06/30/2018 - The American Postal Workers Union began negotiations for a new union contract with the U.S. Postal Service with an opening session on June 26th. In a display of postal union unity, NALC Executive Vice-President Brian Renfroe and NPMHU president Paul Hogrogian sat shoulder to shoulder with the APWU leadership. A host of notable labor and community allies, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and NAACP national leader Hilary Shelton, were present in support, underscoring the national importance of this round of bargaining. The APWU delegation of 80 national officers, the Rank and File Bargaining Committee, friends and supporters and local representatives marched to the meeting room chanting “Fired Up and Ready to Go!” while in a national day of APWU solidarity and unity thousands of members wore their stickers: “Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow.”
APWU welcoming remarks were given by Industrial Relations Director and chief spokesperson Vance Zimmerman, sharing that “the APWU will work long and hard every day to reach an agreement that acknowledges and appreciates the dedication, hard work and value of our members.” The welcome was followed with main table introductions by Executive Vice-President Debby Szeredy and introductions of many guests, the APWU National Executive Council, the rank and file bargaining committee and young members committee by Secretary-Treasurer Liz Powell.
APWU President and lead negotiator Mark Dimondstein presented the union’s opening remarks pointing out that “Since the advent of true collective bargaining gained as a result of the postal strike of 1970 - postal workers’ lives are vastly improved. And representatives of our union sit across the bargaining table from management as equals – not because we have important titles, but because we have a union sustained and supported by our members.”
With the recent White House proposal to privatize the Postal Service, Dimondstein didn’t mince words. “As we enter these negotiations, powerful forces on Wall Street and the likes of UPS continue to push for the breaking up of the postal service and selling pieces off to the highest bidders,” he said, adding that “management should not be afraid of bold and creative thinking and approach these negotiations as an opportunity to discuss various ways to protect and expand the public postal service.”
Dimondstein discussed the union’s general goals for bargaining: fair compensation, safe workplaces free of harassment, job security and opportunity to enjoy secure and dignified retirements. “Our members want an end to the divisive unfair three-tier wage and benefit structure,” he said. “We want an end to the situation where new hires do not, or barely make, a living wage, and where full-time career work has been undermined.
“We also approach these negotiations as an opportunity to promote a vision for a vibrant postal service for generations to come,” Dimondstein continued.
“We know the Postal Service is facing serious challenges,” he said. “Changes to the mail mix - letters are down while packages are up - create both hardships and hope. The bi-partisan 2006 PAEA, with its absurd pre-funding mandate of future retiree healthcare costs and the creation of the artificial postage rate cap, combined with the inability to recoup overpayments to retirement funds and the loss of the exigency price hike at the hands of the Postal Regulatory Commission have undermined our national treasure.”
“But the fix is in the hands of those who created the crisis - Congress and the PRC – and must not be on the backs of the workers who already sacrificed far too much in the 2010-2015 contract.
“Key to the success of the postal service, past, present and future, has been the workers – from those who sell postage and accept packages, to those who sort medicine and catalogues, to those who transport the mail and repair the vehicles, to those who maintain the equipment and facilities, to those who deliver the mail. These negotiations are an opportunity for management to honor and reward this commitment and hard work.”
President Dimondstein concluded his remarks vowing that the APWU will approach negotiations “with a passion for the public we serve and the workers we represent. We will keep an open mind, forthrightly share our proposals, and be honest in our dealings. We will work hard to achieve a voluntary negotiated collective bargaining agreement.”
Both AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka and NAACP leader Hilary Shelton made brief comments as part of the opening ceremony, underscoring the fact that the APWU is not alone in this battle. Shelton underscored that the largest civil rights organization in the country and a proud participant in “A Grand Alliance to Save Our Postal Service” stands solidly with the workers in their quest for workplace justice. Trumka promised that the APWU would have the full support of the 13 million members of the AFL-CIO.
The next bargaining session will take place the week of July 8th through July 12th. The APWU leadership will continue to update the members on the progress of the ongoing battle for a good union contract.
APWU Reaches Agreement
on an Updated RI-399 Process
WEB NEWS ARTICLE #:
06/26/2018 - After decades of jurisdictional disputes, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) reached agreement with the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) and the Postal Service on an updated RI-399 procedure for jurisdictional work assignments to Clerks and Mail Handlers.
In a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding, the APWU improved the R1-399 dispute resolution procedures, resolved the docket of disputes, and required accurate and updated inventories to protect existing and future Clerk work.
“I want to thank Ron Suslak, Queens Area Local President and the APWU’s representative on the NDRC, whose outstanding leadership and work on RI-399 over many years led to this agreement. I also want to thank Assistant Director (B) Clerk Division Lynn Pallas-Barber, Industrial Relations Director Vance Zimmerman, and the APWU’s attorneys who spent months working with Brother Suslak to reach this important deal to protect Clerk work and fix a broken process,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “We can now move forward with a faster and better procedure to settle disputes over Postal Service jurisdictional work assignments to the Mail Handlers.”
“The Update MOU is a historic step in the right direction on a momentous day. This is a long overdue fix of the broken process that will unite the parties in a more positive direction dealing with jurisdictional issues,” said Assistant Clerk Director Pallas-Barber.
“While we are very pleased to have an improved process to address jurisdictional and crossing craft disputes, I look forward to the day when all of these jurisdictional disputes can be put behind us and all postal workers are united in one powerful union,” concluded President Dimondstein.
Join us for Online
the Contract Negotiations
Opening Day Kick-Off Rally
Web News Article
APWU invites all members and allies to join us online for the Contract Negotiations Opening Day Kick-Off Rally. Several labor allies, political leaders, and community supporters will be joining in. We will be streaming the event live from our website and on YouTube. You can RSVP for the event on Facebook by clicking here. Please share far and wide with your coworkers, family and friends.
You can watch the rally on your phone, computer, or TV streaming on YouTube or here on the APWU website. Check back on June 25 to watch the livestreaming video or to get the YouTube link.
It really won’t be the same without you, so please join us on June 25!
06/21/2018 - The White House proposal on restructuring the federal government released today, “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century,” delivered nothing but misinformation and, if implemented, would end regular mail and package services at an affordable cost to 157 million addresses every day. Furthermore, the White House plan is an attack on many federal agencies and the public services they provide.
The White House’s plan states, “Like many European nations the United States could privatize its postal operator…” What’s left unsaid is European nations charge substantially more for mail services delivered in a much smaller area. They also regularly raise the cost of delivery. For example, the cost of sending a letter in the United Kingdom has increased 80 percent over the past decade. By comparison, the U.S. has the lowest postage rates in the industrialized world.
Eliminating the universal service obligation, as the plan suggests, would hurt business and individuals alike, and would be a dagger aimed at the heart of rural America and undermine e-commerce.
The draconian plan uses “burdening the taxpayers” as justification to promote the privatization of the U.S. Postal Service when the truth is USPS is self-supporting and receives no tax dollars for postal operations.
And, while letter mail volumes are lower, package delivery is up substantially. No institution is better suited for the e-commerce revolution than USPS. The public postal service serves each and every person and belongs to the people of this country. According to recent surveys by Gallup and the Pew Research Center, it enjoys the highest level of satisfaction and trust of any government service or agency, rating the highest among young people.
Privatizing the Postal Service is not in the public interest or the interest of postal workers and would be nothing more than a raid by corporate pirates on a national treasure.
This outrageous White House plan should be a wake-up call to every postal worker and APWU member. The threats of postal privatization, the threats to decent union jobs, the threats to good services, are real.
The American Postal Workers Union stands with the people of the country and our many allies in the ongoing fight to ensure a vibrant public Postal Service for generations to come.
More information and calls for action will be forthcoming.
(This article first appeared in the May-June 2018 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine)
By Industrial Relations Director Vance Zimmerman
Are you engaged?” Those are the words the Postal Service is using to get you to take their newest survey. The 2016 Postal Pulse survey showed the USPS what we already knew: Your work environment is not good; your supervisors treat you poorly and morale is low.
So, what has the Postal Service done in the last year? Have things improved since the survey was first put out and found that the USPS ranked low in every category? The USPS created “Ambassadors” to go and train managers, so they could then train supervisors to “engage” the employees – and that “engagement” would make the workplace better.
The reality is, the steps the Postal Service took to make the workplace “more engaging” are meaningless. You still have difficult supervisors and you are having more demanded of you, putting your health and safety at risk. Staff is being reduced, people are being excessed and morale is being decimated.
Management now is trying to get you to become “more engaged” – meaning they want you to return their surveys. They have pitted you against each other by giving awards and cute designations to units that return all their surveys. Don’t do it!
The Postal Pulse and Employee Engagement initiatives are not your friend. Participation in these programs will not fix the issues. Postal management has not listened to your direct pleas to your supervisors, either in your grievances or in meetings at the local, area and national level. Only collectively, demanding compliance of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and speaking in one voice, will we force management to change their ways. Stand united – and do not be fooled by these "wolves in sheep’s clothing" initiatives created to divide us.
Postal management promised not to use the survey against us – but they already are by pitting work units against each other, giving those who have at least 75% participation a sticker as a reward or throwing a little party for the units who “participate.” In the past, management surveys have been used against us in contract negotiations and interest arbitration. With 2018 being a negotiation year, it is possible the survey results will be used against us at the bargaining table.
They ask people to join focus groups and participate in management-initiated events to make the work place more “engaging.” These are not sanctioned nor approved by the union. They were not negotiated and use of them violates the union’s right as the sole representative of the bargaining unit employees under Article 1. Don’t do it!
We have a negotiated grievance process and a negotiated labor-management cooperation process in place to address these issues. Management needs to start following our contract, dealing with the grievances already filed and making sure the hostile frontline supervisors are dealt with. Your union knows the “pulse”of those we represent. If a local supervisor or manager cannot see the problems without a survey, then they are part of the problem.
Get Fired Up and Ready to Go!
Don’t forget that contract negotiations open June 26! We have been continually preparing for them since early 2017. Make no mistake, these negotiations will be challenging, but we are prepared to go in and fight. You deserve a good contract and we will be doing all we can to deliver you one.
However, these are challenging times. Public perception may not be on our side because of unfair, and sometimes inaccurate, media coverage. Hopefully, you are participating in our contract campaign. When called upon, we need you to wear a sticker, a T-shirt or maybe attend a rally. Whatever you can do to show management we are united in our fight for a good contract is welcome.
Our contract campaign can generate leverage and help change public perception. So, are you Fired Up and Ready to Go? Because we are Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow.
(This article first appeared in the May-June 2018 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine)
By Organization Director Anna Smith
Every union member has a part to play in strengthening the APWU, not just officers and stewards. There is so much more to being a member than just paying dues. Consider for a moment what role you can play as a union member. You can assist with union activities and participate in them at every level of the APWU. There is a role for each of us – if you’re not sure where to start, some things to consider might be:
Become an informed union member by attending your local union meetings, reading your union publications and/or visiting local, state and national websites. An informed union member is one of the best assets the APWU has when it comes to defending ourselves against management’s ignorance of our union contract.
Assist in organizing efforts by welcoming new members in orientations or reaching out to those long-term non-members who you may be working next to on a daily basis.
Participate in local rallies. This isn’t just inclusive to APWU rallies. Our brothers and sisters in other unions need our support as much as we need theirs. The labor movement takes all of us supporting one another.
Join or form a local/state legislative committee if you are interested in politics. Make calls to your local, state and federal legislators when called upon to support legislation that benefits postal workers and encourage others to follow suit.
Take action by being involved in your communities and talking with your neighbors, friends and family. Ask if you can count on their support in protecting your job and the labor movement.
Help with transportation to local meetings, events and rallies.
Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow
In the spirit of May 1, International Workers’ Day, make the commitment to do the small task of asking one of your non-member co-workers to stand with you and join us in Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow.
All of us attended orientation when we started and many of us joined the APWU at that time, but orientations alone are not what is going to save our jobs and secure our futures. We all must be actively organizing. As we enter into our next round of contract negotiations, this is a great time to ask a non-member co-worker who has made the conscious decision to not join or has quit at some point, to stand with you now.
Even those who are content with the status quo need to understand that solidarity and involvement is necessary to preserve what we have. Benefits such as our wages, vacation and sick leave, seniority rights, overtime provisions, work hours, paid holidays and health insurance benefits are all on the table. The cold, hard truth is, without us being union and standing together, the Postal Service would not provide us with these benefits.
Through the growth of our union, our strength will become more imposing against management. Union power needs to be felt at every level of the USPS. Do not think for a moment that management does not look at whether the union membership is engaged and working together. They will take advantage of any dissension among us.
Take the time now to speak with your co-workers – members and non-members – about what is at stake. Make the commitment to be actively involved in protecting our jobs.