ON THE SAME PAGE
By Marcel K. Luna
Since the last report, there have been various events that have transpired that I’d like to report to the membership. First, as most know is that Wes Hansen did resign as President of this local in early September. It is unimaginable to some of us what our military service men and women are enduring in the various spots in the Middle East. As a result, I would like to offer a word of encouragement to Wes Hansen on behalf of the Executive Board and the membership of this local as he will be reading this somewhere overseas. “Wes, we appreciate your service of our country, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family and we wish you a safe and speedy return home”. At the same time, although Jeff Dillbeck has returned home, I would like to acknowledge him. “Jeff, thank you for your service to our country, welcome home!”
Recently, we as a local have seen the results of past and present officers and stewards diligent and hard work come to fruition. Two major settlements, a T.E. settlement and an administrative leave settlement for eight hours for all employees who were on the rolls and utilized emergency annual for the 1/19/95 snow day, along with other various grievances, have totaled approximately 150,000 dollars. In addition, we have received four fulltime positions. And still, on the horizon, is a major casual in lieu-of arbitration in 2005.
In addition, since July, twenty employees have retired or resigned for various reasons. This has given rise to job vacancies and in turn management has reverted a high number of those vacancies. We have and will continue to grieve any job reversions. In fact, recently, approximately eight jobs that were reverted were grieved and reposted with a lump-sum payment given to those who were successful bidders on those jobs right here at the local level.
Further, there has been an increase of investigations conducted by Postal Inspectors and management. It is imperative that when an employee is brought in for a fact finding investigation that they exercise their Weingarten rights. NLRB vs. Weingarten was a 1975 U.S. Supreme Court Case that enabled employees to have representation during investigative interviews. An investigative interview is when a member of management or Postal Inspectors asks questions of an employee to obtain information which may be used as a basis for discipline. Employees have a right to have a union representation present during investigative interviews. However, management is not obligated to inform the employee of their Weingarten rights. It is the employee’s responsibility to know and exercise their Weingarten rights. So if and when you as an employee exercise your Weingarten rights, management has four options.
1. Provide a steward and proceed with the investigation.
2. Stop questioning until union representation is present.
3. Call off the interview.
4. Convince the employee to proceed without union representation (it is suggested that employees do not proceed without union representation)
In order for us to continue to be successful in handling discipline, the union must be involved from the beginning phases, and in the end, you will benefit the most. Ask your fellow employees.
One immediate effect of individuals retiring and subsequent job reversions is that mandatory overtime for employees is increased in all sections. We have grieved the issue and believe that excessive use of NON-OTDL employees is in violation of the Memorandum of Art 8 which states in-part that “excessive use of overtime is inconsistent with the best interest of postal employees and the Postal Service, it is the intent of the parties in adopting changes to Article 8 to limit overtime, to avoid excessive mandatory overtime”... In addition to petitioning management on hiring, we have proposed a Letter of Clarification on overtime to protect the interest of those who want to work overtime and to protect the interest of those who do not want to work overtime. It is currently pending.
Also, I want to report that six new members have joined our ranks in the last three months or so. It was certainly encouraging and a privilege to sign them up. I want to encourage all members to speak to our fellow non-union members in a dignified and respectful manner about joining our membership. They must realize that in addition to doing their jobs they should become union members as another means to protect their jobs. The more union members we have, the better equipped we are to defend our rights and our jobs. When was the last time you talked to or had something to do with signing up a non-union member?
I’m equally encouraged to report that the backlogged grievances are caught up here at the local level. We had some outstanding grievances that were over two years old. These grievances were residual from past Step 2 designees. As a result, I specifically tasked Vice-President Lincoln to handle those outstanding grievances, and he has done an exceptional job. We the Executive Board will continue to be committed and strive to process grievances in accordance with Article 15.
New Technology will be implemented in 2005 for the AFCS and the AFSM 100. These will certainly be topics for RI-399. RI-399 is an inventory which contains job operations with associated duties and specific craft designations. When new technology is implemented which brings about change to a given operation, it creates opportunity for a possible change of craft jurisdiction for that operation. These discussions will take place in the Local RI-399 Dispute Resolution Committee which I’m the representative of the APWU. Although we have been lax in the past on these issues, we are not any more. We cannot afford to be anything but aggressive in these discussions because our jobs are on the line.
2004 posed several challenges, and I believe we meet them head on and were successful. This Executive Board is committed to progression not regression, stagnancy or complacency. Whatever challenges 2005 brings, the membership should have confidence that we will meet them head on and be successful.