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Know Limits On Use Of Casuals
Crossing Craft Lines
Another protection for PTFs concerns the assignment of employees across craft lines. The Conway memorandum mentioned above emphatically states that management must assign work in another craft to letter carrier PTFs if they are available before using casuals to do that work. Negotiated language covering the appropriate usage of cross-craft assignments appears in Article 7, Sections 2.A, 2.B and 2.C.
Key language in the Conway memorandum states, "casuals are to be utilized as a supplemental work force every effort should be made based on individual circumstances to utilize part-time flexible employees across craft lines, in lieu of utilizing" casual employees."
The Conway memorandum which was cited earlier in (his article also applies to situations concerning crosscraft assignments. The exceptions stated in the Conway memorandum concerning when management may use casuals instead of PTFs also apply to circumstances involving assignments across craft lines.
These standards, affirmed by both union and management at the national level, should prevail in all cases in which PTFs are available to work including across craft lines-at the straight-time rate. Management arguments that using PTFs in such circumstances would be "inefficient- or - inappropriate" are not valid. (For other examples of circumstances in which management should have worked PTFs across craft lines before utilizing casuals. see M-00935 (Step 4 decision) and regional arbitration decisions C-01215, C-08270 and C-07773.)
Stewards also must monitor (he duration of the employment of casuals. Article 7.1.B.4 limits the use of a casual to two 90-day terms of employment in a calendar year, plus employment during the Christmas period for not more than 21 days.
Occasionally management has argued that it bus knowingly extended these time limits in "special circumstances," and that such extensions should be permitted in cases in which, despite the continued assignment of casuals, PTFs have worked full 40-hour weeks. Arbitrators, however, have consistently upheld the language of the National Agreement stating that no "special circumstances" can justify a violation of Article 7.1.B.4.
Stewards may notice a management practice of using rural carrier associates (RCAs) as casuals to perform city letter carrier work. This practice of "dual appointments" is authorized by Section 323.6 of the Employee and Labor Relations Manual. The most important restriction on such dual appointments is that only one of the appointments may be to a career position. Since casuals are not part of the career workforce, dual appointments to RCA and city carrier casual positions are permitted.
The fact that an employee has a dual appointment to a casual position does not change any of the provisions of Article 7, Section 1.B. A dual appointment employee is counted toward the 3 1/2 percent casual limit and is still subject to the Article 7.1.B.4 limits applying to the number and duration of casual assignments.
Since violations of these 7.1.B.4 limits should be grieved at the local level, NALC stewards should carefully monitor management's actions to ensue that those limits are, not exceeded regardless of whether the casual holds a dual appointment. But for dual appointments, stewards should obtain a copy of the employee's Form 50 to verify the dates and periods of appointment to the casual position.
Management is always looking for ways to cut costs, and using casuals is one of the most obvious ways. However, the NALC has negotiated strong protections for career letter carriers that set limits on management's use of this supplemental work.
Stewards should remember, however, that the contract is only as effective as the people who enforce it. By maintaining constant vigilance over management's hiring and utilization of casuals, stewards provide the best possible protection for the letter carriers they represent.