Sunday, July 13, 2014

APWU wins one, loses one

APWU prevailed in a recent arbitration before Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg concerning the minimum qualifications needed for excessed employees transferring to a different unit, but a grievance concerning outsourcing Personal Vehicle Service (PVS) trucking operations in Columbus, OH. was denied by Arbitrator Shyman Das.

Arbitrator Goldberg upheld a grievance asserting that the Postal Service had violated the cba by reassigning employees excessed from the APWU bargaining unit to positions in another bargaining unit for which they did not meet the minimum qualifications. The Arbitrator rejected the Postal Service's argument that it did not and need not consider the physical qualifications stated in the Qualification Standards for Letter Carriers as part of the minimum qualifications an excess worker must meet prior to reassignment. He also rejected the employer's claim that it would be violating the Americans With Disabilities Act if it failed to reassign employees who could not meet the physical requirements of the position.

Arbitrator Das rejected a Union grievance which claimed that the Postal Service had breached a provision of its cba with APWU that required advance notice of contracting "which will have a significant impact on bargaining unit work." Relying on a prior award of Arbitrator Goldberg (discussed here), the Union claimed that the "mode conversion" in Columbus represented a significant impact on unit work. It noted the loss of 54 driving jobs and the likelihood that the work would never return to the unit. 

Rejecting this argument Arbitrator Das observed:

The contracting out at issue in this Columbus PVS case, in contrast to that in the Goldberg decision, pertains to one location within Ohio with 54 affected bargaining unit members, rather than all 13 locations in California with 800 affected bargaining unit members. In the California case, 10% of the total drivers in the craft nationwide were displaced. The Columbus mode conversion had an impact on 0.7% of the drivers in the bargaining unit and less than half a percent of the entire MVS unit. Over the four-year length of the HCR, the salary and benefits of the Columbus drivers amounted to around $16.4 million out of a total PVS salary and benefits cost of $3.9 billion and a total drivers salary and benefits cost of $2.4 billion. Considering the impact from a unit, rather than a local, perspective, the displacement of 54 drivers at a single installation, while significant to the individuals involved, does not, in my opinion, rise to the level of significant impact contemplated in the National Agreement.

APWU reports on the decision of Arbitrator Goldberg Arbitrator Rules: Excessed Employees Must Meet Minimum Qualifications Before Reassignment, and links to the award here. It reports on the Award of Arbitrator Das Arbitrator Denies Union's Grievance Protesting PVS Conversion To Highway Contract Route and links to his award here.

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