Here We Go Again
(This article first appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
The National Agreement expires in September of this year and contract negotiations with the Postal Service will open in June. The APWU has been preparing for negotiations for quite a while, and we have established a committee of National and Local MVS Officers as we continue with our preparations.
The Postal Service will undoubtedly have the same strategy that they have had during countless contract negotiations in the past, including the 2018 negotiations. This strategy is to have workers make concessions of the hard-won benefits throughout the 50-year history of bargaining with the Postal Service. The Postal Service attempts to put the union on the defense in our attempt to achieve an equitable and fair contract. They will submit concessionary proposals such as no limits on the number of positions with split days off; “best qualified” for all administrative positions; flexible starting times two hours before or after bid starting time; work hours of eight hours within twelve; and weakening of article 32 requirements, etc. They will undoubtedly blow the dust off of the 2009 PVS Amended Work Rules Pilot MOU.
Among the MVS Craft goals will be to continue emphasizing the value of the Motor Vehicle Service Craft employees. Because of problems with hiring and retaining employees, we will propose to upgrade position levels and eliminate lower entry level steps to be competitive with other companies in the private sector. We will continue our demand for VMF training and staffing on the new vehicles, making for a more efficient VMF and faster repairs.
We will propose requiring local management to notify and meet with the local president and MVS craft director when a vacant duty assignment is under consideration for reversion.
We will propose to negotiate language that “every effort will be made to create desirable duty assignments from all available work hours for career employees to bid.”
The problems with the Postal Service’s Department of Transportation (DOT) physical policies continues. The contracting of medical services by the Postal Service with Caduceus USA Medical Services continues to be problematic for the MVS Craft. The union has held ongoing discussions with the Postal Service, and an additional Step 4 dispute has been filed. Although problems continue, there has been some progress made. The examining physician will issue a new CDL physical card at the time of the examination if the driver is medically cleared to drive.
There are provisions of the Caduceus contract that conflict with the Step 4 settlement dated October 23, 2019 and DOT regulations. There is no requirement to send medical information to the Postal Service or to a third party if the employee passes the physical.
The Postal Service agreed with the union that the Step 4 settlement dated October 23, 2019 and DOT requirements do not require employees to sign a release for medical records to take a DOT physical. The union is still receiving information from the field that some medical facilities are requiring drivers sign medical release forms before taking the DOT physical. If this happens to you, contact your National Business Agent or the National Office. The DOT requirement for an intrastate CDL license for federal employees remains unresolved; the National Dispute the union initiated in October 2020 has not been settled because of these ongoing issues.
On March 31, APWU representatives participated in a Virtual First Article Testing of the USPS purchase of Hyundai trailers to be added to the postal fleet. While this purchase is long overdue, the union raised safety issues including the removal of the holes in the trailer floor. Any truck driver realizes that this is an important safety feature and must remain. As more information becomes available, we will update the field.