San Jose Area Local 73

APWU Pushes for Postal Workers During Pandemic

March 24, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, APWU leaders are in constant discussion with USPS management, demanding temporary leave policies, telework provisions where possible, and better safety policies, supplies, and equipment.

“Our very first priority is ensuring that the Postal Service provides for the health and safety of our members,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “Postal workers are on the frontlines of the pandemic response. We need to ensure that the hardworking men and women who keep medicine, medical equipment, food, supplies and other essential goods moving through the mail are protected as the country relies on us in ways they never have before.”

“We continue to demand that the Postal Service provides the equipment and cleaning supplies we need to do our jobs safely,” said Industrial Relations Director Vance Zimmerman. “Postal management knows we will never let up on this issue, and it is their responsibility to provide these products, including hand sanitizer, gloves, and masks.”

As reported earlier, a Maintenance Management Order went out for each post office to increase their cleaning standards (including using cleaning products from before the CTC implementation) and provide gloves, masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.

If the MMO is not being followed in your workplace, contact your local or state organization so they can reach the appropriate National Business Agent or your Regional Coordinator to address the issue.

New Memoranda of Understanding concerning pay, telework, leave include:

  • Temporary Expanded Sick Leave for Dependent Care During COVID-19
  • Temporary Additional Paid Leave for PSEs
  • Telework for IT/AS unit, Customer Care Centers, and Mail & Shipping Solutions Center, and HRSSC

The Postal Service has also agreed to institute safer social distancing procedures in lobbies including marking waiting distances for lines and appropriate distances from the window clerks. These procedures will make it safer for window clerks and limits the potential spread of the virus at the retail counter.

The APWU was also instrumental in the Postal Service’s newest announced policy on “Liberal Changes of Schedule and Leave.”  The letter instructs managers that they should be granting changes of schedule, annual leave, sick leave, and leave without pay (LWOP) to employees who have to miss work due to COVID-19 pandemic related issues. The letter further clarifies that these absences are to be considered as “scheduled” leave and cannot be cited in discipline for failing to maintain an assigned schedule.

“We demand that the Postal Service address the serious safety and health needs that our members face every day,” Director Zimmerman said. “We will continue updating you when we have a new policy change negotiated.”

Reports from members in the field are essential to holding the Postal Service accountable to their safety responsibilities. If you observe a lack of supplies, a failure to conduct standup talks or other unsafe practices, notify your local officers. They will address issues to the national officers, who will in turn address postal management.

Continue to demand local management take this crisis seriously and take actions to protect you and your fellow coworkers. These conversations are crucial for the day-to-day protection of postal workers.

“Postal workers are a vital part of keeping our society moving during this crisis – unseen by anyone in a century,” President Dimondstein said. “It is important that postal workers come together to help each other. Please follow the recommended safety procedures, sound the alarm when management has not supplied the necessary equipment or implemented improved cleaning standards, and stay home if you are not feeling well. We are all in this together.”

For member updates on COVID-19 follow: apwu.org/coronavirus.