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President Brian Wagner, Executive Vice President Ivan D. Butts and Secretary/Treasurer Chuck Mulidore attended the August consultative meeting. Representing the Postal Service were Bruce Nicholson, Phong Quang and Henry Bear, USPS Labor Relations Policy Administration.
Agenda Item #1
NAPS has received numerous concerns over the new Transportation Yard Visibility System (YV) currently being pilot-tested at the Atlanta NDC. There are concerns regarding the mandate for no late-departing trips.
NAPS has been informed that EAS employees are being instructed to dispatch these trips empty, despite having mail staged for loading on the trailers. NAPS has been advised this is resulting in extra trips having to be called to dispatch mail that should/could have been loaded on the scheduled transportation.
While NAPS appreciated the process overview presented at the July consultative meeting, NAPS asked for a briefing on the operational issues ultimately impacting the PFP Corporate indicators.
NAPS contends implementing such a pilot impacts the benefits of EAS employees and, therefore, entitles NAPS to “participate directly in the planning and development of pay policies and schedules, fringe benefit programs and other programs relating to supervisory and other managerial employees.” NAPS noted the USPS did not afford the association direct participation in the initial development of the YV program as outlined in 39 U.S. Code § 1004(b).
The Postal Service notified NAPS regarding implementation of the YV pilot on March 15; a briefing was provided during July’s consultative meeting. During July’s meeting, the Postal Service responded that this pilot does not affect the Trips on Time indicator or any other NPA indicators. Therefore, another briefing on this pilot to reaffirm that it does not impact NPA serves no purpose.
The YV system is a replacement/enhancement to the Yard Management System (YMS) and provides visibility to the transportation functions, such as allowing users to see what is in the yard, just as Surface Visibility. The system does not make decisions, such as directing drivers to depart to destinations.
As stated during the July consultative meeting, trips are scheduled to leave at a specific time in order to arrive before the critical time entry at the destination P&DC for mail to be processed and delivered in a timely manner. If trips are held at the origin facility, the risk of failing containers and, possibly, full loads of mail is increased significantly.
Many trips also have additional stops en route to their final destination, as well as scheduled trips to Surface Transfer Centers where containers are transferred to other trailers awaiting transportation to other destinations. Employees may believe that holding a truck to ensure every piece of mail gets on the truck is the right thing to do, but this increases the chance of failing every piece of mail on that truck.
Agenda Item #2
On July 15, 2019, NAPS inquired about directions received from USPS Headquarters on the use of personal time that NAPS believes was in violation of Postal Service policies and procedures.
On July 26, 2019, the USPS responded with the policy and procedure that cover the use of personal leave for nonbargaining employees. However, the USPS did not affirm this issue was addressed with the USPS manager whose action violated USPS policies and procedures.
NAPS asked if the respective USPS manager was given proper guidance to adhere to USPS policies and procedures.
Grievances of individual employees shall not be matters that may be included as agenda items for consultation. The Postal Service, as a courtesy, is open to discussing this matter outside this forum.
Agenda Item #3
NAPS members have reported receiving a postcard from the USPS thanking them for participating in the Postal Pulse survey. Some employees received the postcard without the benefit of completing the survey.
NAPS pointed out there are approximately 600,000 USPS employees; according to recent Postal Pulse results, fewer than 40% completed the latest survey. NAPS asked why the Postal Service mailed postcards to more than 300,000 employees, thanking them for taking a survey they did not take.
NAPS contends that sending such a mailing to approximately 225,000 employees who took the survey—and thought they were doing so anonymously—as well as including 300,000 employees who did not complete the survey, serves to devalue the survey and the sincerity of the USPS’ thank-you.
NAPS asked what the cost was associated with the Postal Pulse thank-you postcard mailing.
The Postal Pulse postcard mailing cost approximately $20,000. The Postal Service sends the postcard to every postal employee because Gallup controls the information regarding the individuals who completed the survey; it is not shared with the Postal Service. The Postal Service believes that exhibiting common courtesy by saying “thank you” to all employees, regardless of whether one completes the survey, improves the level of engagement.
Agenda Item #4
NAPS has received concerns about the excessive heat currently in the NAPS Southeast Area and the USPS mandate for EAS employees to perform 3999s. This mandate is requiring EAS employees to be in the back of LLVs with no ventilation, no air conditioning and without the benefit of a fan available for carriers to use in these non-air-conditioned vehicles.
NAPS’ concerns are based on documented findings that recorded temperatures in Florida are record-setting. NAPS has not received a response from the USPS area on this issue. The response received from local leadership reflects a lack of concern for the health and welfare of EAS employees:
“EAS employees should be taking preventive measures similar to all other employees on staying hydrated and being attentive to signs of overheating, whether it’s in the back of an LLV, on a dock or in any other scenario. Yes, it’s hot, but it’s also hot for our carriers, mail handlers and custodians cutting lawns.”
NAPS pointed out that it’s not carriers, mail handlers or custodians sitting in the back of LLVs where temperatures can be hot enough to cook a steak. NAPS asked why these inspections cannot be made regarding USPS policies and procedures found in “Handbook M-41,” which reads, in part:
“912—Frequency Counts of mail shall be conducted on one or more routes when it is determined to be operationally necessary. These inspections will be conducted between the first week of September and May 31, excluding December. A physical inspection of the route shall be made on one or more days during the count week by a route examiner who accompanies the carrier during his or her full tour.”
NAPS asked that the USPS follows the policies and procedures in “Handbook M-41” in regard to physical inspection of the routes.
“Handbook M-41,” City Delivery Carriers’ Duties and Responsibilities, Section 912, outlines the frequency for mail counts and inspections determined by the Postal Service. This provision is not applicable to special route inspections that may be requested by a regular city carrier in accordance with “Handbook M-39,” Management of Delivery Services, Section 271.g, which reads:
“If over any 6 consecutive week period (where work performance is otherwise satisfactory) a route shows over 30 minutes of overtime or auxiliary assistance on each of 3 days or more in each week during this period, the regular carrier assigned to such route shall, upon request, receive a special mail count and inspection to be completed within 4 weeks of the request. The month of December must be excluded from consideration when determining a 6 consecutive week period. However, if a period of overtime and/or auxiliary assistance begins in November and continues into January, then January is considered as a consecutive period even though December is omitted. A new 6 consecutive week period is not begun.”
The instance cited by NAPS and addressed in a July 9 correspondence from senior leadership in the Suncoast District was in regards to a special route inspection, not a mail count. Therefore, the Postal Service’s actions are consistent with its policies and procedures, specifically “Handbook M-39,” Section 271.g. If NAPS has concerns with a response from district leadership, then the matter should be forwarded to the area Human Resources manager for discussion.
Overseeing carrier activities and conducting route inspections are responsibilities of managers and supervisors. District leadership, installation heads, managers and supervisors have a responsibility to ensure that a PS Form 3999, Inspection of a Letter Carrier Route, is performed at least once per year and should plan to conduct these inspections throughout the year.
Supervision of carrier activities is expected to be performed daily. The following are provisions from “Handbook M-39” that address street management:
“M-39 134.11—Street Management is a natural extension of office management. All carriers are to be notified to expect daily supervision on the street just as they receive daily supervision in the office.”
“M-39 134.12—Accompanying carriers on the street is an essential responsibility of management and one of the manager’s most important duties.”
“M-39 134.13—Certain criteria may call attention for individual street supervision such as when overtime or auxiliary assistance is used frequently on a route.”
NAPS has expressed concerns about supervisors’ exposure to heat during these route inspections; the safety of our employees is paramount. In keeping with that priority, all employees are expected to comply with the Heat Illness Prevention Program (HIPP). The HIPP is designed to educate our employees about the effects of heat on the body, outline the risk factors for heat-related illness, promote recognition of symptoms associated with heat-related illnesses and provide guidance about when to seek help.
To that end, the HIPP requires annual completion of a course on heat stress by all employees, regardless of job title, position duties, facility location or frequency of exposure to heat. This course discusses the effects of heat on the body, outlines the risk factors for heat-related illnesses and describes the associated treatments.
In addition to the annual training course, all employees are provided with visual aids that are affixed to the window of all postal vehicles and attached as laminated cards to ID badges that describe the various symptoms of and proper first-aid responses to heat-related illness and can be used to help guide decisions to seek medical attention.
The HIPP also encourages employees to take adequate precautions when working in the heat. Potable water is available in all facilities and employees are encouraged to stay hydrated. The Postal Service also advises employees to err on the side of caution and call 911 immediately if they experience or witness another employee exhibiting signs of heat-related illness.
Agenda Item #5
NAPS brought Agenda Item #3 from the July consultative. It was noted the USPS affirmed that pay adjustments would be processed in pay periods 15 and 16.
On May 15, 2019, the USPS issued the “final decision concerning changes in pay policies, schedules and fringe benefit programs for Field Employee and Administrative Schedule (EAS) employees.” Included in this policy was collapsing EAS-12 positions:
7. Position Upgrade
"The salary schedule of EAS-12 will be collapsed, and the position of Administrative Assistant (FLD) EAS-12 (OCC Code 0318-0007) will be upgraded to EAS-15. Incumbents in this position will receive a 2% basic salary increase. The increase is adjusted higher, if necessary, to bring the salary to the minimum of the new grade. The increase is adjusted lower, if necessary, to keep the salary from exceeding the maximum of the higher grade.”
Collapsing the EAS-12 positions impacted current administrative assistants (FLD) EAS-12 (OCC Code 0318-0007), resulting in an upgrade to EAS-15. NAPS requested a time frame for when these administrative assistants will receive their upgrade, salary level increase and retroactive pay from the January 5, 2019, effective date.
Field EAS impacted by this upgrade have reported that, as of pay period 16, the adjustment had not been made.
A response to this agenda item was provided during the July consultative meeting; processing those adjustments has been consistent with that response. Form 50 actions and payroll adjustments have been completed for employees formerly in the EAS-12 administrative assistants (FLD) position. If NAPS Headquarters is contacted by any employee who claims a payroll adjustment was not received, please obtain and review the most recent earnings statement before forwarding to Labor Relations Policy Administration for review.
Agenda Item #6
NAPS requested copies of the performance data for the Annandale, VA, Post Office to validate impacts to NPA scores. In addition, NAPS requested the following:
NAPS noted that it was not afforded the opportunity to directly participate in developing and implementing the multiple carrier route case program as outlined in 39 U.S. Code § 1004(b).
The initiative to test restructured city letter carrier assignments by using modified letter carrier case configurations—consolidated casing—at the Annandale, VA, Post Office is related to city carrier operations. There is no obligation for the Postal Service to follow the consultation process with its management associations on pilots related to work performed by bargaining-unit employees, similar to the Postal Service not being required to send Article 19 notices to our unions for issues such as changes to supervisory position descriptions. However, Labor Relations provided correspondence on April 15 to NAPS regarding its intent to pilot consolidated casing in Annandale, VA, on May 18 and has followed up with seven additional correspondences in regard to that initiative.
A minimal number of NPA performance indicators for the Annandale Post Office have achieved lower cell values since implementation of the pilot, but those indicators did not have a direct correlation with the pilot. Total Operating Expense, an indicator that includes all expenses—not just expenses related to the pilot—decreased in cell value. However, that decrease did not affect the NPA composite performance summary. The Postal Service’s invitation to a site visit and briefing on this pilot still stands.