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Know Limits On Use Of Casuals
As the front-line defender of the National Agreement, the NALC steward has a powerful mandate to protect the jobs of career letter carriers. That protection can range from defending carriers who have been unjustly disciplined to enforcing contract provisions that may seem, at first sight, to have little immediate effect on carrier's job security.
The steward's duty to monitor management's hiring and use of the supplemental work force - casuals is one of those protections that has a subtle but powerful effect on carriers' job security. Stewards must ensure that these substandard, untrained workers are used only as permitted by the contract, and do not take work away from either full-time or part-time career carriers.
Article 7, Section 1.B of the contract contains the basic negotiated principles concerning casuals. This language was strengthened in the 1994 contract, which reduced the national maximum percentage of casuals that can be used in the letter carrier craft from 5 percent to 3 ½ percent (Article 7.1.B.3). Since the Article 7.1.1.B.3 limit is monitored and enforced at the national level -- where a recent settlement of a grievance of this provision provided a monetary remedy for management's violations from February 1989 to April 1993 (see story in the April 1996 Postal Record) there is no basis for local grievances concerning this provision. However, stewards play a vital part in enforcing the provision by verifying that whenever casuals am used in the letter carrier craft, those casuals use the correct letter carrier Labor Distribution Code for their clock rings.
This story provides a review of several other provisions of the contract concerning casuals. Included me summaries of relevant arbitration awards, national-level memorandums of understanding and national prearbitration settlements. In particular, stewards should be familiar with all the ramifications of Section 7.1.B.2, which requires management to give part-time flexible employees scheduling priority over casuals; in some circurnstances management must also assign work to PTFs across craft lines before calling in casuals. (See "Know your contract," page 13.)
Also included is discussion of the practice of dual appointments, such as when rural carrier associates (RCAs) are used as casuals in the city carrier craft.
By becoming familiar with the situations described in this story, as well as the specific language of the contract, relevant arbitration awards, settlements and memorandums, NALC stewards arm themselves effectively against management's assaults on career carriers'jobs by the wrongful use of casuals.
Stewards should begin their review of the issue of casuals by carefully rereading Article 7.1.B.1 of the National Agreement, which states, "The supplemental work force shall be comprised of casual employees. Casual employees are those who may be utilized as a limited term suppilmental work force, but may not be employed in lieu of full or part-time employees."
In the past, some union and management representatives have viewed this provision as only a general introduction to subsequent sections that set limits on the use of casuals. But as an earlier NALC Activist article pointed out ("The case of the missing carriers," Winter 1995), the language of Article 7.1.B.1 standing alone constitutes a specific prohibition against using casuals to replace rather than supplement the regular work force.
That is. Article 7.1.B.1 in and of itself restricts the hiring of casuals. The arbitration decision which makes this point (C- 13954) also emphasizes that even if management fulfills the requirements of the subsequent paragraphs in Article 7.1.B, the Postal Service can still violate the contract if it attempts to hire casuals in lieu of full or part-time career employees.
PTFs vs. Casuals
It is not enough, however, for NALC stewards to keep a watchful eye on the hiring of casuals. To addition, stewards must constantly monitor the ways that management utilizes casuals that might have been legitimately hired -- that is, hired to supplement rather than replace the permanent work force.
Article 7.1.B.2 requires that management "make every effort" to work part-time flexible employees at the straight-time rate before assigning work to casuals. This provision, as most stewards know, is frequently violated.
In 1976, James V.P. Conway, then Senior Assistant Postmaster General, wrote a memorandum underscoring the need for managers to give priority in scheduling to PTFs before calling in casuals. (The Conway Memorandum as it applies to a specific case [C-08523] is discussed in the NALC Activist story."Rights of part-time flexibles upheld," Spring 1989.) The Conway memorandum, which was reaffirmed in a 1988 national pre-arbitration settlement (M-00847), also stated specific exceptions to the requirement to work PTFs before utilizing casuals:
"For example, (a) if both the part-time flexible and the casual employee are needed at the same time, (b) where the utilization of a part-time flexible requires overtime on any given day or where it is projected that the part-time flexible will otherwise be scheduled for 40 hours during the service week, or (c) if the part-time flexible employee is not qualified or immediately available when the work is needed to be performed."
A 1979 national-level arbitration award (C-00403), known as the "Gamser award" for the arbitrator who made the decision. also offers an expanded view of the meaning of Article 7, Section 1.B.2. The award clarifies that the requirement of working PTFs before casuals applies to scheduling in the context of the service week, not day-by-day scheduling. Therefore, a supervisor may work a casual on a day when a PTF was also available and not be in violation of Article 7.B.2-as long as all PTFs are scheduled to work 40 hours in that week. But if the record shows that the supervisor over the course of a service week continued to use casuals when PTFs were available. and as a result the PTFs did not work 40hour weeks, then the supervisor has violated the contract.
Key to file Gamser award is the requirement that management must create a schedule in which PTFs work a 40-hour week before they can assign any work to Casuals. Therefore stewards must look at the entire service week to determine whether a violation exists. (A story in this issue of the Activist, "A case of missing hours," directly addresses this issue of scheduling a full 40-hour week for PTFs before calling in casuals.)