On June 25, 2018, National Arbitrator Shyam Das issued his award in the long-awaited renewal of contract delivery service case.
The Union’s grievance, filed in 2014, concerns the process the parties negotiated related to renewing CDS contracts pursuant to the 2012 Clarke interest arbitration award. The relevant contract language in Article 32 of the 2010-2015 National Agreement is as follows:
Section 4. Renewal of Contract Delivery Service (CDS) Routes The Employer and the Union agree that, in those instances in which delivery is provided by contract delivery service routes in offices with only rural delivery, a cost comparison will be completed prior to renewal of any such contract delivery route. Should rural delivery be at a cost less than CDS, the contract will not be renewed and the route will be converted to rural delivery at the expiration of the contract. All territory must qualify for rural delivery under the Employer’s regulations before conversion.
After the Clarke Award, the parties met in December 2012 to discuss implementation procedures for Article 32.4. They agreed on a CDS Renewal Worksheet to be used for cost comparisons. The Worksheet includes: (1) the calculated cost of rural delivery for the territory covered by the CDS contract based on established criteria; (2) the negotiated cost of renewing the CDS contract; and (3) the difference between the two costs.
It was undisputed that the Postal Service failed to provide the NRLCA with all of the final worksheets prior to CDS contract renewal in 2014 and in subsequent years. The NRLCA maintained this failure constituted a breach of the parties’ implementation procedures. The Postal Service denied that it was obligated to provide the cost comparison worksheets prior to CDS contract renewal.
Arbitrator Das fully agreed with the NRLCA’s position on the merits. He held: “Read as a whole, there can be little doubt that these procedures provide that a copy of the Final Worksheet is to be sent to the district — with a copy to the NRLCA — before the expiration date of the existing CDS contract. How else would a district know whether or not to convert deliveries to rural delivery in a timely fashion? Moreover, the Postal Service presented no compelling evidence or explanation for why it was not practicable — as a general matter – to provide the Final Worksheet to the district and NRLCA before the CDS renewal date as it did in almost all instances in 2013 and to varying extents in subsequent years.” Arbitrator Das states in his award: “The Union points out that the Postal Service’s statement of the position stated it “agrees the Union should be provided a copy of the cost comparison before renewing regular CDS contracts that provide box delivery in offices with only rural delivery.” That statement is unequivocal and is supported by the unrebutted testimony of Joey Johnson, Director of Labor Relations for NRLCA…”
As for remedy, Arbitrator Das ordered the Postal Service to: (1) comply with Article 32.4 and the agreed implementation procedures consistent with the Findings in his Award and (2) provide Final Worksheets not previously transmitted to the NRLCA relating to CDS renewals from 2014 to the present and in those instances where the Final Worksheets, corrected if necessary, show that the CDS contract should have been converted to rural delivery, rather than renewed, convert the route to rural delivery as soon as practicable and provide make whole relief for any affected rural carrier(s).
The Parties are in discussion about compliance with Arbitrator Das’ remedy, particularly as it affects the 173 Final Worksheets that had not been provided to the Union prior to hearing. If the Postal Service is unable to provide the NRLCA with these Final Worksheets and the parties are unable to resolve any resulting disputes, it may be necessary to return to Arbitrator Das who has retained jurisdiction.
Click here to view the National Arbitration Award.