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September 21, 2023

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MS-47 Custodial Work and Staffing
Updated On: Feb 12, 2010


This consolidates a few previously posted articles.  This space will now address custodial work performance and staffing issues as it seems necessary to make note of issues that arise.  We are seeing renewed efforts by the Postal Service to find ways to reduce the custodial work force -- understandably, because the Service has been engaged in across-the-board efforts to reduce work force.  However, custodial maintenance staffing will continue to be controlled by proper application of the MS-47 Handbook.  And it remains imperative that local members, stewards and officers become familiar with the terms of the MS-47 in order to ensure that the Service complies with its requirements.  Here is the MS-47 Handbook.

It is also worth noting that the MS-47 standards for cleaning a postal facility apply to any postal facility where the Postal Service has responsibility for custodial service -- whether by use of its own employees or by contracting for cleaning services.  Every Postal Service employee is entitled to have his or her work place properly cleaned and maintained in a safe and healthful manner.  Enforcement of the terms of the MS-47 is the Union's means of ensuring that this requirement is met.

National Dispute over the MS-47 -- January 2008
After many years of well-established understanding about the scheduling of custodial maintenance work and the staffing of custodial maintenance positions, the Postal Service tried to completely change both.  In December 2001, it issued a complete revision to the Handbook MS-47, which had been in place since 1983 as the result of negotations.  The APWU challenged this revision and succeeded in arbitration in 2006 to convince
Arbitrator Shyam Das to rescind the '2001 revision' to the MS-47.  Subsequent to the arbitrator's award, the Union and the Service met to negotiate monetary remedy for the period while the '2001 revision' was in use.  Here is the January 29, 2008, settlement.  With the exception of certain, specific monetary remedy for part-time regular custodial employees, this settlement brought to a close our much protracted dispute with the Postal Service over the attempt to replace the MS-47 Handbook.  By this settlement, the Das award is finally implemented -- except, of course, for our compliance enforcement.


PTR Employee MS-47 Settlement -- February 2009
On February 17, 2009, the parties in Washington DC signed off on a
settlement of the remaining PTR issue for the allocation of money from the $1.75 million set aside that was designated in the January 29, 2008, remedy settlement of our MS-47 dispute as a separate remedy for PTR's.

Our Part-Time Regular custodial employees were the only Maintenance Craft employees in the country who suffered an immediate and direct impact from the Service's '2001 revision' of the MS-47 Handbook. One of the worst cases was a 20-hour per week Custodial Laborer whose work hours were reduced to just 2 hours per pay period. He was scheduled to report to work every other Saturday for just 2 hours of work! This employee and many others hung in there, awaiting this long struggle's conclusion. Each affected employee will receive a check reflecting the lost work hours from the time of reduction (late 2002, for most) until January 29, 2008. This will not pay these employees for everything lost -- it is based solely on work hours at a regular hourly rate -- however, for many it is substantial.


Enforcing the MS-47 Settlement -- July 2008
attached letter was sent to all Locals and States in my area in March 2008. We are having, as one might have expected, problems with the Postal Service in compliance with the January 29, 2008, MS-47 remedy settlement. But we also have problems with possible lax enforcement. We simply cannot allow the success we had in this fight to be diminished. As always, we must diligently enforce our rights under the contract.

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