Arbitrator: USPS In Mississippi Must Stop Practice Of Using Custodians To Transport Mail

This is a summary of Regular Panel Arbitrator Leroy R. Bartman in case H06T-4H-C 09241417 regarding the Postal Service’s decision to transport mail between two postal facilities. The arbitrator sustained the Union’s grievance; he directed the Postal Service to cease and desist from continuing its practice of utilizing the two assigned custodians from transporting mail to other Gulf Coastal facilities. He remanded back to the parties the “make whole” aspects of the remedy so that the parties could determine Clerk Craft and/or other eligible qualified employee(s) who were denied the hours worked by the two custodians for the period of fourteen (14) days prior to the grievance filing until the award is implemented.

The Union contended the Postal Service violated the National Agreement when it used lower level employees to perform assignments and duties inconsistent with their respective job descriptions. It was the Union’s position that the Service violated the boundaries of occupational groups and crafts established by the clear and precise requirements of the standard job descriptions. To be specific, the Union argued that at the Moss Point MS Post Office Management has two custodians scheduled on a regular daily basis two (2) hours each day to transport missent mail to other postal facilities. Management has paid the two employees the higher level Clerk PS-6 wages to transport the mail. The Union argues that the MS-47 custodial staffing for the Moss Point office requires in excess of two custodians. By requiring the two employees to spend two (2) hours each and every day, the Service clearly is in violation of MS-47 standard of 2.09 custodians approved for the Moss Point facility. The Union requested that the Postal Service be required to meet the Maintenance Series Handbook (MS-47), Housekeeping Postal Facilities staffing at Moss Point. The Union asked that the Service cease and desist in assigning the two maintenance employees the daily duty of transporting mail and that the “make whole” language of the JCIM be applied at the appropriate overtime rate to the available and qualified clerks who would have been scheduled to transport the mail that was wrongly delivered by the custodians. It is further requested that the two custodians be awarded, at the overtime rate, two hours pay for custodial work not being performed.

The arbitrator properly sustained the Union’s grievance; in so doing he stated:

The Arbitrator has read all of the numerous case citations submitted by the parties. The overwhelming consensus of the awards are that the Postal Service “cannot” (emphasis added), without following the required steps of analysis as outlined in the MS-47, unilaterally alter the number of custodial staff assigned to the postal facility. In this case, Management essentially and factually reduced the required 2.09 custodians, as determined by the PS Form 4852, to a lesser amount by using the custodial staff to perform the clerk craft and duty of delivering for two hours per day missent mail. The overwhelming evidence supports the Union’s position that the Moss Point facility’s custodial staff have been performing on a regular (emphasis added) basis two (2) hours of clerk craft duties. Nowhere in the custodial job description does one find any reference to duties that could conceivably be misconstrued to include clerk craft duties. In paying the Moss Point custodians two (2) hours of PS Level 6 pay on a regular daily basis, Management recognized that it violated the MS-47 and PS Form 4852 standards of custodial staffing. The Union has met its burden of proof that the Service violated the National Agreement, Article 19, by reference the MS-47 Handbook when it regularly scheduled the two custodial employees assigned to Moss Point to Craft Clerk duties. The use of the custodians for two hours each day to deliver missent mail to other Gulf Coast postal facilities was in direct violation of part 116 of the MS-47 Handbook.

Gary Kloepfer
Assistant Director
American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO

3 thoughts on “Arbitrator: USPS In Mississippi Must Stop Practice Of Using Custodians To Transport Mail

  1. Yep…goes on in more offices than people realize. In mine, we have a custodian, that because it will get him level 6 pay, he will deliver regular and express mail to help bail out a couple of supervisor friends that have no one to deliver. This in turn gets the rest of the custodial staff in hot water because he is not doing his route sheet. Then they ask us…”how come the cleaning is not getting done around here”. I remember awhile back bringing the mail out to a carrier and I knew it was wrong but I was taught to do whatever is asked of you 1st then grieve later. Well the carrier I brought the mail out to got very upset, filed a grievance against me and it never happened again. But they will tell you, “it is all about the mail”.

  2. They do it all of the time in the Houston District. There are custodians that deliver pieces of EXPRESS mail !!! Believe it or not, it happens. I think it is more widespread than some know about.

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