06/16/2017 - On June 14, the APWU and the Postal Service reached an agreement resolving a Step 4 National Dispute that career Clerk Craft employees assigned to a POStPlan office are entitled to a uniform allowance. The parties agreed that career Clerk Craft employees who staff POStPlan offices will be considered eligible to participate in the uniform allowance program per existing provisions for career employees in the Clerk Craft, which require:
The official assignment at a retail counter is for a minimum of 4 hours daily for 5 days a week on a continuing basis, or;
For a minimum of 30 hours a week.
The dispute arose because the Postal Service essentially excluded career Clerk Craft employees from a uniform allowance solely because they worked in POStPlan offices.
The parties also agreed that Postal Support Employees (PSEs) converted to career, who are not required to serve a 90-day probationary period, will not be required to wait 90 days for uniform eligibility.
The Agreement resolved National Dispute USPS No. Q15C-4QC 17300101/APWU No. HQTC20160585, initiated by the APWU Clerk Craft. Per the agreement, “any local grievance held pending this national dispute will be processed locally in accordance with this agreement and local fact circumstances.”
“I am glad that the Postal Service finally decided to provide uniforms to postal workers in POStPlan offices. A postal uniform provides respect to the institution, respect to the customer, and respect to the postal worker performing work on behalf of the Postal Service,” said Clerk Craft Director Clint Burelson. “Thanks go to Assistant Clerk Craft Director Lamont Brooks for his persistence and perseverance in resolving this dispute.”
On June 13, APWU members received the 2017 Jobs With Justice Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award for the victorious Stop Staples campaign. The award honored the memberships’ successful efforts to save good union jobs and fight back against efforts to privatize retail postal services.
“Thanks to the dynamic efforts of the women and men of the APWU and their allies standing up for the right to earn a fair return on our work and invest in our communities, stopping Staples marked a watershed moment in the fight against a low-wage America,” said Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta. “Getting Staples out of the postal business required strategy, unity and relentless pressure, which the APWU achieved.”
“It is most appropriate that this award is being presented to the members of the APWU for they answered the leadership’s call to arms in fine fighting fashion,” said President Dimondstein while accepting the award on behalf of the APWU membership. “The Stop Staples campaign is proof that workers, with the support of friends and allies, can ‘take it to the streets’ and win! I salute and commend every APWU member – active and retired – and the many, many supporters who made this victory possible.”
The Jobs With Justice Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award celebrates individuals and groups who “follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s powerful example of championing workers’ rights as human rights.”
Jobs With Justice is celebrating its 30-year history of standing with workers and communities to protect workers’ rights and promote economic justice. Currently, their network includes 38 local Jobs With Justice coalitions across the country. Click here to find one near you!
06/16/2017 - Throughout the country, the Postal Service has launched an all-out assault on our jobs and is blatantly violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in their staffing of post offices. The USPS is reducing service to the community and disrupting the lives of postal workers by reducing duty assignments (reversions and abolishments) and issuing excessing notices potentially affecting hundreds of post offices and thousands of employees.
Postal Service is Blatantly Violating the Contract
The APWU and the USPS agreed in Article 37.3.A.1 of the CBA that, “Every effort will be made to create desirable duty assignments from all available work hours for career employees to bid.” This includes hours worked by PSEs. This provision was part of an overall agreement for more APWU jobs.
However, the Postal Service is now ignoring that part of the agreement and instead of utilizing “all available work hours” to create duty assignments, the USPS is now attempting to utilize what they call “earned hours” and “earned duty assignments” to determine the number of duty assignments. “Earned duty assignments” is what the USPS would prefer the number of duty assignments to be and has no basis in the contract.
“We are gearing up for a large fight,” said President Dimondstein. “I know that if we stick together and stay united, then – just like the Stop Staples and contract struggles – we will be victorious.”
USPS Actions are an Attack on Service
The Postal Service is reducing duty assignments and issuing excessing notices despite the fact that Postal Service is already understaffed.
As postal workers and postal customers know from experience, in most offices, the Postal Service is seriously understaffed and causing poor service to the community. Some installation heads are acting with integrity and resisting the unreasonable reductions in duty assignments and service, but many are going along despite the harm to postal workers and the community.
APWU is Fighting Back
The APWU has been implementing a plan to fight back that includes meetings with management at every level, informational pickets to inform the community, and utilization of the grievance procedure.
“I salute the National Clerk Craft Officers for taking the lead on this, with assistance from the Regional Coordinators and the National Business Agents,” said President Dimondstein.
Meetings at the national level, including meetings with Postmaster General Megan Brennan, have emphasized the blatant reduction of duty assignments across the country when the duty assignments are clearly needed and also the unprecedented nature of the amount of excessing notices at one time.
Locals are already getting into the fight in the streets. The Baltimore Francis 'Stu' Filbey Area Local held an informational picket at the Main Post Office in Baltimore on June 10 that was attended by postal workers and community members. Other Locals are also preparing for similar actions. Locals wishing to conduct informational pickets should contact the Clerk Craft Division to receive assistance.
The APWU has been conducting Max Duty Assignment Tool (MDAT) training across the country on how to demonstrate new duty assignments whenever management tries to eliminate duty assignments or excess employees. We have designated National Business Agents (NBAs) in each area that are working under the direction of the National Clerk Craft Officers to work with Local and State organizations to develop strong grievances, coordinate our actions, and put our best foot forward in addressing these issues.
A Call to Action
As postal workers we must fight together against the Postal Services ongoing willingness to blatantly violate the contractual agreements they made with us. It is important that postal workers attend their local union meetings where we can learn from each other and work on strategies to slow or stop management’s plans to reduce service to the community and disrupt the workforce. If we come together in an organized manner, we can win a better Postal Service and a better workplace.
For More Information
If you would like to receive information directly from the APWU by text or email, please sign-up at http://www.apwu.org/stay-connected. Check back on apwu.org for more details about this ongoing fight.
On June 21, Arbitrator Shyam Das issued a national award in the arbitration between the United States Postal Service (USPS) and the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), with APWU and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) as intervenors. In Case No. Q11N-4Q-C 16398841, the postal unions united and together prevailed. “This Postal Alliance victory demonstrates that when we come together to protect and enforce the rights of bargaining-unit workers, we can be more successful,” said President Dimondstein.
In arbitration, the USPS disputed the postal unions’ insistence that Employee Labor Manual (ELM) sections 519.321-323 grants of administrative leave for caucuses. The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) was the initial appellant in the case, regarding the denial of paid leave for a letter carrier in a Nevada caucus. Due to their own similar grievances, APWU and NPMHU intervened and participated in the hearing. During the hearing, APWU Des Moines BMC Local President Robert Moyer provided vital testimony regarding his attendance at an Iowa caucus.
The Postal Service argued that the language in the ELM authorizing paid administrative leave for voting applied only to secret ballot presidential primaries. Arbitrator Das found that there was “no meaningful basis” for only allowing paid administrative leave for voting in presidential primaries, but not presidential caucuses. The USPS also argued that it had a long-standing past practice of denying paid administrative leave to vote in presidential caucuses. Arbitrator Das also found no merit in that argument. “The evidence in this record is insufficient to establish the existence of any sort of practice or of a consistent policy… Accordingly, the Unions' position that the policy set forth in ELM-519.321 applies to Presidential caucuses is upheld.”
This joint union success will allow all postal employees to apply for and receive a reasonable amount of paid administrative leave to vote in a presidential caucus, when the granting of leave does not disrupt postal operations and if an employee cannot exercise their right to vote on their own time. This is an important step forward and helps to ensure that all postal employees can participate in the democratic process and have assured voting access.
While Arbitrator Das defended that employees could attend caucuses to vote for a presidential candidate, he did clarify that the ELM does not obligate the Postal Service to provide paid administrative leave to participate in all party business conducted at a caucus.
“Thank you to Assistant Clerk Craft Director Lynn Pallas-Barber and Assistant Maintenance Craft Director A Idowu Balogun for their hard-work on this case,” said Industrial Relations Director Vance Zimmerman.
This award will affect postal employees in the 19 states and territories where caucuses are held, including:
APWU and Mail Handlers Union Send a United Message to PMG Brennan Denouncing
“Wholesale and Massive Job Cuts”
Web News Article 62-2017
06/22/2017 - On June 21, the APWU and National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) sent a joint letter to Postmaster General Megan Brennan chastising her administration’s “wholesale and massive job cuts.” APWU President Mark Dimondstein and NPMHU President Paul Hogrogian explained, “The cutting of an already skeletal workforce will not only cause massive disruption to the workforce but will cause further degradation of postal services for the American people throughout the country.”
The postal unions have drawn a line in the sand and are standing united against Postmaster Brennan’s continuous “cost-saving” shortcuts – shortcuts that have greatly affected not only the bargaining-unit workforce but also mail processing, mail delivery, customer service and the reputation of the United States Postal Service.
Although the APWU and NPMHU have separate collective bargaining agreements, this letter informs Postmaster Brennan that we stand together against her administration’s wholesale job cuts and tactics that ignore and break management's obligations in our collective bargaining agreements:
“Without change, these management actions essentially throw any good faith efforts and constructive relationships to the wind. At a time when the parties have been working together to craft, promote, and pass constructive postal reform legislation, we wonder why the Postal Service would choose to declare war on its unions and its employees. Rest assured that, absent correction, the APWU and the NPMHU will together resist these misguided actions and violations of your agreements with, and commitments to, our members.”
The letter concludes with an offer to meet and explore alternatives to the proposed massive cuts that will preserve service and jobs. Click here to view the full letter.
The APWU and the Postal Service agreed that after December 22, 2014, the ‘POStPlan’ Remotely-Managed Post Offices (RMPOs) open 4 or 6 hours a day would be staffed with bargaining unit clerks, as well as replace Postal Support Employees (PSEs) in Level 18 offices with career employees. Long after the agreement, Postmaster Reliefs (PMRs) were still working in 4 or 6 hour RMPOs across the country and Level 18 offices reported still using PSEs instead of career employees.
The Postal Service admitted to their widespread violations of the ‘POStPlan’ MOU. Arbitrator Goldberg held that the USPS owed the bargaining unit for all the hours improperly worked by PMRs and PSEs.
“This is an important award for the protection and expansion of Clerk Craft work,” said President Dimondstein. “This keeps management’s feet to the fire, holding them to the agreements they make with the APWU.”
“Although it was another great win for the APWU, the Postal Service’s continual willingness to blatantly violate the contract indicates a serious problem with the integrity of Postal Service management that together we must continue to address” said Clerk Craft Director Clint Burelson.
Arbitrator Goldberg held that the Postal Service must make whole all postal employees in the Clerk Craft bargaining unit who were denied craft work as a result of the USPS’ failure to follow the POStPlan MOU.
“Much thanks goes to Assistant Clerk Craft Director Lynn Pallas Barber, who served as the case officer for the grievance,” Burleson stated. “Also to Assistant Craft Director Lamont Brooks, Industrial Relations Director Vance Zimmerman and attorneys Mindy Holmes and Jason Veny.”
White House 2018 Budget Proposal Targets Postal Workers and Postal Services
WEB NEWS ARTICLE #:
05/26/2017 - This week the White House released their budget proposal for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, as they do every fiscal year. There are a number of disturbing provisions which will directly affect postal workers and postal services for the American people.
The White House’s budget proposes $46 billion in “savings” to the Postal Service by a reduction in the methods of delivery. This could include cutting the number of delivery days and a further reduction in service standards.
The budget further calls for an increase of 6% employee pension contributions into the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) - 1% a year for each of the next six years. This would result in a pay-cut of thousands of dollars a year for each FERS postal employee.
The budget also proposes eliminating Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) on FERS retirement benefits, reducing COLA on current civil service retirees and a change in calculating future retirement benefits from the current “high three” average to a “high five” year formula. In addition, the proposal advocates doing away with the social security supplement currently covering the gap in FERS benefits for those who retire before they are eligible for social security benefits.
Each of these proposals would be to the severe detriment of hard working postal employees, both active and retired.
Will Devastate Working Families
Contrary to President Trump’s campaign promises to elevate workers and protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits, the proposed budget contains a number of extreme cuts which will deeply affect tens of millions of working families. These include massive cuts to social security disability benefits, Medicaid coverage, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the student loan program. The budget proposal shrinks all these essential programs while lowering the taxes for corporate America and the wealthy elite.
“This budget proposal is Robin Hood in reverse,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “It robs from the workers to give more and more to the wealthy. Taken in their entirety, these are draconian attacks on hard working postal workers and our families.”
Ultimately, Congress sets the federal government’s budget. However, the White House’s budget proposal is a reflection of the spending priorities of the Trump administration. The APWU, working with our sister unions and many allies, will vigorously oppose actions by Congress to allow these cuts to vital government programs as well as any attempts to undermine postal services and the well-being of postal workers and postal retirees.
“No postal worker cast a vote in the last presidential election to cut postal services and worker benefits,” Dimondstein continued. “I am confident, that our members of all political persuasions will stand up and fight back against these new assaults on postal workers and all working folks.”
Postal Reform Scored by Congressional Budget Office
Reports a Positive Financial Impact of H.R. 756 on Federal Budget
WEB NEWS ARTICLE #:
06/02/2017 - Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published its report on Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 756). It is standard practice for the CBO to “score” pending legislation introduced into Congress in order to report its impact on the federal budget. They estimate that H.R. 756 would result in a savings of $6.2 billion over the next ten years.
These savings are technically “off-budget” because the USPS’ cash flow is recorded in the federal budget (in the Postal Service Fund) is classified as “off-budget.” The cash flow for the Postal Service Retirement Health Benefit Fund (PSRHBF) is classified as “on-budget.” The net “on-budget” cost of the legislation is only $0.2 billion.
“The score for H.R.756 has improved since the last version of the bill in the 114thCongress,” said Legislative and Political Director Judy Beard. “We are encouraged by the positive changes that have been made in the legislation and will seek continued improvements as the bill moves forward.”
The bill is now off to two House of Representatives’ committees: Ways & Means, chaired by Kevin Brady (R–TX-8) with ranking member Richard Neal (D-MA-1) and Energy & Commerce, chaired by Fred Upton (R-MI-6) with ranking member Bobby Rush (D-IL-2).
In both committees the bill must be approved in order to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. Then the legislation will move to the Senate for a similar process.
The APWU continues to support H.R. 756 in its present form and is working with legislators to make improvements. This legislation is crucial to ensuring a robust future for America’s public Postal Service.
Be sure to check the Postal Reform Legislation page on apwu.org regularly for updates and information about of H.R. 756 and H.R. 760.
(This article first appeared in the May-June 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
By Executive Vice President Debby Szeredy
Voter registration in our country is in a sorry state. in the 2016 general election, not all eligible voters were registered (only 79 percent) – and nearly half of those registered voters did not vote.
Lack of voter turnout has consequences. What can your family lose by not voting? Pretty much everything – bills can be passed to change or end items that are important to you, including wages, health benefits, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, sick and family medical leave, vacation time, lunch breaks, right to organize, health and safety protections at work, pensions, and retirement benefits.
Legislation could also affect issues like your ability to take out bank loans, leaving you more susceptible to payday loan sharks. You may find more proposals to put nuclear sites in your backyard or pipelines near your water supply. There may be fewer government programs to help you when environmental disasters strike, to obtain affordable housing, to keep national parks open and to create climate change solutions.
One way we can prevent legislation and regulations that hurt our communities is increasing voter turnout. We can help our sisters and brothers by actively campaigning for “Vote by Mail” initiatives.
Once a person is registered, “Vote by Mail” makes it easier to cast a ballot. The three states that have “Vote by Mail” as a state law, Washington (since 2011), Oregon (since 2000) and Colorado (since 2013), were among the highest in voter turnout for the 2016 Election and had a very high percentage of registered voters who voted.
Now, let’s take a look at a state that does not have “Vote by Mail” - New York. New York has no early voting and absentee ballots must have an excuse. Even though the state still saw a high voter turnout percentage, there is a still clear difference with the “Vote by Mail” states in regard to the percentage of registered voters who actually cast a ballot.
Take a Stand
Are you willing to take a stand and make sure that more Americans “Vote by Mail” in the next election? Enhance your postal job by having millions of ballots mailed by the USPS. Do your part to bring about democracy by joining us in our effort to bring “Vote by Mail” to every state.
What can every APWU member do now to protect the mail service while combating voter suppression and apathy?
One easy option APWU members may wish to consider is to sign up, with their family members, to vote by absentee ballot for the next election (if no excuse absentee voting is an option in their state). This helps support our jobs. An additional benefit is the members would not have to wait in lines. We could be an example for people to utilize mail service, and at the same time bring about more democracy in America.
If your state has a “no excuse absentee ballot” system, help get your community to sign up to receive their ballot by mail. How about co-workers, too? If your state does not have “no excuse required absentee ballots” or mandatory “Vote by Mail,” help get them passed in your state.
There are 27 states which offer no-excuse absentee voting. Do not forget to check if your state has a one-time request to receive a mail ballot for every election.
You can also get involved in the Democracy Initiative, which APWU has partnered with, to help fight voter suppression. Find more information at www.democracyinitiative.org.
The following websites can help you find out what your state voting laws are. You can also check with your Secretary of State’s website. If you are not registered to vote, you can go on the following websites:
The League of Women Voters has sites in many states and provides updates on what initiatives and laws are being worked on or are being fought to keep. Visit www.lwv.org to find out more information about what is going on in your state.
To better ensure delivery and return of ballots, voters should know the deadline to request and return a ballot, as well as investigate all options in returning the ballot. Voters can request the return ballots be hand-canceled with a round stamp at any post office to ensure the ballot meets state postmarking requirements. Be certain to follow instructions, provide a signature, add postage (if required) and contact your local election office for assistance.
Overseas military and civilian voters can obtain much more information at www.fvap.gov.
There are many compelling reasons to “Vote by Mail,” including no more long lines and no difficulty getting time off from work. You can take your time reviewing the ballot to learn about the candidates and measures. It lowers costs for your state and causes fewer problems with voter IDs. All in all it creates better informed voters. You do not have to worry about where your polling place is. “Vote by Mail” also leads to guaranteed security of ballots, since they are handled by trained postal workers.
It is up to us as postal workers to be an example at work, support our jobs and take pride in the fact that we help make democracy happen! So let us all pledge to start today. Make that call or go online and do your part. Everything you need is in this article to get started. Let us be a part of the democracy movement.
(This article first appeared in the May-June 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
By President Mark Dimondstein
The preamble to the U.S. Constitution includes the well-known and eloquent words, “in order to form a more perfect union.” The “union” here refers to the young country, born of the American Revolution – and wisely acknowledges that there should always be an effort to strive for improvement.
This sentiment applies to our “union” as well, for no organization or society can be perfect.
I recently sent a centennial celebration greeting to the San Antonio Area Local as their local of the National Federation of Postal Clerks (a forerunner of the APWU) was founded 100 years ago. Many other locals around the country have celebrated, or will soon be celebrating, their first century as well.
With the many frustrations of working in an understaffed postal environment, frequently facing tyrannical managers and a grievance process that is too slow, it is easy to lose sight of the wonderful accomplishments of the APWU, and what postal workers gained over many decades of sacrifice and struggle.
Think about some of these highlights:
Collective Bargaining: The right of postal workers through their union to negotiate with management over wages, hours and working conditions. Wow, talk about a true voice at work that has resulted in a wide array of union-won rights and benefits.
A Grievance Procedure: The right of unionized postal workers to protest management actions that violate the union contract, meet with union representatives “on the clock” to address concerns and to file grievances when necessary.
Just Cause Protection: Workers can only be disciplined or terminated for “just cause” – only for a legitimate reason – rather than at the whim of the boss. Now that is job security!
No Lay-Off Protection: No lay-off protections for career employees with six years of seniority. In addition, those career employees on the rolls as of July 8, 2016, who did not yet have six years of employment, have no lay-off protection as well for the life of the contract.
Seniority and Bidding: Career postal workers have the right to bid for jobs, hours and off-days based on years of service, rather than be subject to the favoritism of postal management.
Negotiated Wage Increases: All career postal workers receive regular negotiated wage increases, Step Increases and Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs). APWU-represented non-career postal workers also receive regular negotiated wage increases.
Conversion to Career: A negotiated path for non-career to career positions resulting in over 45,000 conversions since 2014.
A Democratic Union: The right of APWU members to elect officers at the local, state and national level, vote on proposed union contracts, run for union office and have full voice and vote at union meetings and functions.
These rights and benefits, and so much more, were won through the power and activism of the workers – most notably in the outstanding and historic Great Postal Strike of 1970.
All workers deserve real power in the workplace and a say over our working conditions. I am sure each of you has family members, neighbors and friends who do not work in a union shop, and lack the kind of rights and benefits unionized postal workers secured.
Wall Street, corporate America and far too many politicians would like to see unions, including the APWU, destroyed and with them our many gains over the last century. So, never take our union, or its future existence, for granted.
You are the Union
Our “imperfect” union belongs to you. It is up to all orious Stop Staples fight and our successful grassroots Good Service! Good Jobs! Good Contract! campaign that helped win such positive results in our last round of contract negotiations with the USPS.
Come to local union meetings; join a local union committee (such as safety, legislative, education or any other that interests you); share your views, suggestions and talents (writing, music, art, social media, etc.); step up and serve as shop stewards; wear your union gear; visit/call your political representatives; sign-up non-members at your worksite; stand in solidarity with all workers; and talk to your families about what the union means for the betterment of our lives and communities.
I hope all of you are as prof us to work together and make it the best it can be. It is great that so many of you are already union active, but we need much more participation, for “In Our Unity, Lies Our Strength!”
We witnessed what union activism can achieve in our victoud as I am to be part of the American Postal Workers Union family as the struggle for justice continues into another century!
04/26/2017 - Arbitration Advocacy Training will take place from Sunday, July 30 through Sunday, Aug. 6 at the Hilton Albany Hotel in Albany, NY.
The program is designed to provide an in-depth knowledge of the techniques needed to effectively prepare a case for arbitration. APWU members must provide a letter from their local or state president (on local or state letterhead) that authorizes their attendance. Training is provided by APWU National officers and staff.
The deadline to register is Friday, June 23.
Click here for more information and a registration form.
03/23/2017 - The 18th Biennial APWU Post Office Women for Equal Rights (POWER) Convention will take place Thursday, Aug. 24 through Sunday, Aug. 27 at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor, 300 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21202.
Delegates should arrive on Wednesday, Aug. 23 and depart on Sunday, Aug. 27. Workshops will be held on Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Regional Caucuses are on Thursday, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The deadline for a hotel room rate is Friday, July 14.
Click here for a full event listing and to register.