Although confusion still reigns in many areas, we are finally seeing some of the uniform allowance issues being settled. Under the new NALC – USPS contract that was announced in January of this year, the city carriers are supposed to get an increase to their postal uniform allowance and the newly created City Carrier Assistants (CCA) “craft” are supposed to get matching allowances. But, up until a couple of weeks ago, it seems like everything was on “hold” or at best moving slowly. We are now seeing some real progress on both fronts. Before getting to the good news, I would like to recap what was negotiated in the new contract.
As in previous years, the letter carriers are to get uniform allowance increases starting with those who have had an anniversary since November 21, 2012 (last year). All carriers are to now receive $390 annually to purchase postal uniforms (with another raise coming in November 2013), and anyone who has already spent their $371 with an anniversary of 11/21/12 is to have had another $19 added to their accounts. We started to see the additional $19 being tacked on in early May, but to only a small percentage of carriers. We don’t know how the USPS transfers the records to Citibank, but there seemed to be no rhyme or reason about who was getting it and who was not. But as the month progressed, we started to see everyone who was entitled to these additional funds finally receiving them. So if you have already spent your $371 uniform clothing allowance for the year and your anniversary date is on or after November 21, 2012, you should have another $19 to spend. You can check by calling Citibank at 1-800-287-5003. If you don’t hear that the money is posted, ask a Citibank customer service representative if they know why. If you are not satisfied with their answer, we suggest contacting USPS Human Resources. If you are unable to get an answer from that department, I would think that your next option is to speak to your union representative. Although it is “only” $19, it is one of your negotiated benefits, the same as your days off, health and retirement benefits, and your salary.
If you have a new anniversary coming up, you will now have $390 to spend. At first, Citibank will say that you only have $371 to spend, but as in years past, it typically takes Citibank/USPS about two weeks to update that information and post the additional $19 you should have to spend. Most postal uniform vendors will fill in the order for $390, and after getting the immediately available $371, will go back and ring in the remaining $19 when Citibank posts it. Let us know if you have any questions about this as we have quite a bit of experience and information dealing with the “ins and outs” of Citibank and the uniform allowance.
We are also seeing some movement on the uniform allowance for the CCA’s. Unlike the TE’s, who were only given a uniform allowance on the discretion of their managers, or contract carriers who may have had a tee shirt or USPS cap, the Board of Arbitration felt so strongly about the USPS having it’s employees in uniform that they stipulated in the contract for the new classification of non-career employees, the CCA’s, to receive an allowance equal to the career city letter carriers. Under this contract, “the CCA will be provided with an annual uniform allowance equal to the amount provided to career employees” (page 17). “When the CCA has completed 90 work days, or has been employed for 120 calendar days, whichever comes first”, the allowance will be provided. Additionally, “time served as a Transitional Employee will count toward the 90/120 day requirement” (page 17). In other words, CCA’s are to receive $390 for 2012-2013, with postal uniform allowance raises that match the career employee’s raises in succeeding years. If, after their first year of working for the USPS, the CCA is not rehired for a second year appointment, these employees are supposed to return their uniforms to the USPS for disposal. The process of how to get the allotment to the CCA’s has been negotiated between the NALC and the USPS (M-01819) on May 22. From that MOU: “When a CCA becomes eligible for a uniform allowance, funds must be approved through an eBuy submission by local management. After approval, a Letter of Authorization form must be completed and provided to the employee within 14 days of the eligibility date. The CCA takes the completed form to a USPS authorized vendor to purchase uniform items. The Letter of Authorization can be located on the Uniform Program website on the Blue Page under Labor Relations.” “The licensed vendor creates an itemized invoice of the sale, provides a copy of the invoice to the CCA, and sends the original invoice for payment to the local manager identified on the Letter of Authorization. Upon receipt, the local manager certifies the invoice and pays the vendor using the office Smartpay card.” Although this sounds clear and definitive, and a letter was sent to all Area Human Resources Managers (dated May 22), we are hearing all kinds of different stories as it seems that a lot of postmasters and managers are still not aware of the contract agreement or of this memo. We have heard of some managers telling their CCA’s that they will get a quarterly allowance of $74.50 (as under the TE uniform program); others have been told that it is up to the manager’s discretion whether they will get an allowance; and still others have heard that there will be no uniform allowance for the CCA’s. Although we are seeing some orders coming in with the official Letter of Authorization, it seems in some areas of the country the management either is not aware or is not finding the time to give their CCA’s their letter which allows them to purchase their uniforms. If you are a CCA and you now qualify for your Letter (completed 90 work days, or have been employed for 120 calendar days, whichever comes first), and your manager will not give it to you, perhaps you should speak to your union representative. We have heard that in one major city the NALC told the postmaster that they will file a grievance for every CCA in that area unless the letters were issued immediately. Within days, we are told, every CCA had their Letter.
Remember, the uniform allowance is a negotiated benefit. Think of it as part of your pay package. Would you let your employer short you $390 on your paycheck? Of course not, and neither should they deny you the uniform allowance.
As the situation is changing daily, feel free to call us at Postal Uniform Discounters(1-800-733-1243) or check out our website at www.postaluniformdiscounters.com for the latest updates. We will do our best to update you with current information.
Michele the Uniform Girl