States Postal Service and American Postal Workers Union
Fred D. Butler, Arbitrator
Union has met its burden in demonstrating that Management's decision to
utilize Maintenance Control Clerks to uncrate and move file cabinet
effectively crossed occupational groups without justification and in violation
of the National Agreement.
This matter involves Managementís decision to utilize Maintenance
Support Clerks to unpack and move storage cabinets into their work location
instead of using Custodians.
The Union filed a grievance in this matter alleging
that Management is in violation of the National Agreement by taking unilateral
action in assigning employees of one occupational group to perform core duties
of another other occupational group.
The matter was heard through a Step 3 Grievance hearing on April 25,
2001 and denied on April 26, 2001. The
matter was appealed to Arbitration on June 7, 2001.
On September 27, 2002 at the Marina P& DC,
Inglewood, California, the following parties appeared before me in an
arbitration hearing, pursuant to the agreement between the United States
Postal Service ("Management") and the American Postal Workers Union
Representing the Union was Shirley Jasper, APWU Advocate. Assisting
Ms. Jasper was Jack Johnson, Technician.
Appearing as a witness for the Union was Carl Washington, Maintenance
Mechanic & Shop Steward.
Representing Management was Kevin Gray, Labor
Relations Specialist. Appearing
as a witness for Management was Darlene Fields-Mimms, Manager Maintenance
The parties were afforded full opportunity for
examination and cross-examination of witnesses, introduction of relevant
exhibits and closing arguments. The
proceedings were tape recorded as an extension of the Arbitrator's personal
record was left open for seven (7) days to receive additional exhibits.
The parties introduced two joint exhibits. Namely JE-1 the National Agreement for period 2000-2003,
JE-2, the moving papers in this matter numbered consecutively from pg. 1
through pg. 9.
The Union introduced four additional exhibits.
Namely U-1, Marina Maintenance Overtime Desired List dated January 1,
2002-March 31, 2001. U-2, Article 7.2 A of the 2000-2003 National Agreement, U-3,
Article 15.2©) of the 2000-2003 National Agreement and U-4 Memo to Idowu
Balogun from William Bowling dated 6-6-01 regarding the time limits for
The following issues was presented to the
1. Did Management violate the National Agreement
when it assigned Maintenance Operation Support Clerks to perform duties of
Custodians? If so What is the
2. Did Management violate the National Agreement
when it failed to provide the Union with a Step 2 Decision regarding its
grievance in the above matter? If
so, what is the remedy?
relevant contract provisions, in pertinent parts, are outlined below.
7. EMPLOYEE CLASSIFICATIONS
2. Employment and Work Assignments
Normally, work in different crafts, occupational groups or levels will not be
combined into one job. However,
to provide maximum full-time employment and provide necessary flexibility,
management may establish full-time schedule assignments by including work
within different crafts or occupational groups after the following sequential
actions have been taken:
available work within each separate craft by tour has been combined.
of different crafts in the same wage level by tour has been combined.
appropriate representatives of the affected Unions will be informed in advance
of the reasons for establishing the combination full-time assignments within
different crafts in accordance with this Article.
15. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE
Step 2 . . .©) The installation head or designee will meet with the steward of a Union representative as expeditiously as possible, but no later than seven (7) days following receipt of the Step 2 appeal unless the parties agree upon a later date. . .
On January 31, 2002 file cabinets were delivered to
the Marina PD&C. These
cabinets were ordered by the Maintenance Operations Unit and were to be used
to store items and house parts in the Maintenance Control Section of the
facility .(Testimony of Darlene Mimms)
The cabinets arrived during Tour 2 and was unpacked
and moved during Tour 3 (Testimony of Darlene Mimms).
Two Maintenance Control Clerks were directed to unpack and place the
cabinets in the storage and parts room by moving them from the delivery point.
This entire job took about two hours. (Testimony of Carl Washington)
The Position Description for Maintenance Control
Clerk does not mention either "unpacking" or "moving
furniture". (JE-2, pg 4) However
the Position Description for Laborer, Custodial states in pertinent part that
the laborer's duties includes the "uncrating and assembling furniture and
fixtures using bolts and screws for assembly, loading and unloading supplies
and equipment."(Je-2, pg 6, paragraph 4)
In addition Laborers "move furniture and equipment." (JE-2,
pg 6, paragraph 6) Custodians
were available at the time who could have been used to unpack and move the
cabinets.(Testimony of Carl Washington)
On February 9, 2001 the Union filed a timely
grievance and met with Supervisor Mimms, who denied the grievance on February
14, 2001. On February 22, 2001
the Union filed a Step 2 Grievance(JE-2, pg. 4)
and once again had a discussion with Ms. Simms about the
grievance.(Testimony of Carl Washington)
However there was no response to the Step 2 Grievance request.
The Union then appealed the matter to a Step 3 Grievance on
March 21, 2001.(JE-2, pg. 3) The
Step Grievance was denied on April 26, 2001 and the matter was appealed to
arbitration on June 7, 2001.
It is the Union's position that Management should
have utilized Laborer-Custodians, and not Maintenance Control Clerks, to
unpack and move the file cabinets because they were furniture.
They maintain that this function is outlined in their job descriptions.
The Union also maintains that Management denied it
due process by failing to meet at Step 2 or render a Step 2 Decision in this
Therefore the Union request that Management be
ordered to cease and desist crossing occupational groups unless they follow
the guidelines of the National Agreement.
In addition, the Union request that the two most senior Custodians be
awarded two hours of overtime as
a remedy for Management's violation. The
Union presents USPS & APWU Case No. C4T-2J-C 38251, Klein,
Arbitrator(1988) as authority for its request.
It is Management's position that the items unpacked
were not furniture in the usual sense. They
maintain that these cabinets are equipment that was ordered by the Maintenance
Control Section to be used by them to store supplies.
They maintain that the Maintenance Control Clerks
duties are to "receive, unload, store and issue items against
corresponding document." They
contend that the unpacking of these items and the placing of them in their own
area for their use was consistent with those duties.
It is also Management's position that while it did
not issue a Step 2 Decision in this matter, the Union has already executed
it's remedy which is outlined in the Grievance procedure and that issue has
already been resolved.
Management also raised another objection at the
hearing concerning the timeliness of the filing of the Appeal to Arbitration.
It is their position that the Appeal was not timely because it was
requested after the time limitations.
Therefore Management request that the matter be
denied based on the untimely filing of the Appeal to Arbitration or in the
alternative on the basis that the work performed was within the purview of the
job duties of a Maintenance Control Clerk.
Timeliness of the Appeal
Article 15.2 (Step 3) states in pertinent parts
that the Union may appeal an adverse decision directly to arbitration at the
appropriate Arbitration Processing Center within twenty one 21 days after the
receipt of the Employer's Step 3 Decision, in accordance the procedure
hereinafter set forth.
The record in this matter shows that the Step 3
Decision was rendered on April 26, 2001 and received by the Union on May 1,
2002. However the Appeal to
Arbitration was not filed until June 7, 2001, over twenty one days after it's
Under normal procedures that would not be timely.
However the record in this proceeding also reveals that the parties
stipulated that the time frames for filing of the Appeal in this matter would
not begin until June 6, 2001 (U-4). This
meant that the twenty one day (21) did not begin until that time.
Therefore the Unions filing of the Appeal on June 7, 2001 was timely
Step 2 Response.
Article 15.2 states in pertinent parts " The
installation head or designee will meet with the steward of a Union
representative as expeditiously as possible, but no later than seven (7) days
following receipt of the Step 2 appeal unless the parties agree upon a later
Management did not formally meet with the Union at
Step 2 nor did they issue a Step 2 Decision.
Article 15.5C states that "Failure by the Employer to schedule a
meeting of render a decision in any of the Steps of this procedure within the
time herein provided (including mutually agreed to extension periods) shall be
deemed to move the grievance to the next Step of the grievance-arbitration
The record shows that the parties then moved the
matter to a Step 3 grievance meeting which was held.
This remedy is in accordance with the negotiated National Agreement and
therefore the failure to hold a Step Two meeting cannot be deemed to be a
violation of due process as the Union suggest.
The evidence presented showed that it is the duties
and responsibilities of the Laborers, Custodians to "perform general
laboring duties such as uncrating and assembling furniture . . ."
In addition the Laborers are also responsible for moving furniture and
equipment. In contrast the Maintenance Support Clerk has the duty to
receive, unload, stores and issues items against corresponding documents.
The Support Clerks overall duties are outlined in
the Functional Purpose outlined at beginning.
This states "perform a variety of data collection and processing
task in support of scheduling, planning, control, and eporting for maintenance
completes requisitions, stores and issues supplies, parts and tools."
The Maintenance Control Clerk Position Description reads more like a
supply clerk who has the responsibility for supply and inventory while the
Laborer position performs general laborer duties such as cleaning custodial
moving equipment, etc.
This Arbitrator viewed the file cabinets on site.
They are large metal file cabinets and can be classified as either
furniture or equipment. In either case, the responsibility for moving them was in the
purview of the Custodian Laborer Position Description.
Management could have combined the duties of the
Laborers with that of the Maintenance Control Clerks under certain conditions.
Article 7.2 allows the inclusion of work within different crafts in order
to " provide maximum full-time employment and of
provide necessary flexibility." However the Union must be advised in
advance of the reasons for this actions. There
was no evidence that this was done in this case.
Therefore the Union has met its burden in
demonstrating that Management's decision to utilize Maintenance Control Clerks
to uncrate and move file cabinet effectively crossed occupational groups
unilaterally without justification and in violation of the National Agreement.
The Grievance is sustained.
Management is ordered to cease and desist. The two eligible Custodians on the Overtime Desired
list shall be awarded two hours overtime.