Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Union Challenges USPS Interpretation of Layoff Memo

APWU Web News Article #067-09, June 11, 2009

The APWU has filed a Step 4 grievance protesting management’s interpretation of the contractual protection against layoffs for APWU-represented employees who were on the rolls as of Nov. 20, 2006, but had not achieved six continuous years of service. A Memorandum of Understanding in the 2006-2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement provides protection to such employees.

In an April 17, 2009, letter to the Postal Service, APWU President William Burrus asserted that the protection against layoff for these workers is unaffected by a change of assignment, bargaining unit, or craft.

“Due to excessing and reassignments,” he wrote, “many junior APWU-represented employees have been reassigned outside the APWU crafts.” Noting that it would be necessary to properly identify covered and non-covered employees in the event of layoffs, he asked management officials to outline the USPS position on the issue.

In a June 3, 2009, response, the USPS manager of contract administration disagreed with the union interpretation, writing, “It is the Postal Service’s position that once an employee leaves, voluntarily or involuntarily, from an APWU-represented position, that employee is not covered by any of the provisions of that collective bargaining agreement.”

Article 6 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement provides lifetime protection against layoffs to all employees who were on the rolls as of Sept. 15, 1978; employees hired after that date achieve protected status upon completion of six years of continuous service.

The Memorandum of Understanding re: Layoff Protection [page 286] in the 2006-2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that regular workforce employees who were on the rolls as of Nov. 20, 2006, and had not achieved six years of continuous service “shall be protected against involuntary layoff during the term of the contract.”

During their contract talks, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) did not reach agreement on a memorandum protecting Letter Carriers in this situation. As a result, if the USPS interpretation was applied and APWU-represented employees meeting these criteria were excessed into the Letter Carrier Craft, they could be subject to layoff.

In his April 17 letter to the Postal Service, Burrus wrote, “As you are aware, ‘protected’ status, temporary or permanent, is unaffected by the reassignment of employees from one bargaining unit or craft to another. A contrary interpretation would result in an employee who was employed within a craft that did not negotiate a Layoff Protection Memorandum achieving such protection by virtue of his/her transfer to the APWU craft during the term of the 2006 National Agreement.”

If additional discussions on the topic fail to resolve the dispute, the union will appeal the issue to arbitration.

Source: National APWU site

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