|Volume 3, No 18 Delivering information when you need it most. Summer 2000|
Most NALC stewards can testify that one of the most stressful events for letter carriers are those times when management performs route inspections and mail counts. Even if carriers have themselves requested a special route inspection, the procedure can be difficult for everyone involved.That's one good reason why alert NALC stewards need to monitor route inspections and mail counts to make sure that they are performed properly. As many stewards have discovered, the manuals say that everything must be absolutely normal at these times and yet managers seem to create situations where it's anything but normal for letter carriers whose routes are being inspected. Schedules get changed, mail comes at different times, inspectors don't follow the rules, and on and on. Carriers who are themselves under stress at this time may not be aware of such violations or may believe that nothing can be done.
And when challenged, managers will offer a dozen reasons for such changes, always hastening to state that the changes actually had nothing to do with the fact that a route inspection was going on. Management's excuses may sound like good intentions gone awry-but NALC stewards have a duty to remain skeptical. If need be, the steward should be prepared to file a grievance about how the supposedly irrelevant changes have violated the contract by interfering with the performance of a fair and equitable mail count and route inspection.
Regional Arbitrations Protect Carrier Rights
This article details some of the ways management has tried to affect route inspections both directly and indirectly. In a series of regional arbitrations, NALC representatives have been able to counter management's arguments and protect the rights of letter carriers. Stewards should note that these cases by no means address all the tactics that management has employed to affect the results of route inspections. Therefore, local NALC representatives need to be especially alert during times when route inspections are being performed. Check in with the carriers who are experiencing inspections; ask questions and then follow up with management if anything seems unusual.
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