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Arbitrator Sharnoff Rules on Automated Delivery Unit Sorter (ADUS)

We are enclosing a copy of National Arbitrator Joseph Sharnoff’s long-awaited decision in the RI-399 jurisdictional dispute concerning the Automated Delivery Unit Sorter or ADUS. The arbitrator has rejected the NPMHU’s attempt to correct the Postal Service’s ADUS determination, as well as the APWU’s attempt to expand its work jurisdiction.

At bottom, the arbitrator concluded that neither Union could meet the “heavy burden of proving” that the Postal Service had improperly exercised its discretion or had acted in a manner which was arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable when issuing its ADUS determination:

For all of the reasons discussed herein, the Arbitrator concludes that the claims made by each of the Unions, as noted above, have not been supported by sufficient evidence to meet the heavy burden of demonstrating that the craft determinations and related decisions made by the USPS with respect to the introduction of the ADUS machines was arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, or otherwise constituted an abuse of the discretion afforded the USPS by the RI-399 guidelines and principles to make craft determinations and the decisions related to the Implementation Criteria set forth in RI-399. For these reasons, the respective claims made by each of the Unions are denied in all respects.

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The Arbitrator concludes, for the reasons set forth above, that the USPS acted appropriately and within its right to exercise discretion in making craft determinations in accordance with the RI-399 guidelines and principles, and in a manner consistent with prior Jurisdictional Arbitration Awards and other relevant considerations including the Primary Work Designations – Operations and Functions listed in RI-399, in making the determination that the Mail Handlers were the Primary Craft designated for the work functions on the ADUS, nos. 1, 2, 5 and 7, each of which is subject to the single asterisk [quoted in the Opinion], and that the Clerks were the Primary Craft designated for work functions nos. 3, 4, and 6, the last subject to the double asterisk [quoted in the Opinion]. The Arbitrator finds that the USPS, in making these craft designations appropriately utilized the single asterisk for each Mail Handler work function and the double asterisk for work function 6, based on the operational requirements and other considerations in Function 1 – Plant Units as compared to those in Function 4 – Delivery Units.

One of the issues advanced by the NPMHU was the Postal Service’s failure to apply or even acknowledge the so-called Four-Hour Rule in its ADUS jurisdictional determination. For that reason, Arbitrator Sharnoff also used his Award to discuss the four-hour rule that appears as Section B of the Implementation Criteria listed in RI-399. To quote RI-399: “Four (4) Hours Criteria, If there are four (4) or more hours of continuous work consisting of one or more work functions in one or more operations designated to the same primary craft, the performance of which should be assigned to an employee of that primary craft.”

Importantly, Sharnoff quoted testimony by the Postal Service’s NDRC Representative and witness Shannon Richardson, who acknowledged that, if a “facility had [three] hours of Mail Handler work loading/unloading trucks and installed a machine which involved two hours of Mail Handler duties, for a total of five ‘continuous’ hours, the facility would be required to employ a Mail Handler employee.” In these circumstances, Sharnoff continued, the question “whether the requirements of the Four-Hour Criteria have been met, such that the employment and assignment of an employee in the Mail Handler Craft is required in a particular facility on a particular shift, necessarily is dependent upon the analysis and evaluation of the particular facts and circumstances involved in such facility on a particular shift or hours of operation on a shift,” possibly to include issues relating to efficient operations.

In so holding, Sharnoff stated that there was an insufficient evidentiary basis presented for the Arbitrator to make a national determination which would be applicable to the operation of all ADUS machines in all facilities, including all Function 1 and Function 4 Units, during all hours/shifts of operation. At the same time, Sharnoff clearly held that there is no dispute that “the Four-Hour Rule, as one of the Implementation Criteria established in RI-399, Section II.B, constitutes a necessary consideration for the USPS in making work assignments on the ADUS at each facility, on each shift, and during all hours of operation, and that the USPS’s implementation of such work assignments, insofar as they depart from the primary craft designations for such duties set forth in the ADUS Craft Determination letter, are subject to consideration and review at the local level through the appropriate RI-399 procedures, if such assignment changes from the default craft designation are challenged by either Union.”

Should you have any questions about this decision, please contact the National CAD. Also, please disseminate this memorandum and the attached decision as you deem appropriate.

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