Postal Headquarters officials met with NAPUS leaders to respond to questions concerning Postmaster FLSA status when they are downgraded as a result of DUO implemetation. The meeting also included discussions on RIF procedures for Postmasters who may be impacted by the discontinuance study process and questions about PSE staffing issues. Listed below are the questions and notes taken on the response from USPS officials:
The following questions were discussed between NAPUS leaders and USPS Headquarters officials on September 9, 2011. Notes of the Postal Service representative’s response were written by NAPUS Executive Director, Charlie Moser.
- Exempt status Postmasters who lose employees as a result of Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO), are re-classified to non-exempt if they manage less than two full-time equivalent employees, but the Form 50 isn’t processed to change them to the correct status for several months. What are the procedures and timelines for processing a Form 50 for Postmasters who have their grade or exempt status changed as a result of DUO? Will these Postmasters be eligible for payment of overtime worked between the period they begin managing fewer than two full-time equivalent employees and the date the Form 50 becomes effective?
Notes of Response:
When staffing conditions in a Post Office do not meet criteria for FLSA-exempt status, the Postmaster’s FLSA status becomes non-exempt. If the FLSA status of the job changes, this should be brought to the attention of the appropriate management authorities promptly so that FLSA status may be adjusted timely, within one or two pay periods of the Postmaster no longer meeting the criteria of an exempt status. We recommend that Postmasters coordinate closely with their supervisors to ensure that work beyond 40 in a pay week is authorized expressly. This will help prevent potential problems. Postmasters should document overtime hours they work since DUO implementation. They should also document the dates such hours are worked, and they should furnish this material to local management for review and determination if there are concerns about pay.
2. What is the effective date for DUO impacted Postmasters to begin the two year saved grade, saved salary period (when the Form 50 is cut or from the date workload is transferred?)
Notes of Response: Salary protection for DUO impacted postmasters begins on the Form 50 effective date of the downgrade.
3. When a Postmaster is downgraded as a result of DUO, will they have an opportunity to review a list of vacant positions that are available? Will these Postmasters be given an opportunity to apply for noncompetitive lateral transfers to these same level vacancies, before being asked to consider an involuntary reassignment?
Notes of Response: Postmasters may request noncompetitive lateral reassignments to available vacant assignments at any time. DUO does not change this.
4. Will Postmasters who receive a RIF notice as a result of their office being discontinued (closed) be provided with a list of vacant positions and will they be permitted to apply for those positions? What procedures and criteria will be used to determine the successful applicants for these positions?
Notes of Response: Area HR must receive headquarters approval to fill authorized vacancies, so a listing of approved vacancies is not always available. When headquarters approval to fill a vacant position is received, the selecting official may fill the position noncompetitively or competitively in accordance with selection policies in effect at the time. Currently, noncompetitive selection of any eligible employee may be made, including RIF-impacted postmasters requesting voluntary reassignment/change to lower level, or being involuntarily reassigned to a vacancy at their saved grade/level within the commuting area. Consistent with Anthony J. Vegliante’s September 17, 2010 memorandum, any testing requirements associated with noncompetitive placement will be waived for DUO affected postmasters. If the position is posted to be filled competitively, eligible RIF-impacted postmasters may apply via eCareer.
5. Will VER and or incentives be offered to RIF impacted Postmasters who are notified that their office will be closed?
Notes of Response: A decision concerning this matter has not been finalized
6. If a post office is on the study list for possible discontinuance and a final decision is made to close the office, what are the procedures and timelines used to notify the impacted Postmaster at each step of the process (Study Notification, General RIF Notice, Specific RIF Notice, RIF Avoidance, etc.?)
Notes of Response: The process for discontinuance, including the process for PM notification of the study can be found in the PO-101 Handbook. As far as RIF procedures are concerned, when staffing authorization adjustments to reflect the closing of a post office have been made in the Organization Management system, employees in the closing competitive area will each be sent a General RIF Notice; thirty days later each will be sent a Specific RIF Notice; and the RIF effective date of separation will be sixty days later.
7. Level 15-18 offices with less than 3 clerks, but have a PSE in their office are restricted from using the PSE to perform window duties (per the APWU contract.) Since Postmasters are restricted to performing a limited amount of bargaining unit work, how will they be permitted to cover window clerk leave absences, without violating the APWU contract? While this issue was discussed in today’s meeting, we are requesting a clarification for the purpose of addressing the following scenario-
A level 18 office has two PTF window clerks and 1 PSE and one of the PTF window clerks is on leave for two weeks. The PSE cannot perform window duties and the Postmaster can only perform 15 hours of bargaining unit work per week, without violating the APWU contract. Can a PSE, who is assigned to another office to cover the former PMR duties, be temporarily assigned to the level 18 office to perform the window duties that the PTF clerk was doing? If this is allowable, how will the windows be covered on Saturdays when the loaned PSE will be needed in both offices at the same time?
Notes of Response:
Many of the concerns NAPUS has expressed over staffing predates the successor collective bargaining agreement between the Postal Service and the APWU and has roots in initiatives intended to match staffing hours with the work hours earned locally.
PSEs are not permitted to work the window in offices where there are fewer than three clerks. It is the position of the Postal Service that a PSE employee hired to replace a PMR is hired to replace the PMR fully, and that the PSE may perform all the duties the PMR performed. A PSE may be worked in more than one office, but the PSE may not be worked in another office to the detriment of a PTFS employee in that office who is available for the work at the straight time rate. The Hub clerk or Pool and Relief MOUs may be used in order to provide a clerk job to cover absences and other needs in multiple offices. A PSE hired to replace a PMR may not be used for this purpose.
The limits on the numbers of hours of bargaining unit work local management may perform in EAS-18 and in other lower-level offices where limits apply were determined by operations at the national level. A significant factor in this determination was consideration of hours reported by local Post Offices. This not only resolved significant and potentially costly disputes between the Postal Service and the APWU, it also addressed strong and long standing objections and concerns Postmasters and NAPUS have expressed about inordinate amounts of bargaining unit work performed by Postmasters.
September 23, 2011