American Postal Workers Union

Madison Wisconsin Area Local

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For Employees Covered by the National Agreement:

(08/19/14) In July 2014, the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) fell slightly to 698.580. The sixth COLA adjustment under the 2010 National Agreement is:

                                                                                              Per Annum: $686.00
                                                                                              Per Pay Period: $26.40
                                                                                              Cents Per Hour: 33¢

The first and third COLAs were effective March 9, 2013 (pay period 07-2013, pay date March 29, 2013) and totaled $207.00 per year, $7.96 per pay, and $0.10 per hour.

The second and fourth COLAs under the 2010 National Agreement were effective Sept. 7, 2013 (pay period 20-2013, pay date Sept. 27, 2013) and totaled $937.00 per year, $36.04 per pay period, and $0.45 per hour.

The fifth COLA which would have been effective March 8, 2014 was zero.

The sixth COLA is effective September 6, 2014, (pay period 20-2014, pay date September 26, 2014).

Seven COLA adjustments are provided for under the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement based on the Jan. 2012, July 2012, Jan. 2013, July 2013, Jan. 2014, July 2014, and Jan. 2015 releases of the CPI-W. So far, under the 2010 National Agreement, employees have received cost-of-living adjustments totaling $1,830.00.

New Pay Scales (Effective Sep. 6, 2014):

Full-Time Regular Annual Basic Rates

Full-Time Regular Hourly Basic Rates

Full-Time and Part-Time Regular Night Differential Rates

Part-Time Regular Hourly Basic Rates

Part-Time Flexible Hourly Basic Rates

Part-Time Flexible Night Differential Rates

Postal Support Employee (PSE) Hourly and Night Differential Rates

(Click here for the archive of Past Pay Scales)


Maintenance Wins Significant Award

Web News Article #: 

08/07/2014 - The APWU won an important arbitration award on August 06, when Arbitrator Shyam Das ruled that the Postal Service may not detail a maintenance craft employee to perform higher level work in a different occupational group to avoid paying overtime to an employee within that same occupational group. The issue, as framed by Arbitrator Das, was:

Whether management must use overtime to cover a temporary vacancy in the maintenance craft instead of detailing an employee to a higher level assignment under the provisions of Article 25?


Whether there is a violation of the National Agreement when an employee from a different occupational group is assigned higher level work on straight time, rather than assigning overtime to an employee within the same occupational group?

Arbitrator Das refuted all of management's contentions and ruled affirmative on both issues, consistent with Article 7.2 of the National Agreement.

National Maintenance Director Steven Raymer remarked, “There are many regional cases held against this lead dispute. The significance of this award should not be understated. It provides enforcement for the distinctions in our occupational groups which would be meaningless without the job security of knowing that the occupational group will perform its work, even at the overtime rate. The Postal Service attempted to chip away at our long standing enforcement of work assignments for our occupational groups based on the rate of pay the employee was earning. This award puts an end to management’s ill-conceived attack on our wages and job security.”


Maintenance Craft Debates Settlement

Maintenance delegates gathered at a pre-convention conference in Chicago to discuss a major settlement that resolves a long-standing dispute over custodial staffing and results in the conversion to career of all Maintenance Craft Postal Support Employees.

In December 2011, the USPS announced new plans to modify the MS-47 Handbook. 

“The MS-47 Handbook is probably the most litigated handbook in the history of the APWU,” Maintenance Craft Director Steve Raymer said, noting that management has tried on numerous occasions to modify it, only to have the changes successfully challenged by the APWU in arbitration.

“The difference this time around was that management learned from their earlier arbitration defeats,” he said.

The delegates were often unsure of what to think and were thankful for the opportunity to get their questions answered.

“I have mixed feelings,” said Delegate William Colbert from the National Capitol Area Local, “The truth is, I have a lot of questions and that’s why I’m here. The Maintenance Conference is where I know I can get the information that’s important to me.”

“The delegates were fully engaged in spirited debates. Overall, it was a successful meeting,” Director Raymer noted.

National officers reported on Maintenance Craft issues, and attendees received a CD containing updated training material to take home and share with other members.



Maintenance Craft Settles Dispute on Custodial Staffing; Will Convert More Than 3,150 PSEs

Web News Article #: 

07/11/2014 - The APWU and USPS signed a major settlement July 9 that resolves a long-standing dispute over custodial staffing and results in the conversion to career of all Maintenance Craft Postal Support Employees, Maintenance Craft Director Steve Raymer has announced.

The agreement stipulates that the MS-47 Handbook – Transmittal Letter 5, which governs custodial work and staffing, will be implemented as written. The Transmittal Letter 5 version includes the following provisions:

  • Management must maintain custodial staffing levels determined by the procedures outlined in the MS-47 Handbook;
  • The USPS is prohibited from disciplining custodians who exceed estimated times outlined in the handbook;
  • Managers must include all duties custodians perform in staffing packages they prepare locally;
  • Performance standards will be revised based on the work-and-time standards outlined in ISSA 540.

The MOU itself contains provisions that:

  • There will be an automatic penalty if management fails to ensure all required custodial work is performed;
  • There will be no excessing of employees based on implementing the MS-47 Transmittal Letter 5 (except for cross-section excessing within the Maintenance Craft and within the installation).

The settlement will also result in the conversion of over 3,150 Postal Support Employees (PSEs). Conversion to career status must take place “as soon as reasonably possible, but no later than within 30 days after the signing of this agreement.”  The settlement stipulates that:

  • The USPS will convert “in-place” all current Maintenance Craft PSEs to career status, either as full-time regulars or part-time regulars. “In-place” means the PSEs will be assigned to the duty assignments they are currently covering;
  • PSEs will not serve a probationary period if they have completed two terms as a PSE or if they are employed at one of 10 identified sites currently operating under Transmittal Letter 5 (TL-5) or going under TL-5;
  • Going forward, the provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and Memorandums of Understanding covering PSEs will be applied.

“The MS-47 Handbook is probably the most litigated handbook in the history of the APWU,” Raymer said, noting that management has tried on numerous occasions to modify it, only to have the changes successfully challenged by the APWU in arbitration.

However, beginning in December 2011, the USPS announced new plans to modify the MS-47 Handbook. “The difference this time around was that management learned from their earlier arbitration defeats,” he said.

“Maintenance Craft officers weighed the prospects of succeeding if we challenged management’s new plans in arbitration, where the union would have the burden of proving that proposed changes failed to meet the criteria of being ‘fair, reasonable and equitable.’”

 Intense negotiations followed, resulting in the July 9 settlement. “We maintained many of our previous accomplishments,” Raymer said.

“This MS-47-TL 5 will result in a reduction in staffing at many locations,” Raymer said. “The impact will vary, with larger reductions at the largest facilities and smaller reduction or none at all at smaller facilities. But the settlement includes important protections for current custodians and will help protect Maintenance Craft work for the future.

“It also will immediately improve the lives of more than 3,150 PSEs, who will now be able to enjoy the stability of career jobs.”



Progress on PSEs; Attacks on BEMs, Custodians

(This article appears in the July/August 2014 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

Steve Raymer, Maintenance Division Director

The Maintenance Craft has made significant progress recently on issues of concern to Postal Support Employees (PSEs). The Memorandum of Understanding on Filling Residual Vacancies, which was signed by President Dimondstein on March 20, solidified the timing of the opportunity for Maintenance PSEs to convert to career status.

Maintenance Craft PSEs have the opportunity (their choice) to convert to career status based on their standing on the rolls (seniority) within their district when a Maintenance Craft residual vacancy occurs.

The process will continue as long as there are PSEs in the craft. This ensures that no Maintenance PSEs will lose their jobs because of a conversion opportunity for another Maintenance PSE. That was one reason the Maintenance Craft chose to apply the process by district – along with the fact that if the USPS followed hiring regulations, the senior PSEs should be preference-eligible veterans. Our procedure also provides a chance for PSEs in post offices that are too small to support a full-time regular position to convert to career at a larger installation in their district.

Unfortunately, some district- and area-level managers continue to ignore our members’ right to conversion. It’s unconscionable the lengths the USPS will go to come up with roadblocks and new “official” positions to deprive our members of their rights.

Everything about the work life of Maintenance Craft PSEs is bargained for by the APWU and specifically the Maintenance Craft. This is the same as for any member of our craft, career or non-career. We negotiated the conditions of employment that permit the hiring and utilization of PSEs in our craft. PSEs hold a recognized position for which the craft has jurisdiction.

It’s true that the situation in our craft is different than in other crafts. For instance, the Maintenance Craft didn’t have Part-Time Flexibles that could be replaced with PSEs. We did maintain Part-Time Regulars because in some circumstances part-time duty assignments are needed. Also, many of the 1,500 new duty assignments that came back to the Maintenance Craft in small post offices need to be filled by PTRs.

Our success in restricting non-career employees to Laborer-Custodian positions would have left PSEs with no opportunity to move to any other Maintenance Craft position. This is due to the fact that regulations prohibit non-career employees from being on in-service or in-craft registers. With this in mind, Maintenance Craft officers also made sure we negotiated a career path for our bargaining unit members.

Maintenance PSEs are, in fact, members of our union. In the Maintenance Craft they occupy what should be career duty assignments. They should be entitled to the application of our craft rules and procedures and, like with any other APWU craft, the craft’s jobs should go to the craft members first.

New Attack: BEM Staffing

In March 2014, the Maintenance Division received notification from the USPS of management’s intent to change the Handbook MS-1, Operation and Maintenance of Real Property, along with other related handbooks and Maintenance Management Orders (MMOs).

The point of the Postal Service’s revisions or replacements is to reduce the staffing of Building Equipment Mechanics (BEMs). The USPS does not change these handbooks, etc., unless it reduces our work and cuts in our jobs. In this instance, management also hopes to increase the subcontracting of the critical work done by our BEMs.

BEMs are responsible for HVAC, emergency equipment, electrical systems and also may get involved in field maintenance operations. The proposed changes are intended to “standardize” the preventive maintenance of air conditioning and many, many other aspects of BEM work, regardless of the size or age of the system and regardless of local conditions.

The agency also plans to ignore the manufacturer’s recommendations and use a process called “run machine to failure.” In essence, the USPS would rather run the machine until it’s broken than do costly maintenance or replace the entire unit. The APWU and USPS met on April 29, 2014, to discuss management’s plans.

In anticipation of the above notification, the union formed a team of selected BEMs called the BEM Action Committee. We have begun meeting with the BEM Action Committee and will continue to do so. This group is comprised of rank-and-file subject matter experts – BEMs who spend their day performing the work in question.

If your office is already involved in practices such as run to fail, or fails to conduct preventative maintenance, or engages in multiple route bypasses, we would love to hear from you. Please send your e-mail to or mail it to:

Attn: Maintenance Staffing - BEM
American Postal Workers Union
Maintenance Division
1300 L Street NW
Washington DC 20005

And the Beat Goes On

At the same time as the assault on the BEMs, management continues to lay siege to our custodial occupational groups. They try and try and try, often through ill-conceived programs like the Labor Distribution Code 38 Optimization in the early 1990s, to completely rewrite the governing handbook, the MS-47, such as the 2001 budget version.

Well, management is back again, this time claiming they only wish to improve the cleanliness of the buildings and to instill an “esprit de corps” within the custodial ranks. This will be done, according to the USPS, by adopting a standardized process for custodial work using the most up-to-date techniques and equipment.

The APWU certainly has no objection to improving the cleanliness of buildings. However, in the Postal Service, a new program is “dead on arrival” when it is presented to the higher-ups if it doesn’t include a significant reduction in the number of bargaining unit employees.

The Postal Service is extremely predictable in what their end game is – subcontract as much as possible; eliminate as many union jobs as possible.

Regardless of the attacks by the Postal Service, your Maintenance Craft officers will continue to keep you informed and involved in protecting and improving your work life opportunities.



Maintenance Wins Significant Award

Recently Arbitrator Arthur T. Voss sustained the union’s grievance in Case #E10T-4E-C 11388721 , known as the Western Area Lock case or the Diebold case. The issue, as framed by Arbitrator Voss, was:

Whether Management violated Article 32 of the National Agreement or Section 535 of the Administrative Support Manual (ASM) when it subcontracted changes and repairs to Neighborhood Distribution Collection Box Units (NDCBUs) and other centralized delivery receptacles in the Western Area? If so, what should the remedy be?

While this was a regional award, the facts involved make it noteworthy and extremely instructive. In this case Western Area managers made a decision to contract out bargaining unit work – changing locks and making repairs to collection boxes – to a company called Diebold.

The USPS Western Area is so large that it included parts of or completely encompassed the representational areas of five Maintenance NBAs, including Chuck Sundgaard, Jimmie Waldon, Troy Rorman, Dean Hathaway and Vance Zimmerman. All five took part in processing the case, with the lead being taken by now-retired NBA Sundgaard. The case was filed at the area level in July 2011. As it progressed, the Maintenance Division provided further assistance by utilizing national Assistant Director Gary Kloepfer and, after his appointment to Legislative Director, by the direct involvement of national Director Steve Raymer.

The Postal Service pulled out all the stops, involving several of their area-level Labor Relations Specialists and the area-level Maintenance Manager. The case was eventually presented to the arbitrator over three separate dates, beginning Dec. 13, 2012.

The record was reopened to address the national arbitration award on Article 32.1.C, where the arbitrator ruled that locals must be notified when management makes a decision at the local, district or area level to contract out craft work.

Finally, on Oct. 30, 2013, Arbitrator Voss issued his decision. He wrote:

The grievance is sustained. The Postal Service is directed to promptly terminate the Diebold subcontract which is the subject of this proceeding. The parties shall address the question of a monetary remedy as instructed herein. The Arbitrator retains jurisdiction in this case for a period of 120 days solely for the purpose described in the final paragraph hereof.

Discussion on the remedy has commenced. The case is posted on the APWU website,, under the Maintenance Division page.


$937 Cost-of-Living Raise Set for September

08/15/2013 - Career APWU members will receive a $937 annual increase in pay in September, APWU President Cliff Guffey has announced. “This substantial raise is the result of the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement, which preserved cost-of-living adjustments for our members,” he said.

“Cost-of-living increases are an important part of our pay package,” Guffey noted. “Combined with percentage pay raises, they help our members achieve financial security.”

The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will be effective Sept. 7 and will be reflected in Sept. 27 paychecks. The raise amounts to $36.04 per pay period and reflects increases in the cost-of-living from January to July 2012, and from January to July 2013.

The September COLA will be the second this year. The first increase, in March, totaled $207. 
Additional cost-of-living adjustments will be made in March 2014, September 2014 and March 2015.

In additon to the COLA, APWU members also will receive pay increases of 1.5 percent effective Nov. 16, 2013, and 1 percent effective Nov. 15, 2014. A 1 percent across-the-board pay increase was effective Nov. 17, 2012.

Postal Support Employees (PSEs), who are not eligible for COLAs, will receive additional raises of 2.5 percent effective Nov. 16, 2013, and 2.5 percent effective Nov. 15, 2014. PSEs received an across-the-board increase of 2 percent on Nov. 17, 2012.

Updated pay scales are available at Printed copies, showing the September COLA and the November across-the-board raise, will be included in the November-December edition of The American Postal Worker magazine.

Union Wins Major Subcontracting Case

The APWU won a major victory Aug. 13 when Arbitrator Shyam Das issued a ruling that will help the union fight subcontracting, President Cliff Guffey has announced. Das ruled that locals must be notified when management makes a decision at the local, district or area level to contract out craft work.

The decision could result in the creation of additional assignments in every craft, Guffey noted. “This is a major victory in our battle to protect jobs,” he said. “That is a fight we are determined to win.”

Article 32 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which governs subcontracting, requires the Postal Service to notify locals of subcontracting at the “field level.” Beginning in October 2007, the USPS claimed the phrase meant that the USPS was required to notify locals of subcontracting initiated at the district or area level, but not subcontracting initiated at the local level.

The union asserted that “field level” refers to any subcontracting initiated below the headquarters level. (For headquarters-level subcontracting, the APWU is notified at the national level.)

Arbitrator Das upheld the union’s position.

“The ruling gives locals a tool to fight for the creation of additional duty assignments by ensuring they are aware of subcontracting decisions,” Guffey said.

In the Clerk Craft, for example, once locals are notified of subcontracting decisions they will be able to challenge the improper establishment of Contract Postal Units, which replace retail positions.

In the Maintenance Craft, notification to locals could result in challenges to the subcontracting of building maintenance work, such as roofing, air conditioning, lawn care, snow removal and cleaning, as well as the installation, repair, maintenance or movement of equipment, among other duties.

In the Motor Vehicle Service Craft, notification to locals could result in challenges to the subcontracting of preventive maintenance inspections and repairs, and emergency and temporary subcontracting of Highway Contract Routes, as well as other work. For more information, visit

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Another Travel Policy Settlement

Web News Article #: 

10/01/2012 - Maintenance Craft officers have settled a grievance over a USPS policy involving employees who are delayed while en route to training at the NCED, Maintenance Division Director Steve Raymer has announced. That policy required delayed employees to call the Marriott housing facility to seek guidance on whether to continue to the training site or return to the employees’ home installation.

The dispute in Case # Q06C-4Q-C 09148174 arose due to a disagreement over who employees must call and the authority of the Marriott staff to make decisions and provide instructions to delayed employees. Unexpected delays frequently cause employees to miss a scheduled day (or days) of classroom study.

Under the terms of the Sept. 25 settlement, no decisions will be made by the staff of the Marriott housing facility. Instead, instructions will be included in the “pre-arrival brochure” and the class “confirmation letter” given by employees prior to their departure.

Employees must contact their home installation and report delays to obtain instructions related to housing. They also must call the Marriott to let the housing facility staff know they will be arriving late (or not at all).

Grievances held pending the outcome of this dispute are released for resolution or arbitration as necessary.

The agreement follows another recent travel-related settlement: On Sept. 18 Maintenance Craft officers settled a grievance on the pay for employees who are delayed while traveling. Click here to read more about the travel pay settlement.

In a related matter, Maintenance Craft officers are reminding union members that a March 1, 2005, agreement with the USPS addressed employees’ right to leave personal belongings in their rooms during interim trips. The union has learned that the NCED unilaterally modified that Lodging Interim Trip Policy for Off-Site Training.

Personal Belongings on Interim Trips

Officers are advising APWU members to file grievances if their personal goods are removed from their lodging in violation of the negotiated agreement.

Grievances should request remedies including the following, Raymer said.

  1. Compensation for travel, as the unilateral removal of your belongings from your room is the equivalent of checking you out of training. As such, the travel is no longer an interim trip; rather it is compensable travel in accordance with the F-15 Handbook.
  2. Reimbursement for all damage or loss of any personal belongings removed from your room without your permission.
  3. Reimbursement for any storage charge that may be imposed as a result of not removing your personal belongings.
  4. Any other incurred expense related to your belongings being removed, e.g. having to find a place of lodging because you are not permitted to go directly to your room without checking in at the front desk.


Travel Delay Settlement

Web News Article #: 

09/23/2012 - Maintenance Craft officers have settled a grievance on the pay for employees who are delayed while traveling, Maintenance Division Director Steve Raymer has announced.

In accordance with Article 36.2.C of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, “All travel for job-related training will be considered compensable work hours.”

The dispute in Case #Q00C-4Q-C 04025449 arose due to a disagreement on how to handle travel pay when an unexpected delay requires an overnight stay at a hotel. This typically occurs when employees are selected for training at NCED in Norman OK.

Under the terms of Article 36.2, employees on travel should be in a pay status from “portal to portal,” from the time they leave their homes until they check in at the housing facility at NCED or other lodging. When employees check into lodging, they are off the clock.

The same standard applies to en-route delays. Delayed employees who must check into overnight lodging go off the clock when they check in and go back on the clock when they check out.

It should be noted that when travel delays do not involve overnight lodging, employees remain on the clock.

Any grievances held pending the outcome of this national dispute are released for resolution or arbitration as necessary.


Union Partially Resolves Software Dispute

Web News Article #: 

09/20/2012 - The APWU and USPS settled a dispute on computer software installation on Sept. 13, 2012, agreeing that on-site computer software installation for postal equipment will be performed by Level 10 and Level 11 Electronic Technicians, Maintenance Craft Director Steve Raymer has announced. “This is the clearest language we have achieved on on-site software installation,” he said.

grievance on remote software installation remains in dispute. The dispute over remote software installation arose when the USPS issued new Software Modification Orders (SMOs) indicating that supervisory employees would install software at multiple sites from a remote location. SMO-013-12 and SMO-024-12 outlined procedures for software installation for MERLINs; SMO-021-12 covered remote installation on the Mail Processing Equipment Watch (MPEwatch) and on all Data Collection Servers (DCS) and National Remote Personal Computer (NRPC) servers.

The union asserts that the Postal Service violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement as well as Section 535.111 of the Administrative Support Manual when it assigned contractors and/or supervisory employees to perform remote installation of the software.

The union maintains that the change in technology that permitted software to be downloaded remotely from one location to multiple facilities had an adverse impact on the bargaining unit and therefore constituted a technological and mechanization change as described in Article 4 of the contract.

In addition, the union contends that software installation falls within the Standard Position Descriptions of Level 10 and Level 11 Electronic Technicians; as such the union asserts that the Postal Service’s decision violated Article 1.6, which requires bargaining unit work to be performed by the appropriate bargaining unit employee except under certain limited circumstances.

Neither party’s position on the remote installation of computer software was prejudiced by the settlement on onsite installation, Raymer said.

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