by Lindamarie Peabody

Happy Fall, everyone! I hope everyone had a great summer and enjoyed their prime time leave. I have been busy all summer trying to figure out where the contract is going to lead us, and with all the new language and features, it seems a bit overwhelming for all of the members. There are tons of changes, including new types of employees and major advancements in trying to get our work back to the clerk craft. I will touch on a few of these issues in this newsletter, but I would advise all to read the contract and the e-mails that are sent out to get all the info they can to better understand what we as Tri County members DIDN'T sign up for! I just returned from the All-Craft Convention and I do believe the National Officers are going to make sure that the contract is enforced to the best of their abilities. They tried to break downthe major changes into each class and I feel that I understand all of it much better than before I arrived in Las Vegas. However, there is still confusion and many questions that need to be answered, because the National Officers seem to still be working out all of the details of the contract. There are also grievances on the new classifications of employees (NTFT jobs - posting of the jobs for all with desirable days off) and retreat rights for all excessed employees to bid these newly created positions. The outcome of these grievances will determine whether any good can come out of this contract. We gave up so much when we gave away the forty hour work week guarantee; the least we can get is good drop days and the right for all to bid these jobs!

Well, where do we start? The new classifications of employees include PSE's (Postal Support Employees) and NTFT's (Non-Traditional Full Time - pronounced NIFTIES). PSE's are non-career BARGAINING UNIT employees who have replaced TE's and casuals for postal flexibility. They are appointed for a 360-day term with a five day break in each term. They are guaranteed two hours of work whenever they are brought in and earn 1 hour of annual leave for every 20 hours worked in a pay period. They get paid for any annual leave they don't use at the end of the 360 day term and they pay union dues. They get representation, union member priveleges, and can opt to fill in vacant duty positions if any are available. After one appointment, if they want the Union Health Care Plan they can get it, but they have to pay 100 percent of the cost. They can get overtime pay for time worked over 40 hours, provided that the Post Office must give all PTF's their straight time hour guarantees before assigning any work to PSE's. PSE's will also have preference when the need to fill vacancies with new career employees exists. Remember, PSE's should be welcomed and given the same respect as any of our other members. The best thing about the PSE's is that any hours they work can be used to create full time duty assignments. This means that when the Post Office uses these PSE's to save money, we can grieve it to make full time jobs for our regular employees. NTFT's are full time duty assignments that have non-traditional scheduling, such as between 30-44 hours, less than 5 days of work, more than eight hours in a day or possible split shifts. These positions can only be created when operationally necessary and the union must be given the opportunity to REVIEW, COMMENT, MAKE SUGGESTIONS, and PROPOSE ALTERNATIVES. How many of you got to do any of those things on the NTFT's in your office? None of us did - management just assigned them to the converted PTF's. Coupled with that and the fact that they were never posted for bid installation-wide, led to the Step 4 disputes on the National Level which we are anxiously awaiting the decisions. Also, the new NTFT MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) Article 37.3.A(1) states, "EVERY EFFORT will be made to create desirable duty assignments from all available work hours for career employees to bid." In ENGLISH, this means that the crap jobs they created and pushed on us with six work days and only one day off violated the contract before we even started with this mess! Desirable to the UNION means five eight hour days or four ten hour days with consecutive days off!!! The National Officers promised they would fight this, and remember that any employee who was a full time regular in a traditional 40 hour a week duty assignment as of May 23, 2011, CAN'T be forced into a NTFT position of less than 40 hours or with less than two days off...PERIOD! All other employees, including PTR's, PTF's and career employees hired after May 23, 2011, can be assigned to a residual NTFT duty assignment in accordance with Articles 37 and 39. The NTFT MOU on OT states that any full time employee NOT on the ODL will NOT be required to work any OVERTIME in offices that have NTFT duty assignments in it except in an EMERGENCY. An EMERGENCY is Hurricane Katrina, or if the building catches fire, but is not if someone calls out sick, there is a Holiday (they happen every year) or there is a lot of mail in the month of December! Another possible advantage of these NTFT's is that now a 30 hour a week job constitutes a full time regular position. The Union can show that a PTR, PTF or PSE is working 30 hours a week and get a maximization grievance to make more regular employees with paid holidays, days off and a full time schedule. Also, I wanted to mention two very important things concerning NTFT's. One is that any hour worked outside their Wednesday week prior posted schedule isi paid at the out of schedule premium rate, and no matter what they are scheduled for on a Holiday - they are guaranteed 8 hours of pay! No exceptions! Grieve it if management refuses to pay you, because you are entitled to this compensation. NTFT's are the same as full time regulars, except with possibly less hours worked. More information will follow concerning NTFT's as we receive it at the union office and we will update you as soon as we are able to do so.

Finally, I implore you to contact your representatives about HR2309 and HR1351. Check out the comparison sheet in the newsletter explaining the two bills. These are the two bills that can make or break the future of the post office. Please get on the APWU web site or write a letter to your representative telling them that HR2309 is awful and will destroy the post office; and that HR1351 will save the post office and help to carry it forward into the future without destroying thousands of workers' lives. It is no longer an idle threat, but a sad reality if HR2309 passes because we are too lazy to use our great numbersto stick together as union brothers and sisters and fight as ONE. Remember, our strength comes from sheer numbers only if we ACT on it.

In union solidarity,

Lindamarie Peabody
Director of Industrial Relations/Editor