Speaking on Labor Day in 2010, President Barack Obama said, “It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of middle-class security all bear the union label.”
Why then, have unionized workers been under such vast attack, especially when the “union label” has had a significant impact on expanding the middle-class?
In the APWU, we have experienced these attacks directly. We face an uphill battle to make sure work remains with our bargaining unit. The Staples deal is a good example.
Likewise, the Motor Vehicle Craft is facing one of its biggest challenges, the mode conversion of Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) operations to Highway Contract Routes (HCRs). To the Postal Service this is an exercise in numbers, but as far as numbers go, the Postal Service’s numbers don’t make sense.
Just last November in Louisville, KY, using “dynamic routing,” the APWU was able to prove that the Postal Service could save money by assigning PVS employees to run a combination of PVS and HCR routes.
However, with all the pushback from the USPS on the Louisville pilot, it appears saving money is not what’s on management’s mind: It’s PVS they want.
Subverting the Intent
Many union members may remember the decision by Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg in March 2013, which sustained the APWU’s grievance against management’s California subcontracting plans. Arbitrator Goldberg rejected management’s claim that the USPS can overlook higher subcontracting costs when making outsourcing decisions.
The dust from the Goldberg Award had barely settled when the APWU received a notice dated April 26, 2013, that the USPS intended to consider contracting out 162 PVS sites throughout the country.
But the requirements of the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) are intended to bring work back to MVS Craft, not send it out to HCRs. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Contracting or Insourcing of Contracted Service and the MOU on Consideration of National Outsourcing Initiatives, which are part of the contract, were intended to allow the APWU an opportunity to compete for work internally concurrent with the outsourcing process and early enough to influence any management decision.
By signing off on these MOUs and the MOU on Motor Vehicle Craft Jobs, the Postal Service agreed in negotiations to continue to expand the Motor Vehicle Craft during the term of the contract. This was an integral part of negotiations.
It would be an understatement to call dismantling PVS and contracting it out a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
National Disputes Filed
After meeting with the Postal Service several times to discuss management’s efforts to evaluate the 162 sites, and believing we were essentially going in circles, on March 27, 2014, the APWU initiated a national dispute.
The union contended:
The Postal Service is in violation of Article 31.3; Article 32.1.A; Article 32.1.B; and the parties’ MOUs on Contracting or Insourcing of Contracted Service, on Consideration of National Outsourcing Initiatives, and Motor Vehicle Craft Jobs. In addition, the effort by the Postal Service to evaluate 162 Postal Vehicle Service sites, which is essentially the entire PVS operation nationwide, for possible subcontracting violates the agreement of the parties to bring PVS work into the Postal Service during the term of the 2010 National Agreement.
In addition to the dispute described above, the Motor Vehicle Craft has filed the following disputes:
1. Protesting the subcontracting of MVS work applying Spiderman decals on Postal Vehicles nationwide (Case # HQTV20140245).
2. Protesting the renewal of highway contracts regardless of the better value of PVS running the routes (Case # HQTV20140264).
3. Protesting the awarding of specific route segments to highway contractors regardless of the better value of PVS performing the segments (Case # HQTV20140265).
Labor Board Charges
We also filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Feb. 7, 2014, protesting management’s refusal to provide PS Form 7463A, Negotiated Cost Statement – Highway Transportation Contracts, which the NLRB sustained.
The board issued a complaint against the Postal Service on April 30, finding that the USPS “has been failing and refusing to bargain collectively and in good faith,” by refusing to provide information to the union.
The information on the form is vital to the union’s ability to ensure that the Postal Service is conducting a fair comparison of all reasonable costs before renewing contracts, and is crucial to the union’s ability to win additional work and jobs in the Postal Vehicle Service.
Management’s primary objection to sharing the information was that it considered the information proprietary. Apparently, the NLRB decided otherwise after considering the evidence the parties brought forth.
The union and management now move on to the remedy phase of the process with the hope of reaching a settlement agreement before having to go to trial.
Our goal continues to be to preserve and expand the Motor Vehicle Craft and to make it a viable part of the American Postal Workers Union.