National Business Agent - Region 6
KIM Region 6 Report
Kentucky -- Indiana -- Michigan
Michigan State Association of Letter Carriers
Brothers and Sisters,
Everyone should know that when one of us gets injured, it affects us all. The injured employee could miss work, suffer pain or even worse. It also affects their loved ones as well. Someone getting injured affects their co-workers. Forced overtime, fatigue, lost time spent with family and friends, just to name a few. An injured worker even affects management. Paperwork, scheduling woes, and budgets. Let's face it; nobody wants to get injured on the job. It sucks! I just spent two days at the Great Lakes Area discussing our safety efforts. Believe it or not, upper-level management doesn't want to discipline carriers for having accidents - I believe they genuinely want to do the right thing and help STOP accidents.
For over 25 years, I've protected the rights of letter carriers through the grievance procedure, and I can never understand when management issues discipline to someone for simply having an accident. Of all the people I've represented, I know of no one acting deliberately to have an accident.
Let's look at what Article 16.1 states regarding just cause in supporting the issuance of discipline:
"… No employee may be disciplined or discharged except for just cause such as, but not limited to, insubordination, pilferage, intoxication (drugs or alcohol), incompetence, failure to perform work as requested, violation of the terms of this Agreement, or failure to observe safety rules and regulations... " ( text in bold for emphasis)
Now, the JCAM on page 16-3 states the following:
Examples of Behavior. Article 16.1 states several examples of misconduct which may constitute just cause for discipline. Some managers have mistakenly believed that because these behaviors are specifically listed in the contract, any discipline of employees for such behaviors is "automatically" for just cause. The parties agree these behaviors are intended as examples only. Management must still meet the requisite burden of proof, e.g. prove that the behavior took place, that it was intentional, that the degree of discipline imposed was corrective rather than punitive, and so forth. Principles of just cause apply to these specific examples of misconduct as well as to any other conduct for which management issues discipline. (Text in bold for emphasis)
Again, I know of no one proven to have deliberately been involved in an accident! It's bad enough to have had an accident, but to be issued discipline simply because there was an accident adds insult to (possible) injury. Don't you think that someone will be more conscious of their mistake or poor judgement once they've been involved in an accident? I know I am!
The key to being safe is to ensure a safe working environment and to stress the importance to always keep safety on our minds. Don't take a break from safety simply to meet your supervisor's expectations. Don't disregard safety because you have a ballgame to get to after work, and you're running behind. Do not drive without your seatbelt fastened just because it's a nuisance. And, never ever leave your vehicle running and you are not in the seat! Never take a break from safety!
As I have said for quite some time, management, at the supervisory level, must be instructed by their managers to never sacrifice safety for making their numbers. Do you think this will ever happen? I'm not sure... Management, at the higher levels, talks a good game regarding safety but I don't see the safety initiative adhered to on the front lines of management.
In other news... Management has announced they are going forward on a new initiative - the Caseless Environment. Again, this initiative is without NALC involvement (like the Consolidated Casing Initiative). The NALC has not been fully informed on this process, but, the idea, as we know it, is that carriers will not be casing their residual mail
and will take all mail to the street to infuse the residual mail in with either the DPS mail and/or the FSS mail on street time. Genius! The street environment is a very conducive way to do this work. NOT! Carriers will have weather, external distractions, lack of equipment, not to mention delay of service to our customers - just to name a few of the obvious obstacles. If you think this will work without NALC involvement - City Carrier's involvement - in the historical words of President Emeritus Bill Young... HELLO!
Here's what we know - management is looking for offices that receive 100 or less pieces of residual mail to be a test site per Article 34 (again). Those sites have not been announced yet, but management did indicate they want to start this "test" by the end of March 2020. Stay tuned...
On a somewhat brighter note, management just announced they are suspending rolling out additional Consolidated Casing sites. For our Region, that means New Albany and Marion Indiana, along with Fenkell Station in Detroit, will not be rolling out Consolidated Casing at this time. Keep in mind that can change at any time.
On a related note... The National Arbitration on the Article 34 violation for Consolidated Casing will be closed on March 9th with the parties' submission of their respective briefs. Again, stay tuned for that decision.
Two more items... 1). The National Arbitrator has been selected for our contract impasse, and the esteemed Arbitrator David Nolan was selected. Hopefully, early spring, the case for our next contract will kick off with opening statements. And, 2). Congratulations to all the CCAs that will be converted to career status on March 15th due to the national level grievance concerning district CAPs. I know there are individual concerns regarding this settlement; however, I ask our members to understand the bigger picture. Our union, as well as all unions, must look at the "Big" picture when negotiating a settlement. Please understand, it is for the betterment of the whole (in this case, the City Carrier craft throughout the country).
-- Troy Clark
National Business Agent
Region 6 Kentucky - Indiana - Michigan (KIM)