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National Arbitrator Das Issues Award on DPS Flats Implementation Procedures
In September 2011, pursuant to Article 19 of the National Agreement, the Postal Service issued its final DPS flats implementation procedures. These procedures differed significantly from the existing DPS letter implementation procedures and the Union challenged them on grounds that they were not, fair, reasonable and equitable – the standard by which Article 19 changes must be judged.
As the case was readied for arbitration. the parties were successful in resolving a number of disputes that were going to be arbitrated. Those disputes and their resolution will be discussed shortly. Unfortunately, several disputes remained and they were presented to Arbitrator Das for resolution at a hearing in September 2014.
Arbitrator Das found that is was not fair, reasonable, and equitable for the DPS flats implementation procedures to be missing a 3-day 98% quality threshold requirement before a route can be counted under DPS flats standards. He further found that it was not fair, reasonable, and equitable for there not to be a quality review process like there is for DPS letters. Arbitrator Das’ remedy for these violations is prospective only. New DPS routes must meet a 98% quality threshold. He has also ordered the parties to put in place a DPS flat quality review process similar to that already in place for DPS letters. Going forward, if a route fails a DPS flats quality review, the flats will be reverted from DPS to raw flats.
Arbitrator Das considered two additional issues: whether there must be a minimum weekly piece count for DPS flats before the standard can be applied and whether the same remedy for a failed DPS letter quantity review should apply to DPS flats. Arbitrator Das ruled in the negative on both of these questions. He relied on the bargaining history between the parties and did not find that rural carriers were disadvantaged by the DPS flats quantity review process. While this is not the result we had hoped for on these two issues, we believe that the Das Award supports and strengthens the Bloch awards on DPS letter review process.
Please see the full text of the AWARD here. Click link to read.
As noted, several issues were resolved prior to the arbitration hearing. These issues may be summarized as follows:
1. In the challenged implementation procedures, Management had a provision to adjust the route from the DPS flats casing standard to the DPS flats standard when a route is assigned an Employer-provided vehicle prior to a mail count. The parties agreed that appropriate DPS flats standard will be applied effective with a mail count only.
2. In the challenged implementation procedures, Management required carriers with Employer-provided right-hand drive vehicles to take DPS to the street beginning immediately upon receipt of DPS flats. The parties agreed that carriers will not be required to take DPS flats directly to the street with an Employer-provided right-hand vehicle until such time that the route is evaluated using DPS flat standards.
3. In the challenged implementation procedures, Management had a provision that it would provide appropriate compensation when insufficient casing equipment exists – Management’s intent was to reduce the amount of equipment to one case. The parties agreed that this provision will be eliminated from the implementation procedures — any proposed changes of this kind would need to be proposed through Article 19.
4. The Union filed a Step 4 grievance on the failure to provide the Union with a deployment list prior to counting a route under DPS flats standards. The Union agreed to withdraw this grievance and in return management agreed to discontinue the October 2, 2012 MOU, which eliminates the right of Management to withhold any residual routes, except as provided for in accordance with Article 12 of the National Agreement.
5. In the challenged implementation procedures, there existed a provision that Management may apply DPS flats standards when mail is provided to a route less than six days per week — such as Mondays ONLY. The parties agreed this provision will be eliminated from the implementation procedures and if any service changes in the number of delivery days are proposed, this would be discussed in accordance with the USPS-NRLCA National Agreement prior to any implementation.
6. In the challenged implementation procedures, there was no DPS flats riffle time, no time to locate the DPS flat trays, or time to straighten DPS flats if in disarray. The parties agreed to resolve these issues by providing the route 15 seconds for each tray of DPS flats (whether full or partial). This time will be included in column 17.
7. In the challenged implementation procedures, Management required all items received in the DPS flat trays to be credited as DPS flats, regardless of the physical characteristics of the mail piece (i.e. letters and parcels) . The parties agreed that during a mail count, each mail piece in the DPS flats tray will be counted and recorded as they are classified in Chapter 5 of Handbook PO-603, Rural Carrier Duties and Responsibilities and deducted from the DPS flats end-of-run. Letters found in the DPS flats trays would be deducted and credited as raw letters. Parcels found in the DPS flats trays would be deducted and credited as parcels.