Sunday, March 24, 2013

APWU prevails in contracting arbitration

Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg has, in large part, sustained a grievance filed by APWU claiming the Postal Service misinterpreted contractual obligations concerning contracting.

The parties cba provides that before contracting certain work the Postal Service must weigh a number of factors, including public interest, cost, efficiency, availability of equipment, and qualifications of employees.

 Rejecting the position taken by the USPS that as long as it considered these factors it could contract work even if the cost of doing so is greater than keeping the work in house, Arbitrator Goldberg concluded that:

the Contracting MOU states:

             It is understood that if the service can be performed at a cost equal to or less than that of conntract service, when a fair comparison is made of all reasonable costs, the work will be performed in-house.

The Postal Service can no longer justify contracting out work that would be less expensive to keep in house on the ground that it has given due consideration to cost as well as the other Article 32.1 or 32.2 factors. To be sure, each of those factors must be considered, but If factors other than cost do not rule out keeping work in house, and the cost of keeping work in house would be less than contracting out, both the text and the bargaining history of the Contracting MOU require that the work be kept in house. 

The APWU reports on the case, Landmark Arbitration Award Reshapes California PVS Subcontracting, and links to Arbitrator Goldberg's award here.

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