The NALC filed a grievance on October 5, 2009, objecting to the actions of one supervisor. The union claimed those actions violated the Joint Statement on Violence in the Workplace. The supervisor in this case has a long history of complaints concerning his abusive manner. In 1999, an intervention took place as the result of pressure from both a U.S. senator and U.S. representative. In 2002, as the result of a grievance, the supervisor was removed from day-to-day supervision of carriers. On November 5, 2009, the B Team agreed that a violation of the Joint Statement had occurred but could find common ground for a remedy. Management in this case argued that no violation of the Joint Statement occurred, despite the finding of the Step B team. At the onset of her decision, the arbitrator engaged in a long discussion of the Joint Statement and its intent to curb violence before it happens. Among the problems identified with the charged supervisor was his inability to ascertain the facts before placing blame.
After a careful analysis of the facts, the arbitrator found that management did, in fact, violate the Joint Statement. As a remedy, the arbitrator ordered that the supervisor involved do no more than two street observations per carrier per calendar year; that during those observations, the supervisor remains at least 15 feet from the carrier at all times; that any comments made to the carrier shall be made the next workday with the presence of a higher-level supervisor and a union representative; that the supervisor shall be relieved of morning “go round” procedures; that any time the supervisor mentions “job discussion,” the carrier has an immediate right to union representation; that if any of these rules are not followed, the employee has the right to an immediate phone call to the union; that any disciplinary action taken by this supervisor shall automatically include this arbitration award in the record; and that the above actions have no time limit on them.
Excerpts from arbitration decision:
Supervisor Welk has worked for the Postal Service for 37 years. He has been a supervisor in this Bismarck office since 1985, except for about four years in the 90’s when he was removed from carrier supervision because of complaints about his treatment of letter carriers, and worked in a different facility.
In 1999, Bismarck had an Intervention, apparently with encouragement if not instigation from a Senator and a Representative from Washington, DC, and based at least in part on complaints about Supervisor Welk and his street supervision.
In 2002, as the result of a grievance, “The Postmaster has removed (Supervisor Welk) from routinely supervising the grievant. The supervisor has been instructed regarding behavior during conversations with draft employees. No further action is warranted.” according to the DRT report on that grievance.
The Step B grievance team found that Welk had violated the contract, it could not agree on a remedy. So the only the rememdy was before the arbitrator:
Arbitrator’s award :
Therefore, I order that the postmaster be trained in the theory and practice of effective supervision. Since she acknowledged that she is not very acquainted with the disciplinary process established in the National Agreement with the NALC, I order that she be trained in the administration of discipline, including the concepts of corrective and progressive discipline, under that contract; and trained in the administration of discipline within management ranks.
Arbitrator’s list of restrictions for Welk:
Since Supervisor Welk has in the past been removed from the facility for 4 years, and has received training before, and has been made aware of poor job performance in the past, to no avail, 1 am not ordering formal training or a change of location for Supervisor Welk, although I suggest both. I am not ordering counseling, because to be effective there must be a recogition that a problem exists. Neither Supervisor Welk nor management have that recognition.
Supervisor Welk shall do street observation (including 3999s and brief street observations) no more than two times per carrier per calendar year. On those street observations, Supervisor Welk shall say absolutely nothing to the letter carrier, and shall remain at least 15 feet away from the letter carrier during the street observation. Supervisor Welk’s activity in relation to the letter carrier on the street will be observation and note taking. Anything Supervisor Welk wants to say to the letter carrier will be said to the letter carrier the next work day, in the post office, in the presence of someone in a supervisory relationship to Supervisor Welk (ie, not a fellow supervisor of customer service) and a Union representative. This is intended to give Supervisor Welk an opportunity to assess the whole observation, determine what is satisfactory or unsatisfactory in that whole context, and have a constructive plan for how to deal with any problem.
Supervisor Welk shall be relieved of ‘morning go round’ duties unless he is accompanied by, and listened to by someone who is in a supervisory relationship to Supervisor Welk.
Any time Supervisor Welk mentions to a letter carrier anything similar to the things he has referred to as a discussion, a job discussion, or an official job description, or makes a criticism of the person or job performance of any letter carrier, that letter carrier has the right to immediately demand and get Union representation before Supervisor Welk can proceed with the conversation.
Any letter carrier has a right to telephone or communicate by other means with management or the Union any time that these orders are not followed.
In any disciplinary action against any letter carrier that is initiated by, participated in by, or based on reports or statements from Supervisor Welk, the Postal Service shall not object to a copy of this award being made a part of the grievance packet for consideration at all levels.
I have intentionally not included a time limit on these orders. This is for several reasons. First, prior corrective measures did not work. Second, at the time of this arbitration, management did not see anything wrong with the workplace environment Supervisor Welk created for the letter carrier who work for him. Therefore, the order is intended to limit and control the occasions on which Supervisor Welk has violated the Joint Statement