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April 1998
Vol. 1 No. 7 Page 8

The Letter Carrier Paragraph

by Mary Martinez
The "Letter Carrier Paragraph" (LCP) is a portion of a joint memorandum concerning Article 8, signed by the parties and incorporated into the National Agreement on 12/23/84. The LCP states:

"In the Letter Carrier Craft, where management determines that overtime or auxiliary assistance is needed on an employee's route on one of the employee's regular scheduled days and the employee is not on the ODL, the employer will seek to utilize auxiliary assistance, when available, rather than requiring the employee to work mandatory overtime."

This agreed to language helped define the intent of the parties regarding Article 8. Remember that overtime rules were designed to protect the non-ODL carrier from being forced to work overtime. Many of us have forgotten or never knew, that they were not devised to protect the overtime "ownership" of those on the ODL. The Article 8 rules were negotiated to protect the carriers who want to work an 8 hour day and go home, not to guarantee overtime to any group or groups of carriers such as PTFs or ODL. Thus in the LCP it was agreed that management should seek to relieve the non-ODL carrier of having to work overtime if others were available and volunteering to perform the work.

Auxiliary assistance has been defined in various Step 4 and Arbitration decisions as casuals, PTFs, TEs, ODL carriers, regular carriers on undertime, unassigned regulars not on a hold down on straight time, and reserve carriers not on a hold down on straight time. (See M-01016, M-00730, C#17270)

The reference to rates of pay come as a result of an additional jointly agreed to Memorandum that clarified the issue dated 12/20/88. Management when seeking auxiliary assistance may assign the work to those at a similar rate of pay. In other words if a non-ODLer has nine hours of work on a regular scheduled day, and the only help available would not be on straight time or regular overtime, but would be in penalty overtime, it can mandatory the non-ODL carriers to carry their own overtime.

Management should not mandate other non-ODL carriers by juniority to provide assistance for a senior non-ODL carrier. (See Lawerence Hutchins, NALC Vice President, retired, letter of April 28, 1988.) The requirement to draft by juniority when the ODL is exhausted is only applied to circumstances when a non-ODL employee is forced off his or her own assignment to work overtime on another assignment. If the overtime is on the carriers' own route, the Service may require the non-ODL carrier to work the overtime if there is no auxiliary assistance (casual, TE, PTF, ODL) available that would not be in a penalty overtime status. The exception to this rule is on the day of the week of inspection when the carrier is accompanied by a route examiner. During the other days of the week of inspection the non-ODL carrier may be required to work overtime the same amount of time used to count the mail in the morning.

Management sometimes argues that help could not be given to a non-ODL carrier because of an "operational window". If management sets a time as a cut-off which is not due to the office closing or the last dispatch leaving the office, it has been the Union's position that this self imposed policy cannot override the express provisions of the contract.

Arbitrators have agreed that management must conform to the agreed upon language of National Agreement and Memos incorporated therein. (See C#08021, C#07049) Each instance must be looked at to see if there is any validity to management's arguments, and if there was an alternative that could be used to avoid the LCP violation. For instance could the overtime have been anticipated and ODL carriers or others have come in earlier to start the day? Maybe the last dispatch truck leaves at 5:00pm, but the boxes out front get pulled at 6:30pm. As always there may be more to the picture than seen through the eyes of the supervisor.

Management sometimes invokes what it calls the "rule of reason". This is the concept incorporated in the December 20, 1988 Memorandum which describes that it might not be reasonable to require 20 minutes of travel each way for a carrier to provide a non-ODLer auxiliary assistance. Again each circumstance should be carefully considered, and no across the board limit should be the rule, as the operative question, is "What Is Reasonable?" Remember it is much easier to argue it was reasonable to provide auxiliary help to a non-ODL carrier if management is informed in the morning help is needed, rather than a call at 3:00 p.m. asking for help. (See C#10637, C#12669, C#11251, C#07886)

When stewards deal with grievances alleging violation of the LCP, they should always cite any previous grievance settlements or decisions from their station and installation. The union should always show when management has previously been put on notice concerning the requirements of the LCP, and ordered or agreed to cease and desist violations.

This is a must if the union intends to show a monetary remedy is appropriate. The effects of the remedy should be to correct the harm to the employee who was improperly forced to work overtime and to prevent future violations, and to compensate at the appropriate rate the employee who should properly have been assigned the work to perform.

The Letter Carrier Paragraph is agreed to language. It constantly amazes me that so many grievances are filed on the issue. Often management claims they don't "understand" how to apply it. If the Postal Service won't instruct their managers and supervisors how to apply the rules that govern their workroom floor, then we will through the grievance procedure.

It is not that confusing!

The principle of the Letter Carrier Paragraph is to relieve the non-ODL carrier of the need to work overtime by assigning the work to those who volunteer to work overtime (the ODL) or others (casuals, PTFs etc.).

Mary Martinez is a member of NALC Branch 79, Seattle, WA. Mary has been a Letter Carrier since 1982. She has been a Steward, Trustee, Assistant Secretary-Treasurer, LBA arbitration advocate, and various other positions. Since 1995 Mary has been a full time Vice President and also serves as a State-wide Trainer for the WSALC.


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