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The Prez Says April 2002

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by Ron Woods,

     What's going on with the route adjustments?  That's a good question.  Here is what I know as of the time of this writing.  Don and I have had two meetings with the Postmaster and Greg concerning the route reviews and adjustment package they are trying to implement.  Neither meeting went well.  After the second meeting it seemed apparent that management has no intention of accepting any solution that doesn't include eliminating the auxiliary route at the Danada office and one regular route at main.  This would mean that one full-time carrier would lose his position.  If management would follow the guidelines for route adjustments set forth in the M-39, it's very likely they wouldn't have the hours to eliminate one route, let alone two.  Our management is attempting to devise their own evaluation system to make the routes look shorter than they actually are.  This is the only way the can justify eliminating both of these routes.  We intend to do our best not to allow this to happen.  If you were the lowest seniority regular carrier, I'm sure you would agree with our position.
     Greg is still attempting to set the authorized street time using the 3999's (the one day street inspection).  We showed management arbitration decisions that stated the 3999's'could not be used to set the authorized street time, but for some unknown reason Greg is still having trouble understanding this.  According to the guidelines set forth in the M-39, there are two ways to determine the authorized street time.  Number one, you can use the average of the entire inspection or number two, the average time of a random seven-week time clock analysis plus the week after the inspection.  Management is refusing to use either one of these guidelines, because if they used either one of those methods the hours wouldn't be coming up as short as they want. They are also adjusting the office times down to standard for those routes that were casing slower than the required standard.  That is allowable according to the M-39 if there was an actual mail count, which there wasn't.  The supervisors are just entering measurements into the computer and then it is magically converted from feet into pieces.  There is no way they actually know how much mail you are casing using this method, just as there is no way we can monitor what management is actually entering into the computer.  If they truly want to know your casing rate, they would have to do an actual piece count.
     The actual hours used during the review period showed the routes at main averaged 5.47 hours total overtime a day, and at Danada they averaged 6.32 hours total overtime.  If you add those hours to the 6.7-hour auxiliary route at Danada and add in 1.50 hours for the college-run, that makes an excess of almost 20 hours per day.  This review is useless.  If they actually looked at the hours used, they wouldn't be eliminating anything.  They would be looking at making two routes.
     Just so you don't think the union is being unreasonable, we do realize that some routes need minor adjustments, but not to the extent that management is proposing.  Don and I attempted to negotiate a settlement with management so that we could avoid having to file a grievance once the route changes are done.  If we were to win this grievance against management for not making the route adjustments properly, we would all have to change our routes back to their original state.  If management goes through with the route changes they are now proposing, this looks like a strong possibility.  Greg argued that the hours used in the review were too high, possibly because there was snow on the ground.  We then countered with the suggestion that if they didn't like those hours to do another review.  The answer was, NO.  We then suggested that they do an actual count and inspection, because we haven't had one for quite awhile.  The answer once again was, NO.  Then came our final offer.  We were willing to let them adjust the office times down to standard and we were also willing to split the difference between the 3999 time and the actual street times if they were higher.  This would have made the main office 1.57 hours short and Danada 1.91 hours short.  This would have allowed management to eliminate most of the auxiliary route.  We told them they could put the college run back on a route instead of taking a regular carrier off  of their assignment to make this delivery.  There is also new construction going on. All of these would have allowed management to make minor adjustments without eliminating a regular route.  We then also pointed out the fact that at least one carrier is retiring next fall.  If volume continued to drop, it might be possible to look at eliminating a route at that time without anyone losing his or her assignment.  What was management's response to these ideas?  You probably already guessed, NO.  I feel Don and I went well over halfway to meet them.  It is apparent they won't settle for anything less than a carrier losing their assignment, and they intend to make up their own rules for doing so.  I have informed them to go ahead and do what they intended to do anyway, regardless of the M39 rules and arbitration decisions, and when they are finished we will deal with the adjustments through a grievance procedure.  Unfortunately we can't file a grievance until the changes are actually made.  I do not intend to work with them on the adjustments.  I don't want them to be able to use that in their own defense to the grievance by saying that the union helped them make the route adjustments.  I want it made clear that we protested the methods they used to evaluate the routes, right from the beginning.
     If you have any further questions or concerns on this subject, it will be open for discussion at the next union meeting April 10th. Hope to see you then.

Ron Woods