement of operations between the two Local's affected.  I was contacted by the District Manager last week and was told after consultation with the Unions, management was attempting to figure out how to move the Nokomis Carriers to the Main Office in Minneapolis.  So, it appears for the time being the Nokomis Carriers will not be couped at the LDC.  If this changes we will let the members know through a Flash Bulletin.

This month will be nominations for all St. Paul Local positions at the General Membership meeting at 6:15 pm on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.  Pat Hawkins has been appointed as the Election Committee Chairperson and along with his Committee will conduct the election.  Please see the Election Call for the specifics which have been sent to all installations we represent.  Further, watch for the ballots in the mail in March and follow the directions to vote.  I encourage everyone to take the time and return your ballots.  Pat Hawkins has been the chair of many elections for this local and always conducts elections with the utmost professionalism. 

Todd Elkerton, President

 

 From the January 2017 Postmark

                Greetings and Happy 2017 to the members and retirees of the St. Paul Area Local, this year will be filled with Local Elections, a new Plant Manager (9th in two years), job realignments, Impasse Arbitration for St. Paul Installation LMOU, and many unforeseen issues as we advocate for the members of this Local.  It will be a large task which I am certain the Stewards and Officers will confront and work hard on your behalf. 

There is a need for Stewards on Tour 1 and Tour 3 in the St. Paul Processing and Distribution Plant.  We are looking for people who are willing to work hard on behalf of the members and advocate for their rights.  If you believe you may be one of these of people, please contact me at 651-778-1637 so we can schedule a meeting to discuss the possibility.  I usually am able to meet during your scheduled work hours.  Please consider joining us in our struggle with USPS management and ensuring the rights of our members are secured. 

The St. Paul Processing Plant has come upon another gimmick to try and solve their staffing issues and the resultant failure to meet dispatch times.  The newest is a countdown clock which will digitally countdown to dispatches.  The St. Paul Area Local was told about this just prior to management having a service talk on the new clocks.  This is just another attempt in their Lean Six Sigma toolbox to squeeze more out of employees who are presently working hard every day to get the mail out despite the obstacles management puts in front of the hardworking employees of the USPS.  Anyone who has worked an automation machine for more than two weeks knows the dispatch times of the mail which is being processed and a countdown clock does nothing to improve this.  The only thing we think it may help is the supervisors on the floor who may not realize when the mail is to leave the machines to make the scheduled truck dispatches.  This is another reality show playing out within the Processing and Distribution Plant titled "Minute To Win It" in which the payout is always zero.  It is a zero sum game,  if it works employees will be required to give more with less and with no recognition of the enormous work exerted to overcome understaffing.  In the end, if the clocks do not motivate employees and improvement to dispatched times is not achieved the employees will be blamed.  It is time USPS management gets serious about addressing their long standing staffing issues and ensure there are enough employees to accomplish the goals of this organization to deliver mail on time to the American public. I encourage the employees we represent to continue to come in each day and give a fair day's work for a fair day's pay and ignore these thinly veiled gimmicks. 

On behalf of the St. Paul Area Local, I look forward to 2017 knowing the members of this local will stay engaged and communicate with the Stewards and Officers their concerns of what is happening in their workplace.  Further, thanks in advance for this activity and giving this organization the opportunity to advocate of your behalf.  Here's to great year filled with many challenges!

 

From the  November 2016 Postmark

 

Greetings and Happy Holidays, the month of October has been a busy one for the St. Paul Area Local.  We opened Local Negotiations for all the Offices we represent, at this time it appears there will be very small changes for the Associate Offices and re-signing the existing LMOU's for the offices.  The St. Paul Installation looks to be heading to Impasse over the placement of PTF employees in the holiday pecking order.  We still have until November 7th to resolve, but at this time it appears Management and the Union will Impasse the holiday pecking order.  Other than that, the parties came to agreement on sections concerning pouch rack operations, the LMOU will now have the City Outsides, Clearance, and SPSS which were previously agreed to by the parties.  Also, Tour 2 Pouch Rack will no longer have LCTS #2 it will be move back with the Automation Sections. 

The St. Paul Area Local anticipates it will have a Labor Management meeting in the near future concerning the upcoming holiday season.  This is our yearly meeting to discuss how the USPS intends to deal with the yearly increase of mail in December.  By all accounts we will see another increase in package mail which has been occurring over the last few years.  This increase is significant and will require a great deal of manpower to move the anticipated package increase.  The USPS originally was planning for a holiday annex in the Eagan area and this plan fell through because they were unable to secure the lease.  We are told now this facility will be in Minneapolis.  Management has not shared with us yet on how they plan to staff this facility.  However, it is anticipated it will be done similar to last year which resulted in a grievance.  We are working hard to try and avoid grieving the issue this year but are unsure it this will happen. 

To further complicate the holiday season, management at the St. Paul Processing and Distribution Plant in Eagan is planning on moving a large number of duty assignments starting times by the end of the month.  With the Interest Arbitration issues in July of this year it resets the one hour window for change within the contract period.  Therefore, if management changes a start time by more than one hour the position is required to be reposted.  The extent of these changes will be communicated as soon as the Union and Management get done discussing the issue to ensure all the contractual provisions are followed during this change.  We will have our second meeting on this issue on November 2nd, 2016 and hope to send a Flash Bulletin to inform all of the planned changes.

As we head into the holiday season, please take care of yourself by working safely.  With the increased volume of mail there are safety issues which present themselves due to the high volume.  Remember, being safe requires you to keep vigilant to these potential safety risks and reporting them so they can be abated as soon as possible. The St. Paul Area Local is addressing some issues from last year concerning the stacking of cardboard mail transportation equipment that was stacked on top of each other and stacking letter trays on pallets, both resulted in unsafe situations where the stacks fell due to the improper stacking.  We hope to have management ensure these do not occur this holiday season.

 

 From the October 2016 Postmark

Democracy relies on your participation!

Voting is one of our fundamental rights to participate in our workplace and community. The APWU prides itself on being one of the most democratic labor unions in the world.  The reason for this claim is, each and every member has the right to vote for its officers.  In many unions, this right is reserved for the select few who are elected by delegates of the National Convention and the election takes place during the proceedings.  This right for each member was not something which was given without a demand.

Prior to the merger and creation of the APWU, there was a rank and file union called the National Postal Union which organized bargaining unit postal workers regardless of craft.  The National Postal Union was founded in 1958 with the goal of One Big Postal Union and was the precursor of the merger of Craft Unions of Clerks, Maintenance, Motor Vehicle, and Special Delivery into the APWU. When the NPU formed in 1959 it was the first time postal workers were granted the right to vote by referendum; meaning "one person, one vote" and with it the right of each union member to participate in the election of its officers.  This right was never given to the members of the Craft Union's prior but was demanded by the rank and file and moved into the very first National APWU Constitution.

This right  is something many of our members take a pass on as we see the participation of members who actually do vote continue to decline.  One week prior to the deadline for ballots it was reported that 34,000 ballots of the 294,000 which were sent out had been returned.  This is a sobering number.  While the final number of ballots will certainly go up.  It is clear that a minority of members  will decide the leaders for the next three years.

What strikes me as I think about this is the number of members I talk to on a daily basis in unison,  profess the need for change.  Let me  be extremely honest if "change" is what you seek you must participate.  Change does not occur while you sit on the sidelines and complain about it.  It is difficult for those of us in the battle to hear the constant chorus of the Union does nothing for me.  When the bare hard truth is many amongst us do nothing to ensure a vibrant and healthy Union.  Someone said to me the other day, do not become pessimistic because many members have a learned helplessness and are comfortable in not participating.

The APWU makes voting as easy as possible, they deliver a ballot to your home with pre-paid postage.  The leadership and members of the St. Paul APWU provided endorsements for who we believe will serve your best interest and sent it out twice to your work areas.  The only thing you were required to do was take 10 minutes of your time put it the envelope and bring it with you to work and place in the mail.  This is a very little commitment on your part but has huge consequences in your workplace. I hope St. Paul Area Local leads the nation in participation as it has in the past for many years.  Please continue your participation and let your voice be heard.

The struggle is real and requires your involvement to make the change you seek. Get involved stand up for yourself and fellow workers.  The Union needs your participation to be effective.  Let's work together to make changes because, we are better together.

 

From the September 2016 Postmark 

Greetings, we have just returned home from the National APWU Convention in Orlando, FL.  The St. Paul Area Local was well represented at this convention.  Three of our Delegates served on National Committees and were part of the discussions that lead to recommendations to the Convention Delegates on the issues we were debating, Dave Cook, MVS committee, Bruce Gutzke, Appeals committee, and myself on the Constitution Committee.  This was my ninth convention representing the members of the St. Paul Area Local, I am always humbled by the opportunity to represent the members.  I said at one point, the more I conventions I attend the more I understand the saying “the struggle continues”.  The resolutions submitted continue to seek more for our members in improving working conditions.  In the end, this is where it starts as we debate these ideas and understand how a good idea in one place could be a bad idea for others, it is through this process that we provide the direction to our National Officers in negotiations. It was a pleasure working with the 10 other delegates from our local they worked hard each day on your behalf.

I would like to welcome the members of Clear Lake, WI our newest office that we represent.  This process took nearly a year to complete with the National APWU.  We appreciate the patience of the members in Clear Lake, WI while this took place. 

This fall will have LMOU negotiations for many of our offices with negotiations opening this month.  Once negotiations open we have a thirty day window to meet and come to agreement.  All negotiations must end by November 7th and Impasse items need to be submitted by December 12th.  Please watch for updates as we move forward on this important process.  There is still time to submit your suggestions concerning these negotiations.

We are being told by the District Manager new staffing proposals for the Stations and Branches will be submitted soon and we will be allowed to provide our input prior to implementation.  Over the last several years these proposals cut staffing at our Stations and Branches significantly and we anticipate similar proposals again.  We will as in the past seek input from the members working at each station concerning the proposals.  Further, if the proposals do not use all available hours we will file appropriate grievances and use the Industrial Station Arbitration we prevailed on in 2012.  This arbitration has provided direction to the St. Paul APWU as we have had many proposals over the last four years with no reductions of full-time duty assignments during this time.  In preliminary correspondence with the District Manager it appears management is going to try and staff according to the earned work hours that were flatly rejected by the Arbitrator. 

Apparently, we are heading into a dispute again. 
September 30th is the end of the 2016 fiscal year and we anticipate many violations concerning custodian staffing.  The 2015 fiscal year established many violations and management has done very little administrative change to end the violations so we believe the remedy will be increased to 100 percent of the Line H hours for many offices.  The MS-47 grievances for the LDC and St. Paul Processing Plant have been denied at Step 3 and we are awaiting a Arbitration date for both cases.  According to the NBA he thinks we can get it scheduled this year.   


from the June 2016 Postmark

Union Member Involvement


The recent disagreement with Management concerning workplace involvement schemes that was discussed last month is being effective because St. Paul APWU members are standing with the leadership of this local in not participating in these processes.  We ask for your continued solidarity in this endeavor and thank you for your help.

The Union is not its leaders it is the members who support the leaders through collective action.  Any effective Union needs its members to stand up for each other when faced with USPS management schemes to reduce staffing to unacceptable levels and degrade our jobs and workplaces in chasing the so called efficiencies which the so called labor scheduling programs call for. 

In a recent District Labor Management meeting, we were told that management intends to give "belt training" to all Northland District employees.  Despite the St. Paul Area Local's notification that our members are not participating in Lean Mail Processing/LSS processes.  This caused us to make a call to Labor Relations and put management on notice that we expect the members of the St. Paul APWU will not be required to attend these trainings.  If you are told to go see video that provides instruction of Lean Mail Processing and its corresponding processes, follow the order and ask for a steward to report what you were required to do.  We believe that if management moves forward to train St. Paul APWU members after being put on notice of us not participating that we have an unfair labor practice and we will seek remedy for the violation.  Thanks in advance for taking the time to inform us what is going on in your workplace.  Communication allows us to better represent your interests.

I was recently conducting a steward training for a PSE who is interested in becoming a Steward.  In this training the PSE told me that most people are unaware of their obligation to timely file a grievance.  Article 15 of your Collective Bargaining Agreement defines the process.  It states that we have a right to file a grievance within 14 days of knowing or reasonable knowing of a violation.  One of management's most effective arguments is that a grievance was not filed in this 14 day period.  Please be aware of the time limits and if you think there is a violation of the contract ask for a steward right away to give them time to research your issue and file an appropriate grievance on your behalf. 

Last, at the time of writing this we have not received the Arbitrated National Agreement.  We expect that sometime this month that will occur.  When it does we will send out information so you are aware of the results of the important Contract.

Have a great summer and look for the Postmark again in September.



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from the May 2016 Postmark

 

Earlier this month, I sent out the following Flash Bulletin to explain the St. Paul APWU objection to Lean Six Sigma projects within the installations that St. Paul APWU represents.  I followed that up with a letter to the managers within the Northland District that the St. Paul APWU does not find it in the interest of the employees it represents to participate in these programs.  The letter goes on to demand that any such employee involvement that has not received written approval by the Local be immediately ended. If you know of such or have been appointed please notify us as soon as possible.  The Local is looking into filing an Unfair Labor Practice through the NLRB for management's exclusion of the St. Paul APWU in these type of activities.

The Hunger Games comes to St. Paul Processing and Distribution Plant through Lean Six Sigma employee involvement schemes.

Over the past couple of years, the USPS has been promoting a process known as "Lean Six Sigma" for most of the early part of this process it was introduced by putting signs up, cleaning the building, in some cases painting.  It was rolled out as a streamlining of processes within a facility to ensure mail flowed through operations with the least amount of barriers. 

The Wikipedia definition of Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that relies on a collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing waste, combining lean manufacturing/lean enterprise and Six Sigma to eliminate eight kinds of waste; Time, Inventory, Motion, Waiting,  Overproduction, Defects, and Skills.

Notice the definition requires a collaborative team effort, while the early part of implementation looked to be organizational.  Lean Six Sigma is quickly evolving into an employee involvement process. The APWU has a long history of consistently rejecting Employee Involvement programs from the National level down.  The goals of these programs is to pit worker against worker to get you to work harder, take advantage of your knowledge of your job, hold down the size of the workforce, and have your fellow employees harass you for the production you obtain on a daily basis.  A labor history of this type of involvement has resulted in they win, you lose. 

The bedrock of this process management is data and the use of this data to squeeze the employees to work harder.  It is sort of an employee shamming process, in which management provides production numbers on boards to show how each worker (machine) performed the day before for all others to see.  This visibility and information then create an atmosphere that pits employees against employees to force all to perform at the highest level achieved within the unit.  Thus, turning the workplace into a sort of "Hunger Games" production of the survival of the fittest worker and where the weakest must be sacrificed.  The members of the St. Paul Area Local have historically stood together as management tries to implement these processes of public embarrassment by producing less not more and the game quickly ends.  Remember, the success or failure to this program requires your participation and you can chose not to participate.

We are now being told that we will be a pilot site for employee involvement concerning production of the machines we operate.  Management is erecting a "war room" in the middle of the floor where they will put up production numbers from the previous day, week, and month.  Then they will require the mail processing clerks to leave their machines and visit the "war room" where they will be presented with the volume of mail they ran and asked to provide information by writing it on the charts what were the barriers for them not to meet the production goal established.  The mail processing clerks will be required to explain their lack of performance and why the goals are not being met.  This will be done by telling you that none of the information will be used against you personally only to "fix the problem" and make the facility more productive.  Again, this participation voluntary; hence you have a choice not to participate.  Please join the St. Paul APWU in saying NO!  

To further create stress, management is installing "Operations Huddle Boards" with three components; First Section-reporting Past Performance, Second Section- What's our plan? Success for the day, Third Section-How are we doing? Real time Quality Performance. The Huddle Boards are information boards to Track & Report progress and goals throughout each unit by specific sort plan and machine #.

The Local Union has many problems with this type of approach and believes that management by stress is not a proven way to improve moral or working conditions.  We are presently looking for ways to combat this.  We need your help to provide information to so we are better armed in defending this attack on our members.  We need to stand together and not let management pit workers against each other. 

It is not a coincidence that those who have been indoctrinated into the "Lean Six Sigma" have been given belts for their progress similar to those awarded in Karate for their discipline and progress.  For "Lean Six Sigma" the process is the elimination and dumbing down of jobs and managers will be rewarded for their discipline in implementing this "Hunger Games" approach.

As members of a Union we have to understand the underlining goals of these innocuous programs  and not allow or participate in this competitive selection process.  The results have not benefited the workers, the move to automation has resulted in loss of allied positions, prepping positions, loss of people to rotate, asking people to operate machines by themselves, the postal facilities have turned into high tech sweatshops where the throughput of the machine will be put up on the scoreboard to show who is losing the battle of the goals. 

Let's be perfectly clear on this issue, the St. Paul APWU has determined it is not in its best interests of the APWU bargaining unit employees to participate in this "pilot project". 

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We are quickly heading into summer and as usual it is looking like it will be busy.  This month is the Wisconsin State APWU convention and because we have Wisconsin members we will be there to represent those members.  First week of May is the Minnesota State APWU convention in Minneapolis.  The convention's purpose is to prepare resolutions that will be presented and voted to be presented at the National Convention in August 2015. Those resolutions which pass all these steps will be the priorities for those National Officers that negotiate the National Agreement.

Further, it is expected that we will receive an Arbitrated National Agreement sometime the end of June or early July.  Once the contract is presented to the members and ratified the process of local negotiations start and we attempt to negotiate LMOU provisions that are needed or need to be changed.

Custodian staffing has been one of the main things that is in dispute at the writing of this article.  Management is implementing a new version of MS-47 known as the TL-5. This roll-out has been occurring since 2014 and has now reached many of our facilities.  This revision of the MS-47 updates custodian cleaning to industry standards now in place and requires standardize cleaning equipment and products for cleaning.  This standardization allows the USPS to use its buying power to negotiate a national supply contract and save money due to the volume of products needed.  However, there have been many complaints about the ability of the new cleaning chemicals to clean the affected areas.   In addition, the move to these new procedures has a negative impact on the amount of work hours needed to keep the facilities clean.  We have noticed in the Eagan Processing and Distribution Plant that the facility cleanliness has been declining steadily under the new procedures.  If you encounter a dirty work area, such as a bathroom, swing room, drinking fountain; please document it through a PS Form 1767 and help us expose those areas that are being neglected under the new procedures.  We really need everyone's help to ensure that we are able to come to work and not get sick from the facilities we work in.  I thank you in advance for your help on this issue.

Also, in every facility that we have a Custodian assigned, the St. Paul APWU has filed a grievance on behalf of its members for management failing to comply with the Memorandum of Understanding that allowed the implementation of MS-47 TL-5.  It appears as with just about everything in regards to the 2010-2015 National Agreement, that management is quick to implement the parts that benefit them and force the union to file grievances to enforce those that benefit the workers of the APWU crafts.  In many of these cases the St. Paul APWU is seeking a large monetary remedy for the violations.  In all associate offices the Postmaster is required to issue daily work assignment sheets to ensure all the duties that are defined as requirement are accomplished.  We have found that not one single Associate Office is doing this, in violation of this requirement.  Further, we have found that the Custodians that we represent are performing many duties that are not included in the approved staffing packages.  As a custodian please ask management to provide you with a PS form 1776 daily to document the work you are doing.  If the Postmaster refuses contact the St. Paul APWU so we can help you in getting this important document issued to you. All these grievances are being denied and sent to Step 3 for resolution.  We are six monthS into fiscal year 2016 and management has not started to comply with the requirement.  Thus, we anticipate that many offices will have a second year of non-compliance.

Keeping on the Custodian issue, the 2010-2015 National Agreement has a Memorandum of Understanding that states management and the Union agree that when in small post offices there are two hours or less of contracted out custodian duties that cannot be combined with other maintenance duties to create a duty assignment, those duties will be assigned to existing APWU bargaining unit duty assignments.  The National APWU had to file a Step 4 dispute on management's unwillingness to implement this memorandum and has just signed off on a Question and Answer to resolve how it is implemented.  The Q and A states that Clerk PSE's and PTF's can be assigned this work assigned this work where it cannot be added to an existing Clerk duty assignment.  When performing these duties the Clerk is required have these hours recorded under the Custodian function and be assigned to operations 747 or 748.  When performing these duties a clerk cannot be required to wait on customers.  Last, management is required to provide the required OSHA training based on the custodian duties expected to be performed.

This means that if you have a contractor who is performing custodian duties at your office.  It is likely that these hours belong to you, this includes lawn care and snow removal.  If you are in a small office and the custodian duties are being done by someone other than APWU represented employees you need to ask for a steward and have a grievance filed.  These work hours likely belong to you.  Do not allow our work to be done by someone else.

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National Interest Arbitration

Begins

National Interest Arbitration began on February 17, 2016. Both parties will present their corresponding case over the next few months with a decision expected this summer.  National Maintenance Craft Director reported at the Four State Caucus in Fargo, ND, that the APWU is presently laying out its position to the Arbitration Panel.  The presentation has included testimony from rank and file members from the floor.  The Director stated our members did a great job explaining their present situations in regards to their positions with the United States Postal Service.  Director Raymer went on to explain the APWU has taken great lengths to show how the last contract which was a concessionary agreement that management took all their and failed to comply with the items that benefited the members and they are seeking to have this recognized.  Last, the National APWU asks that we continue to wear our stickers to show support of our negotiators as we continue this process to secure a decent contract that recognizes the efforts of postal workers to the success of the USPS.

Maintenance Jobs Under Attack

With the implementations of the new MS-47 TL-5 locally, management is reducing custodial positions.  On February 23rd, by certified letter the USPS notified the St. Paul APWU of a reduction of seven (7) Full-Time Regular custodial positions for the P&DC. This does not include the Station and Branches or the Airport LDC custodial positions, which are expected in the near future.  We have met with management and they are presently trying to present to us the impacted positions.  We discussed with them their obligation under Article 12 if there is a excessing from a section.  Management indicated that they have too many positions on Tour 2 and need to add positions to Tour 3 and Tour 1.  We hope to meet and get specifics as soon as possible.  It is clear that there will be disruption to the custodians as this process is implemented.  Further, it is possible that PSE's will be let go for lack of work.  The St. Paul Area Local is discussing how to reduce this impact if needed.

There has also been a great deal of rumors swirling around BEM work at the Station and Branches.  According the National Maintenance Craft Director, management appears ready to unilaterally implement changes to the MS-1 after to failing to negotiate the changes with the APWU. The National is prepared to file a National Level dispute on the implementation when it occurs.  According to Director Raymer this will be as early as April of this year.  Local management has been unwilling to discuss these rumors to date and the impact to the BEM's in the St. Paul Installation.

The St. Paul APWU will send out Flash Bulletins as information concerning these two important issues with Maintenance employee comes forward over the coming weeks.


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  Workplace Surveillance
 
In the October 2015 edition of the Postmark, I provided an abridged version of work and time standards in the work place and its evolution within the United States Postal Service.  The information gathered from these sophisticated labor scheduling programs is the modern day equivalent of work and time standards.  The “data” provided by these programs are the evidence that management uses to justify staffing cuts and label workers as lazy and inefficient.  The term most used is “earned complement” or the dated term matching work hours to work load. 

Then earlier this month, I posted to my Facebook account with a question concerning me wondering how many cameo appearances I made on surveillance videos that day.  I was struck by how many times that day I saw video surveillance cameras while I went about my daily business. 

Shortly after, I read an article in the NALC newsletter discussing the new scanners that the carriers have been assigned which have GPS tracking capabilities tied to a computer program that tracks their route to determine if they are reaching each stop as required by their route on time.  This program is also monitored by individuals in Denver and their own station.  If they are not making adequate progress the vehicle turns red and soon after they have their supervisor talking with them on intercom through the scanner. 

Couple this with an article concerning MIT developing an employee badge which gathers 4 gigabytes of information concerning the workers habit each day sent me thinking on how much data the United States Postal Service gathers concerning individuals work output each day and the corresponding surveillance an employee is subjected to in the work environment.
I have had discussions with Plant Managers concerning this information on many occasions.  If goes something like a DBCS machine on tour 3 only ran five hours while two employees were assigned to it for eight hours.  The report showed when the machine ran when it was not running and finally who was assigned to it.  Another discussion was why is it so hard for employees to punch the right operations while they are working.  The Plant Manager stated sometime in the near future it was believed that the employees badge would be needed to start the machines and sweep them.  Thus, ensuring the proper operations would be correspondent to the programs being run on the machines.

This is not unlike a world found in a novel called 1984 by George Orwell in which he boldly states: “Big Brother is Watching You.”  when I started at the USPS the ubiquitous inspectors’ catwalks were in all facilities, these have been replaced by video surveillance and computer programs that provide the secret surveillance in our workplace today.It used to be  that we as Americans fought  for our right to privacy at work and home. However, it is quite clear that this freedom we are supposed to care about and guaranteed in the Constitution has been eroded quite quickly.  While I do not have a solution to the erosion of personal privacy to identify it as a problem which we must confront is a start. 

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  The Year Ahead

It is anticipated that 2016 will bring a new National Agreement.  We have been told that the process of picking a neutral Arbitrator is in process and should be announced soon, with National Interest Arbitration to begin shortly after the selection.  This will mean sometime during the summer we should have a Contract.  After this announcement the Local will begin Local Negotiations to negotiate LMOU’s for all the Installation’s we represent.  I will be assembling the Local Negotiation Teams over the next few months.

If you want to see something change with the LMOU please send your suggestions to St. Paul APWU PO Box 21128, Eagan, MN 55121.  The committee will consider your suggestion and follow up with you if we need to clarify of what you are suggesting.  If you want something changed, now is the time to communicate with the St. Paul APWU. 

Looking into to other areas, it is anticipated that Management will attempt to implement a new staffing package for Customer Service in the St. Paul Installation.  We have been discussing various proposals over the last year and half. At some point, management is going to move forward with a proposal.  In the Processing and Distribution Plant it has been indicated that adjustments will be made to Tour 1 start times and number of duty assignments in sections.  There will also be a new Plant Manager named soon.  With every new Plant Manager, we see change as they try to put their personal stamp on the facility.  We will continue to meet regularly with Management in Labor Management meetings to provide input to proposals.  When there are concrete plans we will notify you as soon as possible to what management are up to and how we have responded.

It is hoped that this Christmas season shone a light on our short staffing and the need to correct it.  We hope that this year will bring proposals to increase the full-time complement, rather than reduce and degrade service even more.  While this may be a pipe dream, discussions with Management have revealed that they understand how not having enough staffing has been negatively impacting service obligations. We hope to continue to convert PSE’s to career status.On the Associate Office front, we continue to spend time trying to get management to comply with the POstPlan implementation process.  There are many issues concerning management performing bargaining unit work and PSE’s being used improperly. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Custodial Staffing will be front and center over the next year as we process the grievances concerning failure to staff in accordance with the MS-47.  Management has also implemented the TL-5 version of the MS-47 in the Processing Plant and they will soon be providing a new staffing package in accordance with the new procedures. 

Subcontracting continues to be a problem in the MVS and Maintenance Crafts.  The Craft Officers are working hard to combat these contracts.  The Clerk Craft also experiences subcontracting issues with the movement of Non-Machineable Outsides to a contractor for Christmas. 

from the January 2016 Postmark

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from the November 2015 Postmark

 

The Fight for Safe Jobs

 The APWU is embarking on an informational campaign to educate its members on their rights when it comes to safety in the workplace.  Recently, on a national scope we have had members die and contract serious life threatening illnesses while at work.  No one should have to put their life in jeopardy while at work. 

The Contract provides that it is the responsibility of management to provide safe working conditions in all present and future installations and to develop a safe working force. The contract also places an obligation on the Union to cooperate in and assist management in living up to its responsibility.
The Union is committed to this responsibility. 

As part of this commitment we participate in Local Safety Committees and our members are involved in an active ERRP committee.  In addition we pursue grievances where safety issues are not abated and resolved and participate in meeting with OSHA when they are called to investigate complaints of safety.  Despite all this work at prevention we are slowed in resolution of safety issues by an employer who many times appears ambivalent to the safety of its workers.

As an employee of the USPS you have an obligation to report unsafe conditions within our facilities and any accident that occurs.  The form to report an unsafe condition is a PS Form 1767.  This form is to be available at each facility.  If you do not know where one is ask a supervisor for the form.  This form is the first line to reporting and attempting to fix an unsafe condition. 

I ask all employees that we represent to use this form when reporting it to a supervisor.  This form is the documentation that begins the process of abating a unsafe condition.  This form has three parts and comes in triplicate. 

The first part is where you write a narrative to explain the unsafe condition and it asks to provide your opinion on what you think needs to be done to abate the unsafe condition.  Once you complete your portion of the form and provide it to your supervisor, they are required to immediately investigate and resolve the problem.  They should provide you with a written response within the same work day as to what they have done to resolve it. 
If management does not respond to this document and resolve the safety issue it is your right to ask for a steward to process it through the grievance process.  If we work together it is hoped that we can keep our workplaces safe and avoid the ramifications of ignoring an unsafe work environment.

Look for the postings on Union bulletin boards to provide information on your rights concerning safety in the near future. 

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From the October 2015 Postmark
 

Time is Money-Work and Time Standards

The founder of Work and Time standards is Fredrick Winslow Taylor who in 1903 published a book titled Shop Management.  Fredrick Winslow Taylor was a laborer and a machinist who looked around at his fellow workers with disdain because they were not working as hard as he was and became concerned that their laziness was costing the company money.  With this attitude, he was promoted quickly by his bosses and expected those workers to produce more output. 

In order to determine the expected output, he followed the most productive workers around the shop floor armed with a stop watch, timing every move and developing expectations that each and every employee would produce the same as the most productive worker or they would be terminated from employment.  This Work and Time Standard now known as “productivity” made the company lots of money and his theories grew great prominence and have become the basis of all analysis concerning workers cost versus production.
The National Agreement between the United States Postal Service and the APWU has Article 34 “Work and Time Standards”.

This is where the principle of a fair days work for a fair days pay is found in our contract.  This Article has been part of the agreement since the very first one in 1971 this language has seen little change over the years. Article 34 of the National Agreement begins; “The principle of a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay is recognized by the parties.  The Employer agrees that any work measurement systems or work standards shall be fair, reasonable and equitable.” 

Article 34 provides that the Union will be kept informed and the Union has the ability to initiate a grievance.
During the early 1960’s, the St. Paul Area Local took on the battle of work and time standards known as the “Guidelines” and were successful in convincing Congress to eliminate the “Guidelines”.  This did not stop the Postal Service from pursuing work and time standards.  They use all sorts of methods to determine these standards today.  Some of the names of programs that produce work and time studies are TACS, POS, CSV, SEAMS, eCBM all provide data to indicate if a work area has “earned” its staffing complement. 

In the 1990’s, management started BPI- Breakthrough Productivity Initiative and soon after POS.   This was the automating of “work and time standards” and resulted in the great reductions of staffing we have incurred over the last couple of decades.  While the names of the programs which measure the “work and time standards” have changed it all remains the same.  So, BPI was the Trojan horse that was foisted upon us and as a Union we let them come on in thinking that a well-run data driven Post Office was a good thing for our future.  The National APWU leadership did not file disputes on these “work and time standards” and by the time they realized what had been unleashed it was too late to initiate a dispute to these standards.  Today as we are bombarded by the constant downward push on staffing, there is a chorus of managers who say we do not “earn” our staffing and our budget requires we cut jobs. 

The St. Paul Area Local has pushed back and protected many of these full-time career jobs.  However, the challenge continues to be to convince the National APWU that this issue needs to be addressed through Article 34 of the National Agreement and to initiate disputes where the work and time measurements in these data programs do not represent fair, reasonable, and equitable standards.  The struggle to combat these work measurement programs will only intensify and we will continue to fight for decent paying jobs that provide a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
 

Todd Elkerton, President

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From the September 2015 Postmark

  Summers are a busy time for the Union.  This summer was not different. 

On a personal note, in July my bride of 21 years was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer. She has begun treatment and is hopeful of a positive outcome.  I want to thank the Members, Officers, and Stewards for their support in this time.

At this point there have been no updates on the Contract.  The parties are participating in Mediation and if this does not produce an settlement it will proceed to Interest Arbitration.  If the parties proceed to Arbitration it is expected that sometime next year we will have an National Agreement. The National APWU is asking that you wear APWU union gear and buttons on Thursdays in an expression of solidarity for the negotiators.
 
In the Level 18 Offices there was a settlement concerning supervisors performing bargaining unit work and the requirement of Postmaster to now submit an electronic 1260 which records all bargaining unit work they perform.  This self-reporting from the Postmasters of violations of the work hour limitations in this size office has resulted in many members getting significant monetary remedies for these violations. The limit established by the contract is 15 hours of bargaining unit work the Postmaster is permitted to work each week.  If you know that your Postmaster is working beyond this limit contact the St. Paul APWU so they can verify that the Postmasters are recording these work hours properly. 

Further, as part of this settlement the parties agreed to a remedy of 56 million dollars for violations from 2011 to 2014.  All PTF’s and NTFT employees less than 40, who were on the rolls during this time period in level 15,16, and 18 offices will be part of the remedy.  The National APWU has overseen this process and will be giving the list of affected employees this month for payment.  There is an article on the National APWU website explaining the remedy, please look here for specifics.  It is hoped that the National APWU will supply a list of employees and the amounts.

The St. Paul Area Local has been notified that the excessing from the installation event for St. Paul has been cancelled.  This means that at this time there will be no excessing of full-time employees from the St. Paul Installation.  As a result of this cancellation, the local has been working hard to fill residuals that were being held under Article 12.  It is hoped that sometime this month we will see residual duty assignments again being filled in accordance with MOU on “Filling Residual Duty Assignments.”  It is anticipated that this will mean conversion to full-time career of PSE’s.  There were also positions withheld because of these event in the associate offices and we are working on getting these positions filled also.

Last, late in July, the Postal Service reversed its decision on the SPSS machine where it previously had awarded work on this machine to the Mailhandler Craft. The induction of parcels is now assigned to the  Clerk Craft   For those that work in the plant, the USPS has started to install these machines in the St. Paul Plant and it is expected to be operational in October.  As this point, management has been unable to provide the staffing requirements for this machine.  We will provide information as soon as it is available.
 

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From the June 2015 Postmark

  Greetings, I hope everyone has a fun summer planned.  The June Postmark is the only one for the summer and will resume in September. 

It is shaping up to be another extremely busy summer for the Union. 

Let’s start with National Contract Negotiations, the Collective Bargaining Agreement expired May 20
th at midnight.  The parties were not able to reach agreement and an impasse was declared to following week. This means that the parties have agreed to extend the present agreement until the impasse is resolved.  According to National APWU President Mark Dimondstein, “Management’s economic demands and proposed changes to the workforce were completely unacceptable” 

The next step according to law is to  enter into mediation.  It is expected that this will be a period of 60 days.  The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service will provide the services for mediation.  If mediation does not produce an agreement the parties will proceed to Interest Arbitration. 

Members are being asked to continue to wear button, stickers, and APWU t-shirts in solidarity and support for our negotiators who are seeking a fair and respectful contract for the APWU members. 

Once a National Agreement is reached either through mediation or arbitration, the St. Paul APWU will be tasked with negotiating Local Memorandum of Understandings for each of the installations we represent. 
So, while the procedures in place will result in an agreement, the timeline for this occurring is not fully defined at this point.

For those looking for up to date information you can visit our website, stpaulapwu.org where there are links to the National APWU or just visit apwu.org directly. 

The St. Paul APWU is still working hard on several of our associate office issues, specifically POstPlan and the new electronic 1260’s for postmasters in level 18 offices.  In addition, we are again getting proposals for the Customer Service Offices in the St. Paul Installation. 

We are still in the information exchanging process and will provide updates and talk directly to the offices that are impacted as soon as we are sure management is moving forward with the proposals. 

There are changes that are being made as I write this and the Station Managers and supervisors who are providing information are pre-mature in what will happen. 

If you are being told by management what is occurring within your office, please call the Union Office and tell us what is being said to you.  We are committed to fighting job reduction in the same manner we have done in the past.  Please provide your input and help us help you.
 

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  The Mail Slowdown Continues             

  
On April 18, 2015 the St. Paul Plant was again the gaining facility for the ongoing downsizing of the USPS Processing and Distribution Network.  The St. Paul Plant is now processing the mail previously processed in La Crosse and has taken on the cancellation of mail from Duluth.  
               

For most of the process, management has been playing the ostrich game with their heads in the sand and hoping these moves would not be required, all the while hoping for Congress to provide some legislation that would stop this process. 
Further, the leadership that is now in place has very little experience in Mail Processing operations and was ill prepared for what needed to be planned for in the St. Paul Facility. At our Labor Management meeting just over a week out from the April 18th movement of this mail, management was unable to answer easy questions concerning the move, such as, how many machines will the LaCrosse DPS mail need?  Where will the Flat mail be run? How will the parcel breakdowns look and where are they going to be located?  Do you have staffing in place to accomplish these needs?

The lack of knowledge and planning put into this move was deeply concerning for the St. Paul Area Local.  We were told that they would get together the information and present it as soon as they were able.  Two days out from the move, I had an impromptu meeting with the Plant Manager and was told they were still working up the models to run the mail.  I told the Plant Manager that on behalf of the members, we were deeply disappointed that the USPS leadership in St. Paul was unable to provide even the most basic of information.  I told him that one thing was for sure that the mail was going to arrive and the people I represent will figure out a way to return it to LaCrosse for delivery which is what happened.In order to accomplish the consolidations the USPS has had to slow the mail down. 

The most recent District   Labor Management Meeting indicated that since our last meeting the mail has slowed considerably.  Overnight first class mail has disappeared.  Two day first class mail on time delivery has been reduced from 96.8 percent to 92.68 percent.  Three to five day first class has seen the biggest drop in on time delivery from 92.32 to 69.36 percent. 
These numbers are troubling and will result in a devaluing of the Postal Service as our customers will not find the USPS to be a reliable service.  When the USPS is struggling, so are its workers. 

We have voiced our opinion that the downsizing of the Processing and Distribution Network will have negative effects, but all the while it has been full speed ahead.  The numbers do not lie.
District and Local Management like to remind us that St. Paul is a gaining facility and that is a good thing.  I admit that being a gaining facility is a better position than being a losing facility.  However,  the destruction of “every piece, every day” is going to have long term effects on the reliability and trust the American public has in the Postal Service
.
In July 2015, the St. Paul Installation will also gain the Eau Claire mail processing operations as we continue this march.  It is hoped that by then St. Paul management will understand how it works and be better prepared.   

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  President’s Report, - Todd Elkerton
 

A Long History of Struggle

March 2015 marks the 45th anniversary of the Great Postal Strike.  In 1970 the St. Paul Area Local members decided to leave their posts as postal workers and take it to the street along with thousands of union members across the nation. This workplace action took the country and its government by surprise and laid the groundwork for collective bargaining.  This workplace action was a result of Postal Workers understanding that if they wanted dignity and respect in the workplace they needed to act in solidarity and say enough is enough. 
As all important events, where people stand up and fight back these actions, were not some spontaneous event, it was something that percolates through many workplace indignities.   Postal workers had suffered decades of long hours, substandard pay, meager benefits, and deplorable working conditions.
The Charter on the wall at the St. Paul Area Local office indicates that on April 12th, 1911 we became a union, that St. Paul Postal Workers committed to struggle together for better working conditions and dignity and respect at the Post Office.  This means that for more than 100 years the members of St. Paul Post Office have worked together to find common and creative solutions to its problems.  The archives of meeting minutes from the 1940 and 1950’s along with the Postmarks from this time through the 1960’s provide glimpses into the struggles and successes that were achieved along the way.  It is instructive that many of the same issues that were present during this time are also present during our time.  The St. Paul Union was the first in the Nation to negotiate seniority agreements for the distribution of work, and a pool and relief agreement to cover absences and vacancies at its stations. The results of these actions were then repeated across the United States.  Along the way there were also public protests that brought the workplace issues of to the street.  The records indicate that during the Depression, President Roosevelt cut postal workers pay in half and they worked at this rate with no raises for thirty years.  Reflect on this, what would you do if it was thirty years without a raise?  This was the reality for the people who did the hard work to bring the mail to the public’s doorstep.  During this time period, the leaders of St. Paul postal workers worked hard “begging” for a raise through the elected congressman from this state.  They would get legislation introduced and moved in both the House and Senate.  Sometimes the legislation required for a raise died on either bodies floor.  On rare occasions the legislation made it through Congress only to be vetoed by the President.  Imagine today where we would be if we needed to rely on Congress for our raises, you can be assured you would not have the benefits and pay you enjoy today through a collective bargaining process that allows for representation at the bargaining table and binding arbitration if the parties are unable to agree.  It is clear that the actions of these committed activists over the last century made the Postal Service a better place to work.

It is through this hundred year struggle, that is the backdrop of where we are today as National Contract negotiations are being conducted as equals at the negotiation table.  The thing that becomes crystal clear is that in order to see progress we need each and every members’ support. 

The strike in 1970 was not a done by the leaders of the union organizations it was done by the rank and file members.  It was their solidarity that moved us forward to where we are today.  If we  as postal workers want to gain a better future through our employment it will take member involvement.  There is nothing more effective than direct action.   The National APWU has embraced a contract process that keeps the members informed with updates as negotiations progress.  Take the time to participate in the Town Hall meetings or log into the APWU.org website members area to receive update.  History teaches us that it is vitally important that members engaged and supportive move us forward.  Please get involved today. 

 

New Year,  Many Challenges On The  Horizon

As we enter into the New Year of 2015, we begin  with the elimination of overnight first class mail standards.  This is a continuation of the USPS historic push to reduce its mail distribution network. 

The elimination of first class overnight standards paves the way for consolidation of the Eau Claire, LaCrosse, and Duluth mail processing operations to come to St. Paul Processing and Distribution Center.

Locally, management has presented its staffing proposals to move mail processing hours to meet the new standards.  This shift will see the initial creation of 25 duty assignments on Tour 2 with a 0700 start time for both Automation Letter and FSM units, along with shift of starting times to both Tour 3 and Tour 1. 

Management has started to inform employees that will not require  duty assignments to be reposted of the changes effective January 10
th, 2015.  Those whose duty positions require reposting are being told the new starting times will appear on the February 2015 posting and be posted installation-wide.  Those that do not receive a bid will become unassigned regulars and subject to assignment by management until they receive a duty assignment. 

The movement of employees is unknown at this time and the number of duty assignments affected will be determined by the movement to the Tour 2 positions and where these people come from.  In the interim, management is placing PSE’s into the new starting times on Tour 2 until the positions are filled.  Hopefully, this will occur prior to you reading this.
All of this movement is to process the existing mail in the critical entry times window established by the USPS.  If and when the mail from the outstate facilities is moved to St. Paul there will be more adjustments to the number of duty assignments needed to process the mail as it arrives in St. Paul.  It is for these changes that management issued a withholding notice to St. Paul Installation  for the potential of excessing outside the installation. 

From the information that management has provided at this time the St. Paul Area Local believes that this notice should be cancelled.  However, management has been slow in issuing a cancellation.  We will continue to work diligently to ensure that impact is minimized or cancelled in the near future.
Post Plan has moved forward with NTFT positions posted in three associate offices and the conversion of three PTF’s.  The other level six office Newport has a sitting postmaster and will filled either at the expiration of the grace period or the Postmaster moving to a different position. 

Those Post Offices that are now remotely managed under a Administrative Post Office that we represent now have a LMOU that oversees its office.  We are presently working on issues of the NTFT positions being posted improperly and hope to have these resolved in the near future.

The St. Paul Installation Function 4 offices are still working on their staffing proposals and we expect to have another meeting this month concerning these staffing proposals.  As they sit right now, the St. Paul Area Local believes  the proposals are flawed in accordance with Arbitrator Fletcher ruling in early 2014 that the contract does not allow management to give a single hour to a PSE that should be part of a full-time duty assignment.  We will work hard to try and convince management of its need to not have PSE’s part of the staffing package and include those hours in duty assignments.  If not, we will again fight this battle with management. 

Last, the Contract expires in May of 2015 and we anticipate more requests from management for  concessions.  The National APWU is attempting to organize a contract campaign that asks for members involvement and plans to communicate what is happening to the members as it moves forward.  T

he new Officers that were elected after the ratification of the last contract ran on their opposition to contractual changes that occurred in 2010 and believe that they need to gain back some that was lost during those negotiations.  Time will tell if the parties are able to negotiate an agreement or if an Arbitrator will end up deciding the next contract.  We intend to provide timely information to membership as the process moves forward.  The first discussions are scheduled to take place in February 2015.
As you can see 2015 will be another challenging year as we struggle to ensure that the changes proposed by management comply with our negotiated agreements.

 

Another summer has come and gone, and issues with the Postal Service are as dysfunctional as ever.  We have spent the summer working on issues related to the National MOU “filling residual vacancies”.  There have been many bumps in the road for each craft that have needed attention.  Right now, on Sept 2, 2014 there has been progress in each craft to convert PSE’s to full-time.  We hope to continue this process.

Across the board, there are significant issues concerning staffing or lack of it.  These  issues will continue for the foreseeable future and probably will get worse before it gets better.  Right now, consolidation is back on the table for Eau Claire and Duluth.  If these consolidations occur,  it will result in most of the duty assignments within the Processing and Distribution Plant at Eagan being  reposted.  In addition, we expect in the near future for management to provide new Function 4 plans for all St. Paul Stations and Branches. If the past is any indication there will be significant repostings there also.  We will try and provide up to date information as we get it.


In July, the National APWU had its Convention.  The St. Paul Area Local sent seven delegates as representatives. All the St. Paul delegates were present and worked hard for the week.  The Convention was spent trying to decide which positions to eliminate.  There has been a significant drop in membership. s a result of this we are struggling with figuring out how to provide representation for all members and losing a National Business Agent is an emotional decision for many of the members.  We heard passionate pleas from all the areas that were losing a NBA.  In the end the delegates eliminated most of the vacant NBA positions and the vacant National Office positions.  In addition, the delegates eliminated a day of the National Convention.  In the end, I think that everyone walked away from the Convention thinking they lost something.  I believe the structure of the National Union will need to be looked at and a comprehensive plan proposed, rather than the dismantling of parts through vacancies in offices. 

I want to end by thanking the membership for sending me as a delegate to the National Convention; I take the responsibility of representing your issues seriously and am humbled by the opportunity to do this.


Last, please make plans to vote in the November elections.  Take the time to research candidates that support working people issues and vote for those that respect the job you do and are willing to protect it.  Elections have consequences. We only have to look to the legislation of 2006 that created the prefunding issue with retiree health benefits and the corresponding austerity that has been the result.  We all have suffered the consequences of this bad legislation and need to recognize that our vote is extremely important.  

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It is shaping up to be an interesting summer.   - reprinted from June 2014 Postmark

The Stop Staples Campaign is moving forward with boycott resolutions coming from other Unions and the AFL-CIO as the APWU continues to inform the public of the Staples Pilot Program that we believe will negatively impact retail services at USPS stations and branches.  This  campaign will continue until Staples decides to stop the process.

Right now, I am up to my armpits in the processes contained in the MOU “Filling Residual Duty Assignments”.  Each craft has its own set of rules that were negotiated to fill residual duty assignments with the ultimate goal to see some conversion of PSE employees. Management has put up road blocks at each turn and we continue to press forward to get this completed.  All three crafts are presently in some part of the process but we have not seen conversion of PSE employees yet through this process. We will continue the struggle to see that the new MOU is followed and our residual jobs are filled.   Hopefully, sometime this summer we are able to provide some good news that some PSE’s are being converted to career status.

Also, this summer at some point we expect that Customer Service in the St. Paul Installation will come forward with staffing proposals for each station and branch.  Historically, this has meant further reductions in the station staffing which results in excessing and reposting duty assignments.  We have had limited input in the process at this point but are being told that they are presently working on completion and will share them with the Union when they are completed.  Presently there are 35 PSE’s working in the Stations and Branches.  We believe that if they are going to be reducing hours that they are to come from the hours PSE’s are working first.  We also believe that the hours worked by PSE’s represent desirable work hours for a number of our full-time career employees and that they need to be posted as such.  Further, we believe that we went to arbitration on the issue of staffing to the earned model of the Customer Service Variance (CSV) and the arbitrator ruled in favor of the Union concerning the posting of jobs from “all available work hours” not from earned hours.  We have indicated that we expect management to comply with the Arbitrators decision.  However, our experience is that the Postmaster in St. Paul has a blatant disregard for our contract and will do whatever it is that fits his means regardless of the obligations under the contract.

Last, we are expecting that at some point this year the Plant Manager in St. Paul and the Postmaster will be retiring.  We will have to see who gets placed in these positions and what their plans will be.  We know that when these vacancies get filled that the new manager will want to make his mark by changing or reinventing how we do things.  This will in all likelihood mean further changes to sections and work hours resulting in disruption on the workroom floor.

  Taking it to the Streets

On April 24, 2014 the APWU sponsored a protest in front of Staples in Roseville at Har Mar Mall.  The protest was a cooperative effort of the St. Paul, Minneapolis, and PDC Local.  Along with this we were supported greatly by the NALC from both St. Paul and Minneapolis, the St. Paul and Minneapolis Regional Federations of the AFL-CIO.  While it was cold dreary day it did not dampen the spirits of the protesters.  We received a lot of media coverage from the event and got our message out to the public.

  I want to personally thank all those that participated, supported, and organized the event.
We will continue our pressure on Staples in an effort to convince them that this pilot project is not in their financial interest. Watch for ways to stay involved.

Filling of Residual MOU

We continue to pressure local management to follow the MOU in the interest of filling residual vacancies in a timely manner.  It our hope that in the near future we will see the conversion of some of our PSE’s.  We will continue to ensure that management adheres to the processes defined for each craft. As with everything concerning the Postal Service, they have many excuses for why they cannot move forward.  It is in our interest to get this done as soon as possible.

St. Paul Retirees receive their Charter

After a long struggle to accomplish this the Retirees have persevered and received their Charter as well as some money with which to do things.  I want to thank the leadership for sticking with this and we can finally say that we HAVE AN  official APWU Retirees group in St. Paul.  For all the retirees that are able attend a meeting, come see what this group is up to. It’s a good time to drink some coffee and share how retirement is going.  I know that personally I like to see the retirees in our building for their meetings. 

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  National Day of Action
“Stop Staples” scheduled for
April 24th


The National APWU has called for a National Day of Action on April 24th.  The St. Paul Area Local will be participating with other Locals from Minnesota at the Roseville Staples Store located off of Highway 36 and Snelling Avenue in Har Mar Mall. 

The specifics of this protest have not been finalized at the deadline of this publication.  We will send out the specifics for the protest through the Flash Bulletins.

  Please make plans to attend the protest.  The job that you protect may just be your own.  This Staples pilot project is a direct threat to privatize large amounts of retail services to low level poverty wages at the expense of our members. 

So, mark your calendars and make plans to attend.  If you have not received the specifics through the Flash Bulletins please call our office at 651-778-1637 to get the time that the protest will be going on.  I look forward to seeing you there.

PSE Conversion?

The APWU signs an agreement with the USPS to fill residual vacancies that will see some PSE conversion

On March 20th, the National APWU and USPS reached agreements with all three crafts on the filling of residual vacancies that the end result will require management to fill vacancies through a process defined by each specific craft, Clerk Craft, Maintenance Craft, and Motor Vehicle Services Craft.  Each Craft has a different way of filling these vacancies

.  If you would like to see the full agreement it can be found at apwu.org.  This agreement will hopefully provide conversion for some PSE employees that has been so elusive up to this point because the parties did not write contractual language to require conversion of PSE employees.

We need all PSE employees to verify their seniority date to ensure that this process is completed without delay and properly. 

There have been reported problems with seniority that occur upon reappointment and we are worried that we have not found all these issues.  We intend to meet with the Local USPS management to ensure the process required is followed. 

There will be updates to this as they become available.
 

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  A Future without Post Offices

This is the recent headline of an email sent to APWU members from APWU President Mark Dimondstein as efforts to mobilize the membership to combat the real threat of privatization of postal window service to Staples.  The letter encourages members to take action by going to a newly created website titled http://StopStaples.com.   I encourage all members to go to this website and fill out the online form to express your displeasure about the Staples pilot program and sign up for future updates.The St. Paul Area Local sent out certified letters to the Staples Stores in the 551 zip code area and followed up with a visit.  At the visit a request to discuss the issue with a Manager was made.  The Managers in all cases stated they have been instructed not to discuss this issue with us and were instructed to state this issue is being dealt with at a higher level.  It was good to note that our letter was received and warranted being sent to the corporate leaders at Staples.
Be prepared that in the near future, we may be asking you to join the leadership of the St. Paul APWU to protest in front of a Staples Store near you.  We need each and everyone of you to step up if we are to have success in defeating this privatization attempt.

PSE’s are invited to the February 25th
, 2014 General Membership Meeting

As PSE’s start to make up a greater percentage of our membership, we are asking the PSE’s to become involved.  Over the last few years we have had only one PSE attend a General Membership meeting.  At the meeting we intend to cover many PSE issues and will entertain all questions from the PSE’s.  If you are a PSE plan to attend this meeting.  We are hopeful that we can understand PSE issues and prepare for the upcoming National Convention this year with resolutions that improve PSE rights.  Further, it will be your time to explain to the St. Paul APWU leadership the challenges you face at work. I look forward to meeting some of our newest members at this meeting.

Retirees form a St. Paul Area Local Chapter

After completing some hurdles over that last several months it appears that the Retirees of the St. Paul Area Local are now recognized as an actual Chapter.  They are meeting regularly at the Union Office.  The meeting times and places are being posted in the Postmark.  I encourage all retirees that are able to attend a chapter meeting and become involved in retirement on issues that affect postal workers.  I want to thank those retirees that have put in the work to ensure that this Chapter gets off the ground.  I have enjoyed attending the meetings and hearing about how retirement is treating them.  We look forward to working with this group on events and issues that affect us all in the near future.
 

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  According to minutes from the National Association of Post Office Clerks in January 1944 the Postmark was published for the first time.  This means that for 70 years the Postmark has been the main vehicle for communicating with the members. The Postmark is intended to keep the local membership educated on what is going on in the Union Movement but more specifically what is going on with your own Local.  It is this proud tradition that we continue to bring timely information that the members are interested in each publication.  Thanks to all that read the Postmark month after month to stay on top of the issues we face as Postal Workers
 
A Privatization Threat to Retail Services is Unveiled


On November 10, 2013 Postal Management informed the newly sworn in officers of its intention to launch a pilot program to place Postal Retail Services inside of Staples Stores throughout the country.  Staples is the largest retailer of office supplies with nearly 1600 stores nationwide.
On November 20, 2013 APWU President Mark Dimondstein met with the Postmaster General.  Dimondstein insisted that if this plan is to move forward, these postal units must be staffed with career postal clerks.  President Dimondstein also has requested extensive information about the financial arrangement of this deal, and have instructed the attorneys to explore legal avenues.While the APWU supports expanded postal services it is adamantly opposed to management plans to replace good paying union jobs with non-union low wage jobs that have no accountability for the sanctity and security of the mail.In a letter sent to Local and State Presidents, President Dimondstein outlines the above information and states they are beginning to plan demonstrations at Staples Stores throughout the country.These actions are a direct attack on our jobs and must be confronted.  As specifics concerning demonstrations develop we need the membership to participate in these demonstrations, rather than, a few officers.  Please watch for announcements on planned demonstrations in the near future

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A Look at the Year Ahead

With no legislation passed in the present legislative direction, look for a push to change delivery standards to eliminate overnight  delivery, the completion of the plant consolidations, the move from six day delivery for letters and flats to be changed to five day delivery.While this would result in much more mail coming to St. Paul to be processed, it will also mean that all bids in the Plant will be subject to change as management moves to process more mail on Tour 2.  This may seem like a great thing in the near future it will continue to wreak havoc on mail service and deteriorate the financial condition of the postal service.  I expect 2014 to be a very bumpy year for us as postal workers and most will see their jobs change as the transition moves forward extremely fast.We will as always insist that the contractual provision agreed to by the parties continue to be applied and in those instances where management chooses to ignore these provisions we will file all the necessary grievances to protect us from this unreasonable management.  

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  The St. Paul Area Local was chosen to host Maintenance Staffing Advocate Training during the third week of October.  The training was designed to train a number of APWU Maintenance members from throughout the United States how to conduct Staffing Surveys and recommend actions to be taken by Locals. 

By hosting this training we were allowed to have our Maintenance Stewards  attend.  By the end of the week long training, our Maintenance Stewards had a firm understanding of how the MS-47 is used to create Custodial Staffing.  They also become proficient at using the software the National APWU has created to show the differences between Management numbers and actual numbers.  I can assure you that the Maintenance Craft Stewards are presently working hard on the staffing at St. Paul Processing and Distribution Plant in Eagan.
 

I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the National APWU Maintenance Craft Director Steve Raymer and National APWU Assistant Craft Director Idowu Balogun for choosing St. Paul Area Local for this training.
The first part of November will be the All Craft Conferences.  The St. Paul Area Local will be sending 10 delegates to these conferences.  The conferences offer the best and most up to date trainings concerning contract enforcement.  I expect the delegates will bring back the knowledge obtained in this trainings to better represent the members, as well as, share the knowledge with the rest of the Stewards.

Lastly, November marks the last Postmark of the year as we head in to Christmas.  I would like to wish all the APWU members  Happy Holidays.   

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  A Major Arbitration Decision 

On May 22, 2013, the St. Paul Area Local received an arbitration decision concerning our dispute with Management on how to create Function 4 Matrixes that resulted in elimination of 46 Full-Time Positions from our Stations and Branches and the hiring of 28 PSE’s.  The dispute was a result of new contractual language in Article 37.3.A.1 that now reads “Every effort will be made to create desirable duty assignments from all available hours for career employees to bid.”

We filed individual grievances for each station and branch that saw reductions in late 2012.  The grievance that was arbitrated was Industrial Station.  In the Arbitrator’s award he specifically states that this only applies to Industrial Station. 
Arbitrator Fletcher in his award agreed with the Union by stating; “The Union’s grievance is sustained.  The matter is remanded back to the parties to mutually develop a staffing matrix for Industrial Station that includes “all available [Clerk Craft] work hours”, without exception, “to create desirable duty assignments… for career employees to bid.”
 
When this staffing matrix is completed a mathematical calculation shall be made to determine the difference between work hours of the staffing matrix currently in place and the staffing package matrix developed using “all available hours”. The hours so determined represent the lost work hours for career employees resulting from an improper application of Article 37.3.A.1. That the difference in hours (retroactive to August 24, 2012) shall be paid to affected career employees at the straight time rate.”
At this time we have not yet met with management concerning this issue to see if we can come to an agreement on how to complete the Industrial Station Staffing.

  If we are able to come to agreement, it is anticipated that the rest of the station and branches will be settled in a similar fashion.  If we are not able to come to an agreement we will pursue our disputes through the grievance process with the vigor in which we got this first decision. 
I would like to thank NBA’s Willie Mellen and Marty Mater for their work on this case and their excellent presentation in front of the Arbitrator as well as the clerks at Industrial Station who are vigilant in reporting supervisor and carriers performing bargaining unit work, especially Pam Renollet for stepping forward and testifying at arbitration. 

Last, but certainly not least, the work of Bruce Gutzke, Cindy Lauer, and Fred Bainbridge on this case.  The result of this grievance would not have happened without the time and effort given by these individuals.  I know I speak for the whole membership in extending this thank you.

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I began my service to the membership of this local as a Steward appointed in 1996.  I spent many hours creating full-time duty assignments from the Part-Time Flexibles that were being hired.  This work resulted in the creation of many full-time positions and conversion of over 400 PTFS employees to Full-Time.  The more things change the more they stay the same. 

This Local is still fighting for full-time positions.  This benefits everyone, including the PSE’s because fighting for full-time positions will create the opportunity for these members to reach full-time career status.  I was approached the other day by a PSE on why I was forcing management to keep their hours below 30 hours a week.  I had a conversation stating that it is management’s decision to keep them under 30 hours per  week because if they did not it would show the need for a full-time position that would need to be posted.  So, it is management’s position if they stay under the percentages allowed under the contract and keep that individual PSE under 30 hours a week they will not have to create full-time duty assignments. 

Let me be clear the St. Paul APWU does not schedule PSE employees, that is management’s job and the only reason they are not giving a PSE more hours is to circumvent the need to create full-time duty assignments.  
The St. Paul APWU disagrees and through many grievances concerning PSE usage are trying to create these full-time duty assignment.  Recently the issue was heard in Arbitration and we expect a decision by the Arbitrator by the middle of next month concerning PSE usage in Function Four offices.  Further, we filed grievances concerning the usage of PSE in lieu of Pool and Relief Clerks that have just been denied at Step 3. 

The St. Paul Area Local is deeply concerned about the hatchet job done on the Stations and Branches of St. Paul resulting in a reductions of 68 full-time positions over a six month period and replacing these positions with more than 40 PSE employees.  Similar issues are also occurring in the Processing Plant, in which, we are also fighting for full-time jobs.
    

Consolidation plans are still being developed but right now it looks like the mail from LaCrosse, WI will be brought here and processed in the near future.  The next target as we understand it will be Eau Claire, WI.  Their mail processing operations will be moved here.  These volumes will result in changes to our jobs to process the mail within the required operational window.  As more specifics develop we will let the members know.  
   

 
I hope by the time you get month’s Postmark that the all too familiar snow in the forecast is done and you all are outside enjoying whatever activity it is that you enjoy.
 

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Enter content here 
by President Todd Elkerton


Hopefully by the time you get the Postmark this month we will know who the Clerk Craft Trustee is. We had elections last month for all office within the St. Paul Area Local and the votes were counted on March 23rd. All the contested elections were very close. The Clerk Craft Trustee was a tie between two candidates who received 82 votes each. So, in accordance with the Constitution for the St. Paul APWU the top two candidates are to have a referendum vote which is in process. I want to thank everyone who took the time to vote. Also, I look forward to working with all the elected officers over the next two years.

In March, the Plant Manager took a detail to Washington D.C. He has been replaced by a Manager from Seattle NDC. I have now met with him on two occasions and the subject has been the same, the concern he has about the productivity earned variance for St. Paul. To increase the productivity of throughput for automation management is starting “Automation Standardization Recertification.” For clerks that have been through this before they will take you off the floor and go over loading and sweeping basics and stress the need for keeping the machine running.

The new Plant Manager has put the APWU on notice that he is doing a “bid review” and will be coming forward with needed changes in the near future. We will communicate with you as this process moves forward and how his plans will affect your lives.

Last, the National APWU prevailed in National Level Arbitration concerning Small Offices and Postmaster performing bargaining unit work. The dispute arose shortly after ratification of the 2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement on the interpretation all hours staffing the window. Management contended that it should be measured by the earned WOS data.

The Union disagreed and that if a window was open and there was not a clerk in the building that this was time that should be considered as bargaining unit work. Now all time spent staffing the window, boxing mail, sorting mail, spreading mail, loading and unloading trucks, assigning and clearing accountables, etc. must be counted in the amount of hours the Postmaster/Supervisor performing bargaining unit work.
In level 20 and above:

Postmasters and Supervisors are prohibited from performing bargaining unit work except under the limited circumstances outlined in Article 1.6.A of the National Agreement in
Level 18 Office: Postmasters and Supervisors are limited to no more than 15 hours of bargaining unit work per week.In Level 15 and 16 Offices: Postmasters and Supervisors are limited to no more than 25 hours of bargaining unit work per week.

If you are a small office and these limits are not being adhered to, contact the Union as soon as possible so we can work on fixing the issue.


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I want to express my heartfelt thanks for the trust the members of this Local have placed in me by electing me to the position of President for the next two years. It is truly humbling. I only hope that by coming to work each day and fighting on your behalf I will be able to continue to garner your trust. The final numbers are in, we had 106 members and 26 non-members who chose to take the retirement incentive effective January 31, 2013. Management has chosen to revert many of these positions. The end result is that we are short staffed in many sections, stations, branches and associate branches.We are getting many reports of carriers and supervisors performing our bargaining unit work, clerks working more than 12 hours in a day or 60 hours in a week, clerks working without breaks and lunches, post being delayed, hot cases being scanned as up when they are not, waste going many weeks without being worked, second notices many weeks behind. The Local is filing grievances on these issues as they are being identified by our members. However, we know that there are many of these issues that are not being reported to the union. We need the members to assert their contractual rights and ensure that a steward is made aware of each and every one of these violations. Reporting these violation are important to protect our jobs and work rules. Further, they are used as proof that the jobs that are being eliminated are just being replaced by someone else doing the work. I want to thank those members that are stepping up and letting us know about these issues. I would like to also plead with those that are looking the other way to step up and provide the information that is necessary to protect the work. With your continued vigilance we hope to eventually stop some of these improper abolishments that have occurred.We recently had a one of grievances from the station staffing grievances we filed back in September 2012 come back directing management to post a full time assignment at Woodbury Station. We are excited about finally prevailing in a station staffing dispute. There are many more that we are pursuing and hope that we will get similar results. It looks like the rest will be appealed to arbitration.

Rochester mail is now being processed in the St. Paul Processing Plant. This has not come without some problems. As you know I have been an opponent to reducing our processing network. I think this will continue to degrade the USPS and its ability to timely deliver the mail. Just as all this is taking place, management is making plans to bring Eau Claire, WI and Duluth, MN into the St. Paul Plant. The prior one will require a change in delivery standards. All these moves will mean that this will be another year of transition as management figures out how to accomplish these moves. We will continue to meet weekly and advocate on behalf of the members of this Local in the upcoming changes and try and minimize them for the members we represent.


President’s Report

This month at the General Membership Meeting we will take nominations for all elected offices of the St. Paul, MN Area Local. The election will be held in March with newly elected officers taking their elected positions on April 1, 2013 for a two-year period. There were some decisions made by the Membership at the January 2013 meeting that will affect the elections.

First, the Membership decided to send no At-Large Delegates. Therefore, there will be nominations for “Alternate Delegates” that would be appointed in descending order to fill the Automatic Delegate spot for someone who is unable to attend.

Second, the Industrial Relations Director position was retained by the Membership but the Automatic Delegate status to the State and National Conventions was removed from the Constitution.

Last, the Craft Trustees will be Automatic Delegates to the National Convention but not the State Convention.

While at the time of writing this article, I am unable to tell you how many people took the retirement incentive and left on January 31, 2013. We do know that there were 146 people who signed up. We believe that when all is said and done 125-130 members retired on January 31, 2013.

I wish them all a long and healthy retirement and hope they continue to be involved with APWU happenings and events.

Staffing has been on the front burner for most of January as management seemed to change proposals on a daily basis. As of this writing, it appears that management will be reducing 23 total duty assignments in Customer Service and 33 in Processing and Distribution for the St. Paul Installation. The area hardest hit is the Pool in Customer Service in that management is abolishing the whole section, while in the Plant, Tour 3 Pouch Rack is scheduled to be reduced by 16 bid duty assignments.

We are still waiting for the proposals from the Plant to show what the sections will look like. Customer Service is starting to come forward with where all the duty assignments will be. We do know that there will be Non-Traditional Full-time Duty Assignments in Customer Service.

We are still working on the exact number. Right now, the proposals are for 11 NTFT assignments that are 5 X 8 flexible positions that management will be obligated to provide a schedule by Wednesday prior to the work week. However, these positions will have flexible starting times and days off.

There is also a proposal for two 36-hour NTFT assignments at the Rice St. station. These positions right now are 3 X 12 hours with four consecutive days off. We are trying to get these posted as 40-hour jobs but have been unsuccessful at his point on this issue.

We will be filing many grievances concerning these issues. The six-month notice to the Union was not met. We believe that abolishing the Pool will create grievances to include improper abolishments and many other issues with these postings. We continue to wait for Congress to provide some type of legislation that helps the USPS.

We also continue to ask your representative to make this a priority.

Please stay involved.


Todd Elkerton

President


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Constitutional Changes

At the General Membership meeting discussions and action was taken on the proposed Constitutional changes. The proposals were an attempt by the Executive Board to reduce constitutional expenses at a time when we have seen a significant drop in income due to a shrinking membership. There was engaged discussion on each proposal with significant disagreement concerning the proposals.

In the end there were some reductions to the costs but, overall the membership spoke clearly that they do not want representation to be reduced.
The first four proposals were to eliminate the Industrial Relations Director position. The membership rejected these proposals. However, the membership stripped the duties of the position to attend all State and National Conventions. So, the Local will still have the position of IRD.

The second proposal was to change the terms of office from two years to three years. This proposal also failed to reached the 2/3 threshold for passage.

The third proposal was to change the Trustees from the Crafts from being Automatic Delegates to State and National Conventions, except in the absence of the Craft Director. There was an amendment that was offered to continue the Automatic Delegate to National Convention but remove the State Convention. The amendment passed and the membership passed the amended proposal. Therefore, the elected Trustees to each craft will, by virtue of the office, be attending the National Convention but not the State Convention.

The fourth proposal was to increase the PSE union dues to $7.98 plus national per capita tax. This proposal was passed.

Todd Elkerton, President

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This time of the year is a chance to look back and to look forward. The year 2012 was a difficult year for postal workers, as the Postal Service searched for ways to deal with the Congressional mandate to fund retirees health benefits 75 years into the future.

While Congress was unable to get anything done, the USPS seemed to come up with a new plan monthly. This uncertainty made things pretty difficult on the Labor - Management front. The result is we lost 44 full-time positions from our stations and branches and another 20 from tour 3 automation. That resulted in 17 employees being excessed to the Mailhandler craft.
As we look to the new year management is moving forward with moving the mail processing operations from Rochester, MN to the Eagan processing and distribution plant. While I believe this move is not in the USPS’ best interest, they appear intent on making this happen.

This will result in additional mail volume in the Eagan facility. However, management is stating that they will not need to add any additional positions to process this additional letter and flat mail. On top of this management just informed us that they will be sending an additional 30 percent of the priority mail to the NDC for processing. That will mean a reduction in full-time duty assignments for T-1 and T-3 pouch rack. I have asked management to provide their proposed staffing for these operations and at this point we are still waiting for this information.

Further, management has informed the local that it is now pulling data and starting on station staffing again. We do not anticipate that management is going to be offering additional duty assignments at the stations. We believe that the 1994’s will be presented to us in the near future and will communicate this information when we get it.

Lastly, there are more than 120 individuals that have signed up to retire under the incentive program that the USPS offered APWU members. While we are unsure how many will walk out the door on January 31, 2013 we believe that it will be a large number. At this point, it has been a mixed bag on whether or not these positions that are vacated will be posted for bid.



As you can see this is going to be another difficult year. I can assure you that we will fight for every full-time job that we can save along the way. Please continue to contact the Union with things that are happening. It is members’ communication to us that provides us with much of the information we need to fight on your behalf.


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As I sit to write this article it is the morning after the election. I want to start by thanking all the members who stood up and voted to protect their jobs in this election.

The results this morning indicate that the Republicans still have control of the House of Representative. This means we will have to work hard to convince them that they need to move forward on postal reform.

In the near future we will be asked to contact our representatives and ask them to positive steps to protect the USPS. Please continue to remain involved and help seek a solution for our future.

Over the last several months we have been reviewing our finances and have determined that we need to take some actions to reduce our costs. I appointed a financial committee to develop proposals that will meet our financial obligations and not affect representation to our members. The committee meet and came up with some proposals.

One of the proposals was to cancel the St. Paul APWU’s Local 65’s membership in the Accident Benefit program. There was motion presented at the October General Membership meeting to this effect. It was agreed to postpone consideration of this issue until the November General Membership Meeting.

The St. Paul Area Local has been a member of the APW-ABA since its inception. Presently, because the St. Paul APWU is a 100% local we pay each member’s 60 cent per pay period dues for eligibility for ABA benefits. This cost is more than $20,000.00 annually. The motion would essentially end this eligibility unless a member chose to continue their eligibility on their own by paying for the benefits on their own.

This is big decision and we wanted to provide the members with an opportunity for input. This is why this decision has been moved to November to allow for more members to voice the opinion before the decision is made.

Further, there were some proposals from the finance committee that involve changing the constitution. So, a Constitution Committee was formed and they came to the October meeting with some recommendations that ranged from reducing or eliminating the position of Indutrial Relations Director to raising PSE dues by two dollars a pay period. There were diverse opinions on the Executive Board and we hope to have these issues available for a first reading at the November General Membership meeting. There also was a member submitted Constitutional change which would move elections for office to every three years instead of two years.

Because of the impact of these constitutional changes, it is anticipated that there will be a motion to change the January General Membership Meeting to a night meeting.


Lastly, the November Meeting will have Pizza and Gift Cards for drawing that we have had for many years. Please come out and let your opinion be heard on these important issues we are facing. Thanks again, to all the members who voted in the election this year to protect our jobs.


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Excessing, Excessing, Excessing

This summer the St. Paul APWU has been meeting at least weekly concerning excessing from sections, stations, branches and craft/installation. As the financial condition of the Postal Service continues to spiral downward, management continues to make decisions that proportionally impact APWU crafts the most. We are presently in a fight to keep as many full time jobs as is possible.The reduction of 44 duty assignments at the Stations and Branches will have negative effects to our relationship with public.

There is no way the clerks left will be able to provide the service necessary to process the mail at these stations and branches.

On the plant side, management has contended that the change of the service standards on July 1st has provided a larger window in which to process mail, which allows for the reduction of 20 full time assignments on Tour 3 Letter Automation.

We will monitor these actions and see if this plan works.
As all these changes are proposed management no longer cares that they have where possible an obligation to provide the Union with a six month notice. They want it done within a month. It becomes increasingly clear that these battles will have to be waged in our grievance arbitration process. Hopefully, we are able move these cases quickly and seek a resolution to these violations in a timely manner.

The St. Paul APWU intends to enforce the contractual requirements.


President's article - June 2012 Postmark

June is the month that we look to summer and enjoying the outdoor activities that we are able to do. The Union on the other hand will be very busy this summer dealing with staffing. First and foremost is the proposal by management to eliminate 48 full time positions at the stations and replace many of these hours with 27 PSE clerks. This action created a Regional Notification meeting between Area Management and Central Region Coordinator Sharon Stone for the possibility of excessing out of the St. Paul Installation. At the Regional Notification meeting management is required to provide a list of residual duty assignments that have been captured to place employees into. The list had three custodial jobs in our installation and 21 mailhandler and carrier jobs with the farthest job being South St. Paul, MN. Further, by the end of the meeting management had indicated that the impact is now five postions. The St. Paul APWU believes that we will be able to capture these five jobs within the six month period. If so, then there will be no out of installation excessing.

All of this is predicated also on management’s flawed plan for the stations. We continue to have meetings with management with on our concerns regarding their staffing proposals. Management has indicated that they are open to working with us on these proposals. However, they have not brought forward staffing proposals that meet our concerns. Management has also indicated that they can only build staffing off of earned workload from the stations. We have expressed our concerns that the National Agreement provides that management is required to post desirable duty assignments from all available hours, not all earned hours. Further, we believe that by management creating staffing packages from only earned hours that they have unilaterally implemented a work and time standard that they have not negotiated.

The National Agreement also requires that we have a full-time workforce in the St. Paul Installation. The position of PTF was eliminated for our installation in the 2006 National Agreement and management was able to provide full-time staffing with some PTR’s working at least 30 hours a week for this whole period. The present National Agreement also provides management the flexibility to create NTFT assignments to meet their obligations. Management’s proposals do not use any of the flexibility they were provided in the contract. Rather, they are choosing to eliminate all the NTFT assignment that they have created at the stations.

Management’s solution to this is a PSE employee. The St. Paul APWU vehemently objects to the use of a supplemental employee for regular staffing needs. We have asked that the use the flexibility provided for in the contract and eliminate the use of PSE as part of the regular complements at the stations. We have seen some head nodding from management on this issue. However, they have yet to produce a package that meets these contractual obligations.
Recognizing that we represent PSE employees we need to establish and protect existing full time duty assignments that the PSE can someday be converted to full time status also. Our objections are not against the PSE employee. Our objections is how management is choosing to use PSE’s to circumvent the contract to the detriment of the full time employees at the stations.

Last, the St. Paul APWU believes that we have a long standing past practice of having rotating days off at the stations. These rotating days have provided employee the opportunity to have two consecutive days off which we believe is beneficial. Management's proposals are to eliminate these rotating days off for split days off. Quite frankly, their reason for doing this is not unacceptable. They are claiming that rotating days off create an out of schedule burden for them. We have explained that the new contract provides that they can post a NTFT flexible position that would eliminate this out of schedule issue. Again, we received nods from management that would be able to do this. They have yet to produce a package that returns the rotating days off. Therefore, the St. Paul APWU continues to meet with management to explain their contractual obligations to our members in regards to station staffing. The St. Paul APWU will continue to try and reduce the impact at each and every station. If management proceeds with its present proposals we will use all available contractual language in the grievance process to protect our full time work and days off. Remember these are management’s proposals, not the Union's. The Union has strong objections and will work hard through the summer to ensure that the contractual protections provided for in the National Agreement are followed by management.


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Impasse Arbitration Withdrawn - from May 2012 Postmark

In late April, management withdrew from Impasse Arbitration their four proposals to limit annual leave approval guarantees and extending the notice period for annual leave requests. This means that the St. Paul Installation now has a LMOU. I have met with management to go over the accepted proposals and the Q and A portions of the LMOU.

As I write this I am awaiting the copy of the LMOU so we can proof read and make sure everything is correct. We are hopeful that we will be able to get the LMOU to the printers by the end of the month. When we get it back we will send copies to each member in the St. Paul Installation.

Legislation

On April 24, 2012 the US Senate passed the 21st Century Postal Service Act 2012. The legislation is a mixed bag for postal workers. Now, the battle moves to the House of Representatives, it is anticipated that debate of their version of Postal Reform will make it to the floor soon. Hopefully, we will be able to report to you the results of the House before you are reading this newsletter. I want to thank the members that took the time to contact their Senators. I was in contact of both Senators and they worked hard on your behalf, their staff stated that they heard from you. So again thank you for your efforts. We will need the same effort for the House of Representatives. The Senate bill is only the first step. In order to become law the House would have to pass legislation. Then the two Houses would have to meet and agree on a compromise between the two and then both would have to pass. Lastly, the President would have to sign the bill.

So, while one battle is done, there are many more in the weeks to come. This means that we will need your continued involvement in contacting your representatives and asking that they support postal workers and the USPS.

Staffing - I want to end by mentioning staffing.

We continue to meet weekly to discuss staffing. In the processing plant, we now that management has worked plans to deal with the increase of mail should the AMP process move forward. However, they have been unwilling to share the plan until they are sure that it will happen. So, right now as I write this letter it is holding pattern.

Also, if you can believe the Postmaster General in his May 1, 2012 address to the employees, he is now saying that the process would not occur until October sometime. I have taken a wait and see attitude. However, we do see that management is aggressively recruiting and hiring PSE employees. Management has doubled their ranks since February of this year.

On the Station and Branch side we continue to meet with management concerning their staffing proposals that we believe violated the contract and are trying to convince them that following the contract is in their best interest. We will notify you through Flash Bulletins should anything change in either of these areas.


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from the April 2012 Postmark

I
want to start out by thanking the Membership for their continued support of the Annual Steward Appreciation Dinner. It is the one time of the year that we take time out to recognize all the hard work the stewards do for this local.
We are still in a holding pattern concerning legislative action. With the May 15 date of the moratorium agreed to by the Postmaster and Senator approaches legislation still has not come to the floor of either branch of the legislature. I hope our members are continuing to contact their Senators on this issue. The Senate is our best hope to get legislation that does not destroy the USPS. However, behind the scenes management is working diligently to create a staffing package that will accommodate the mail from the outstate processing and distribution plants. The first indication was when management took all the tour 1 automation bids that were vacant and changed the start times to 2050.

While at the time of writing this management is still waiting for the regional notification to be completed to talk about their plans, it is clear that they think that this move is going to happen.
At the end of March we received 14 staffing packages for the stations. In this packages management is proposing to cut 23 full time positions. In addition, management is proposing to eliminate all rotating days off and replace with split days off.

Last, management’s proposal is to add PSE’s to the regular staffing of the stations. Presently, we have 4 people working on these issues. We believe that the new contract language provides us the opportunity to fight these deep cuts to the stations. Specifically that management is required to post desirable duty assignments from all available hours. There is also a Step 4 agreement from the parties that states management is required to give us certain data with these staffing packages, which they have failed to provide at this time. When we get the information we will use to data to provide alternatives to the proposed staffing package that management is offering. We are committed to working hard to minimize the impact of these drastic proposals.

It is clear that staffing at both the processing and distribution plant, as well as, the stations and branches will be the focus this month.
I will be attending the Wisconsin State Convention in LaCrosse, WI at the end of the month. Also, the MN State Convention will be held in Brainerd in early May. We will consider resolutions that will be presented at the National APWU convention in August. While there will be another set of conventions prior the next round of negotiations in 2015. There will be much talk on how the National APWU should be structured in the event that management thoroughly implements the plant consolidations that are on the table now. There will have to be hard decisions made of how the APWU will look into the future. I anticipate some passionate discussion on this issue because it will involve actual reduction of positions.



Last please attend the membership meeting this month we will have a presentation from the Regional Labor Federation on the Right To Work (for Less) amendment that is working its way through the state legislature.


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from the March 2012 Postmark


In late February, the USPS announced that it has completed its AMP studies and providing they can get approval to change the delivery standards plan on closing the Duluth, Rochester, Eau Claire, and La Crosse distribution centers and move the mail to St. Paul’s Eagan Processing Plant.

This process would see the virtual elimination of overnight first class mail and see all processing and distribution for the State of Minnesota and Western Wisconsin be processed in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

This process once completed would be like Humpty Dumpty falling off the wall. We do not think the way to save the post office is to slow the mail down.
Senator Franken participated in a teleconference with leaders from the APWU and NALC to update us on his work to try and stop this consolidation process.

Senator Franken stated he is working with 27 other Senators to amend Senate bill 1789 to include language to protect the delivery standards, ensure worker protections, and maintain six day delivery. Senator Franken should be thanked for his hard work on behalf of postal workers to understand the issues and step up to try and fix it.
However, we need to work hard to protect our members’ issues if management does go through with the consolidations. We have committed to meeting with management on a weekly basis and discuss the possible staffing matrixes that will be needed to process the additional mail.

It will be essential that information is communicated to you in a timely process so you can make decisions that affect how you order your lives. At this time, management has yet to share any staffing proposals to us concerning the consolidations but we expect in the near future to start to see their proposals.
There has been a great deal of talk about an early out with incentives.

It has been communicated to us that this will not happen without agreement from the APWU National President Cliff Guffey. Further, the President Guffey has stated he is unwilling to agree to financial incentives to retire until management provides a plan that indicates they will comply with our Collective Bargaining Agreement in the consolidation process. A larger part of this is the 50 mile excessing limit agreed to by the parties.

All the processing plants that are proposed to come to St. Paul are outside of the 50 miles radius. So, therefore without agreement from the APWU National President no one could be involuntarily excessed to St. Paul.As one can see there are a lot of variables at play and over time we will start to have a better picture of what is going to happen. It is at that point we will be better able to answer all the questions that are being asked daily.

Hang on for the bumpy ride over the next few months as all this will shake out. In the meantime take the time to reach out to your representative and senator and ask that they support the work of Senator Franken in trying to save the United States Postal Service.


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From the January 2012 Postmark

The year 2011 was year of transition for the St. Paul APWU. We moved out of our offices on the river bluffs in St. Paul to Mendota. With that move brought the ratification of a new contract by our members that saw many changes. In fact, more changes were agreed to in this present Contract than all the previous contracts combined.

Much of this year has been struggling to figure out how the new language is implemented. Almost immediately, because of the new language the National APWU filed four Step 4 grievances concerning the new contract. Two of these Step 4 Grievances were presented in front of an Arbitrator in December 2011.

Further, locally because of the ratification of the new contract we entered into LMOU negotiations with the offices we represent. Forty of the forty-one offices that we represent were able to agree and we will be sending out LMOU to all these members in the near future. However, the St. Paul Installation saw many items go to Impasse. Right now, the parties at the Area level are trying to reach agreement on the outstanding issues. If no agreement is reached Arbitration will be schedule late January or early February to resolve the disputed issues.

As we look forward to 2012, it will be a very busy year. Management has provided the Union with their staffing proposals for all the stations and branches, in St. Paul. There is much to disagree on in these packages. The Union is meeting with management to provide input and alternatives to management’s proposals. Further, it is anticipated that management at the St. Paul Processing Plant in Eagan will roll out some sort of NTFT assignments, just not sure how many and to what extent yet. We are hopeful that management will fill the openings in Vehicle Maintenance and Custodians in the near future.

On the political front there are presently 19 congressional bills that propose to fix the Postal Service. I use the work fix sarcastically because Congress created the financial problems at the USPS. However, with the financial crisis looming the USPS proposed closing all the Processing and Distribution Centers in the Northland district except St. Paul and Minneapolis. Postal Management has agreed with the Senate to hold the decision concerning these closures until May. If these closures go through we will see many changes to bids in the Processing Plant.

Last, 2012 is an election year, we need to develop a plan to support and elect Congress members that support working people and our issues. I hope as the election approaches our members will get involved in whatever way they are able to help this happen. Our jobs and future depend on it.
We will continue to fight and struggle on behalf of the members of this local for better working conditions and a better future.


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Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas, to all the members.

I hope all find something to be thankful for this holiday season. The first week of December, the USPS is scheduling public meetings concerning closing three offices that we represent, Seeger Square, Mendota, and Riverview.

Please watch for the notices of the meetings and encourage your friends and family to oppose these closings. Each office serves a need within its community and needs to remain open.

On a similar vein, consolidations of Area Mail Processing Centers in Minnesota are continuing. We were just informed this week that Duluth has been forwarded to the Area and National USPS for consideration and they are having a public meeting in Duluth on November 10th. If it is decided to close the Duluth Plant, it will affect many employees who currently work there. I know first hand how these closings impacts families from when I was working with those employees that were being excessed when we moved to the new building.

This consolidation will take it toll. In order for this to happen the USPS will have to change its delivery standards from overnight to 2-3 days. Personally, I think this is a bad idea all around, even though it would mean opening up day jobs within the Eagan Plant to process this mail.
Now that Local Negotiations have ended and Impasse items have been sent to the next level, staffing has taken front and center. This month we will have to deal with the re-bidding of all the MVS routes, staffing for all the Customer Service Offices we represent, and lastly custodial staffing is a concern.

The new Contract requires management to create desirable duty assignments from all available hours. It also provides the Union the opportunity to provide input and provide alternatives. If the Union does not agree with the staffing, there is an alternative dispute process to resolve the dispute between the parties. The problem we have on the clerk side, is that management has not given us the opportunity to participate in this process.

Last week, for the level 21 and above Associate Offices and the Customer Service in St. Paul management met with us and said you have to ok this in an hour. This is not in compliance with the National Agreement and the St. Paul APWU disputed each new job posting. We are not sure at this point if the jobs will be posted for bid or not. This first process was to create NTFT assignments to take the place of the PTR positions that went away on August 27, 2011.

However, management indicated to us that by November 15th they will have all the new 1994’s staffing packages and will be looking to meet on these the week of Thanksgiving. They have already indicated that they intend to reduce jobs in Customer Service.


n Clerk Craft side, Director Gutzke has assembled a team of stewards to input data and analyze it to provide alternatives for the dispute process. Also, management has proposed 21 NTFT assignments consisting of 32 hours a week. We have had preliminary discussions on this concept while not specifically seeing what has been proposed. Management decided not to post this bids in early November bid cycle.


MVS Director Cook and Trustee Henjum are working very hard on the re-bidding process for the drivers. The latest staffing package sent to us is unacceptable and if management refuses to modify it we will be in dispute with these positions also.


Lastly, the Senate has introduced its plan to save the USPS. Now, there is HR 2309, Senate Bill P-21, and the Super Committee all with competing ideas on how to save the USPS. At this point, we not sure what is going to happen but we need to stay involved as members and call, write, and visit our Congressman to save our quality of life. All the versions in their present format make the employee of the USPS take a hit for the financial crisis that Congress created. Please continue to stay involved and motivated to help each other in this difficult time.


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Local Negotiations -

Local Negotiations have been completed in all 40 of our associate offices, including Amery which joined us after the last contract. So, Amery will be getting their very first LMOU. All Associate Office LMOU's were opened because the newly negotiated National Agreement has many changes that affect each LMOU. We were able to agree on language for the newly created Postal Support Employee a non-career category of employee that we represent. They will be given a Wednesday prior schedule just like PTF's that is subject to change according to service needs.

They will given access to the Annual Leave procedures established in each office. PSEs were incorporated into the pecking order for those LMOU that have overtime and holiday pecking orders.

Also, all LMOU's that had leave procedures that stated "eight hours or more" for leave purposes were changed to “one scheduled day” to accommodate the Non-Tradition Full Time assignments. Local Negotiations for the St. Paul Installation will be proceeding to Impasse.

The Union would not agree to Management proposals to do away with your guaranteed right to take leave within the quota. Management want to be able to determine service needs for you to take leave. The Union found these proposals simply unacceptable. Now, management is going to have to prove an undue burden on this issue. The St. Paul APWU will vigorously defend this existing language that has served this Installation so well.

Also, Management is taking to impasse a proposal to lengthen the time it takes to put some into a duty assignment from 15 days to 28 days. The Union disagreed with this proposal and asserted that in the day of the computer they should be able to put people in bids quicker not slower. In addition, the Union argued that by keeping an needed duty assignment unfilled creates a financial burden on management to utilized overtime to fill the unfilled assignment. The St. Paul Local also took proposals to incorporate the newly established Postal Support Employee into the LMOU where appropriate. Management stated that they were under no obligation to negotiate with the Union on new PSE language in the LMOU. The Union disagreed and explained that the new language would provide clear direction in which to schedule PSEs for weekly and daily schedules as well as overtime and holidays. The Union also believes that the proposal follows an established history between the parties on the issue of non-career employee that we represent.

Remember the TEs the proposals that were presented followed the same language the parties agreed to LMOU's when we had them.
Until these issues are resolved the existing language of our LMOU are to be followed. The Union will provide information as this issue progresses. Thanks for your patience and support on this. There was just no way that the St. Paul APWU was willing to eliminate the guaranteed annual leave provisions in the LMOU.


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This summer has gone by extremely fast. There have been many issues the St. Paul APWU has been dealing with this summer.
The biggest issue is with the new contract and understanding what the new language means. This has been difficult in that the parties at National Level seem to have many disagreements over what the language meant that they negotiated. This has resulted in numerous National level grievance filed over Management’s implementations of the agreement. This has been the backdrop for local negotiations.

While the union has had a couple of trainings with National Officers explaining what they believe the new language means. Local Management is still trying to figure out their interpretation of the language. This has resulted in interesting LMOU negotiations. By the time you read this we should be close to finishing up the negotiations.
As you all should be aware the USPS has a financial problem.

This financial issue results in decision and proposals by Management that negatively impact our members. This financial issue was created by Congress in 2006 and can only be fixed with Congressional approval. After the results of the debt negotiations, the USPS saw an opening and have chose to use this financial situation to try and convince Congress to strip us of contractual rights that were recently negotiated. This is such a blatant disregard to good faith negotiations. It will poison the negotiations with the other unions. There have been some flash bulletins sent out over the summer asking for your involvement in this issue. I want to publically thank all those that have responded and if you have not please do so. Your present quality of life is at stake in these issues.
For the first time because of the ratified contract the APWU now represents non-career employees Postal Service Employee. PSE are required to take the entrance exam and placed on a register for hiring. The are to be hired from this register.

The only way a person can be hired as a career employee is to go through the PSE process of hiring. These are the future career employees of the Postal Service. While we object that PSE are hired for the Plant because we have people still excessed with retreat rights. Management still went through and hired them. We are closely monitoring their usage and will aggressively pursue remedies where this is the case. With this said, I would encourage you to welcome the PSE to your work area. Most have already chosen to belong to the APWU which is great to see.
Non-Traditional Full-Time Assignment are in the process of being developed. There has been a great deal of disagreement with Management on this issue that has resulted in numerous grievances being filed. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We expect NTFT assignments staffing models to be presented in all area that we represent except Maintenance in the near future. We will continue to work hard to represent our members issue in this area. There are so many other issues I could discuss.

In closing, I believe the biggest battle we face is the one on Capital Hill. Remember, Congress gave us the right to bargain collectively they can take it away. This issue I can not deal with by myself, I need each and every one of you to find a way to get involved in the issue. If this financial issue does not get resolved the Postal Service as we know it will go bankrupt and our collective bargaining will not matter.


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From the June Postmark:

On May 11, the membership ratified the contract. Our local had more than 60% of the members return their ballot and 84% voted in favor of ratification. We finished 6th in the nation of Locals greater than 1000 for members returning ballots. As previously stated this contract has more changes than all the previous contracts combined. On May 20th, the Officers and Stewards attended training on these changes in Minneapolis. This training will hopefully arm the stewards with knowledge to enforce the new agreement.

The first order of business with the new contract is the issue of the Associate Offices. The agreement has a global settlement concerning the amount of bargaining unit work that postmasters are allowed to perform. In the past, we have used what is historical and customary in these offices as the benchmark. This is no longer the case; we have several grievance cases that were put on hold pending this outcome. The Clerk Craft Director, Bruce Gutzke is in the process of making sure these cases will be settled according to the global settlement. Further, we know that there are many offices that we represent that have a postmaster performing bargaining unit work in excess of the hours defined in this agreement. At present we are developing a questionnaire that will be needed to process the grievances that are sure to follow.


Presently they are still working at the National Level between the parties for an agreement on exactly what this means. It is hoped in the next couple days that the National APWU provides us with this information. We will then ensure that the Agreement is complied with for our members. This Local is in the process requesting data from each AO that we represent to help determine where compliance is not being done. This Local will stand firm in representing our members for the Associate Offices. We will need the help of our members in these offices to bring the postmasters into compliance of this agreement. If your postmaster is performing bargaining unit work we need you to contact the Union Office to ensure that we are looking into this possible violation. Thanks in advance for your help in this issue.


This being the last Postmark for the summer, we will be in full swing of Local Negotiations before the next publication. Please contact us if you believe that something needs to be changed in your local. We have received some suggestions already.


Also, in May after the membership meeting we held an open house for our members to see their new Union Office. I would like to thank Billie Dunn and Sue Helser for their help in organizing it. It was a success we saw many members and a few retirees show up for this open house. One other thank you goes to Steve Letendre for his work in getting the office ready for the meeting and open house.


Last, I would like to wish everyone a great summer. We will be working hard over the summer months to prepare for Local Negotiations for the St. Paul Installation and the Associate Offices that need changes to their LMOU’s.

Todd Elkerton

President


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Hello Members,

reprintedfrom the February PostmarkTimes have definitely been difficult, not only with home mortgages, health care, unemployment, etc; but also with the Postal Service and our jobs. Who would have thought that employees would be excessed out of their home installation to unknown and not always preferred installations. The St. Paul bid cluster has weathered through that storm, but now it is in front of us again at 5 of our Associate Offices.Notification of excessing out of the installation was sent to employees at the Cottage Grove, Stillwater, Northfield, Forest Lake, and Owatonna offices in August of 2010. The original impact to these offices in total were 12 employees. After numerous days and hours of negotiations, the Union has successfully gotten that number down to 6. (Zero was our goal, but management would not go there.) The employees are now in the preferencing stage and the results will be out in mid-February. These employees will preference, but movement to their new installation will not happen as there is a moratorium on excessing outside of the installation right now, as long as the National APWU and the Postal Service continue bargaining. As of 1/28/2011, these negotiations are still in progress.Things at the new Eagan plant continue to be a work in progress. Meetings with management are being held weekly. Not only are union issues discussed, so are any issues that are brought forward to the Union by our members. If you, as a member, have any concerns that you would like to have brought forward at a Labor/Management meeting, please contact a steward or officer and your issues will be put on the agenda.I am pleased to announce that both the purchase agreements for the new building and the sale of the old building have been signed, and we are waiting for closing dates for both properties. When dates become available, notice will be put out to the members, but hopefully everything will be complete in March and we will be able to hold our first General Membership Meeting in our new building in April.Local elections are upon us again, and I urge all members to vote. Dawn Ecker, President

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Hello Members,

Well, we made it through another holiday season, but this one was quite different than most others. It was our first Christmas in the new Eagan plant, plus we had more snowfall this December than in recent years. I hope everyone had enjoyable holidays.We are now in the process once again of reviewing Function 4 staffing at all the stations and branches. Management’s intent is to downsize stations again by getting rid of some duty assignments. We will be doing everything we can do to avoid downsizing, but we need your help. We need to be contacted for ALL violations, whether it be management performing our work, carriers performing our work, work not getting down, Sox compliance not being followed, carriers not being checked in, etc. it is imperative that all violations do not go unnoticed. Please request a steward when any and all violations occur. Management believes that this downsizing could lead to out of the installation excessing once again.There seem to be more and more issues concerning overtime. I have had numerous complaints that the overtime is not fair, not equitable, etc. the overtime provisions of the National Agreement and the Local’s overtime pecking order have not changed for many years. The overtime is done on a rotating basis among the OTDL, quarterly, by seniority. It is not always going to be fair and equitable. Management calls the overtime, not the Union. The Union should be receiving daily overtime consulations, to make sure the proper pecking order is used, and the proper employees are being drafted for overtime.FMLAThe APWU is encouraging employees to use the Department of Labor FMLA forms. Management has refused to accept the APWU FMLA forms, and the National APWU is pursuing a dispute with the Postal Service on this issue.Update on the New BuildingThe final pre-construction meeting has taken place and the APWU is tentatively looking at a March 15 closing date for the new building. We also are in the final stages of the sale on the property at 654 E 6th Street with Metro State University. We are hoping for a March closing date as well for the sale of the property.Mystery ShopperAfter years of APWU complaints, the Postal Service has notified the union that the Mystery Shopper Program will be altered beginning in January 2011. Retail Associates (RAs) will no longer be required to follow a precise script when waiting on customers; instead they will be permitted to “customize their questions to best address individual customer needs.”The questions have been a source of frustration, both to window clerks and the mailing public, in part because RAs were required to ask every customer mailing a package a litany of questions — even customers they knew well and whose needs they understood.APWU Clerk Craft Director Rob Strunk praised the decision. “Finally, a manager with authority has realized that our Sales and Service Associates can determine on their own an appropriate method for communicating with our customers.“The Mystery Shopper program has been misused, abused, and violated in so many ways,” he said. “We can go forward now demonstrating our professionalism.”The Mystery Shopper program, which was recently renamed the Retail Customer Experience Program, has been a source of contention between the union and management since its inception. The program relies on management designees posing as customers and scoring retail clerks based on adherence to the script. According to management’s Dec. 27, 2010, letter, the Product Offerings and Product Explanation categories will no longer be scored, and scoring in other categories will be revised.Contract NegotiationsAs of the writing of this article, the National APWU has stated that they are frustrated with the Postal Service and contract negotiations. The National Agreement expired on November 20, 2010, but talks have continued. For further updates, please visit the National APWU website.

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National Election

The results of the National Election have been posted and I would like to welcome Marty Mater, the new Clerk Craft National Business Agent for our region. Marty is from Madison, WI and was the Local President there. Welcome Marty!Excessing UpdateMinneapolis has received their impact statement on excessing out of the installation as follows: 66 Level 6 Clerks, 41 Level 7 clerks, 1 Level 8 clerk, and 6 TTO drivers. Minneapolis has not yet received the impact statement for their maintenance craft. What this means for St. Paul is that any residual positions in the Motor Vehicle Craft or Maintenance Craft in St. Paul would be withheld for the Minneapolis excessing.CSBCS Removal We have received notice that the remaining CSBCS machines in the associate officers will be removed by November 30, 2010. We have received the impact statements for these officers and will be meeting with management on these officers very soon.New Union BuildingThe Union has agreed to a purchase price for the new union office at the Waters Drive Business Park for $435.000.00. We in the due diligence stage, then construction should begin soon.Sale of the Old BuildingThe Union has agreed to sell the property at 654 E 6th St to Metro State University for $575.000.00. The paperwork is being prepared by our lawyer.

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Greetings!

Well, the majority of the move to Eagan is complete and so is the reposting of the facility. It has been chaotic, and probably will be for quite sometime. The Union has been working diligently to attempt to resolve issues as they come about. Some of these processes are new, and will take time to work out all the bugs. If you have questions or want to address issues, please contact a steward or officer.Staffing is still going to be an ongoing issue, for all crafts. The staffing package for Maintenance is improper, and a request to the National for a staffing advocate has been sent out in order to help correct this issue. we have been notified that 5 of our Associate Officers will be excessing outside of their installation, and more offices will be looked at. Stations and Branches will be reviewing their staffing once again, as they did last year. And believe it or not, staffing will be looked at again at the Plant, very shortly. I believe that because of the financial woes of the Postal Service the attempt to downsize employees will be become an everyday occurrence. So it is very important that if management or another craft is performing your work, you take a stand and request to file a grievance. This goes for all crafts in all offices. We cannot protect staffing, if we do not protect the work that is ours.As reported in our National Postal Worker magazine, it is important to boycott USPS Employee Surveys. The Postal Service is likely to use these results during contrct negotiations, to undercut the Union. Management’s goal is to reduce wages and benefits in this upcoming contract. Locally, we have quarterly VOE drawings for members who turn in the VOE surveys to the Union. We need your continued support in boycotting employee surveys.

From the President

Dawn Ecker

Reprinted from the September 2010 Postmark.

Move to EaganAs I write this, we are in the process of the move to the new facility in Eagan. Things have been hectic and crazy in this process, and have not gone as smoothly as projected. If you have any questions or issues, please contact a steward or officer and we will attempt to have your concerns addressed with management. The union office will hopefully be up and running by the time this paper reaches you. Please bear with us in this process.National ConventionThe National Convention was held in Detroit from August 20-28th, 2010. As always, there was lively debate on many issues, as our current contract expires in November of 2010. one of the issues of concern is our current FEHB. The delegates to the convention made it perfectly clear that they were not willing to make any deals with the current health care provided to USPS employees.Out of the Installation ExcessingThe Union and Management continue to meet on the number of employees who are scheduled to be excessed out of the installation on 9/25/10. as changes are made in the number of employees, management has sent out recinsion letters to anyone who no longer needs to be excessed out of the installation. We will continue to meet on this issue.

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APWU St. Paul, MN Area Local APWU

September 16, 2010www.StPaulAPWU.org 651-778-1637_DUE TO EXECUTIVE BOARD ACTIONDAWN ECKERHAS BEEN ELECTED PRESIDENTAND WILL ASSUME THE POSITION OF PRESIDENTEFFECTIVESATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2010Jesse LopezSecretarySt. Paul, MN Area LocalAmerican Postal Workers Union

The Special Election to fill the office of President took place on June 23, 2010. The Executive Board is required per the Local Constitution to obtain a 2/3 majority vote of those Executive Board Members present.

The Executive Board was unable to reach a 2/3 majority vote.

After consultation with the National Secretary/Treasurer’s office, it was determined that a 2/3 majority could not be reached and that Article 8, Section 2 of the Local Constitution would apply. This Article states in part: “In the absence of the President, the Vice President shall be vested with the same powers as the President and shall perform all of the duties of the President including attendance at all State and National Conventions.”

Dawn Ecker

Acting President


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Hello Everyone (reprinted from the April Postmark)

The information in this article was excerpted from the National’s Booklet “When Excessing Occurs, Know Your Rights and Benefits” to assist APWU members during a potentially difficult career experience. Excessing is rarely easy. A change in job assignment and/or relocation to a new community can be a terrible experience for the worker and the worker’s family. But being excessed is certainly preferable to being laid off or terminated.“When Excessing Occurs Know Your Rights and Benefits”GUARANTEED RIGHTSWithin the contractual protections of the National Agreement, postal employees enjoy specific guaranteed rights when excessing occurs. Five of these important rights are explained in this booklet. They are:1. Rate Protection2. Protected Rate3. Discontinued Service Retirement Benefits and Rights4. Severance Pay5. Relocation AllowancesRATE PROTECTIONArticle 4 of the National Agreement specifies that an employee whose job is eliminated as the result of technological or mechanization changes shall receive rate protection. The employee continues to receive the salary they received in the previous higher grade position until such time as they fail to bid or apply for a position in their former wage level. The salary protection provided by these provisions begins effective the date the affected employee is assigned to a residual lower level position or becomes the successful bidder to a lower level position. Any period as an unassigned employee following the elimination of a position due to technological/mechanization changes should be paid at the former level. This protected salary is augmented by any general salary increases occurring while the saved rate is in effect, including COLA and step increases. When it is intended to reduce the number of employees because of the deployment of automated equipment, local management must initiate an “automation impact statement” identifying the “impacted positions” and the number of positions to be reduced. Automation deployment may be in the affected office or in another office; it may result in the movement of mail or the processing of mail. Under both circumstances an “impact statement” is required. Employees receiving rate protection must bid or apply for all vacancies in their former wage level. Failure to bid or apply will result in forfeiture of the former wage level. This requirement to bid or apply includes only those posted vacancies for which the employee is eligible to bid or apply. While receiving rate protection, employees may bid for vacancies at a level other than their former level without jeopardizing their rate protection.Protected RateThe Employee and Labor Relations Manual (421.51) specifies that employees whose jobs are eliminated for reasons other than technological or mechanization changes and who are assigned to vacancies in a lower level shall receive a “protected rate.” Such employee will continue to receive the salary of the previous higher level position, augmented by any general wage increase, for a period of two years, provided that:a. The employee served for two consecutive years immediately preceding the effective date of reduction in a position with a salary standing higher than that to which reduced.b. The reduction is involuntary. Employee bids occurring after reassignment do not invalidate the protection.c. The employee occupied a permanent higher level position and their performance was satisfactory during the previous two years. Clerk Craft employees assigned to lower level receive “rate protection” under all circumstances and continue to receive the salary of their former level, provided they fulfill the requirement to bid and apply for vacancies in their former level.RATE DETERMINATIONThe basic salary of an employee entitled to a protected rate will be the lowest of the following:a. The employee’s basic salary at the time of reduction.b. An amount which is 25 percent more than the maximum basic salary for the new grade to which reduced.c. The basic salary in the lowest salary standing which the employee held during the two years immediately preceding reduction in salary standing, augmented by each step increase the employee would have earned in the previous level.DISCONTINUED SERVICE RETIREMENTTitle 5 USCS and the ELM (563.21) specify that any career USPS employee (CSRS or FERS) meeting retirement eligibility requirements who is involuntarily separated and who has been employed continuously by the USPS and/or other federal agency for at least 12 consecutive months (without a break in service of three or more consecutive days immediately prior to the separation) is eligible for discontinued service retirement, except in the following circumstances:The employee is not entitled to an immediate retirement annuity if:a. At the time of separation the employee is offered and declines to accept a position in the USPS or in any other federal agency of like seniority, tenure, and pay within the same commuting area.“Commuting area” means the geographic area that usually constitutes one area for employment purposes. It includes any population center (or two or more neighboring ones) and the surrounding localities in which people live and reasonably can be expected to travel back and forth daily in their usual employment.b. The employee is separated because of entry in the military service.c. The employee is separated for cause on charges of misconduct, delinquency, or inefficiency.d. The employee at the time of separation is receiving compensation as a beneficiary of the Federal Employees Compensation Act, except when receiving this compensation concurrently with postal pay. For the purpose of this regulation, “separation” means excessed or reassigned from an assignment without a comparable offer.SEVERANCE PAY Title 5 USCS (§5595) and ELM 435 specify that any career USPS employee (CSRS or FERS) who isinvoluntarily separated and who has been employed continuously by the USPS and/or other federal agency for at least 12 consecutive months (without a break in service of three or more consecutive days immediately prior to the separation) is eligible for severance pay, except in the following circumstances:a. The employee is entitled to an immediate retirement annuity including discontinued service retirement.b. At the time of separation, the employee is offered and declines to accept a position in the USPS of like seniority, tenure, and pay within the same commuting area.c. The employee is separated for cause on charges of misconduct, delinquency, or inefficiency.d. The employee, at the time of separation, is receiving compensation as a beneficiary of the Federal Employees Compensation Act, except when receiving this compensation concurrently with postal pay.RELOCATION ALLOWANCESThe F-12 Handbook specifies that employees who are involuntarily excessed and required to report to another installation are entitled to a relocation allowance, provided the new duty station is at east 50 miles greater in distance than the distance between their former duty station and their former residence. When notified that you will be involuntarily excessed to a location more than 50 miles further than the distance between your present home and your duty station, you should request a written statement ordering your reassignment. A computer- driven notice of reassignment or PS Form 178 will suffice as official notice. You should not volunteer to accept the new assignment. If you volunteer for reassignment, under most circumstances you are not eligible for relocation allowances: After being notified that you are excess, you are provided choices of locations from which you make a selection, and your reassignment continues to be involuntary and is covered by the relocation expense regulations. In those instances when a senior employee volunteers to be excessed in lieu of a junior employee, the senior employee should notify management that excessing is still occurring and should be considered “involuntary” for purposes of relocation expenses. Where management refuses to authorize relocation expenses, the employee may elect to either refuse to volunteer or write a letter to management notifying that the relocation is not considered voluntary by the employee and that a grievance will be filed contesting the decision to refuse payment of the allowance. To prevent any misunderstandings over your entitlement, you should insist that your reassignment order be in writing. When provided options of different postal installations to which you may be excessed, you should always indicate-by letter-that your selection does not represent your volunteering for reassignment. Do not accept a management offer to voluntarily transfer because excessing is imminent or the offered position is more convenient.These are just some of the regulations intended to help you make an informed decision if you are an impacted or volunteer employee. There is a link to the full booklet on the Local’s website on the “Helpful Links” page. Please feel free to contact a union representative for any other questions or concerns you may have..

Hello Everyone,

Well, it has been a very hectic 11 months since I have taken office. The local and its membership have had to endure station downsizing (right sizing as management likes to call it), sectional excessing, bid restructuring, the upcoming move to the new St. Paul P&DC, very limited vacancy notices and the granddaddy of them all, the likelihood of excessing outside of the installation. As we move (d) through these processes, many of you have expressed their concern(s) about their future with the postal service, whether it be senior employees or junior employees, it is evident everyone is concerned. I would like to assure everyone that the union is meeting with management at every level to minimize the disruption to one’s life and family. For the record the union has been meeting with management weekly, while in reality the meetings have turned daily. However, it is unfortunate that it appears too many of you feel that the union is not being forthright with information. I assure you that as the union becomes aware of management's proposed numbers and is able to garner relevant information that it will and is forwarded on to you, the members.

You the members have been made aware of management’s proposed numbers for excessing outside of the installation, which is 128 clerks, 106 level 6 and 22 level 7. As for clerks bid and employees retire or transfer this overall number will change, which could impact one’s position on the excessing list. So as I have stated in the past, everything is fluid at this point and will remain that way for some time to come.

Bear in mind that excessing is a management decision. The agreement between the parties establishes specific guidelines to be followed when excessing occurs. The general principle is that inconvenience and disruption is to be kept to a minimum. It is a difficult and stressful time for everyone involved especially the employees indentified as excess to the needs of a section or installation.

Often excessive OT and ongoing changes to full time regular schedules, cross craft work and supervisors doing bargaining unit work follows excessing action. This happens because management excesses too many employees and now finds they are short staffed. If you are party to or witness any violations, please contact a union steward and file a grievance.

On 2/25/10 the union was invited to a district labor management meeting at the new NDC (formerly the BMC) at this meeting we were informed that the commercial mailing industry intends on eliminating all first class mailings. The Postal Service projects that this action will delay the financial recovery through the year 2020. The Service projects annual losses will be around 10 billion dollars a year for the next ten years.

Also, we were able to tour the new St. Paul P&DC. The building is currently empty. The only equipment inside is the trayveyor. Completion is scheduled for sometime between August and November 2010. As you can read there is a lot happening.

Thank you to all the members, stewards and officers for their dedication in these trying and testing times.


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Hello Everyone, (reprinted from February 2010 Postmark)

Due to the intense and urgent nature of the requests for the details of the new facility staffing package, I will provide the following information on the staffing package, instead of my normally formatted article.

Pay Location

Staffing Impact

110

No change

120

Reduction of one level 6 position

125

Addition of two level 6 positions

129

No change to level 7, reduction of four level 6 positions

131

Posting two level 6 positions per grievance

145

Reduction of 14 level 6 positions

FSS T-1

New section, addition of 6 level 6 positions

210 (REG)

Reduction of one level 7 position

210 (BOX)

Reduction of three level 6 positions

225

No change

229

No change to level 7, reduction of two level 6 positions

231

Reduction of 18 level 6 positions

245

Reduction of 9 level 6 positions

310 (BOX)

Reduction of 1 level 6 and 1 level 7 position

310 (REG)

Reduction of 1 level 6 position

325

Reduction of 9 level 6 positions

329

Reduction of 4 level 6 positions and an addition of 1 level 7 position

331

Reduction of 6 level 6 positions

345

Reduction of 9 level 6 positions

FSS T-3

New section, addition of 6 level 6 positions

AMC T-1

Reduction of 6 level 7 positions and an addition of two level 6 positions

AMC T-2

Reduction of 5 level 6 positions and a reduction of four level 7 positions

AMC T-3

Reduction of 6 level 6 positions and a reduction of 8 level 7 positions

Management has notified the local that as of 12/24/09, 106 level 6 and 22 level 7 Clerk employees will be excessed from the installation. Junior employees to be excessed will be excessed by craft, salary level and status. Best Qualified, and part time regulars are a separate status. When excessing occurs the sole criteria for selecting employees to be excessed is craft seniority. Whether you are recovering from either on or off the job injury would have no bearing on being excessed. Employees in a light or limited duty status will be excessed in the same way that employees in a full duty status are excessed, based on the pay level of the duty assignment that they hold and their seniority.

So far, it has not been determined how the move from the old (St. Paul) installation to the new (Eagan) installation will be completed. Management has notified the union that their plan is to move operations to the new facility in stages, over a 1 to 3 month period beginning possibly in June or July of this year.

As far as bidding in the new facility, it will depend on how and when management abolishes, reverts, excesses and posts bid duty assignments. As of now, it is impossible to determine what jobs will be posted installation wide or posted for in-section bidding.

The Local still has not received the maintenance staffing package.

We will continue to meet regularly with management. We will keep you informed as details become available.


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Hello Everyone

Well, another year has come and gone and still we are no closer to knowing what the staffing of the new facility will look like. Management has been telling your local officers that they really do want to provide us with “the numbers”. Yet every time we ask for the staffing package we get the same old song and dance, the “event” package has been sent to the area (Dan Foster, Labor Relations), who in turn will send it to the APWU (Sharon Stone, Regional Coordinator) who then ultimately will provide it to the local. The bottom line is that management has not provided the staffing for the new facility to the Region/Local because they know that there is going to be a major impact the bargaining unit. And I believe that management also knows that you, the employees, will have something to say about the impacts. Bear in mind, the contract provides for a response in February. Unfortunately, without this information many of you cannot make an informed decision as to bid or not to bid, whether to begin training on a station bid, or ride the storm out. Whatever the final outcome for staffing of the new facility is, you will be notified immediately. This last year has been full of turmoil, more than I have ever witnessed in my postal career with downsizing the plant, stations and AO’s reverting almost every position that becomes vacant, and the constant threat of excessing outside of the installation. Yet your Local/National officers have been diligent in their efforts to ensure your contractual rights are not being trampled and that management adheres to the agreement it too witnessed. These times have been stressful for all. I would like to say thank you to the membership for your continued support of your local and to all the stewards and officers for a job well done. May the New Year bring peace, health and prosperity to everyone!

Tom Edwards


Hello Everyone, (reprinted from the November 2009 Postmark)

Your union has been hard at work fending off management’s attacks. To date, your union has been able to stop the closure of several Postal Facilities, decrease the number of abolishments and hold off the excessing of any employees outside of the installation. This is in no way of mean that management will end their assault on craft employees. In fact, I believe that management is just getting started. The future looks bleak for craft employees; all that I ask is that management share the pain. We were informed that management implemented a program known as RIF (Reduction in Force). This is the service’s program for cutting cost in the management ranks, and as far as I can see or am aware of, there has not been one SDO, MDO or any other EAS position affected in St. Paul by this program. It appears to me that this program is similar, if not the exact same as the restructuring of the early 1990’s. Many of us have been around long enough to remember this, and all that happened of this program was that EAS employees had their titles changed or received promotions. Remember all of this is happening in the name of declining mail volume and revenue. We all need to make sacrifices, that’s what the executives say whenever a company hits hard times, but yet they don’t want to share the excess when times are good. They always look to the crafts to bear the burden. Here are a few facts:

  • Since 2000 the USPS has eliminated over 150,000 craft jobs, which is a reduction of almost 23% of the bargaining unit workforce.
  • Through July 2009 the USPS has eliminated approximately 80 million craft work hours. Roughly 39,000 craft positions.
  • PMG Potter is proposing a shift to a five day delivery which would eliminate 17% of all city carrier hours. This may mean elimination of 34,000 full time regular positions.
  • The USPS plans to eliminate another 90 million or so hours in 2010. that’s approximately 43,000 more positions gone.

And let’s not forget the coup d’etat, the implementation of the National Reassessment Process, which is designed to force many of the injured workers out of the USPS. So, if all of these strategies go as planned, it could equate to the reduction or elimination of over 300,000 craft jobs. So from 2000-2010, that would result in a reduction of almost 50% of all bargaining unit positions. Let’s see how many EAS positions will be affected. Remember, we all need to sacrifice.

Respectfully and in solidarity,

Tom Edwards, President


Hello Everyone,

Heads Up…

Well it has begun. Management has started to implement their national reassessment program (NRP). This program affects all limited duty employees. The first meeting of this program will take place 10/7/09. the following is reprinted from the 10/18/09 flash bulletin:

“Postal Service Now Targets ALL Limited Duty Employees for Its National Reassessment Program

In October 2008, the St. Paul Area Local was informed that the Northland District will be entering into Phase 2 of the National Reassessment Program for MMI employees. This program is designed to develop limited duty employees with permanent medical restrictions resulting from a work related injury rehabilitation job offers. At this point Phase 2 has been in place for 10 months with no meeting being scheduled with employees. The APWU has just been informed that the USPS has developed a companion process that will target all limited duty employees. This process is not intended to replace the first program but run in tandem with the new program. This will mean that the limited duty employees who have reached MMI will be subjected to both processes.

Postal Service’s National Reassessment Process – Limited Duty

On May 29, 2009 the USPS concluded its NPR-LD pilot program. The APWU has been informed that the USPS plans to implement this program nationwide starting July 13, 2009 with “work status meetings” beginning no sooner than July 27, 2009. the National APWU has raised significant concerns about the process and its compliance with existing law and the USPS manuals. The National APWU has met with the Department of Labor DFEC concerning what It sees as clear violation of the law and procedures developed by OWCP. As of yet, there have been very few answers provided.

Therefore, the St. Paul APWU is asking all limited duty employees when contacted by USPS Management concerning their work status to immediately ask for a Union Steward to ensure that all rights are being asserted from the beginning of the process.

The St. Paul Area Local expects this new process to negatively impact our injured workers. To illustrate how many employees can be expected to be impacted we are sharing the statistics that were provided to the APWU concerning the pilot program for this new process. There were 2230 employees who were reassessed as part of the two and a half month pilot period. Only 41% (912) of these employees received “full day” job offers, just 30% (667) were assigned “partial day” work (even though they were medically able to work more hours), and a devastating 29% (651) were told that there was not work available. “

All Craft Conference

On 9/29/09 a delegation of 7 officers and I attended the all craft conference in Las Vegas. In attendance were approximately 2000 members of the clerk, maintenance and motor vehicle crafts, as well as support services. During the conference the delegation was addressed by many of the resident officers from Washington DC, including President Burrus. President Burrus began his address by calling the union’s current circumstances the “best of times, and the worst of times.” Burrus outlined an ambitious agenda for the union’s future. Burrus urged the conference participants to meet the challenges that lay ahead. From the Postal Services financial crisis to the upcoming contract negotiations and the shrinking workforce. President Burrus asked members to draw strength from the union’s many achievements and to refocus their efforts to the tasks that lay ahead.

Achievements

Many of us are experiencing the worst recession in 70 years, but yet we are largely unscathed from the turmoil millions of American workers are facing. Garnering at least one level upgrades for every employee, negotiating retirement and separation incentives for our members and others, helped to elect a president who represents all that is good in our country and helped with the passage of House Resolution 22 (pre-funded retirees health care). These are some of the achievements that have been obtained during my years as a member and officer of the APWU, and there are many more. Although it may be difficult to maintain these achievements in the coming years, it is our opportunity to relish these accomplishments.

Challenges

We are experiencing unprecedented excessing and reassignments, P&DC consolidations, station and branch closings, contracting out our work, congressional interference as related to the collective bargaining process, national reassignment program, under staffing, declining mail volume and management performing more and more bargaining unit work. Of course, these are not all of the challenges we face, there are many more.

We must remain vigilant in these times. The future of the APWU rests with us. Longtime President Moe Biller frequently closed his articles with the saying “The struggle continues” and as you can see, it truly does.

Respectfully and in solidarity,

Tom Edwards, President


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Democracy Does Work! It’s up to you to do your part! - from the September 2009 Postmark

Please contact your congressional representatives and urge them to support the following bills. Action is needed by all APWU members to help ensure the Postal Service’s financial viability and business viability. Your involvement will also help protect and strengthen postal workers’ financial viability into retirement. Your representatives’ contact information is provided below.

HR 658 “Access to Postal Services Act”

This bill would modify the procedure the US Postal Service has to follow before it can consolidate or close postal facilities to require an assessment of the need to close/consolidate, require 90 days notice to each facility, allow for appeals of the closing to the Postal Rate Commission and eliminate any economic reason for closing.

HR 22 “United States Postal Service Financial Relief Act of 2009”This bill would eliminate the requirement that the Postal Service “pre-fund” its annuities for retirees saving approximately five billion dollars per year.HR 168 “Mail Network Protection Act of 2009”Legislation would require the postal service to enter into negotiations with postal unions prior to subcontracting mail processing to the private sector.HR 235 “Social Security Fairness Act of 2009”Would repeal the windfall elimination provision and the government pension offset rules that unfairly limit social security payments to civil service retirees.HR 1409 and S 560 “Employee Free Choice Act of 2009”Modifies and loosens many of the national labor relations board requirements for employees in a business to form a union. It makes it easier for employees to unionize their workplace.HR 958 To amend title 5, United States Code, to make unused sick leave creditable, for purposes of the Federal Employees' Retirement System, in the same manner as provided for under the Civil Service Retirement System.This bill would allow government employees under Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) to have unused sick leave in full month increments credited toward their seniority for retirement pension computations.These are some but not all of the issues currently affecting Postal Workers both active and retired. Please take the time to contact your representatives. The job you save and the life you change by your actions may be your own. Respectfully and in solidarityTom Edwards, President

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Hello Everyone,

As I sit and write this article, management is continuing their assault on postal employees. Most of you are aware that we are in a continuous and ongoing battle over the decimation of our jobs. Management has waged a tour compression campaign which affects some of our most senior and junior employees via loss of days off, list of tour, closing of facilities, combining of facilities, excessing, without etc., etc. Now I understand their reasoning, mail volumes are down, which in turn decreases revenue, which in turn requires adjustments to the work force and business practices. But for the life of me, I cannot understand how shifting the workforce to tour three and tour one will decrease the service’s expenditures. In fact, it will result in increased night differential and increased Sunday premium pay for a greater number of employees resulting in an increased bottom line for the service.

The following is a response from National President Bill Burrus to John Dirzius, President of the National President’s Conference:

“Thank you for your inquiry. Below is an update on national issues regarding the USPS policy of “Tour Compression”. The national union filed an unfair labor practice change with the National Labor Relations Board on 11/25/08, contesting management’s refusal to negotiate with the union prior to initiating the change. The charge is pending a decision by the NLRB. The ULP alleges that management failed to bargain over the nation wide plan to consolidate mail processing into two tours – a plan that would eliminate or greatly reduce the number of assignments on tour 2. The charge also asserts that the Postal Service failed to provide information to the union regarding this initiative; in addition, the charge says the APWU could “show that the Postal Service answered the Union’s request for information dishonestly.” When the APWU requested documentation detailing the program in October 2008, management denied that it was “considering or is in the process of implementing a nationwide program establishing a two tour operation, which is intended to eliminate or greatly reduce tour 2 assignments, operations, and staffing.” The Postal Service also wrote, regarding your request to produce documentation regarding any nationwide or region or district wide program, plans or initiatives to eliminate or reduce tour 2 operations and/or tour 2 staffing, no such documentation exists.” The APWU requested immediate injunctive relief, asserting that without such relief the initiative would be completed before the board would be able to address the charge.

The union also initiated two step 4 grievances on December 16, 2008, contesting the program. The first, HQTG200819, challenged management’s authority to initiate the changes without providing the union the required 90 days advance notice at the national level and the required 6 month advance notice at the regional level. I discussed this grievance with management’s representative on January 30, 2009 and have promised a written proposal for resolution during the week of 3/30/09. Upon receipt of the management’s proposal, I will either pursue a final resolution of the issue or initiate an appeal to arbitration. The objective of the grievance is to clarify that the USPS union and APWU at the national level agree that Article 12.5.5B.4 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement requires management to notify the union up to 6 months in advance whenever possible before the Postal Service undertakes reassignments such as the tour compression.” Our goal is to reach agreement that no “interpretive issue” is involved in the reassignment of employees; if agreement can be reached on this principle, disputes will be refer to the local parties to determine if it was possible for management to provide the required notice prior to reassigning employees.

The second step 4 dispute, HQTG200820, focuses on management’s violation of Article 17.5.B.4, which requires the Postal Service to discus new initiatives with eh union during the development stage, and to bargain in good faith. The APWU learned of management’s plan from local union officials and did receive notification of the plan from the Postal Service until after the ULP and step 4 disputes were filed. The dispute also asserts that the USPS failed and refused to provide the APWU with relevant information requested by the union. In response to a written request for documentation regarding any “nationwide or region or district-wide program, plans or initiatives to eliminate or reduce tour 2 operations and/or staffing”, the Postal Service informed the APWU that “no such documentation exists.” However, evidence shows that the two tour initiative is, in fact, nationwide in scope and that it was initiated by the Postal Service at the national level. The Step 4 also asserts that the plan violates the parties “commitment to protect day shift assignments. Management’s actions violate Article 7.1.B.4 and the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the Supplemental Workforce and the conversion of Clerk Craft Part Time Flexibles. The protection of existing tour 2 assignments was central to the historic agreement reached in 2006 contract negotiations. Industrial Relations Director Greg Bell met with a USPS representative to discuss this grievance on 1/21/09, Fifteen day statements of the issues and facts involved in the dispute were exchanged on 2/13/09, and the dispute was appealed to arbitration on 2/17/09.

This is what is being done at the National Level; locally we are utilizing every tool available to us to minimize the impact to our membership.


President Tom Edwards


Hello Everyone,

I would like to take this time to write about House Resolution 22. this resolution is very important to all of us as postal workers. What is the APWU’s role in helping get legislative relief from the USPS payment for pre-funding retiree’s health insurance – 58 billion over 10 years?

As many of you are aware, the survival of the Postal Service is not guarantee. Now, some people will argue that the Postal Service is Constitutionally protected and that it is not a business to be operated for profit, but in fact, it is a service that is rendered for profit or loss. Regardless of my stance on this debate, there is one thing for sure I am convinced of. Congress is busy bailing out the financial fat cats, the automobile industry and the like, but a public service that touches virtually every American citizen here and abroad is left unaided. The service we provide is a necessity for many Americans and should be at the top of any economic relief package considered by Congress.

HR-11, a bill introduced January 6, 2009, requires government contributions for health benefits for an individual who first becomes an annuitant by reason of retirement from employment with the United States Postal Service on or after July 1, 1971, or for their survivor or for a survivor of an employee who died on or after that date while employed by the Service. Payment is first made by the Service’s retiree benefits fund up to the amount deposited in the fund with any remaining amount to be paid by the Service. (current law requires contributions be paid by the Service through September 30, 2016).

I ask and urge all of you to contact your representatives and senators and ask them to support this bill. We all have an interest in the Service’s sound financial future, the Service’s future is our future.


THANK YOU

Tom Edwards, PresidentI would like to say thank you to all who voted for and supported me for the office of the President. I look forward to the challenges of administering to this great Local. I realize there are many issues confronting us as an organization, past, present and in the future. I look forward to working with the members and all the duly elected officers and stewards. Together we will make a great team.In closing I would like to say thank you to Pat McCann for his dedication and ongoing fight for our members and the union movement.

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Articles from Past President McCann:


Regional Excessing Meeting Produces Little Agreement

Pat McCann

On Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009, the Union met with management regarding the notification to excess 43 employees from the St. Paul, MN installation.

Attending the meeting were USPS representatives from Headquarters and the Western Area. Attending for the APWU was Central Region Coordinator Sharyn Stone, National Business Agent Central Region Willie Mellen, along with me and Vice President Dawn Ecker.

This meeting was supposed to occur prior to the information received on 1/6/09 but in typical management fashion, it was done ass backwards. This resulted in some heated exchanges involving the inaccurate information that management presented to the Union on the day of the meeting.

Further complicating matters was the information provided appeared to be gathered and assembled the day before so those management reps presenting the information where less than knowledgeable on the material they were presenting, which led to an unproductive meeting.

From the Union’s perspective, the information provided at the meeting was inaccurate and does not support a need to excess employees from the St. Paul installation. We did agree at the meeting that if management provides accurate information that supports the need to excess and complies with Article 12 of the Contract that excessing will occur no sooner than July 2009.

Since this process adjusts every time there is attrition in the bargaining unit, the parties have agreed to meet at the local level to adjust the number of employees to be excessed.

Since the initial notification to excess 43 employees was received in January 2009, management has adjusted the number to 35 employees. The union believes that this number is not supported by accurate information. From the data we have it appears at this point in time we’re at 10 employees to be excessed and that number will be further reduced as we get closer to July 2009.

This is going to be a long, drawn out process, so please bear with us as we work to protect your rights under the contract. I will update you via bulletins as we move through the process.


A Goal Set, A Goal Met

By Pat McCann

The St. Paul, MN Area Local has again risen to the challenge to raise money for our Committee on Political Action (COPA). For the calendar year 2008 members of the St. Paul Local contributed a total of $12,303.22 to COPA. This is an increase over year 2007’s donations in the amount of $1400.74.

We met and exceeded our goal by raising $12,303.22.

In 2008 we increased those contributing bi-weekly from 76 members to 83 members. We also saw an increase in overall donators from 145 members in 2007 to 154 members contributing to COPA in 2008.

What do all these numbers mean? Since COPA began, we have seen our members become increasingly more involved in our Political Action Committee. We’ve seen a steady increase of the years of members contributing bi-weekly and annually. Also there has been more involvement during elections with phone banking and door knocking.

This all points to the fact that you, the members, are stepping up to the plate and recognizing the importance of political involvement.

The next couple of years are going to be challenging to the USPS with mail volume failing because of the faltering economy, the USPS will faced with decisions that if implemented (eliminating 6 day delivery, consolidating processing plants, closing post offices, funding retiree healthcare, etc) will have devastating effects on our members. The USPS can take these actions in most cases without violating our Collective Bargaining Agreement.

One of the avenues in which we can have our voices heard on these issues is through our Congressional Representatives. COPA provides President Burrus and our Legislative Director Myke Reid along with Assistant Legislative Director Steve Albanese the opportunity to access members of Congress from both sides of the aisle that will influence a good majority of the decisions the USPS will make in the coming months.

On a broader scale, the Labor Movement is constantly under attack by corporations attempting to introduce legislation to erode workers’ ability to bargain on behalf of their members. Hopefully with the change that occurred in the last election cycle, we will be able to spend less time defeating onerous legislation put forward by corporations and actually enact legislation that improves the lives of the working class.

This can only be accomplished by being involved in politics on Capitol Hill. Involvement is made possible through COPA.

I would like to thank those who contributed to COPA in 2008. I would also like to thank Bruce Gutzke, COPA Coordinator for his tireless work. Great job Bruce!

Lastly, I hope that those who supported COPA in 2008 will continue to do so in 2009. for those who missed the opportunity to contribute in 2008, I challenge you to help us reach our goal of $12,500.00 in 2009 so that we continue to have a healthy political action fund, allowing our voices to be collectively heard on Capitol Hill.


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Changes, Changes and More Changes

Pat McCann

As we begin the new year, we leave behind a year that was full of change to our working environment.

We experienced a reduction in staffing at our stations and branches, along with reposting of bids and changing start times/days off. The plant saw the final phase of decentralization take place in city division and the elimination of one FSM 1000, causing abolishments on tour 1 and tour 3.

Motor vehicle experienced run adjustments and the potential loss of 5 positions through attrition.

The maintenance craft seemed to fair better when it came to change. We actually saw an increase in our custodial occupational group with a number of employees transferring into the management craft from the clerk craft and the mailhandler craft.

As we begin the new year, we are faced with the tour 2 compression initiative. Initially this is going to affect the clerk craft in letter automation on all three tours with abolishments and reposting of duty assignments and start time changes. Eventually this could spread to the flat operation at a later date.

The tour 2 compression will also affect motor vehicle craft employees with an adjustment to their runs to stations and branches.

Maintenance staffing and start times for employees who work on the machines may at some point see adjustments based on the tour 2 compression initiative

For the clerks and motor vehicle employees, their changes will start in January 2009 and be completed in February 2009.

The registry section was also a target for management to reduce work hours. Management will be abolishing two (2) positions on tour 3 and reposting another.

At the Air Mail Center, management will be abolishing 2 ramp clerk positions and will revert one open position.

This spring the Mail Recovery Center is slated to be closed with the work being moved to the Atlanta mail recovery center. This will affect approximately 50 clerks.

So the first four (4) months of 2009 will be extremely unsettling for our members.

On the positive side, through all this change, no employee has been excessed from the installation and forced to move in order to continue employment with the Post Office. This has not been the case in numerous installations across the country where employees have had to relocate in order to keep their employment with the Postal Service.

After these changes take place in early 2009, I think we will experience a brief period of stability. I say this because I believe that in fall of 2009 the decrease in mail volume will start to level off. Our ratio between the number of duty assignments (bids) versus employees will be virtually equal, thus requiring management to be much more thoughtful in managing duty assignments in each section because of the requirement to have equal number of bids for employees. This coupled with economists predicting that the economy will start showing signs of recovery in late 2009. That said, the move to Eagan in late 2010, early 2011 has the potential for serious disruption to our work environment depending on what the USPS categorizes the new building as will determine the level of disruption.

On the bright side, employment with the USPS even with rough economic times continues to be stable employment.


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DESTRUCTION OF TOUR 2 PICKS UP SPEED

by Pat McCannIn the past three weeks, we have been notified by management that they intend on moving Tour 2 Letter Automation to a 12:05 p.m. start time and eliminating the Mail Recovery Center in St. Paul which is a Tour 2 operation. Furthermore, there is rumbling that Tour 2 Flat operations may suffer the same fate in the near future.Through correspondence with other APWU Presidents around the country, they report that their processing plants are suffering the same fate. This indicates that this is USPS Headquarters’ driven initiative. Therefore, APWU Presidents from around the country have requested that President Burrus assist us in dealing with this issue. A teleconference has been set for December 3, 2008 to discuss the issues.I don’t believe this is something that is going to be solved through the grievance procedure because it does not appear to be a Contract violation. I believe a dialogue has to take place with those at USPS Headquarters who have made these decisions and they appear to have been made at the highest levels of the USPS. I say this because we have tried locally to open dialogue with the Plant Manager on these changes to no avail. The Plant Manager had indicated he does not have a choice in these matters.MOVE TO EAGAN UPDATEExcavating contractors have begun prepping the site for construction of the new building. The completion date of the new facility is late 2010, early 2011. We will probably begin meetings on the move mid-season of 2009. We will keep you informed in the move through the process.

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THE ELECTION IS OVER – NOW WHAT?

by Pat McCannThe answer is, let’s hold our elected representatives accountable!All too often after Election Day, we go back to our daily activities and assume that our elected representatives will fight for the interests of the working class/middle class/main street America, for which we elected them, but more often than not, we get ignored in the process because we ignore the process. This has to change. We must stay active in the process.If you believe for one moment that the lobbyist who advocated for legislation that has severely and negatively impacted the working class/middle class/ main street America are going to stand down because we have changed the playing field where the game is played, you are mistaken. They are going to fight tooth and toenail to keep in place every piece of legislation that has been passed that has put us in the position we are in today.If we don’t put as much effort into lobbying our representatives for the changes we elected them to make as we did in getting them elected, then we will have squandered a once in our lifetime chance to make a positive difference for organized labor, working class America and main street America. So, on January 20, 2009, let’s be ready to participate in the process and make positive changes for the working people of America. If we let this opportunity slip by, shame on us.

Members, we have reached a point in our postal careers where the election on November 4, 2008 will more than likely determine the direction of our employment with the United States Postal Service.

The Postal Service is caught in what I would call the perfect storm that could lead to privatization without intervention from Congress and the next President.

The storm began with the introduction of the internet and the avenues it provided for people to connect with each other electronically. Since the invention of the internet, first class mail volume, which was the bread and butter of the Postal Service, has continued to decrease at record rates. Initially standard mail volume was off-setting the decrease in first class mail volume, but now the Postal Service is experiencing volume reductions in standard mail.

The storm continued to pick up strength with the introduction of postal reform by the Bush Administration, passed by a Republican Controlled House and Senate, a law that severely hamstrings the Post Office’s ability to navigate through an economy that is in recession.

Under the law, the only means for the USPS to recover losses due to the economy:

· Significant productivity improvement (nothing significant on the horizon in technology that will change productivity)

· Invoking the law’s exigency clause (increasing postage rates above the rate of inflation, it permits such increase in extraordinary or exceptional circumstances). Invoking this would most likely drive down mail volume.

The final piece of the perfect storm is the economic recession. Companies that use the Postal Service to distribute their advertising have begun to cut back and we are seeing a dramatic decrease in standard mail volumes (flats and letters). This, coupled with the price of gas having risen to $3.50 a gallon, equates to the Postal Service losing 2.3 billion dollars this year, and a projected loss of 2 billion in Fiscal Year 2009.

If the economy continues on its current path, and it most likely will for at least at minimum another year, the Postal Service will continue to run a deficit. So the Postal Service is basically left with 4 options:

1. Reduce operating expenses by reducing the number one operating expense, “employees”. This will speed up the march to privatization.

2. Raise the rates under the law to match inflation. Raising rates sharply will force major mailers to sharply reduce or abandon hard copy communication in favor of alternatives, furthering the call for privatization.

3. Increase mail volume. This is not likely to happen during an economic recession.

4. Use its authority under the law to borrow up to 15 billion dollars to continue operating. Borrowing money will increase the drumbeat for privatization.

The outlook for employees of the United States Postal Service is bleak, but all is not lost.

Before private companies are allowed to pick apart the Post Office, the 800 pound gorilla (the President and Congress) will weigh in on the future role of government in providing postal service to the nation.

This is where we, as postal employees and voters, can make a game changing move by electing a President, a Senator and Congresspersons who support federal jobs, who support the middle class, to which we belong, and who believe in the basic right to organize for better wages and working conditions.

The time will come, most likely within the next 4 years, that the fate of the Postal Service will be decided.

Do you want John McCain, Norm Coleman and Michelle Bachman and John Kline, who favor privatization of federal jobs; or Barack Obama, Al Franken, 1st District Tim Waltz; 2nd District Steve Sarvi; 3rd District Ashwin Madia; 4th District Betty McCollum; 5th District Keith Ellingson; 6th District El Tinklenberg; 7th District Collin Peterson; and 8th District Jim Oberstar who believe in and will fight for public service jobs?

Bluntly put, as postal employees, you have been secure enough in your employment to vote for candidates based on a variety of issues not related to your job. Those days have reached an end. This election is about your job.

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COLA Increase - $1,477 – Will Be Highest in HistoryThanks to a cost-of-living adjustment that will be the highest in APWU bargaining history, postal workers represented by the union will be receiving an annual raise of $1,477 at the end of the month.The increase is the result of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rise during the six months of the most recent Cost-of-Living measuring period under the 2006-2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement.“This is not only the largest COLA increase under the current contract,” said President William Burrus, “but the largest such raise we’ve ever achieved.”The COLA will be effective August 30, and will be reflected in September 19 paychecks. The adjustment will amount to a 71-cent per hour increase, or $56.80 per pay period. The CPI for July, the last month in the measuring period, was released August 14, and represents the completion of the fourth six-month COLA period in the 2006 National Agreement.“Cost-of-living adjustments make important contributions to our members’ wages,” Burrus said. “APWU members who began in 2008 at Level 5 Step O will realize an increase of nearly $3,200 per year as a result of the February upgrade and the March and August COLAs.”There will be four more COLA adjustments under the latest contract. Employees received a $686 raise on September 1, 2007 and a $479 raise on March 15.With the latest adjustment, the COLA increases in the current contract will total $2,642.

FLAT MAIL VOLUME DROPS MANAGEMENT ELIMINATION UFSM 1000 MACHINE -from the September Postmark

by Pat McCann, PresidentThe union was notified in a letter dated August 8, 2008 that they would be “restructuring” the UFSM 1000 operation by taking out of service one (1) UFSM 1000 machine. The impact to the Clerk Craft would be on Tour 1 and Tour 3. There was no reported impact to the Maintenance Craft.At the meeting with management, they basically showed us the volume drop in Flats since the rate increase (shape based pricing) and the corresponding throughput numbers supporting their decision to eliminate one machine.Management is in the process of putting together a staffing package for Tour 1 and Tour 3 for the remaining machine.Once they have that completed, they have agreed to meet with the affected units. A union representative will be present at the meetings to answer questions from the members concerning their contractual rights.

UPDATE ON MOVE TO EAGAN - from the May 2008 Postmark

By Pat McCann, PresidentApproximately three (3) weeks ago, the Postal Board of Governors met and approved the sale of the concourse and parking lot to the Ramsey County Rail Authority. The Post Office building itself was not part of the deal.Apparently Ramsey County has funds already allocated for this purchase and are working out the details of the purchase with the USPS. I don’t have any information at this time as to when the final agreement will be signed. The union has begun to make inquiries as to the affect this will have on employee parking after the purchase is completed.As for the future site in Eagan, the parties (USPS, Dakota County, City of Eagan) still have not come to an agreement on where vehicles will access and egress to the facility and who will pay for it. As you can see, the project is still moving along at a snail’s pace and it does not appear that it is going to pick up speed anytime soon.

 

 

The Function 4 Merry Go Round Continues -from the April 2008 Postmark


Over the past several months the union has met on Function 4 staffing packages for some of the stations and branches (Eagan, Industrial, Apple Valley, Main Office, and Woodbury).

After several meetings in appears management’s directions is to start reposting positions where there is heavy overtime usage on Mondays. Apparently, management believes by reposting some positions to 5 week rotations, they will be able to significantly reduce Monday overtime. Does this sound like the same old song and dance routine we heard 3 years ago from then Postmaster Cindy Larson right before she proceeded to repost almost the entire city from 10 week rotation to 6 week rotation? The reason she gave for reposing positions was too much overtime on Saturdays. The union explained to Postmaster Cindy Larson that unless management staffed the station with the proper number of clerks to cover days off, annual leave (10%-14% depending on time of year) and sick leave usage, reposting positions would just chase the overtime to another day, and guess what? The other day is now Monday.

The sad part about what happened 3 years ago besides the fact that it disrupted the lives of our members, is that management appears not to have learned a single thing from it and is on the verge of repeating it again. It took almost 2 ½ years for things to begin to settle down from the last repostings. As an example, almost the entire work force at the Apple Valley post office bid out of the office after the reposting. The result was a staffing crisis that caused numerous contract violations and financially cost the Post Office thousands of dollars.

I have been meeting periodically with Postmaster Mike Larson, not on any particular office, but in general on the function four process in an attempt to avoid repeating the disaster that occurred 2 ½ years ago.

We continue to have constructive discussions on this issue and no repostings have occurred yet.

Vice-President Dawn Ecker has been meeting with each individual station manager to go over the 1994’s. To date none of the function 4’s have been finalized. Once we have completed the meetings on the 1994’s and have a finalized package, we will share the information with the members via station visits or a bulletin.

FMLA Under Attack – reprinted from the March 2008 Postmark

President Bush’s appointed henchmen at the Department of Labor are at it again. They are proposing changes to the Family Medical Leave Act that if implemented, will most certainly negatively affect the very workers that the Act was supposed to protect.

Of course it is not surprising the employers are at the forefront in pushing the DOL to modify provisions of the Law to tilt the landscape in their favor.

The Law was enacted during the Clinton administration and for more than a decade has made a positive impact on millions of workers and thousands of postal workers and their families.

Some of the changes being proposed that would affect postal workers:

· Current regulations prohibit employers from making direct contact with an employee’s physician. The proposed rules would create exceptions to this prohibition.

· Eligible employees would be required to re-certify lifelong or chronic conditions at least twice a year, regardless of the length of the certification issued by a healthcare provider. (Employees would have to bear the costs of the additional trips to the doctor.) Under current regulations, such certifications last up to a year.

· Current regulation prohibit the disclosure of a “diagnosis or prognosis” on any form. The proposed rule would allow employers to request but not require disclosure.

· While the proposed regulations would allow eligible employees to seek damages against employers who fail to provide them proper notice of their rights under the FMLA, the burden of proof in such cases would be quite high and employees would have to show actual damages suffered.

· Current regulations stipulate that a health problem can qualify as a serious condition when an absence is followed by two visits with a healthcare provider. The proposed regulations would restrict FMLA eligibility by requiring that follow-up treatment take place within 30 days of the start of a medical absence.

· Current law requires employers to provide notice to employees within two business days. The proposed rule expands the period to five business days.

Right now as it stands, FMLA is a fairly easy benefit for workers to access. It doesn’t require a huge amount of hurdles to get coverage but enough to discourage individuals from continually abusing the system. Yes, I know there are individuals who are and will continue to abuse FMLA, but there enough regulations in the current law if the employers chose to enforce it, that would clean up the abuses.

Instead, it appears that employers are pushing the DOL to make FMLA a more cumbersome benefit to access by implementing less worker-friendly regulations requiring more doctor visits, more paperwork and so on.

One does not need to look far to see where this is headed if the regulations are changed.

When DOL, Office of Worker Compensation Program first come into existence, it was a fairly worker friendly benefit to access. If you got injured at work and had to miss work because of the injury or required medical treatment, you filled out a couple of forms and got paid for the missed work hours and your medical bills were paid by the employer without too much hassle. Not anymore, once employers began to pressure the DOL for more regulations in regard to the OWCP, the benefit became a paperwork nightmare with endless doctor’s visits, unpaid medical bills and so on. In the end, employees for the most part have given up in regards to getting compensated for work injuries, in the most part because of the massive paperwork involved and continued harassment by the employer to get coverage. In the end, the employers got what they wanted, a benefit so entangled in regulations that it paralyzed employee’s ability to access it.

This is exactly what they (employers) are up to with the changes they have proposed for FMLA and this is just the start.

Before these changes can be implemented, the DOL is required to take public comments on the proposed changes. The APWU plans to file objections during the 60 day comment period.


Once again, the St. Paul, MN Area Local has risen to the challenge facing us in the area of political action. In 2007, members of the local contributed a total of $10,902.48 to the Committee on Political Action (COPA). This is an increase over 2006 donations in the amount of $537.98.

In 2007 we increased those who contribute bi-weekly from 65 to 76. The committee had set a goal of reaching 76 and we reached it.

The above would not have been achieved without you, the members, recognizing the importance of contributing to a political action fund.

COPA provides President Burrus the opportunity to access members of Congress from both sides of the aisle that make decisions on legislation put forth affecting our working environment as postal workers. It also helps when the APWU wants legislation introduced such as Bill (HR 4236) which would affect private contracts involving mail processing, mail handling, or surface transportation of mail if signed into law; as it would require the USPS to bargain with the affected unions before awarding such contracts.

In 2008 we will be again faced with further attempts by the USPS to consolidate and/or close post offices. This, along with, the always present attempts to privatize the USPS are why the APWU needs to stay active in the political arena. The APWU has been able to thwart a number of consolidations of processing centers around the country by enlisting congressional support for our position. On a broader scale, the labor movement is constantly under attack by the corporations attempting to introduce legislation to erode unions’ ability to bargain on behalf of their members.

The APWU has been able to thwart a number of consolidations of processing centers around the country by enlisting congressional support for our position.

This can only be accomplished by being involved in politics on Capitol Hill. Involvement is made possible through our Committee on Political Action (COPA).

I would like to thank those who contributed to COPA in 2007. I have listed your names on page _________. I would also like to thank Bruce Gutzke, our COPA Coordinator for his tireless work. Great job Bruce!

Lastly, I hope that those who supported COPA in 2007 will continue to do so in 2008, and for those who missed your opportunity to contribute in 2007, I challenge you to contribute to COPA in 2008 so that we continue to have a healthy political action fund so that our voices are collectively heard on Capitol Hill.

Pat McCann

President

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