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Volume 2 - Summer 1999
Page 4

The Case Of The "Slow" Letter Carrier
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All these actions were based on the supervisor's perception that, as he stated in the October letter announcing the 14-day suspension, "[the grievant] drove [his] delivery vehicle at a very slow rate of speed in between deliveries, most times not traveling over 2-3 miles per hour, with the vast majority of the time not traveling over 5 MPH .... Other employees have been observed delivering routes, including [the grievant's], at a more normal rate of speed without in any way jeopardizing safety and/or efficiency .... [further, the grievant] gave no valid explanation for his action. The grievant also gave no reason as to why he had not corrected his behavior even after all [the supervisor's] previous attempts at correction. Furthermore, the grievant continued to demonstrate total disregard for the supervisor's authority as is evidenced by his steadfast insistence on continuing to drive at an abnormally slow rate of speed."

The union grieved the 14-day suspension and the grievance proceeded to arbitration. As part of the arbitration hearing, the arbitrator accompanied the grievant as he drove his route and observed his rate of speed.


USPS Arguments
The Postal Service advocate framed the central issue as the grievant deliberately refusing to perform as instructed by the supervisor. The supervisor testified about the slow speed of the grievant's deliveries, and also that previous instructions from the supervisor and all previous disciplinary actions based on the grievant's poor performance were intended to improve the grievant's delivery speed.
The Postal Service argued that because other letter carriers could and did deliver the grievant's route more quickly, the grievant should speed up his rate of delivery. However, the grievant continued to "demonstrate the same deficiencies" despite all attempts by the supervisor to force the grievant to speed up.

Management defended the supervisor's actions in issuing further discipline before receiving the results of earlier disciplinary actions. Since the merits of each discipline should stand on its own, the fact that an earlier discipline had not yet been ruled valid or invalid should have no bearing on the disposition of the case at hand. As the supervisor saw it, the fact that the grievant continued the behavior that had generated the earlier disciplinary actions proved that the grievant had "total disregard for [management's] authority." Therefore, the Postal Service advocate argued, additional and more severe discipline was completely warranted.

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