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Grieving Operational Windows
Last month's column discussed the Postal Service's use of "operational windows" to force letter carriers not on the overtime desired list (OTDL) to work overtime. Below are guidelines for filing a grievance regarding this matter.
In order to have a grievance concerning "operational windows" sustained, the union must be prepared to prove two distinct points:
1. That the Postal Service forced the letter carrier not on the OTDL to work overtime, when a casual, PTF, or another carrier on the OTDL was "available" to work the overtime at issue.
2. That the "operational window" at issue was either an unreasonable exercise of management's Article 3 rights, or else that it was merely a stratagem to avoid recourse to the OTDL.
These two arguments are conceptually distinct, and quite different evidentiary material might be necessary to prove each of them.
In order for such a grievance to have a reasonable prospect of being sustained, the following information, in whole or in part, should ordinarily be included in the file. Branch officers should consult with their business agents to determine if any additional information is required by his office. In all instances it is recommended that branch officers consult with their business agents prior to the filing of any grievances alleging a violation of Article 8 in regard to operational windows.
The grievance should include the following information:
1. What carrier not on the OTDL was required to work mandatory overtime? What documents exist to establish this fact?
2. When did management first become aware of the fact that he/she would require auxiliary assistance? What documents exist to establish this fact? 3996's?
3. Could the fact that overtime would be needed have reasonably been foreseen and planned for by scheduling carriers on the OTDL to start early? What records exist that could establish this fact?
As an absolute minimum, copies of the OTDL and complete time records are necessary. The time records must include not only the time that the carriers involved ended their tours, but also the time that they resumed from the street.
5. Exactly how much time was involved? Was it more than de minimis?
6. Could the auxiliary assistance have been provided without excessive additional cost to the Postal Service? More specifically, how much travel time would have been involved? Would the carrier providing the assistance have had to be sent out, or could he/she have been given the mail in the morning? Were there sufficient vehicles available?
7. When was the operational window first established? What documents exist to establish this fact?
8. Who established the operational window? A division manager? A station manager? A 204b? What documents exist to establish this fact?
9. To what size installation does the operational window apply? A whole division? A whole city? Merely one station? What documents exist to establish this fact?
10. How and when was the existence of the operational window made known to station managers? The union? What documents are available to establish this fact?
11. Does the operational window apply to the time at which the delivery of mail was to be completed, or the time at which the station or facility was to be closed?
12. What are the schedules of all the routes involved (documentation required)? Is the operational window inherently unreasonable given these schedules?
13. Is the installation involved an EPM site?
14. Has the Postal Service been consistent in seeing that the operational window is observed? If not, what evidence is available to establish this fact (e.g. time records, transactor printouts)?