The COVID-19 pandemic caused numerous problems for the Postal Service and the postal unions, but more importantly, the employees. The APWU and the other unions did our best to ensure that the safety of the members we represent was the foremost issue to account for by management during those difficult times. One problem that had to be addressed in 2020 was the new employee orientation process.
During the height of the pandemic, the APWU agreed to a one-time virtual presentation of the new employee orientation program. APWU received assurances from the Postal Service that once these employees reported to work at their assigned facilities, the union would have the opportunity to meet with each of them to explain the importance of membership with the APWU. Unfortunately, management’s promises were broken in several areas throughout the country and the APWU missed out on the chance to organize thousands of new members.
After observing these broken promises, the national APWU leaders made sure that during the next year and ensuing years, our union leaders at the local and state levels would not be ignored again, or prevented from making our presentation to new employees to join the APWU. We have steadfastly insisted that any local or state APWU representatives who address new employees during the orientation process, and desired to do so in person, would be afforded that opportunity. Though there have been a few bumps in the road, the Postal Service has predominantly adhered to this face-to-face interaction.
This insistence is not by accident. It is a part of our contractual rights under Article 17 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and the Joint Contract Interpretation Manual (JCIM). The parties have agreed that the union will be “provided ample opportunity to address the new employees while they are on the clock.”
Recently, the Postal Service unilaterally created a one-day new employee orientation process that limits the union from exercising our contractual rights to address these new employees. In September 2022, the Postal Service implemented a Welcome to the USPS Participant Guide to be utilized for new employee orientation. To make matters worse, false and misleading declarations are being made to the new employees and to local union officials that the APWU, at the national level, has agreed to this procedure. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The APWU previously filed a national dispute on what is titled the Welcome to the USPS (W2USPS) program that contained some references to the orientation process. However, once the latest participant guide was applied that sharply reduced the time new employees were being trained, and limited union involvement in the new employee orientation program, a second national dispute was initiated that concentrated solely on the new employee orientation system and its contractual violations.
Local representatives who present the APWU portion of new employee orientation, and who have had a past practice of being allowed “ample” time, no matter how much time that has taken, are urged to provide the APWU at the national level with any past clock rings or other evidence that the Postal Service is now limiting the union’s time for this presentation.
There are other issues involved in this dispute, including the harm to these new employees as they have been prevented from receiving as much information as possible, regarding their employment with the Postal Service, that comprises contractual rights, health benefits, career opportunities, and other support for new employees as they navigate their postal employment. As this dispute goes forward, we will keep the membership apprised of its progress.
To view a copy of the national dispute please visit: apwu.org/hqtc20220354 â–