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Title: United States Postal Service and American Postal Workers Union
Date: January 6, 2003
Arbitrator: Fred D. Butler
Citation: 2003 NAC 118

REGULAR ARBITRATION PANEL

In the matter of Arbitration

UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE


AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS
UNION, AFL-CIO

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Grievant:   Class Action

Post Office: Oakland P &DC

USPS Case : F98V-1F-C 00107442

APWU Case No: MO12900

BEFORE:                           Fred D. Butler, Arbitrator

APPEARANCES:
For the U.S. Postal Service:



Eric Thomas, Manager
Labor Relations/Oakland District
United States Postal Service
1675 7th Street, Room 421
Oakland, CA 94615-9405
For the American Postal
Workers Union: AFL-CIO


Frederic Jacobs, President
Oakland Local
American Postal Worker Union
7700 Edgewater Drive, Suite 656
Oakland, CA 94615-9405
Place of Hearing: Oakland P&DC
Date of Hearing: November 15, 2002
Date Record Closed: December 6, 2002
Date of Decision: January 6, 2003
  Relevant Contract Provision: Article 13, 16, 19
Contract Year: 1998-2000
Type of Grievance: Contract

Award Summary:

The Grievance is granted.  Management is to cease and desist from using Mail Handlers and Maintenance Craft employees and any other instructors, other than Driver Instruction/Examiners to provide training to Mail Handlers and Maintenance employees who are  qualifying for Tow Tractor and Forklift Operators.

FRED D. BUTLER, Arbitrator

I.

INTRODUCTION

This matter involves local Management's use of Mail Handlers and Maintenance Craft employees to train other members of their crafts in the use of Tow Tractor and Fork Lift Operations.

The Union filed a grievance on February 29, 2000 contending that the actions of Management is in violation of the National Contract because it effectively crosses crafts.

The matter was heard through a Step 3 Grievance and denied on July 6, 2000.  The matter was then appealed to Arbitration on August 2, 2000.

On November 15, 2002 at Oakland, 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 ("Union").

Representing Management was Eric Thomas, Manager Labor Relations.  Assisting Mr. Thomas was Diana Estrada, Labor Relations Representative.  Appearing, as witnesses on behalf of Management were Nathan Griffin, Sr. Manager, Distribution Operations, Alice De Rouen, Mail Handler, Equipment Operator and William Neely, Human Resource Associate.

Representing the Union was Frederic Jacobs, President, Oakland Local.  Assisting Mr. Jacobs as a Technical Rep was James L. Perry, Moter Vehicle Operator & Shop Steward.  Mr. Perry also appeared as a witness for the Union.

The parties were afforded full opportunity for examination and cross-examination of witnesses, introduction of relevant exhibits.  The parties introduced two joint exhibits, J-1, the USPS/APWU Contract for 1998/2000 and J-2, the moving papers of this action, which consist of 12 pages, numbered consecutively. 

Management introduced one additional exhibit.  Namely, M-1, Job Instructions Training Manual, dated September 2001.

The proceedings were tape recorded as an extension of the Arbitrator's personal notes.  The record was left open to receive additional evidence and Post Hearing Briefs.  In that vein, Management presented along with its Post Hearing Brief M-2, Page 2. Handbook EL-701A, June 1989 and M-3, Position Description for Mail Handler Equipment Operator, PS-5.  The Union presented along with its Post Hearing Brief Mail U-1, Copy of Mail Handler Job Description, MH-04 and U-2, Driver Instruction/Examination Job Description, PS-06.   The Arbitrator officially closed the hearing on December 6, 2002, after receipt of all of the evidence and Post Hearing Briefs.

II.

ISSUE PRESENTED

The issue before the Arbitrator is as follows:

Did Management violate Article 19 and 39 of the National Agreement by allowing Mail Handlers and Maintenance Craft employees to conduct Tow Tractor Operator and Fork Lift Operator training?  If so, what is the appropriate remedy?

III.

RELEVANT CONTRACT PROVISIONS AND REGULATIONS

The relevant contract provisions, in pertinent parts, are outlined below.

ARTICLE 7
EMPLOYEE CLASSIFICATIONS

Section 2. Employment and Work Assignments

A. Normally, work in different crafts, occupational groups or levels will not be combined into one job. . .

ARTICLE 19
HANDBOOKS AND MANUALS

Those parts of all handbooks, manuals and published regulations of the Postal Service, that directly relate to wages, hours or working conditions, as they apply to employees covered by the Agreement, shall contain nothing that conflicts with this Agreement, and shall be continued in effect. . .

ARTICLE 39
MOTOR VEHICLE CRAFT

Section 1.C Definitions

. . . 2. Craft Group.  The craft group is composed of those positions for which the Union has secured recognition at the national level.

IV.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

Sometime prior to March, 2000, James Perry, Tractor Trailer operator and Shop Steward for the Union Motor Vehicle Craft attended a conference where the duties of Driver Instructor/Examiner(DIE) were discussed.  This discussion, according to Mr. Perry informed him that the DIEs' were not performing their full duties at the Oakland P & DC.(Testimony of James Perry)

More specifically, he was advised that it was the DIE's exclusive responsibility to provide training on Forklift and Tow Tractors Operations. (Testimony of James Perry) These duties are outlined in the New Employee training Handbook, EL-701 A(JE-2, pg. 6-7) and in the DIE job description (U-3).

Currently the training for Forklift and Tow Tractor Operator in the Mail Handler and Maintenance Craft is being done by mail handler and maintenance craft employees who are serving as On the Job Instructors (OJI)(JE-2, pg. 3)  Two employees in the maintenance craft, namely Roy Baldwin, Laborers/Custodian, PS-3 and David Lockerbie, PS-7, Building Equipment Mechanic are being used in this capacity.

OJI’s are usually “non supervisory craft employees who are assigned to orient and train new craft employees in specific skills under the direction of an operating supervisor. . . Normally, a job instructor trains employees in the same unit to which the job instructor is assigned. . .”(M-1, pg 12)

The program of utilizing OJI’s in this capacity has been in existence for more than least twelve years and possibly longer (Testimony of Alice De Rouen and Nathan Griffin)  Both Ms. Rouen and Mr. Griffin worked as Mail Handlers and handled Tow-Tractors and Forklifts.   Mr. Griffin states that he was trained by other Mail Handlers, while both he and Ms. Rouen states that they were trained by the National Council of Training and were certified as  OJIs.

Testimony by a former Driver Instructor confirm that the DIE’s do not directly train craft employees in the Tow Tractor and Forklift Operations at this location.  It was reported that the Driver Training/Examiners only provide oversight for the training, which reportedly is done by OJIs.(Testimony of William Neely)  According to Mr. Neely, the focus of the training performed by the DIE’s are on “street equipment."

Mr. Perry, Shop Steward states that he is not aware of the OJI program and that the complement of qualified trainers in the Motor Vehicle Craft has been reduced.  Thereby leaving a shortage of qualified trainers in that craft and by allowing others to do this work, the DIEs are not being utilized to their fullest extent.(Testimony of James Perry).

V.

POSITION OF THE PARTIES

Management Position

It is Management’s position that the act of assigning craft employees to perform on the job instruction to other same-craft employees is common place within the Postal Service and is not a violation of the National Agreement.

They maintain that this program has been institutionalized in Handbook EL-701A, which is part of the ongoing postal procedures and regulations.  They also maintain that the Union is well aware of this program, even though the Shop Steward, Mr. Perry claims that he is not.

Management maintains that the Union presented no evidence to demonstrate or suggest that craft employees, i.e. mail handler and maintenance employees cannot provide training in tow tractor and/or forklift operations.  Therefore there was no evidence of presented about crossing crafts.

Management submits as support for its position the following: USPS & APWU, Case No H98C-1H-C-00052475 (2002) James J. Odom, jr., Arbitrator.

Union Position:

The Union contends that Management continues to violate the National Agreement by requiring Maintenance and Mail Handler to  provide the training to Tow Tractor and Forklift Operators in the Maintenance and Mail Handler Crafts.

This, they maintain represents a clear case of crossing crafts.  They believe that a clear reading of the duties of the DIEs as outlined in Handbook EL-701A, January 1993 and the job description of the DIE, are evidence that the individuals in those classifications are the only ones who provide this level of training.  That to allow others to do so results in a clear violation of crossing crafts.

The Union submits the following in support of its position, USPS & APWU, Case No. C90V-1C-C 94052112 (2000) Randall M. Kelly, Arbitrator.

VI.

DECISION

Management has a history of utilizing craft employees to provide on the job training to other employees within their crafts.  This apparent use of craft personnel, in particular  Mail Handlers is demonstrated in Case No. C90V-1C-C 94052112, which was presented by the Union.

In that case the Postal Service agreed that training of Mail Handler Operators in the use of powered industrial equipment, belonged to the DIE job classification.  The Decision in that matter also makes mention of a National Settlement dated January 24, 1994 which appears to have retained this work within the Motor Vehicle Craft and more specifically as part of the DIE job duties.

In the case before this Arbitrator, the job description of the DIEs appears to be all inclusive and states that the DIEs Provides classroom instruction courses, instructs, conducts end-of course training test for qualifications, driver improvement and conducts refresher training courses for drivers. (See U-2)

The  Mail Handler job description, PS 4 or 5 does not mention the duties of training at all.  Job descriptions for Custodian and Maintenance Mechanic were not submitted.  However because these are the positions in controversy from the standpoint of the APWU, it is presumed that training duties are not included in those job duties.

At first impression this would appear to end the inquiry into this matter and one would be inclined to determine that there was indeed a crossing of crafts.  While it is determined that the DIE’s are charged with the responsibility to provide this type of training to employees, this matter requires further analysis.

The OJI program is incorporated into the Postal Service Operations and it is presumed to provide additional assistance to newly appointed employees who begin their career.  The Job Instructor Responsibility is to orient and train craft employees in designated topics and skills. (See EL-701A)

Management presented the Job Instructor Training Participant as evidence that the OJI program includes training crafts and the Workbook gives examples on page 16 which includes “Forklift Training”.  However it is difficult for this Arbitrator to understand how craft employees who are not directly responsible for formal trainings to qualify and certify employees in a particular craft.

A further review of this section of the workbook reveals that it only outlines the type of NET & Craft Skills training that the new employee should receive.  This includes for example “Scheme Training, Forklift Training and On the Job Training.” 

This section does not however indicate that the individual job instructor is responsible for those types of training.  In fact at the bottom of the page, in bold letters the reader is advised “You should know what is covered in the training that precedes your on-the-job instructions.  If you don’t contact your PEDC."

If one were to accept Management's position in this matter, then OJIs' could presumably provide "Scheme" and "Window Training" and the certification that follows.   These specialized trainings and the subsequent qualifying test that follow are provided in a organized course setting and the participants, according to this Arbitrator’s knowledge, must qualify by successfully completing and passing the course prior to being permanently appointed to these positions.  The same should apply to Tow-Tractor Operators and Forklift Operators, if it does not already apply.

In reviewing the New Employee Training outline which was introduced as JE-2, pgs 6 & 7 , that document states that the DIE training to be provided for Tow Tractor Operator is to be provided “Before Assignment to Job.”

It is assumed then that where the operation of powered industrial equipment is part of the job duties, the individuals applying for these positions would receive the level of training necessary to be competent in this job.  That means being trained by staff who have as part of their responsibilities the duties of training.   In this case the DIEs’.

In order to ensure that the staff would be trained properly Management would be wise to immediately reestablish the formal training program for Tow Tractor and Forklift Operators as provided in the Employee Training Handbook.   This training, as required by the Handbook and the Agreement mentioned in Case No. C90V-1C-C 94052112 is to be conducted by the Moter Vehicle Craft and more specifically by Driver Instructor/Examiners.

Any training provided by the OJI’s is supplemental to the formal training provided by the DIE’s once the employee has qualified and after passing all of the required test and examinations and has been appointed to the position.  This "supplemental" on the job training was never meant to substitute or supplant the training as outlined in the New Employee Training Handbook.

This type of "supplemental" on the job training by co-workers would appear to enhance the skills of those who have already qualified and enable them to receive information from those who are more experienced and who can share day to day experiences about the nuances and other issues that arise outside of the formal training experience.

It is therefore determined that this type of supplemental training does not represent a violation of the national Agreement and does not involve crossing crafts.

However in this case Management acknowledges that the DIEs' are no longer providing training in this area because as Mr. Neely suggest it is not a priority.  It appears then that the only training being provided to the Tow Tractor and Forklift Operators is the training being performed by the craft OJIs and according to Mr. Neely,  as a substitute for the required formal training.  For all the reasons outlined above, this is a violation of Article 7 and Article 39.

Therefore the Grievance is Granted.

AWARD

Management is Ordered to cease and desist from using Mail Handlers and Maintenance Craft employees and any other instructors, other than Driver Instruction/Examiners to provide training to Mail Handlers and Maintenance employees who are  qualifying for Tow Tractor and Forklift Operators.

There was no evidence that would indicate the DIE's lost time because of this lack of work, therefore monetary damages are inappropriate at this time. 

Dated: 


FRED D. BUTLER
Arbitrator

 

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