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The Penalty of Penalty Overtime

By Chuck Clark
Branch #3825, Montgomery Village, Md.

Portions of Article 8 of the National Agreement have failed to protect those carriers who do not wish to work overtime. Likewise, these same provisions have resulted in carriers who want to work overtime being denied this available work.

The "Letter Carrier Paragraph referenced in JCAM 8-14, states that management is required to use auxiliary assistance before requiring a carrier not on the overtime desired list or work assignment list to work overtime on their own route on a regularly scheduled day. Management must use TE's, PTF's and "full-time carriers from the overtime desired list at the regular overtime rate" to provide assistance to these non-ODL carriers. For further clarification it reads, "management does not have to use ODL carriers to provide auxiliary assistance if such an asisgment would mean that the ODL carriers would be working penalty overtime."

Article 8.4.D, taken in conjunction with the Letter Carrier Paragraph, means that a carrier who is not on the ODL is forced to work overtime on their own route if the only available assistance is an ODL carrier who is eligible for penalty overtime. In this situation you have a carrier who wants to work the overtime being denied available work and the carrier who does not wish to work over eight hours being forced to work overtime. And it's all contractually correct. But it doesn't make sense.

The problem is the requirement to pay penalty overtime. Many years ago a National officer told me that the penalty overtime provisions were introduced into the National Agreement as a means of addressing overburdened routes and understaffing. Well, it is a matter of opinion whether the penalty overtime requirements have had the desired effect.

Penalty overtime requirements have casued non-ODL carriers to work unwanted overtime on their own assignments. If an ODL carrier is working their 5th day of weekly overtime or eight hours on a non-scheduled day or ten hours, management has no contractual obligation to use them to provide assistance to a non-ODL carrier working overtime on their assignment because of the need to pay penalty overtime.

I feel that it is time for the parties to negotiate penalty overtime out of the National Agreement. Instead of penalty overtime the NALC and the USPS should negotiate a ratio of PTF positions to regular routes. There could be, as an example, one PTF for every six routes in an office. At this 6:1 ratio there would be carriers to provide auxilliary assistance and to cover for leave replacement.

The removal of the penalty overtime provisions would also result in ODL carriers working available overtime in more situations than currently apply. The only limitations on ODL carrier overtime should be ten or twelve hours in a day (depending on the 10 or 12 hour list) and sixty hours in a week. With the addition of a negotiated PTF staffing requirement and the lifting of restrictions on ODL assignments, non-ODL carriers would be afforded more protection from working unwanted overtime.

Article 8.5.C.2.d, JCAM 8-13, states that overtime worked on an employee's own route on an employee's regularly scheduled day is not counted as an opportunity for the purpose of administration of Overtime Desired List equitability. The June 8, 1988, M-00833, Joint Statement on Overtime states that: "Nor is a carrier on the regular OTDL ever entitled to any specific overtime, even if it occurs on his/her own route."

In order to facilitate overtime hours and opportunities for ODL carriers many offices have these carriers exchange concurrent overtime with one another so that the hours and opportunities can be used when determining equitability. In this era of $4+ gas, this is crazy. True equitability would be the inclusion of any and all overtime hours and opportunities worked by ODL carriers.

Overtime should go to those carriers who have signed the overtime list indicating their desire to work overtime. This is not attainable as long as we have penalty overtime that permits management to force non-ODL carriers to work overtime even when an ODL carrier is "available" to do the work.


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