BRANCH 41 N.A.L.C. PHONE 373-0627



WHAT IS A UNION? A Union is a voluntary organization of employees who have joined together to promote and protect their mutual interests It is based on the understanding that people working together have greater bargaining power than people working separately.

WHAT IS A STEWARD? The steward at your station is a Letter Carrier who has been certified by the Union, as the representative of all of the Letter Carriers. They are empowered by The National Agreement to investigate, present and adjust grievances on behalf of any Letter Carrier or of the Union. You should work through your steward when you have a problem.

MAY A PROBATIONARY EMPLOYEE JOIN THE UNION? Yes. Please do, we can use your help. Joining the Union will not effect your passing of probation. Chances are your supervisor was probably a UNION MEMBER when, they were a craft employee. We understand if you would like to wait until after you have passed probation to join the Union. But do join, a Union is only as strong as its membership.

WHAT IS PROBATION? According to Article 12 of the National Agreement: “The probationary period for a new employee shall be ninety (90) calendar days. The employer shall have the right to separate from its employ any probationary employee at any time during the probationary period and these probationary employees shall not be permitted access to the grievance procedure in relation thereto.” The Union can rarely interfere with management’s right to separate a probationary employee. The Union may always act to protect the contractual provisions relating to working conditions, safety, wages and hours. Feel free to consult a Union Representative, they are a good source of information and advice.

WHAT IS A PROFESSIONAL LETTER CARRIER? This is a term which is applied to a letter carrier who carries their route deliberately and conscientiously, observing all applicable regulations while maintaining a high level of service. It also entails 8 hours of work for 8 hours of pay. We hope that you will be a Professional Letter Carrier!

WHAT DOES PRESERVING THE SANCTITY OF THE MAIL MEAN? It means that Letter Carriers have been entrusted to safeguard the mail. The USPS. requires of its employees very high standards of integrity and fidelity. An employee who compromises these standards might receive discipline. Additionally, there are Federal Statutes which pertain to willfully and knowingly delaying, obstructing, or stealing my mail.

ARE PTF EMPLOYEES GUARANTEED A CERTAIN NUMBER OF HOURS OF WORK ? PTF employees are not guaranteed hours, but do have certain protections under the National Agreement. Articles 7, 8 and 41 cover some of these protections. Opting for assignments is one of a PTF’s best protections of work hours.

WHAT IS OPTING? Bidding a route while it is temporarily vacant for five or more days. Employees on hold-downs are entitled to work the regular scheduled days and the daily hours of duty of the assignment. This means that a PTF awarded a hold down is entitled to 40 hours per week. Such bids are awarded by seniority.

CAN PTF EMPLOYEES BE ON CALL? No! There is no contractual provision nor is it intended that PTF’s be required to remain at home or call the Post Office to ascertain whether their services are needed. If a PTF is told that they must remain available for work, they are entitled to 4 hours of pay.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BE CONVERTED TO FULL TIME? The amount of time varies widely, and no clear generalization can be made. However, Article 7 of the National Agreement states “A part-time flexible employee working eight (8) hours within ten (10), on the same five (5) days each week and the same assignment over a six month period will demonstrate the need for converting the assignment to a full-time position.”’ This does not mean that this PTF will make regular, but the senior PTF will be made regular, if there are no unassigned regulars to assign to the position.

WHAT IS A STEP INCREASE? A step increase is a pay level increase, which is awarded to employees at established intervals, as long as the employee has performed in a satisfactory manner in the interval since the last increase. If performance has been unsatisfactory the step increase may be deferred. Such deferral is actionable if not justified. You should receive a Form 50 when you pass probation and at each step increase. Each employee is advised to check their last notice of personnel action, for their individual anniversary date and the projected date that their next meritorious step increase becomes due. It is a good idea to file the Notice of Personnel Action in a notebook.

WHAT IS A COLA? COLA refers to your Union negotiated cost of living adjustment. It provides for periodic upward adjustments of our hourly wages based on the rate of inflation.

DO PTF’s GET PAID HOLIDAYS? Not directly, but PTF’s do receive extra pay for every hour worked during the year to compensate for the 10 paid holidays. See Article 11, Section 7 of the National Agreement for further information.

WHAT IS ANNUAL LEAVE? Annual leave is paid vacation. PTF’s are credited with AL as it is earned. The rate at which leave is earned is based on total cumulative Federal Employment, including military service. Employees with 0-3 years of total employment receive I hour of AL for each 20 hours worked, or 4 hours per 80 hour pay period. Employees with 3-15 years of total employment receive I hour of AL for each 13 hours worked, or 6 hours per 80 hour pay period. Employees with over 15 years total employment receive I hour AL for each 10 hours worked, or 8 hours per 80-hour pay period. PTF employees are not credited, and may not use AL, until after the 90 day probationary period. At the end of 90 days the AL which they have earned is credited to their accounts. The specific procedure by which AL may be granted is determined locally, by negotiations between the Local Branch of our Union and the Local Postmaster. Such procedures are contained in the Local Memorandum of Understanding.

WHAT IS EMERGENCY ANNUAL LEAVE? Emergency Annual Leave may be requested when an emergency prevents an employee from working as scheduled. It is not required that management grant requests for emergency annual leave. It may be necessary that the employee furnish convincing evidence that a true emergency existed in order to justify such requests. If such requests are capriciously or arbitrarily denied, however, that denial is actionable.

WHAT IS SICK LEAVE? Sick leave is leave for use when you are too ill to work. Sick leave may also be used for medical and dental appointments or treatments. A postal employee may use sick leave for Dependent Care. The National Agreement states: “Sick leave may be used by an employee to give care or otherwise attend to a family member with an illness, injury or other condition which, if an employee had such condition, would justify the use of sick leave by that employee.” This is an extraordinary Union Negotiated Benefit, for letter carriers.

PTF’s if previously scheduled, should be paid the number of hours scheduled for the day of the absence. If not scheduled for the day, they should be paid the average number of hours worked by other PTF’s in the same work location. Eight hours is, however, the maximum amount of sick leave that will be paid for any one day. The employee is responsible for notifying the Postal Service that they are unable to work and are requesting sick leave. Management may accept your word when you call in for I to 3 days or they may require you to get a note from a doctor. Sick leave accrues throughout your career with the U.S.P S. at 104 hours a year, without limit. It is an excellent insurance against failing health as you age. If you did not use any sick leave for 20 years you would accumulate 2080 hours of sick leave. If you then suffered a serious health condition, you would have a year of paid sick leave to use while you recover.

WHAT IS A JOB DISCUSSION? Although included in Article 16, a “discussion” is non-disciplinary and thus not actionable. Discussions are conducted in private between a supervisor and an employee. Private discussions between the employee and a supervisor are not discipline unless the supervisor mentions discipline or you believe that the discussion may lead to discipline. Both the supervisor and the employee may keep a record of the discussion for personal use. Such notations are not to be considered official Postal Service records. They may not be included in the employee’s personnel folder, nor may they be passed to another supervisor. Discussions cannot be cited as past record items in any letter of charges in a future disciplinary action. They may be used (when they are relevant and timely) only to establish, via testimony of a supervisor, that an employee has been made aware of some particular obligation or responsibility. An employee always has the right to review the discussion and its subject matter with their steward.

WHAT IS DISCIPLINE? Discipline includes: Letters of Warning, Suspensions, and Removals. Article 16 of The National Agreement states: “In the administration of this Article, a basic principle shall be that discipline should be corrective in nature, rather than punitive.” A typical pattern of discipline for repeated offenses of a similar nature might be: One or more private discussions between the supervisor and the employee. In discussions and in actual discipline the supervisor is giving notice to the employee of their responsibilities and obligations and where the employee must show improvement. Job discussions might be followed by one or more letters of warning of various lengths. Followed by a small suspension. Followed by a larger suspension. Followed by removal. This is know as - - discipline. It is required that discipline be corrective in nature, trying to fix the problem. Such progression need not be followed if the offense is of a serious nature.

WHAT ARE MY WEINGARTEN RIGHTS? These rights guarantee you that if involved in a disciplinary matter you have the right to Union Representation. If you feel that you need representation yon must ASK for representation, If you are denied a steward this would be a violation of your Weingarten Rights. You may refuse to cooperate once you have asked for representation, if it is not provided.

WHAT ARE POSTAL INSPECTORS? Postal Inspectors are the law enforcement branch of the U.S.P.S. You are contractually guaranteed the right to be represented by a Steward, or a Union Officer if you are ever questioned by a Postal Inspector. The right of representation while being questioned by police is also constitutionally guaranteed. Always exercise your right to representation.

HOW DO I GET HELP ON A ROUTE? If you feel that you can not deliver all the mail in eight hours an employee must inform their supervisor. This should be done when the supervisor makes their rounds in the morning. A carrier should tell the supervisor what they think they will need to do to get the route done that day and ask for appropriate instructions. It is always best to be communicating with your supervisor about your work assignment. A carrier should receive form 3996, if they are delayed in the office because of the volume and type of mail, or unfamiliarity with the route, or both. If you are new on a route, you may not be able to give a very accurate estimate of how long the route will take.

Once on the street, if it becomes apparent that you will be unable to finish on time, call your supervisor and explain the situation. They will tell you what they would like you to do with the mail. Do not decide on your own to work overtime or to bring back mail. Because of time pressures, PTF employees are tempted to look for ‘shortcuts’ Perhaps they may think that it wouldn’t make a difference if the bulk business mail were handled just a little less carefully. Don’t fall into this trap. Carriers must take care with the mail that they are entrusted to deliver. Employees must not take it upon themselves to lower service standards, simply to be able to finish a work assignment. Do not be afraid to ask your supervisor for help when you need it! PTF employees often work under great pressure. The work assignments which they serve are supposed to be adjusted to be 8 hours of work for the regular carrier completely familiar with that assignment. To complete that assignment, then, the PTF employee must work harder than the regular employee must, or longer than the regular employee, or both. This could happen because PTF employees are often unaccustomed with the given work assignment.

WHAT IF A SUPERVISOR GIVES A VAGUE ANSWER RATHER THAN CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS? Tell them what you think their instructions mean. Assume you have requested auxiliary assistance to get the route completed. A supervisor might tell you, “do the best you can”. You could reply to this, “I understand that to mean I am authorized to use the overtime necessary to complete delivery of the route.” This should make the supervisor either agree to your interpretation or give you clearer instructions. Remember that supervisors are paid to make decisions, so let them do what they are getting paid to do.

WHAT IS STANDARD OFFICE TIME? Standard office time is casing 18 letters per minute and 8 flats per minute. This standard is used to evaluate your casing proficiency. Management will want to see that you are able to make office standard on a route and may check casing frequently. When management checks you on a case they will usually be checking your speed on letters only. Be advised that it is easier to case letters into a case that doesn’t have flats blocking holes into which letters must be cased. If you are having problems reaching 18 letters per minute try removing the flats before you start casing the letters. This is a minimum standard; always do what you can.

WHAT ARE REFERENCE VOLUMES, WORKLOAD ASSESSMENTS,DOIS AND PROVEN PERFORMANCE? These are guidelines for management. They are averages based on a particular carrier on a particular route. They apply only to that carrier on that route. A particular day’s estimate of linear count, converted to piece count is not an accurate measurement of the actual workload for that day. As a PTF you should simply tell the supervisor how much time you estimate you need to finish a route. The best reasons to give a supervisor are the simple answers you give yourself I’m unfamiliar with the route, there is a coverage of coupons and address cards, or this route has a lot of go backs, are some examples of what you might consider saying. Just tell the supervisor what you tell yourself.

WHAT IS A ROUTE EXAMINATION? A route examination is the procedure by which letter carrier routes are evaluated and adjusted. For complete details as to the exact procedure, refer to the Methods Handbook M-41. Routes are supposed to be adjusted to as near 8 hours daily work as possible. This is 8 hours for the individual carrier who is the regular on the route. Because the route has been adjusted to 8 hours doesn’t mean that there will not be days that the route will be over 8 hours. We feel that the job of the PTF Letter Carrier is the most difficult job in the Postal Service. You will probably have a different assignment every day. It will take time for you to become moderately proficient at casing and carrying different routes. You may have to work on Sundays or Holidays when almost everyone else is at home. But in time you too will make regular and look back at how much fun it was being a PTF!!