Trenton Metro Area Local

American Postal Workers Union



Maintenance Tool Box


Paul Connor, Director


Maintenance Selection System Open Season

As required by Article 38 of the National Agreement, open season for the Maintenance Selection System will be the month of March.

The MSS open season occurs during March every three years and provides opportunities for current maintenance craft employees to apply for inclusion on MSS registers, mostly for promotions. The process is open to employees who have not yet applied for a particular Maintenance Craft register. Employees who previously applied for a particular register and received a rating (either eligible or ineligible) cannot use the open season to apply again. These employees must follow the update procedures in Article 38.4.D. Also note that while the term MSS is used herein, the open season is for all in-craft registers, both MSS and non-MSS.

Notification of the open season opportunity is to be posted on the bulletin boards prior to March 1.


USPS Instructs Facilities Not to By-Pass
Biohazard Detection Systems On Their AFCS

(Dec. 14, 2005) The APWU recently became aware that postal facilities with the Biohazard Detection System (BDS) on their Advanced Facer-Canceler Systems (AFCS) machines have made local decisions to by-pass the AFCS and utilize alternate canceling equipment (such as a Micro Mark or NEC).

The APWU notified postal headquarters of this serious breach of security. In response, USPS headquarters issued a December 9, 2005 policy to all Managers and Operations Support (Area) instructing them to ensure that all stamped mail meeting the processing specifications for the AFCS be processed on the AFCS.

Click here for a copy of the Dec. 9, 2006 Memo






Award Sets Principles For Minimum Skill Levels In Maintenance Craft
(10/04/05) A recent arbitration award establishes principles for differentiating between semi-skilled and skilled Maintenance Craft work. Although the union’s grievance was sustained in part, denied in part, and remanded in part, union officers generally believe the ruling will benefit Maintenance Craft employees. [full story]

Ventilation Filtration System (VFS) Synopsis

The Postal Service has installed two (2) types of Ventilation Filtration Systems (VFS) in its Plant and Distribution Centers .  One VFS is attached as part of the AFCS and the VFS is independently located over the 010 Operation.  Siemens Dematic is the manufacturer of the VFS/AFCS while Accusort is the manufacturer of the VFS over the 010 operation.  It is the APWU’s position that the Siemens VFS system is mail processing equipment due to the fact that it is attached to the AFCS and is integral to the operation of the AFCS; as such MPEs should be assigned to perform the maintenance activities. It is the APWU’s position that the Accu-sort VFS system is building equipment as it is an independent air handling system.  As such, BEMs should be assigned to perform the maintenance activities.

Replacing filters is a maintenance task that is common to both pieces of equipment.  Filter replacement determinations are made automatically based on the measurement of air flow across the filters. Training materials have been developed as well as a DVD to describe the task of filter replacement.  A review of these items reveals that used filters are to be placed into a plastic bag and sealed at the time of replacement.  Employees performing the filter replacement should wear the PPE required for the specific system. 

The following is a synopsis of each VFS system.

Ventilation Filtration System (VFS) for the AFCS


Manufactured by:        Siemens Dematic Postal Automation LP.


The purpose of the Ventilation and Filtration System is to remove dust and debris from the AFCS. Vacuum inlets are installed at each major module of the AFCS to provide sufficient suction to lift and remove paper dust and debris from each section of the AFCS. The airflow is then filtered through several filters. A metal screen is used to catch the large debris such as rubber bands, paper clips, and small pieces of paper. The first, second and third filter stages provide filtration of small particles resulting in the removal of 99.97% of the dust and debris releasing clean air at the outlet.


It is not designed to detect any biological agents, sound an alarm caused by a biological agent, or protect employees from biological agents.


The operation of the VFS is relatively simple.  The VFS generates a vacuum to remove the dust and debris from the AFCS.  The VFS generates a vacuum sufficient to remove dust and debris from the AFCS. Ducting is attached to specific points of the AFCS to ensure that the major areas that generate and collect dust and debris receive the necessary vacuum to allow the removal of the particles. The ducting routes this airflow to the large filtration unit for the cleaning of the air.


The filtration unit is composed of a metal screen and three stages of filters. Each filter unit removes smaller particles than the previous filter unit resulting in a clean airflow at the outlet. The Screen resembles a window screen and removes the large particles such as rubber bands, paper clips, paper pieces and other debris. A tray is located under this filter to catch debris for easy cleaning. The first and second stage filter units are ASHRAE type filters consisting of a set of four filters each. The first set of filters removes dust and debris resulting in a 30% clean airflow. The next set removes even smaller particles resulting in an approximate 95% efficiency in clean airflow. The last filter unit is a HEPA type filter composed of a set of four filters. The HEPA filters provide the final filtration of the airflow, cleaning the air to 99.97%.




The recommended operation of the VFS is with the Mode switch in the AUTO position. This allows the starting and stopping of the VFS with the operation of the AFCS. The VFS will shutdown based on a set timed delay after the AFCS has stopped.


In the normal start-up mode, the mode switch will be in the “auto” position; in this condition the AFCS is started the VFS will start automatically. This is the normal start-up procedure.  This allows the operation of the VFS to be controlled by the starting and stopping of the AFCS. The VFS will operate when the AFCS is running. The VFS will continue to run even after the AFCS is stopped. This allows the VFS to function when jams or other stops occur in the AFCS for short periods of time.


 Ventilation Filtration System (VFS) for the 010 Operation


Manufactured by:        Accu-Sort

The Ventilation and Filtration System (VFS) provides a filtration system that traps light dust and other fine particles. The 010 VFS is retrofitted onto existing Dual Pass Rough Cull (DPRC) and 010 Loose Mail Distribution Systems (LMDS).  It is not designed to detect any biological agents, sound an alarm caused by a biological agent, or protect employees from biological agents.


Although the Accu-Sort is similar to the Siemens VFS there are design features, including the performance of maintenance tasks, that have dissimilarities. Basically the 010 VFS operates as follows; Air, light dust, and other particles are drawn up into capture devices (hood assemblies), installed around individual hamper dumper stations and hand cull stations. The air is drawn into the VFS housing which consists of one perforated plate and a 3-stage filtration system.

Each filter unit removes smaller particles than the previous filter unit. The first set of filters removes light dust and debris, the next set removes even smaller particles, the last filter unit is a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) type filter bank. The HEPA filters provide the final filtration of the airflow, cleaning the air to 99.97%.


Performing maintenance tasks on the 010 VFS in the filter housing area requires the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  The type of PPE for these maintenance tasks are identified below:

Entry into the VFS Filter Housing

When entering the VFS housing the following precautions must be followed:


·          Personnel should wear eye protection at all times to prevent dust, debris or other objects from causing a foreign body type eye injury.

·         Personnel should wear a hard hat.

·         Prior to entering the VFS housing, lockout the VFS in accordance with the electrical safety section of this manual.

·         The use of respiratory protection is not mandatory, however, it is recommended as part of good industrial hygiene practices. The VFS is designed to collect dust, debris and other airborne particles. Based on these design criteria it should be assumed that when accessing the interior of the filter housing, dust is present. When changing filters, dust is present. The filters are designed to trap the particulate that is drawn into the filter housing.


-                      When working inside the filter housing or changing filters it is recommended to wear negative-pressure dust masks rated at N100.

-          If qualified and fit-tested to wear other negative-pressure  respirators, do so as the situation dictates.

-                      HEPA filters must be used at all times.

-                      Appropriate P95 or P100 dust masks may also be used.







Gary Kloepfer
Assistant Director
Maintenance Division





Over the last several weeks, we have received reports from the field questioning the failure by our members of Test 932, the written exam for ET, which is taken to qualify for standing on the promotion eligibility register. The overwhelming majority of concerns centered on KSA 36, Test Equipment. The USPS issued a revised Test 932 sometime in March-April of 2004. We were not notified at headquarters of this revision by the USPS.


After discussions with the employer, it has been established there was a problem with the test, particularly as it relates to KSA 36 (Test Equipment). Ratings for KSA 36 include both the written exam and a review panel evaluation. The entire test 932 has been re-validated and NTAC has begun the process of re-rating all maintenance craft employees who were previously rated as ineligible on Test 932.


Given the reluctance of the employer to agree to a set remedy at this level, it is only at the local level where you can make a determination as to whether an individual may have been harmed. To eliminate an assertion by local management of timeliness, please advise your membership that they should initiate a local grievance, if one is warranted, within fourteen (14) days from the receipt of their new notice of rating. Locals must determine whether the change in an individual’s rating impacts the result of previous ET duty assignment awards at your installation. This is done by applying the proper register date, Article 38 and the MSS process (Handbook EL-304) against the awarding of any posted ET duty assignments (also refer to Article 38 of the JCIM).


As an example, if a current custodian (Employee A), after March of 2004, went through the MSS for the ET promotion eligibility register, the written exam they would take is the Test 932. In this example, the register date (approximately the date of the test) is June 30, 2004 . Employee A received a notice of rating from NTAC they were ineligible and indicated a failure for KSA 36. Then, on November 30, 2005 Employee A receives a new notice of rating from NTAC indicating they passed KSA 36 and providing a numerical score of 75.2 for the ET PER. Since Employee A had been rated ineligible, they would not show up on the PER. In September 2004, the installation posted an ET duty assignment that was awarded in accordance with Article 38 using the PAR/PER as it existed then, to Employee B who had a score of 75.8. A review by the local of the posting and MSS records establishes that Employee A should have been ranked higher than Employee B based on the banded scores (see Article 38.5.B.8). In this example, both employees were within the same band (scores of 75.1-80 are considered equal) but Employee A was improperly bypassed for the posted ET duty assignment as Employee A was senior (using maintenance installation seniority) to Employee B. Also, remember that ET duty assignments are filled first by seniority from the MPE occupational group (see Article 38.5.B.2). After the MPEs, all other employees are then ranked on the PER by their banded score order and then seniority within the applicable band.


Locals are to use their own judgment, based on their own set of facts, as to what they seek for appropriate remedy. At a minimum, the individual bypassed should be retroactively awarded a higher level duty assignment and the difference in pay.


At present, we do not know with certainty how long NTAC will take for the re-rating of the failures to be completed. There is no agreement to freeze PERs or awarding of duty assignments, nor to extend any of the time limits in Article 38. Please contact your Maintenance National Business Agent or Headquarters if you have any questions.


Gary Kloepfer
Assistant Director
Maintenance Division