When I assumed office in 1981 after addressing USPS compliance with the full to part time complement, I turned my attention to the use of casuals. The contractual limit of 5% was continued, but postal management routinely hired casuals in excess of the contractual limits. Locals were powerless to enforce the restrictions and technically the contract did not prohibit the staffing of an entire installation with casuals, if the 5% limit was not exceeded nationwide. I was later successful in limiting the use of casuals per Installation and District but in 1981 the restrictions applied nationwide.
Again Larry Hutchins, Vice President NALC joined forces to enforce the contractual provisions and limit the use of casuals. The union did not have independent confirmation on the number of casuals so we requested a computer analysis of each casual, the office to which assigned and date hired. After analysis of the requested information, we were able to confirm our suspicions that the number of casuals far exceeded the contractual limitation. Postal management raised technical objections to our conclusions alleging that casuals hired and terminated during the measuring period should not count towards the contractual limitations. We were forced to appeal the dispute to arbitration where the arbitrator ruled in favor of the unions and referred the remedy for further negotiations.
Resolution of a remedy was achieved and thousands of employees were provided payment for the assignment of work to improperly hired casual employees. Perhaps even more important was the system that was agreed to for future hiring of casuals. Prior to the union challenge, each office was free to employ casuals without respect to the number hired in other offices so there was no internal control over compliance with the 5% limitation. As a gesture to resolve the dispute postal management offered in arbitration to implement headquarters’ control to monitor the hiring of casuals. This voluntary means of control was incorporated into the arbitration award and the union achieved a means of monitoring the use of casuals to ensure that the contractual limits were not exceeded.
For every casual who was not hired, the work still had to be performed so it was necessary to hire an employee for each with career status with the opportunity for a long and successful work experience. In future negotiations, the union would revisit the use of casuals – further restricting their use, but in 1981 we succeeded in placing controls on the hiring of casuals within the contractual limitations.