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October 1997
Vol. 1 No. 1 Page 11

"Operational Window"
by Thom Green

As Fall and then Winter begin to descend on us we are faced with some tough decisions when it comes to working in the dark. Management, in all of its infinite wisdom has said there is nothing wrong with working in the dark. That is until it has to pay out big bucks via overtime. And, it is here where we begin to experience problems.

Once the daylight hours become a premium management hides under a cover called an "Operational Window" an established time by which management in an installation has decided all deliveries must be completed, or the installation closed. In most general instances the Overtime Desired List does not provide enough carriers to cover the needed time to meet this "Operational Window". Management then turns to mandating letter carriers to work OT, which has a tendency to create morale problems among other things.

Brian Farris, Director of City Delivery (Retired), wrote in his capacity in The Postal Record in May 1987 about ways union officers could and should approach this tactic. It must be noted that at every turn when management makes a bad decision (and we know a bad decision is a bad decision no matter how you dress it up) it relies upon Article 3 of the National Agreement; Management Rights. Next Column

Brother Farris writes: "The resolution of disputes concerning operational windows involves the balancing and adjusting of two sometimes conflicting rights: the right of the Postal Service to operate in the most efficient manner possible (recognized in Article 3) and the right of letter carriers to be protected from compulsory overtime (recognized in Article 8)."

Benjamin Aaron, National Arbitrator, wrote in a case ruling from Torrance, CA (C-03319), the Postal Service has the right, under certain circumstances, "to assign overtime to a carrier not on the ODL, despite the fact that another carrier or carriers on that list are available to work." Mr. Aaron ruled however that management can only apply this decision on a case-by-case basis and should not be applied as a blanket effect.

According to Brother Farris union officers looking to write a sustainable grievance on "Operational Windows" need to look at two important points. "First, that the Postal Service forced a letter carrier not on the overtime desired list to work overtime, when another carrier on the OTDL was available to perform the work. Second, that the 'Operational Window' at issue was either an unreasonable exercise of management's rights or else that it was merely a stratagem to avoid recourse to the OTDL." Continued

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