OPT OR HIGHER LEVEL? Carrier Tech Position

This article is submitted by Denny Belden of PEN’s The Belden Factor. Denny is now retired from USPS.

July 23, 2015

The Belden Factor

Hello Brothers and Sisters!  I haven’t submitted an article in a while so I thought I’d submit some information for the Carrier Tech position.

When a vacant Carrier Tech. position becomes vacant, does it become an opt or is it assigned to the senior volunteer?

Opting, Hold down, and Mini-bids are all terms used to describe a vacant position that unassigned regulars and CCAs may bid on, with the senior carrier being awarded the opt. These opting provisions can be found in Article 41 of the National Agreement (NA).

Now, when a vacant Carrier Tech. (T-6) position becomes available does the position get filled by the opting provisions of Article 41, or does it become assigned to the senior carrier requesting the vacant position, under Article 25?

The vacant T-6 position is filled by Article 25 of the NA.  This language is clear at bottom of page 41.12 of the Joint Contract Administration Manual (JCAM).

Temporarily Vacant Carrier Technician Assignments. Temporarily vacant Carrier Technician assignments are not filled under the opting provisions of Article 41.2.B.3 & 41.2.B.4. Rather, they are higher level assignments filled under the provisions of Article 25 (Step 4, H8N-3P-C 25550, May 6, 1981, M-00276).

If you do not have a copy of the National Agreement, or the JCAM (which is the National Agreement with agreed to language by the Union and Mgmt.), they can both be found at the National website, NALC.org.   Also, the referenced Step 4 decision (the M – #) is found under the Materials Reference System at the website.  You can input the M# and read the Step 4 decision for yourself.

One item that must be filled out when a carrier is assigned to a higher level is the PS Form 1723.  This is a written order stating the starting and end date of the detail.  A copy of this form must be given to the Union Representative, usually the Shop Steward, PRIOR to the start of the detail.  This of course is subject to the Steward being available.

If a higher level detail, such as a 204B, is suddenly needed to fill the floor supervisor’s job, the PS 1723 should be given to the Steward as soon as practicable.  The Steward would then forward that form to the Union Hall so the officers can be aware where and when carriers are taken off the floor.

Here is something most carriers DO NOT know.  Article 25 allows part-time and FULL-TIME regular carriers to volunteer for the T-6 position.  So any regular carrier that has his own route, or an unassigned regular, may volunteer his name to the vacant T-6 position.  If he is the senior, qualified, and available employee, they will be selected to fill the vacant T-6 position.  This is only applicable within the same station.  This is not an installation wide assignment, just within your own station.

Why is this important for a regular carrier to be able to bid to a T-6 position?  A regular carrier may want to try the T-6 swing to see if he wants to bid the swing…he may just want a change of scenery for a while…or just different lunch spots!

This information is found on page 25-1 in the JCAM.

25.4 Section 4. Higher Level Details

Detailing of employees to higher level bargaining unit work in each craft shall be from those eligible, qualified and available employees in each craft in the immediate work area in which the temporarily vacant higher level position exists. However, for details of an anticipated duration of one week (five working days within seven calendar days) or longer to those higher level craft positions enumerated in the craft Article of this Agreement as being permanently filled on the basis of promotion of the senior qualified employee, the senior, qualified, eligible, available employee in the immediate work area in which the temporarily vacant higher level position exists shall be selected. (Emphasis added)

So, it is clear that the position of a vacant T-6 may only be assigned under Article 25, and not by the opting provisions of Article 41.  Also, regular carriers, as well as CCAs may volunteer for a vacant T-6 position.  Of course, any regular’s route that is vacant while assigned to the vacant T-6 position, would be available for an opt while he is on detail.

Also, if a carrier is on an opt, and then goes on higher detail as a 204b, they will only hold onto the opt while it is posted for other carriers to opt, as long as there is at least 5 days or more left on the opt.  The 204b loses his opt once he goes to higher level.

The 204b cannot put in for an opt while detailed on higher level.  So he/she must go back to carrying mail prior to putting their name in for an opt.  CCAs should be aware of this and monitor the sign up list for opts in your station.

The Steward should know when the 204b will go back to carrying mail by the requirement for mgmt. to provide the PS 1723 to the Union.  This should have already been listed on the form received by the Steward at the beginning of the detail, or should be provided a PS 1723 immediately when the 204b comes down prior to the date on the already supplied form.

So, I hope some of this clears up some questions on opting and higher level details.  For more detailed information, please read Article 41 in the JCAM.  The explanations in the JCAM will help you understand the contractual language of the National Agreement and what management has already agreed to.

Remember:  Be Informed, Be Professional, Be Union!

Denny Belden
Retired-Fat & Happy

9 Responses to "OPT OR HIGHER LEVEL? Carrier Tech Position"

  1. egark   July 25, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Wow, a new article by Danny Belden! It’s almost like a new Harry Potter book! Good to see Danny is still checking things out even in retirement. His articles are must reading for all carriers. Thanks.

  2. Rick Owens   July 26, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Egark – Yep…just like you, Denny wrote some very valuable stuff for carriers. I feel certain he will forgive you for calling him Danny.

  3. kameleon_o   July 26, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Good article. One of the most oft asked questions I still get, not just from my members, is about “opting” on T-6 positions. Most carriers don’t seem to be able to get their head around the idea that opting and an Art 25 hold down are two separate things.

    Now, if he could just write an article about CCA’s being assigned to a T-6 position and what should happen in regards to that. Too many people think that just because CCA’s don’t have Art 25 rights that even when mgt assigns them to a vacant T-6 position they don’t get compensated at a different rate. I just found out a CCA in another office was assigned to a T-6 position for a year without getting her CCA level 02 pay.

  4. Karen Mamalakis   July 27, 2015 at 12:31 am

    thank you for the article. We have missed ur inputs. I have a great letter carrier who just became regular last year and she has a decent T-6 swing. She has been sick for the past 7 or 8 months and after much testing, she was diagnosed with Lupus….then after more testing they learned that she has a rare kidney disease. She has gained much weight and misses 1 or 2 days a week. Inflammation is a real issue for her. Of course, she has FMLA. My question is that when I began reading your article, I was hoping there would be some news FOR our carrier. We have had two recent GREAT routes that are down due to lengthy otj injury and the other cuz the carrier was ACCUSED of stealing. Both of these routes would be a relief for our carrier. Any news that you can pass along to somehow get her permission to bid on one of these routes although she is a permanent T-6?
    Thank you

  5. Laura   August 8, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    Thank you Denny Beldan for your wonderful articles…They have helped me save what little sanity I have left from this job…Our stewards favorite saying is…that’s a gray area..you fill that in with your wisdom and more inportantly the source of that wisdom..please continue writing these articles…

  6. Dre' Laney, Sr.   September 6, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    Great seeing another article from you. I was wondering if we will ever get this one from you any time soon. “Controlling the Grievance-Part 3- The Formal A”. I enjoyed the first two. I am now a Formal A rep for my branch and have been waiting for you to complete this one. Anyway enjoy your retirement Denny. And thanks for your hard work for all of our benefit!!!

  7. Sherilyn Daub   October 12, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Useful commentary – I Appreciate the points – Does someone know if my company could find a sample 2008 USPS PS 1723 form to complete ?

  8. Tracy   June 29, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    If on higher level t-6 string are you on it for the duration or can you opt on something else?

    Tracy – you need to post your question in our carrier forum. PEN

  9. Tina   March 7, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    All bidding has been put on hold while they are adjusting our routes in our office for close to a year now. I have been “holding down” a floating tour which I never bid on although I made sure I am getting the higher pay since nothing else was available to hold down. I never filled out any form to do so. Now another route is open and available to be held down and I would like to move to that hold down am I allowed to do so? Technically I am an unassigned regular.

    Tina – we cannot advise employees. You need to post your question in our carrier forum. PEN

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