JCAM and more
NALC has also included on the new MRS CD a number of other key contract enforcement documents in PDF format. Most noteworthy is the electronic version of the Joint Contract Administration Manual (JCAM), which in and of itself provides a potent tool for NALC stewards.
As detailed in a front page story in the Summer 1998 issue of the NALC Activist, the JCAM contains not only the language of the National Agreement, but also the authoritative interpretations of that language to which both the Postal Service and NALC have agreed. Consequently, the JCAM details and clarifies contract language that frequently has been misunderstood and therefore mistakenly applied by management. As the cover letter accompanying the first printing of the JCAM stated, "When a dispute arises, you should go to the JCAM first to see if the issue in dispute is addressed. If the issue is addressed in the JCAM, any dispute should be resolved in accordance with that guidance."
Also available on the MRS CD is the NALC Supplement to the JCAM, which contains the union's own material about contractual issues on which the parties have not agreed at the national level. The NALC Supplement contains not only the union's position on these issues, but also material designed to help NALC representatives enforce the contract and best represent letter carriers. The supplement has been joined electronically with the JCAM itself into a single Acrobat document, with navigation buttons providing hyperlinks between the two publications.
Stewards should note that the JCAM and the NALC supplement both cite material from other documents, including relevant national level settlements and arbitration decisions, facilitating the task of researching appropriate supporting material when crafting a grievance. This task is even easier given the fact that not only the MRS but also the JCAM and the NALC Supplement are on the same CD.
There are additional NALC documents in Acrobat format on the MRS CD as well, including:
NALC Arbitration Advocate. The Advocate is a publication previously available only to NALC advocates actively representing letter carriers in arbitration. All issues published so far are included on the MRS CD.
FMLA Resources. The CD also contains a collection of FMLA materials including the NALC Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act, a separate file of the USPS approved NALC forms that letter carriers may use to apply for FMLA leave, plus the currently effective federal regulations governing the FMLA.
Contract Talk. Finally, the CD contains a collection of recent "Contract Talk" columns from the NALC Postal Record, including all those published from January, 1998 through August, 1999.
All of these Acrobat format materials have been indexed to enable users to perform powerful cross-document searches in a flash. For instance, one could search all of the documents at once for references to "sick leave." The results, which typically pop up in a second or two even on a slow Pentium PC, enable quick browsing through each page where that phrase occurs, in the JCAM and NALC Supplement, the MRS Summary and Index, Contract Talk, the Advocate and the FMLA materials. Previously this kind of search would have required paging through a stack of large books.
With the creation of these user-friendly electronic resources, union representatives have additional tools to use in resolving disputes quickly. They can easily refer to the JCAM and other supporting materials to facilitate discussions with postal managers. Also, NALC stewards can take advantage of these new systems to educate both letter carriers and managers about the meaning and interpretation of contract provisions that affect day-to-day interactions on the workroom floor.
Easy access to these key resources gives NALC representatives even greater knowledge, power and skill to function as expert and efficient enforcers of the contract. Future enhancements to these materials will continue to support NALC stewards and local officers in their essential job of protecting letter carrier rights.
The 10- CD Arbitration Program ($150) is currently available from NALC Supply Department, 100 Indiana Avenue, N. W., Washington, DC 20001. The single MRS CD will be available later this summer at $20, also from the NALC Supply Department.