|Delivering information when you need it most.||June 1998, Vol. 1 No. 9|
by Thom Green, Editor
Through my writings the
Postal Record Branch Items, I have been an outspoken critic of the lack of a way for those branches owning the Arbitration CD ROMS to easily search those disks for information. A year ago I called for just such a search device, and as early as this past Spring I re-issued that call.
Well, as the saying goes, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease". To add to that I have always maintained the "louder the squeak the more the grease." Apparently our National officers tired of my squeaking. Last month it released a search program that is top-notch, and one that has been long-overdue.
I had been told by some who had seen the search program that it would be worthy of our desires, and upon my first view of it, it is. Let me say to those branches owning the arbitration CD ROMs ---- purchase the Number Nine Disk. Not only does it contain arbitrations up to the 17,000 count, it has the necessary program that allows you to properly search the collection for specific arbitrations.
In his monthly column William R. Yates, Secretary-Treasurer National Association of Letter Carriers, writes:
"The new search program was developed for use by NALC Headquarters, regional offices and branches. It enables users to search the entire NALC arbitration database by various criteria such as subject, contract provision, arbitrator, decision dates, etc.
"Branches wishing to purchase Disk 9 should write directly to the Secretary-Treasurer's office enclosing a check for $30, which covers all shipping and handling. The complete set of arbitration CDs is also available for $360."
Brother Yates' assessment of the search program is so understated you have to see it to believe it.
The user can "program" the search engine in a variety of ways to extract the necessary data.
You can search by:
Key Cases Only: The NALC Contract Administration Union has designated certain arbitration awards as Key Cases. These include all national level awards and those regional level awards that are especially useful or important.
Subject Code: All awards in the NALC Arbitration System have been assigned specific subject codes. Selecting this field enables the user to find arbitration awards that involve a specific subject. By using this field you are taken to what is known as a "pick list". Suppose you typed in Overtime. Your search would move you to the "pick list" area beginning with the first reference to "O". You then move down the list, highlight the items you want a reference number to and double click on them which will put the selected item in a "Selected Subjects Hold Area." When you have finished you click on Done, and the search will bring up those arbitration reference numbers. Then you can use the "C" number to locate the particular arbitration(s).
Handbook/Manual Provision: This field enables the user to find arbitration awards that reference a particular handbook or manual provision. The list is sorted by handbook or manual (for example M-39) and then by section (for example section 271). The default setting is to search for cases that meet all of the search criteria.
Contract Provision: This field enables the user to find arbitration awards that reference a particular contract provision. When the contract provision field is selected, the user will be presented with a numerical listing of all contract provisions and their descriptions. By typing the in the Article number the pointer will move down the list to that number i.e., typing 8 will take you to Article 8.
Other fields you can search by are: Contract Year, Decision Date, which allows you to enter a specific range i.e., 07/04/92 to 07/04/97. You can also do a date search on "after" or "before". The "after" would provide you with all references after say, 07/04/92 if that is your request. The "before" would work in the opposite way. Decision: Sustained, Modified, Denied or Other; Contract/Discipline; Discipline Type; Union either NALC, APWU, or NRLCA; State; Office; Aribtrator; USPS Number.
The program works in Win95 or Win 3.1 or higher. System requirements for the Search program are (these are a minimum) 16MB memory, 25 MB hard drive space available, SVGA monitor set at a minimum of 800x600 pixels (don't' go less than this. You cannot view the program properly if you do.) CD-ROM minimum speed of 2X.
Installing the program is fairly straight-forward, but it is fairly assumed you are familiar with Windows and your computer.
Most of you who have read my writings knows that I am an avid supporter of our union getting involved heavily in computers and the necessary programs. I have always believed that if our National did get involved fully the products would be superb. This is proof of my thoughts.
The NALC Arbitration Program (Release 2.00) is not a half-baked attempt to satisfy those of us who are squeaking loudly. It is the grease we need to keep quiet. The only real question now is, "How about more!"
To the NALC authors of this program, nice job! And to those branches with computers that have not purchased the complete set, "what are you waiting for?"
The value of having these 17,000 plus arbs at your immediate disposal far out-weighs the cost. You won't regret the purchase.
Thom Green is a member of NALC Branch 116 - Fort Wayne, IN. He has been a letter carrier and employee of the US Postal Service for 25 years (October 16, 1972). Thom is a 25 year union member and has been a steward for 20 of those years (off and on). Thom has also been editor of The Summit City Mailbag for 9 years. For the last four years he has served as an NALC DPS Training Coordinator.