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February 1998
Vol.1 No. 5 Page 5

Route Examination

Source: Contract Talk
When does a carrier qualify for a special route inspection at his/her own request?

A. (Memorandum of Understanding-Section 271 M- 39 Handbook as modified "If over any six (6) consecutive week period, where work performance is otherwise satisfactory, a route shows over 30 minutes of overtime or auxiliary assistance on each of three (3) days or more, the regular carrier assigned to such route shall, upon request, receive a special mail count and inspection to be completed within four (4) weeks of the request."

Is additional office time credited to letter carrier routes which receive presequenced by-pass mail to be collated with other mail while tying-out three (3) or more days during the count and inspection period?

A. Yes. M-39 Handbook Section 222.214b(3) "Letter routes which receive on three (3) or more days during count and inspection period sequenced by-pass mailings that have to be collated with other mail while tying-out shall receive the additional representative time required to perform such work identified and added to the fixed office time."

May route examiners instruct carriers to change their mode of delivery on the day of inspection?

A. No. Section 231.5 of the M-39 Handbook reads "The route examiner should inform the carrier that he intends to make a fair and reasonable evaluation of the workload on the route and that in order to do so the carrier must perform his duties and travel the route in exactly the same manner as he does throughout the year." (emphasis added)

Grievance No. NC-C- I 1668/5-COL-2898

Pre-Arbitration Decision dated April 6, 1979. "In full settlement of this grievance it is agreed that route examiners will not instruct carriers to change their mode of delivery on the day of route inspection . . . ... Arbitrator Sylvester Garrett's Award dated August 20, 1979, cases NC-C-15708-D and NC-NAT-13212. "During inspection the route examiner observes but does not supervise. The examiner is required to make notations, of "all items that need attention" and list "any comments or suggestions for improving the service on the route." (Part 23 1. 1. d)

When does the 45-day period start for adjustments?

A. The 45-day period for adjustments starts the week after the week of inspection, because the eighth week of the eight week time card analysis is the week after the week of inspection.

Is Management required to notify the local union if granted an extension by the District Office to the 45day provision for implementation of route adjustments?

A. Yes. (Memorandum of Understanding)-Section 211.3 of the M-39 Handbook has been modified to read "The local union will be notified promptly of any exceptions granted."

When the regular carrier on the route requests a special inspection under the provisions of Sec. 271(g) of the M39 Handbook,can such a request be refused because the regular carrier did not serve the route during the entire period in question (six consecutive weeks)?

A. No. "In the instant case, the grievant, who is the regular carrier of the route in question, requested a special count and inspection of his route because the provisions of Section 271 of the M-39 had been met. His request was refused because he only served on his route eight (8) days out of the thirty-eight (38) day period.

"The Union contends that the provisions of the M39, Section 271 refers Next Column

to the route and not the regular carrier assigned to the route and that the grievant's request should be honored even though he was not serving his route during the entire period in question. This position is consistent with that of the Postal Service.

"Accordingly, in full settlement of this case the grievant's request for a special inspection of his route will be granted within four weeks of receipt of this decision." (Step 4 settlement dated 8-27-80, also language in Sec. 271(g), in the M-39 Handbook)

The last time my route was inspected was in 1978. I got a fair adjustment-they cut four blocks from my route. But mail volume has been going up steadily (especially the marriage mail), and so has my route time. On tight days it takes 81/2 hours to deliver, and on heavy days close to 10. I put up with the extra mail for a long time, but I finally got fed up, and I requested a special route examination.

My route meets the conditions in Part 271 of the M39-I've shown more than one-half hour of help or overtime on three or more days each week for more than six weeks. But my supervisor turned down my request for the special examination. She says that special examinations have been replaced by something called "unit and route review," and I'll have to wait for that review (scheduled in August) to see whether they'll do anything for my route. Does my supervisor know what she's talking about?

A. Nope. Special route examinations have not been replaced or superseded by the unit and route review process. Special route examinations are still provided for by the M-39 (and the M-39 is still incorporated into the National Agreement by reference in Article 19) and are still a good way to get your route cut.

Supervisors have been trying to sweet-talk or stone wall their way out of giving special examinations for years-yours is just trying out a new line.

We have some new ammunition to use against the sweet-talkers and the stonewallers: In Kenosha, Wisconsin three letter carriers who had met the Part 271 criteria requested special examinations. Management refused to grant the exams. The carriers filed grievances. Management denied them. NALC proceeded to arbitration.

At the arbitration management argued that it may have committed a "technical" breach of the contract, but the arbitrator was powerless to remedy any such technical breach. The arbitrator, Edward D. Pribble, disagreed. Characterizing the Postal Service as being in "flagrant disregard or defiance of contractual obligations," the arbitrator ordered the Postal Service to conduct examinations within forty calendar days, and to make permanent adjustments "to bring these routes to eight hours regular work" within sixty calendar days after the examinations.

To make the carriers whole for being required to suffer overburdened routes during the period their grievances were pending, the arbitrator further ordered that the Postal Service pay each carrier one extra hour's pay for each and every day they were required to work overtime during the period their grievances were pending-to continue until permanent adjustments are made to their routes (C# 05545, 1/24/86).

It seems likely that your supervisor, given her druthers, would prefer not to give you a special inspection. It seems even more likely she would prefer not to give you an extra hour's pay each day you have to work overtime because she refused to give you the inspection.

Source: Taken from Contract Talk 1980-1986, page 22, an official publication of the National Association of Letter Carriers

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