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Volume 3, No. 17 - Spring 2000
Page 3

Dealing With Repeated Overtime Violations


Before presenting the facts, arguments and resolution of these cases, however, a review of overtime issues in general may help clarify the problems that stewards face in attempting to enforce complex overtime provisions of the contract and supporting documents. (A more detailed analysis of mandatory overtime can be found in the Winter 1994 issue of the NALC Activist as well as on pages 8-3 to 8-23 of the USPS/NALC Joint Contract Administration Manual (JCAM).)

Overtime basics

For many years, the NALC has fought to insure that people who want to work overtime can do so, while people who don't want overtime cannot normally be forced to work it. For this reason, Article 8, Sections 5.A., B and C contain provisions for the creation of an Overtime Desired List and the rules that govern the distribution of overtime among full-time regular letter carriers who are on the list.

Also, a memorandum of understanding dated May 28, 1985 (M- 00589), created the category of "work assignment" overtime for carriers who want to work overtime on their own route on their regularly scheduled days but not other kinds of overtime that would involve coming in on days off or working on other routes.

Much of the confusion about overtime assignments arises from situations involving carriers who are not on either list being required to work overtime on their own routes on one of their regularly scheduled days. The background and details of such situations have been explained elsewhere in greater detail than is possible in this article (see the references cited above). It is, however, possible to summarize the various contract and memo provisions as follows:

Carriers who do not want to work overtime on their own routes are protected in several ways. First, before such carriers would be required to work overtime on their own routes, management must have exhausted every other possibility, including all forms of auxiliary help such as PTFs, casuals or carriers from the ODL. However, if the only other option is to use ODL carriers who would as a result be paid overtime at the penalty rate, then and only then could management assign overtime to non-ODL carriers. And such overtime assignments would be limited to having those carriers work overtime on the carriers' own routes on their regularly scheduled days.

Management cannot require such carriers to work overtime on other than his or her own route or on a non- scheduled day on the carrier's own route as long as any ODL carriers are available, even if those carriers would be working at the penalty rate. The only time that management can require non-ODL carriers to work such overtime is if and only if management runs out of people on the ODL -- that is, every ODL carrier is already working 12 hours per day. In such circumstances, management can either ask for volunteers from the non-ODL carriers or require these carriers to work overtime on a rotating basis with the first opportunity assigned to the junior employee.

Finally, NALC representatives must note that a positive showing of "good cause" by the Postal Service can offset violation of any of the above provisions. However, management must be able to prove good cause by providing firm proof of a genuine emergency or other rare circumstance.

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