by President Kelly Heaney
2/23/2016: 4 state caucus-Fargo, North Dakota
Every two years Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and North Dakota get together for the 4- state convention. This year the convention was held in Fargo, North Dakota (a city of roughly 150,000 people with principle industry of Microsoft and a large sugar factory called Crystal Farms). Wednesday we had maintenance training instructed by National Maintenance Director Steve Raymer and National Business Agent, Curtis Walker. Issues discussed were the custodian team cleaning taking place all over the area and how to protect custodian jobs. Early results are not favorable as bathrooms seem to be an afterthought with this new cleaning. Green Bay plant has been measured for team cleaning concept, but as of now no date has been given as to the implementation of the process. In Minnesota team cleaning is already in place. Management is also going through with trying to downsize the Building Equipment Mechanics (BEMs). All across the country this attack hasn’t started, but April seems to be the starting month.
The clerk craft had Regional Coordinator, Sharon Stone discussing the excessing mess that still is occurring across the country. Ms. Stone didn’t have a reason as to why excessing should still have impact for Wausau when Iron Mountain and Duluth excessing impact letters have been cancelled. Ms. Stone is also frustrated about management inability to communicate to her when a vacant job is filled as to whether that job was an impacted job or retreat-rights job.
National Director for Support Services, Steve Brooks was also there to give a brief description of all the different areas of postal workers he represents such as Eagan (where payroll checks are handled), postal nurses, and Topeka’s maintenance parts warehouse employees.
National Business Agents, Willie Mellen and Marty Mater then taught a clerk class on LMOU negotiating which can be done once a new contract is ratified. The importance of labor management meetings was also discussed.
Contract issues were discussed and our leaders are confident that a fair contract will be had. Regular employees were allowed to testify to the arbitrator exactly what they do in their job on a day to day basis. Our union leaders are hoping that by June or July a new contract will be in place. I would like to stay positive, but don’t see this being a reality…stay tuned. Up to date information can be found on the apwu.org website.
Thursday and Friday were resolution days. A resolution is where Union members get together and try to modify and/or change language in the contract to make future contracts better and/ or clearer. This is a voice by the union to tell management and upper leadership in the union that certain language in the contract is not working in the field. A short version would be passports. In larger offices, passports are scheduled up to one month out. A resolution was made to have passport appointments be given no more than 24 hours in advance. Now I know that if someone is driving say 50 miles to get a passport that they may not want to wait 24 hours, but this would give management time to staff the window properly for the following day. Resolutions for window clerks, maintenance, clerks, pse’s, ao clerks, legislative, safety and health, bulk mail clerks, and support services were among many of the areas covered.
Thank you to the membership for allowing me to attend.