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SHOPSTEWARD’SGUIDENational Association of Letter CarriersNALCTo NALC shop stewardsFirst, let me congratulate you and thank you for taking on the job ofan NALC shop steward. It is truly a worthy cause and a very importantposition in our union. There is no greater calling and no greater responsibilityin our union than that of NALC shop steward. It requires courage, study,intelligence, and hard work. It also takes a lot of heart.When you become an NALC shop steward you become responsible to the men andwomen you represent.They count on you to enforce their rights on the job. As a union official at the branchlevel, youalso become responsible to the NALC.

The shop steward’s job is difficult and demanding. That’s why we have created NALCShop Steward’sGuide. It discusses many of the roles you will play as a shop steward, especially yourrole in enforcingthe collective bargaining agreement.When the contract is violated, an NALC shop steward must research the facts and thecontract beforeconstructing an effective grievance. Then he or she needs to articulate the correctarguments at thevery earliest steps of the grievance procedure. To do these jobs well a shop stewardrequires deeperand more detailed information than either the National Agreement or the Joint ContractAdministrationManual (JCAM) provide.NALC created this guide to help union representatives find that in-depth information andput it to workdefending our contract. It explains the key principles, contract language, nationalsettlements and arbitrationdecisions that one must know to effectively represent letter carriers and the NALC.We trust you will find this booklet a helpful and informative guide to your job as asteward.Sincerely and fraternally,Fredric V. RolandoPresident, National Association of Letter Carriers 2014 National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIOUsing the NALC Shop Steward’s Guide 1I. Roles of a Steward 2Representative 3Leader 3Organizer 3Educator 4Legislative and Political Activist 5II. Collective Bargaining and the Steward 8The National Agreement 8The Joint Contract Administration Manual (JCAM) 8The Materials Reference System (MRS) 9Contract Administration 10Steward Certification 10Acting Stewards 12Alternate Stewards 14Chief Stewards 15Superseniority 16Steward’s Rights 17Steward Time “On the Clock” 18III. The Grievance-Arbitration Procedure—Introduction 21What is a Grievance? 21Broad Grievance Clause 21

Introduction to Grievance Processing 22Types of Grievances 22The Timeline and Steps of a Grievance 23IV. Grievance Handling – Informal Step A 26Time Limits 26Continuing Violations 27Investigation 28Is it a Grievance? – How to Decide 30Preparing for the Informal Step A Meeting 30USPS/NALC Joint Step A Grievance Form (PS Form 8190) 32General Bargaining Tips and Advice 34The Informal Step A Meeting 35Can Letter Carriers Represent Themselves? 37Time Limit Extensions 37Management Fails to Meet 38After the Informal Step A Meeting 39Appeal to Formal Step A 39Paperwork, Evidence, and File Order 41Additional Resources 42NALC Shop Steward’s GuideTable of ContentsV. Grievance Handling – Formal Step A 44Time Limits 45Is it a Grievance? – How to Decide 46Preparing for the Formal Step A Meeting 46Formal Step A Meeting Tips 49The Formal Step A Meeting 49USPS/NALC Joint Step A Grievance Form (PS Form 8190) 51Time Limit Extensions 55Management Fails to Meet 56After the Formal Step A Meeting 56Additions and Corrections 57Appeal to Step B 59VI. Step B – Dispute Resolution Teams 61After Step B 64VII. Arbitration 66Overview of the Arbitration Process 66Witness Testimony 68Steward Testimony 68VIII. Special Topics 70Special Exceptions – Safety and Health 70Special Exceptions – Discrimination 74Special Exceptions – MSPB Appeal Rights 75Time Limits 78Information Requests 82

Investigatory Interviews 89Tips for Writing Statements 98Remedies 101IX. Sample Forms for Stewards 107Request for Information 107Request for Information – Discipline 107Request for Steward Time 107Time Limits Extension Form 108Informal Step A Resolution Form 108Index 114Using the NALC Shop Steward’s GuideThis guide can be printed in whole or in part. It has also been published in PDF formaton a DVD and theNALC website for electronic use. The electronic version contains embedded hyperlinksto assist withnavigating around the document and provides easy access to arbitration awards,national level settlements,and other NALC publications. Simply click on any link to go to the desired section ordocument.This guide also contains both a table of contents and an index. To find material andnavigate aroundthe document, it is usually easiest to start with the table of contents. The index is foundat the end ofthis publication.The green links will take you to various sections of the NALC Shop Steward’s Guide aswell as thefollowing sections of the Special Topics chapter: Safety and Health, Discrimination,MSPB AppealRights, Time Limits, Investigatory Interviews, Information Requests, Tips for WritingStatements, andRemedies. The Special Topics chapter is where specific subjects are covered more indepth, sowhen you get to a highlighted section, check it out!The blue links will take you to an external website link or an external document in PDFformat such as an arbitrationaward, national-level settlement, or an NALC publication, for example: NALC website orM-01476.Excerpts from the National Agreement are indented and indicated by text boxes.Excerpts from the Joint Contract Administration Manual (JCAM) are indented andindicated by blue shading.Using the Adobe Acrobat ReaderThis publication and all the linked documents are in PDF format. PDFs are normallyviewed withAdobe Acrobat Reader. Using Adobe Acrobat Reader tools, you can search theindividual documents.

The Adobe tools will also assist you as you navigate through this guide and thedocumentslinked throughout. You can also copy and paste text for use in a word processingdocument.Users should modify the Adobe tools found at the top of the screen in Adobe AcrobatReader to improvenavigation. All of the page navigation tools can be very helpful, but it is especiallyimportant tohave the “previous view” command. This will allow you to return to each place in thisguide that youhave previously been.To add the toolbar commands in Adobe Reader XI, go to the “View” menu at the top ofAdobe Reader.Select “Show/Hide,” then “Toolbar Items,” then “Page Navigation” and select the toolbarcommandsthat you desire. For additional help using PDF documents or if these instructions do notwork on yourversion of Adobe Acrobat Reader, consult the Adobe Reader's help files.Another option to utilize the “previous view” command can be performed from yourkeyboard by holdingdown the “Alt” key and selecting the back (left) arrow.Note to ReadersThis new publication is based on many previous NALC publications. It summarizesyears of experienceby NALC officers, national business agents, staff, arbitration advocates, and grievancehandlers.We expect it to continue to grow and improve. You can help improve future editions bybringing anysuggestions you have to the attention of your national business agent’s office. Wewould especiallywelcome your suggestions for additional subjects to cover or sections that can beimproved or clarified.1I. Roles of a StewardNALC shop stewards represent and defend the interests of letter carriers. Stewards areNALC memberselected or appointed to represent a group of letter carriers. These union activists givetheir timeand effort to help letter carriers in many ways.An effective steward protects the integrity of the collective bargaining agreementthrough contract enforcementand by educating members of their rights and benefits under the National Agreement.There will be times when you are going to have to make decisions that some portion ofthe membership

may not like or agree with, but understand that when you protect the integrity of thecontract youare protecting the membership as a whole. What is perceived as wrong to one membertoday mayactually be perceived as a benefit to them tomorrow. We as stewards cannot pick andchoose whento file or not to file a grievance for a violation of the National Agreement. All violationsmust begrieved to uphold the sanctity of our National Agreement. Just follow the contract andyou’ll be betterable to explain your decision to those members who disagree with you. It is important torealize thatas a steward you have the ability to undo a wrong or unjust action in the workplacecommitted againsta letter carrier. This is a benefit that very few jobs have!The steward is the key to a strong union. Here are three major reasons why:1. The steward is visible evidence of the union where it counts—on the job, day-in andday-out. Thesteward is always there, working side-by-side with letter carriers in each office. Lettercarriers naturallyjudge the union by what they can see. So just make sure that when you make decisionsyou doso with the best interests of the group in mind.2. The steward is the first, and thus the most important, "enforcer" of the NationalAgreement. Withouta steward to police the contract at the workplace, a collective bargaining agreement’strue value isdiminished. By making the Postal Service follow the terms and conditions of theNational Agreement,the steward can demonstrate how our contract is a powerful mechanism to protect lettercarriers'rights and benefits.3. The steward is a certified union official. The steward builds unity among themembership by enforcingthe contract, educating the membership, and promoting union activism. The stewardcarries outNALC policies and builds support for NALC’s national goals.Stewards unite the members together as a whole through their commitment toprotecting the rightsand improving the lives of the men and women they represent. The steward does a lotmore than justhandle grievances. An effective NALC steward wears many different hats. The stewardplays the followingmajor roles:1. Representative2. Leader

3. Organizer4. Educator5. Legislative and Political ActivistEach of these major roles is discussed in detail on the next several pages.Chapter I. Roles of a Steward2Chapter I. Roles of a Steward3RepresentativeFirst and foremost, an NALC steward acts in an official capacity to represent lettercarriers. Article 17of the National Agreement and the National Labor Relations Act grant stewards the rightto representletter carriers on the job.According to Article 17, Section 1 of the National Agreement, stewards are designated“for the purposeof investigating, presenting and adjusting grievances.” Grievances generally will involvedisputesor complaints between the parties involving wages, hours, or working conditions. Whilethisguide discusses several additional roles played by the steward, grievance handling isthe core of thesteward’s job. Chapter III of this guide is devoted to the subject of processinggrievances. The grievanceprocedure is also known as the Dispute Resolution Process or the DRP. All these termsare interchangeableand mean the same thing.Stewards do not receive higher wages for the work they do, but there is a great value tothe contractualright to challenge decisions and actions that harm letter carriers through the grievanceprocedure.There is an even greater reward for righting wrongs and achieving justice for lettercarriers.LeaderSuccessful leaders set a good example. This begins with following work rules andperforming yourjob as a letter carrier in a professional manner. An effective leader always tries tomaintain a positiveattitude and looks out for the group before themselves. Your participation in NALCinitiatives andfunctions will also speak volumes to the members you serve and will encourage theirinvolvement inthe union.A leader gets things done with support from the people that he or she represents. TheNALC is a voluntary,

democratic organization that thrives on the support of its members. That support willenableyou to make decisions that affect both individual letter carriers and the group as awhole.A fair, even-handed leader will get the support and cooperation of fellow workers. Youshould listen tothe members you represent and take their views into account. When you make adecision, explainyour reasons to them. Good communication builds solidarity and trust.As a leader, you will be called upon to address a variety of issues, some of which maynot involve theunion-management relationship. The steward may also be a counselor, peacemaker,and friend.OrganizerThe steward plays an important role in organizing letter carriers by first signing them upas NALCmembers and then by building unity and support for union goals.While many new letter carriers sign up at orientation, some do not. Sometimes it isnecessary for theshop steward to seek them out and explain the importance of being a union member.The stewardshould always greet new letter carriers, give them advice and assistance on their newjob, and tellthem about the NALC.New letter carriers will need information about the NALC’s accomplishments, itsstructure, and itsmethods of operation. The Letter Carrier’s Guide (available free from the NALC SupplyDepartment)contains a basic introduction to the NALC and to the job of a letter carrier.4Stewards should work hard to organize all letter carriers who are non-members. Thebest way to organizenon-member letter carriers is through demonstrated union effectiveness.Your job is not finished when your unit is 100 percent organized. It has just begun. Youshould workto motivate members to attend and participate in NALC branch meetings, learn moreabout NALCprograms and goals, and volunteer their time for union activities.The steward works continuously to build support for the union and solidarity among themembers.There is strength in presenting a united front to management.EducatorStewards are in the best position to educate the members they represent. NALCmembers will benefitfrom information that only an NALC representative can provide. The steward is usuallythe only

NALC representative that rank-and-file letter carriers see and interact with on a dailybasis.As a steward you can learn how to protect letter carriers’ rights, build upon yourknowledge of theunion, and provide education about the National Agreement. This information can begrouped intothree major topics: the union, members’ rights, and NALC benefits for members.The Union: The steward should educate members on the basic history of the postallabor movementand the National Association of Letter Carriers. A detailed history of the NALC can befound inthe publication Carriers in a Common Cause. This and other publications are availablefrom theNALC Supply Department.Members and potential members should also understand how the NALC operates. Allletter carriersshould know about our role as the exclusive collective bargaining agent for lettercarriers, our membershipservices, and our link with the wider labor movement through our AFL-CIO affiliation.Encouragethem to read the NALC Bulletin, The Postal Record, and the NALC website to keepupdated onnational issues affecting letter carrier jobs and the Postal Service.To promote interest in branch affairs, inform members about upcoming branch meetingsand aboutwhat they missed at branch meetings they did not attend. Stewards should encourageactive participationin local union affairs and should teach members about branch by-laws and the NALCConstitution.Many branches have newsletters to help with your efforts to keep members informed,but aone-on-one conversation is the best way to communicate and get members involved.Members’ Rights: The steward should teach letter carriers about their rights under thecontract andthe law. While the steward is the person responsible for representing letter carriers,each NALCmember should know the basics of their wages, benefits, and working conditions as wellas their collectivelegal and contractual rights and protections.The steward will need a great deal of self-education to be able to teach members allthese subjects.Effective stewards continuously strive to learn more, improve their skills, and pass theirknowledge onto the members.NALC Benefits for Members: The steward should educate letter carriers about theNALC Health

Benefit Plan and the United States Letter Carriers Mutual Benefit Association. Both ofthese organizationsoffer great benefits and are owned and operated by the NALC for the benefit of ourmembers.Chapter I. Roles of a StewardThe NALC Health Benefit Plan (HBP) is always among the top-ranked health insuranceplans availableto federal employees. The NALC Health Benefit Plan is geared toward providing thebest coverageat the lowest possible rates. During “Open Season,” the steward should assist thebranch healthbenefits representative by discussing the benefits of the NALC HBP.The United States Letter Carriers Mutual Benefit Association (MBA) offers basic lifeinsurance, retirement,and accident plans designed to give NALC members and their families the best possibleprotectionfor the lowest cost. Every letter carrier who is a member of the NALC receives a 5,000.00accidental death policy. There is no initial cost or premium to pay. It is just one of themany benefitsNALC members enjoy.Legislative and Political ActivistThe steward also plays a vital role in the NALC’s legislative and political efforts. Lettercarriers should beactive participants in legislative matters for the NALC to fight attempts by somepoliticians in Congress torob letter carriers of existing rights and benefits by changing current law or passing newlegislation.Laws passed in Congress can have a major impact on the working lives of letter carriersas well asthe service we provide to our customers. The impact may be positive or negativedepending on thenature of the law being changed or created.Some examples where federal laws have created rights, rules, and benefits that affectthe workinglives of letter carriers are: Our right to collectively bargain with the Postal Service over wages, hours, andworking conditions.This includes our right to have a grievance procedure. The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) rules. The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) rules. The Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) rules for injured letter carriers. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).There are other examples of laws that affect the working lives of letter carriers, but youget the idea ofwhy legislation is important.

Federal law can impact the service we provide to our customers. Issues such as howmany days aweek our customers receive mail, their right to receive delivery to their door, and thecost of postageare all governed at the federal level.As postal workers we are federal employees. However, the United States PostalService (USPS) receivesno tax dollars for day-to-day operations. It relies on income from stamps and otherpostal feesto keep running.Legislative awareness and participation is extremely important to us as letter carriers,because manyon Capitol Hill are constantly attacking our wages, benefits, and the level of service weprovide to ourcustomers. These are all issues worth fighting for. Federal employees have increasinglybecome atarget for many politicians and it is vital to our success that stewards understand what isat stake inthe halls of Congress and participate in this fight.The Hatch Act: With increased involvement by letter carriers in the political process,it is more importantthan ever to review the rules and regulations by which letter carriers can participate inelections.Specifically, carriers need to be aware of the Hatch Act, which governs specific activitiesby5Chapter I. Roles of a Stewardfederal employees, and the Federal Election Campaign Act, which regulates monetaryand other contributions(e.g., in-kind, volunteering, etc.) in the campaign process.Hatch Act Do’s and Don'tsHere are the primary guidelines that active letter carriers need to follow when working orvolunteeringon political campaigns.Do’s: Active letter carriers may on their own time, away from work, out of uniform, andwithout usinga postal vehicle— Be candidates for public office in nonpartisan elections (that is, elections in which noneof thecandidates to be nominated or elected are representing a political party) Register to vote and vote Sign and circulate candidate nominating petitions and ballot initiative positions Assist in voter registration drives Speak and write publicly and otherwise express opinions about candidates, ballotmeasures,and issues Attend political rallies, meetings, and other events

Attend fund-raisers and contribute money to political organizations and campaigns Volunteer for political campaigns and encourage others to volunteer Participate in phone-banking and precinct-walking for candidates and ballot measures Display bumper stickers, lawn signs, and other campaign paraphernalia Raise money for COLCPE from other NALC members [Note: letter carriers should notsolicitcontributions to COLCPE while detailed to 204b or other higher level assignments frompostal employees who may be viewed as their subordinates] Volunteer, run for, and hold an office in a local or state political party or clubDon’ts: Active letter carriers may not, while on the clock, at the workplace, in a postaluniform, or in apostal vehicle— Engage in any of the otherwise permissible political activities listed above; forexample: Send or forward a partisan political email Wear or display any political or campaign material, even as a computer screen-saver Circulate partisan political materials to co-workers Sign up electronically to contribute to COLCPE or solicit other letter carriers tocontributeDon’ts: Active letter carriers may not, even on their own time, away from work, out ofuniform, andwithout using a postal vehicle— Use their official titles or positions when engaging in otherwise permissible activities Raise money for partisan political groups or campaigns (except COLCPE), includingphonebanking,letter-writing, selling tickets, hosting a fund raiser, inviting people to attend a fundraiser, or allowing your name to be used in a fundraising appeal Otherwise solicit, receive, or handle contributions for a partisan political group orcampaign Run for elective office in partisan (party-label) elections (even if you report "No PartyAffiliation") Raise money for COLCPE from non-NALC members (except for their immediatefamilies inthe same household)Bottom line: Be off the clock, out of uniform (and government vehicles) and away fromthe workplacewhenever you engage in any partisan political activity, and make sure that activity is in apermissiblecategory.6Chapter I. Roles of a Steward7If you have any questions about permissible political activity as a letter carrier or if youwould like toknow more about the history of the Hatch Act, visit the NALC Legislation and PoliticalAction page onthe NALC website.

Stewards should promote participation in the NALC’s e-Activist network, COLCPE(Committee onLetter Carrier Political Education), and other NALC legislative and political efforts.Stewards shouldalso encourage members to stay informed by regularly checking for updates on theNALC website.Note: COLCPE is the NALC’s political action fund that helps pro-labor, pro-letter carriercandidatesfor Congress get their message out so they can go to Washington to support andprotect our jobs sowe can serve the public.Chapter I. Roles of a Steward8II. Collective Bargaining and the StewardOne of the NALC’s primary jobs is collective bargaining. The union attempts tonegotiate a NationalAgreement that improves the wages, benefits, and working conditions of letter carriers.Then theNALC enforces the contract by “policing” it. In policing the contract, the NALC ensuresthat the PostalService honors the terms of the agreement. The steward serves as the NALC’s frontline enforcer ofthe National Agreement. After the National Agreement is finalized, the NALC and USPSmanagementwork collectively to develop and agree upon interpretations of the National Agreement.These interpretationsare contained in the Joint Contract Administration Manual (JCAM). The NationalAgreementand the JCAM, along with the Materials Reference System (MRS), are explained indetail below.Each of these documents and resources has been obtained through collectivebargaining and are ofgreat importance to NALC stewards.The National AgreementThe collective bargaining process begins with national negotiations. Union andmanagement representativesat the national level meet, negotiate, and attempt to hammer out an agreement onwages,hours, and working conditions for all letter carriers.If a negotiated agreement is reached by the parties and ratified by NALC membership, itbecomes theNational Agreement between the NALC and the USPS and will be enforceable throughthe collective bargainingagreement. The length of each contract is negotiated and may vary from contract tocontract.

If no agreement can be reached through negotiations, the parties must first go through amediationprocess. If an agreement still can’t be reached, the terms of the National Agreement areset througha final and binding interest arbitration process. Interest arbitration involves the NALCand the USPSsubmitting evidence, testimony, and argument on the terms of our contract. The goal foreach side isto have their positions adopted into the contract by the arbitrator. The decision of thearbitrator on theNational Agreement is final and binding. While we attempt to bargain each contract ingood faith, it isa great benefit to have interest arbitration in the event no agreement is reached.Since 1970, when collective bargaining began for letter carriers, the NALC hasnegotiated 13 NationalAgreements. Seven have been settled through the negotiation and ratification processand six havebeen set by final and binding interest arbitration. Regardless of which way the NALCachieves ourNational Agreement, its terms are enforceable through the grievance procedure.The National Agreement is made up of 43 articles addressing specific issues such assalary, benefits,hours of work, employee classifications, discipline, and working conditions. The contractis printedand made available by the NALC to its members and by the Postal Service to itsmanagers. EveryNALC steward should have a copy of the agreement and be familiar with its contents.The NationalAgreement is the starting point for determining any contract violation. Copies of theNational Agreementcan be obtained through the NALC Supply Department and it is also available in PDFformat onthe NALC website.The Joint Contract Administration Manual (JCAM)The best way to become familiar with the meaning of provisions in the NationalAgreement is to reviewthe Joint Contract Administration Manual (JCAM). The JCAM is a publication jointlywritten byNALC and USPS representatives at the national level. The JCAM provides the parties’jointly agreedupon explanation of most provisions contained in the National Agreement.Chapter II. Collective Bargaining and the StewardThe JCAM contains the authoritative, agreed-upon interpretations of the NationalAgreement. TheNational Association of Letter Carriers and the United States Postal Service haveagreed at the national

level that this is the definitive interpretation of the contract. In the JCAM, you will see theactualNational Agreement language and below that language you will see the explanation, oragreed uponinterpretation, for that particular provision. Also incorporated into the JCAM arenumerous nationallevel arbitration decisions and memorandums of understanding which further explainand interpret theprovisions of our National Agreement.Postal managers and NALC representatives at all levels are required to follow theJCAM's interpretationsof the contract. The JCAM should be used by the local stewards and managers to helpresolvedisputes. In fact, when a dispute arises, you should go to the JCAM first to see if theissue in disputeis addressed. If the issue is addressed in the JCAM, then any dispute should beresolved in accordancewith that guidance. You are encouraged to use the JCAM to ensure local contractcomplianceand to foster more professional working relationships.Copies of the JCAM can be obtained through the NALC Supply Department and it isavailable in PDFformat on the NALC website. Additionally, a copy of the current JCAM can be found inevery post officewhere city letter carriers are employed. The cost of printing a JCAM for each office wassplit betweenNALC and USPS, so you have just as much of a right to use the JCAM in your office asyoursupervisor or manager does. If there is no copy of the JCAM in your office, consult yourbranch officersor branch president for guidance.The Materials Reference System (MRS)An NALC shop steward must research the facts and the contract before constructing aneffectivegrievance. Then he or she needs to articulate the correct arguments at the very earlieststeps of thegrievance procedure. To do these jobs well, a shop steward requires deeper and moredetailed informationthan either the National Agreement or the Joint Contract Administration Manual (JCAM)provide.The Materials Reference System or MRS is one of our most effective tools for makingtherequired information easily available to union activists at all levels.The MRS is a collection of contract administration materials assembled by NALCHeadquarters’ Contract

Administration Unit. The MRS is a searchable listing of various topics that generallyarise andgenerally become the subjects of the grievance procedure. The MRS containssummaries and, insome cases, the full text of many important national-level materials, includingsettlements of Step 4grievances, national-level pre-arbitration settlements, memorandums, USPS policystatements, NALCpublications, and more. The MRS also contains cross-references to significant

The Materials Reference System (MRS) 9 Contract Administration 10 Steward Certification 10 Acting Stewards 12 Alternate Stewards 14 Chief Stewards 15 Superseniority 16 Steward’s Rights 17 Steward Time “On the Clock” 18 III. The Grievance-Arbitration Procedure—Introduc