HazMat Responder Required on Preload?... Can bump higher seniority?

Discussion in 'UPS Union Issues' started by bakagigee, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. bakagigee

    bakagigee Member

    I work at a small rural facility where we have a total of 7 people working the morning preload from 6-9:30am in the morning. Recently the lady who had been the hazmat responder decided to stop doing it. Management has asked the other pre-loaders if they would like to be trained, and up to this point everyone has said, "No."

    Today they said that anyone who agrees to be trained as a hazmat responder would automatically be scheduled ahead of people with higher seniority to work the morning sort because they need to have a HazMat responder on the sort?

    Is this true? I'm asking because if it is, and someone with lower seniority than me takes the HazMat position then it would likely bump me out of a regular position in the mornings.

    We have another person in the evenings who is a trained responder, and I thought all of the management were trained responders, so why can't they just have management pull a leaker off, and then either do it themselves, or call in someone else who is a trained responder to handle it, especially the person with low seniority?

    For various reasons being a HazMat responder is not an option for me, and it seems unfair that I would lose my spot in the schedule to a lower seniority person because I can not, or will not be a responder.

    Please let me know whether you think they can do this and why. And also give me any advice you can on how I should handle this issue. Thank you so much.

  2. UpstateNYUPSer

    UpstateNYUPSer Very proud grandfather.

    The preload definitely needs a trained hazmat responder and, yes, that person would be scheduled ahead of everyone else. Mgt are not allowed to touch packages. There should also be a back-up HZ responder for when the primary goes on vacation or is not at work---you may want to become the alternate HZ responder.
  3. bakagigee

    bakagigee Member

    Thank you Upstate NYUPSer for your reply.

    You say that Mgt can not touch packages. However, they regularly do so at our facility. For several months the lady who was our preload HazMat responder was on disibility. While she was gone they regularly put leakers into spill containers and then set them aside to either process themselves, or to call in the evening HazMat Responder to process them.

    So, my question is not so much whether it would be best to have a trained HazMat resopnder on the preload, but what specifically gives them the right to schedule that person above people with higher seniority. Is there a place in the contract that you can point me to that states that they are allowed to do this?

    It seems to me like it could work just as easily if there was no pre-load hazmat responder, and for the one time a month where we get a leaker, the supervisor or manager would just pull it off, just like they do at other times, and then either process it themselves or call the evening responder or the other trained responder to come in and do it.

    What gives them the right to schedule the pre-load responder if they are lower seniority if they don't know that they specifically have HazMat work for him/her to do in the morning. How come that person wouldn't just be on-call.
  4. brown_trousers

    brown_trousers Active Member

    Yep... Its a safety issue, that they are suppose to always have a hazmat responder available. In larger centers, the hazmat responding is its own job, and thats all those people do all shift long. But in the smaller centers, they dont need a dedicated responder, so they train a package handler to be a hazmat responder in addition to his/her normal job.

    Hazmat responding isn't a scheduled thing. They just have to have a trained responder on duty in case the unexpected happens. Like if a box were to break open and leak an unknown liquid everywhere. As long as packages are being handled, there is the possibility of needing a responder on duty. Its a safety thing and supercedes seniority rights in some ways.

    responders will also be the last ones to clock out on the shift, and in my case (when i was a responder), I was required to work some holiday shifts if there wasn't any other responders available to work it. just FYI if you're thinking about becoming a responder
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012
  5. bakagigee

    bakagigee Member

    Thank you for your reply Trousers,

    You mentioned...

    If that is the case, can anyone show me where it is documented that they "have to have a trained responder on duty" or where it is documented that that person supercedes seniority rights. It's not that I don't believe you, I tend to believe you're right, but I would like to know where that stuff is documented, instead of just taking someone's word for it...

    Because if you are right, then it causes me to ask all sorts of questions about the way things are currently being done. Right now, this week, we have no trained responder on duty unless you count management. Our trained responder is on vacation. So why would that be O.K.? And if that is O.K. then why wouldn't it be O.K. to do the same thing any other time? I.e. not have a trained responder on duty, but on-call instead?

    I think that since management is trained and available to do that job, and since as far as I know, when I was hired I was not required to be available to do that work, then it seems like a good case can be made that a lower-seniority person does not have the right to bump out a higher seniority person because of something that may or may not happen, especially when they have people available (management) that could handle it sufficiently if it did happen. Just as they've done many times in the past.

    I'm not trying to argue that I'm right, I'm just trying to put the logic out there as clearly as I can to show why I think I really need to see some sort of documentation that they can indeed do this.

    Are there any union stewards out there that could weigh in on this, or anyone who has actually had this happen in their facility or who have investigated this with a union rep?

    Thanks for the help everyone.
  6. UPSGUY72

    UPSGUY72 Well-Known Member

    Can you quote the article and section of the contract that says a lower seniority person can bump a higher seniority person if they are a hazmat responder.
  7. Integrity

    Integrity Binge Poster


    I would start with reading the Article 18 Section 21 of the Master.

  8. UPSGUY72

    UPSGUY72 Well-Known Member

    Where does it talk about a lower seniority person bumping a higher seniority person just because the lower seniority person is hazmat trained..
  9. UpstateNYUPSer

    UpstateNYUPSer Very proud grandfather.

    No, I can't, but I do know that each shift in which packages are either loaded or unloaded has to have a trained hazmat responder.
  10. iowa boy

    iowa boy Well-Known Member

    Don't quote me on this, but doesn't UPS have to have a responder on each shift per an OSHA requirement or something along those lines? I know from internal audits done by the company, our center has gotten dinged for not having a pm responder available at all times.
  11. UPSGUY72

    UPSGUY72 Well-Known Member

    I would bet that there is a SUP that is trained on each shift...

    The fact is that they can't bumped someone with lower seniority just because they are not hazmat trained. If it was required that everyone be hazmat trained that might be different but that isn't the case. You volunteer to be a hazmat responder it isn't a bit job... Seniority rules... They can move the OP but they can't bumped a higher seniority person in order to do it...
  12. UPSGUY72

    UPSGUY72 Well-Known Member

    There is one of the SUP's be it PT of FT is hazmat trained...
  13. bakagigee

    bakagigee Member

    Thank you for pointing that out Integrity. Oddly enough, I actually downloaded the Master and was probably reading that exact section when you were typing this post! And, like UPSGuy72 said below, I didn't notice anywhere that it said a normal pre-load person who was trained as a hazmat responder could bump out someone with higher seniority... Or anything else that would seem to that same effect.

    Actually, as I read through much of the Master this evening, it made it sound to me like if they wanted a designated Hazmat responder on-site at all times then they might very well need to add a position to our sort in order to do it, where that person was primarily a hazmat responder who also did pre-load duties.

    And Like "72" said, if my SUP, and his Manager are both hazmat certified, then we do have someone on sight who can do it, and I don't see how they could possibly bump out someone with higher seniority in order to have 3 people working at the same time (Management and union) who are all certified to deal with the very rare leaker that comes our way.
  14. brownIEman

    brownIEman Well-Known Member

    Article 18 section 21 says in part - "All designated responders, when positions become open, will be selected in seniority order"
    Responder is essentially a bid position. So far, everyone on this sort has refused to bid.
    The sort is required to have a responder. It is a violation of the spirit of the national master at the very least for
    the operation to plan on using a management person for every leaker. Hazmat responder is a required position on the sort, a legal requirement,
    if no one takes it, there is even the posibility that a new hire could be brought in and trained and essentially displace another employee.
    It would be like a 22.3 position coming open and no one bidding on it and it goes to the lowest seniority person on the shift. As a
    22.3, that person could bump more senior part timers. I have seen this hazmat thing upheld in union/labor disputes, I do not believe
    it went as far as panel though.
  15. bakagigee

    bakagigee Member

    In Article 18, section 21 it seems to me like they are talking about a designated "position" becoming available. So, if my pre-load wants a designated responder on that sort then it would seem to me that they need to hire someone to be a designated responder... which would mean they would have to add another position to the sort. So instead of a new-hire bumping a more senior pre-loader they would essentially just become the most senior hazmat responder, and then if there were no hazmats to process, which in my facility there almost never are, then that person could be used to do pre-load duties.

    It would be the difference between whether the person was primarily considered a pre-loader, and secondarily considered a hazmat responder, or primarily considered a hazmat responder, and secondarily considered a preloader.

    It seems to me that the issue is not whether it is a legal requirement to have one on the sort, but how they are going to get one on the sort.

    Also, it would seem like if all the hourly pre-loaders decide not to volunteer for this position, since it is volunteer, then it would basically be like giving management the O.K. to do that work in place of an hourly employee.

    If, not then, why are both my SUP and my manager trained as hazmat responders. It's ridiculous to me to think that we would have two trained responders already in the building, and then they would bump a higher seniority person in order to put a third one in the building?!

    Also, is there any local addendum type thing that I may need to talk to my local union station about to find out if this has been addressed before or what the guidelines are for this?

    I guess, if push comes to shove and they do this, the easiest way for me to find out how much ground I have to stand on, is to grieve it correct?
  16. brown_trousers

    brown_trousers Active Member

    wrong! Hazmat responding is a union job, and as such should ALWAYS be offered to union employees before letting management perform that work. Seniority has not been breached in this issue because the hazmat responder position (and all the extra hours it includes) was offered in seniority order to anyone who wanted to take it.

    Bottom line is... OSHA requires a hazmat responder to be available, and our union contract requires that responding work go to union employees. Do the math
  17. brown_trousers

    brown_trousers Active Member

    management is trained in hazmat responding because they are suppose to supervise and train the hazmat responders. They are also trained in preloading, so by your logic, maybe they should be doing that work also.

    All it takes is a quick call to your union agent. He/she will tell you straight up if you have something to grieve.
  18. UPSGUY72

    UPSGUY72 Well-Known Member

    Please quote the Article and section of the contract. That says a hazmat responded is a specific job title and they can bump a higher seniority person. You can't... Seniority rules.. If it was a bid job it would be different. It's not a bid job, It's a you volunteer for.

    I also didn't say that there should not be a union hazmat responder on each shift. They can move the OP to that shift however they have no right to bump a higher seniority person in order to do it.

    They can ask the whole shift if someone wants to move if more than one person wanted to switch shift the person with more seniority would get it.
  19. Integrity

    Integrity Binge Poster


    The specialized training required for this designation and the fact that the responder is selected in seniority order imply this scheduling preference for designated first responders.

    It is the employers responsility to see that controls are in place to ensure the safety of the employees, having a designated responder is the contractually agreed upon control of potential hazarous spills in the UPS operations.

    It would be unreasonable to expect the designated first responder not to be the first to arrive and the last to leave for the inside operation sorts.

    You can find out more about the origins of this Union Supported designation at the following links:

    United Parcel Service - 02/27/1992

    United Parcel Service, Inc. - 04/01/1994

  20. UPSGUY72

    UPSGUY72 Well-Known Member