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Volume 2 - Summer 1999
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The Case Of The "Slow" Letter Carrier
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The Facts
Beginning in late 1995, postal management began issuing letters of warning to a letter carrier for "unsatisfactory performance." The carrier in question had been in the Postal Service for 23 years and was a union officer. A supervisor who had recently come to the station determined that this carrier took too much time to deliver his route. The supervisor claimed to have analyzed the route and determined that the carrier's rate of delivery, about 80 per hour, was much too slow. With the postmaster's consent, the supervisor decided to correct this alleged problem by issuing progressive discipline.
The union grieved the first letter of warning and the grievance was sustained in expedited arbitration. However, before that arbitration decision had been determined, the supervisor decided that the grievant had not responded positively to the first letter, so the supervisor issued a second letter of warning in February 1996 for unsatisfactory performance. That letter was also grieved, and while it was proceeding through the grievance procedure, the supervisor decided to take additional steps to improve the grievant's performance.

The supervisor observed other carriers delivering the grievant's assigned route in less time than the grievant, making about 100 deliveries per hour. The supervisor then observed the grievant delivering the same route and decided that the grievant was wasting time improperly servicing the mailboxes and was also driving too slowly between mailboxes. For these reasons the supervisor issued a 7-day suspension in July 1996.

The union grieved the 7-day suspension, but before that case reached arbitration the supervisor in October 1996 issued a 14-day suspension to the carrier for the same reasons. In the meantime, the arbitration on the second letter of warning was held and the arbitrator upheld management's action.

Therefore at the time the current case of the 14-day suspension reached arbitration, the record showed that of the three previous disciplines that had been issued, one had been reversed in arbitration, one had been upheld and the most recent-the 7-day suspension-was awaiting arbitration.

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