03/16/2018 - The APWU was informed on October 26, 2017 of the Postal Service’s intent to roll out a new program called the Safety Ambassador Program. The Postal Service intends to replace the safety captain program, and any other local safety programs, with this “standardized” and nationally controlled program. The American Postal Workers Union does not support, agree with, or endorse this program.
Using their latest catch phrase—employee engagement—the Postal Service claims that this program “will focus on employee engagement, training, communication, hazard identification/abatement, and accident reduction.” Having a safe workplace is every worker’s right and you must fight for that right! However, the Safety Ambassador Program appears to be nothing more than an end-around our currently negotiated joint union-management safety procedures.
We have multiple issues with the program including, but not limited to, the following:
Rather than encouraging that safety hazards be reported on PS Form 1767, the Service encourages “verbal” reporting of hazards where there would be no record or tracking of the hazard. Written records are the basis for showing the hazard was reported.
Ambassador selection would be at sole discretion of installation head (manager, postmaster) without any union input. Many locals have elected officers and appointed officials who are responsible for safety. We also have reports from the field that management has instructed those making selections to specifically avoid using union representatives and “agitators.” It has been reported that the Postal Service is encouraging its managers to select employees who are not active in their unions as ambassadors.
Ambassadors are supposed to be “volunteers.” However, multiple reports from the field are showing that employees are being forced to become Ambassadors.
Local Safety and Health Committees are not part of the program.
Ambassadors would participate in creating Job Safety Analysis (JSA) which is currently the function of Article 14 Safety and Health Committees.
Ambassadors will be observing their coworkers, telling them they are being unsafe, and providing feedback and coaching to them, as well as reporting back to the supervisors on their coworkers’ actions.
Ambassadors will be trained on the use of the USPS Safety Toolkit which again is in the purview of the Safety and health Committees.
The APWU has initiated an Article 19 appeal to arbitration on the implementation of this program (Q15C-4Q-C 18055498). We believe the Service has violated Article 5 Prohibition of Unilateral Action (past practice of safety programs and failure to negotiate), Article 14 Safety and Health, Article 19 Handbooks and Manuals, ELM Chapter 8. Questions on the dispute should be directed to the Article 14 officers at headquarters, Lynn Pallas-Barber and Terry Martinez. Copies of all relevant documents were sent to the NBAs in the field.
We request that any local or state organization that has Safety and Health Committees immediately file a grievance that the Safety Ambassador program is a violation of Article 14 and the negotiated Safety and Health Committee processes as well as Article 1 Union Recognition - that the APWU is the exclusive bargaining representative for those we represent. Safety programs are subject of bargaining and the union must be included in the decisions about any safety program. Grievances should also be initiated where employees have been involuntarily required to act as ambassadors. No one is required to be an ambassador and they can decline the offer to be one. Any grievances on this issue held, pending the Article 19 appeal, must be held at Step 3 only, to provide better tracking.
The APWU believes strongly that your workplace must be a safe place to work. We believe bargaining unit member participation is important to a safe work place and that we all need to act together to make sure it is. As an individual and in groups you should be able to feel that you can act through using 1767s, workroom floor actions, and filing grievances. You should not have to go through a management-appointed intermediary in order to have a safe workplace!
As the Postal Service remains the most dangerous place to work of all federal agencies in the country, we must fight for our rights to have fair, reasonable, and successful safety programs. The Safety Ambassador Program does not fit that description as it was fully developed and implemented by management while completely ignoring your union.
On March 2, thirteen APWU members participated in a day-long focus group to test the curriculum being developed by Rutgers University’s Labor Education Center for the union’s ongoing efforts to build an APWU broad-based educationalprogram, known as the APWU National Institute.
The APWU National Institute would include week-long training sessions with modules for new member orientation, trainings geared to members and stewards, as well as special segments for meetings and conferences. Training topics would include organizing unionism, grassroot leadership skills, history, income inequality, privatization, “who controls our destiny,” collective bargaining, diversity, social and political roles of labor unions, and the culture of resistance.
“The training was well received by our group,” said Northeast Region Coordinator John H. Dirzius. “It was a unique experience to focus not only on building the APWU, but also the skills to help rebuild the labor movement.”
“The group's training evaluation comments were very positive. It was a great group of activists, a good learning experience, and a fun day,” added Eastern Region Coordinator Mike Gallagher. “Our group had lots of energy, gave excellent feedback on the curriculum and made our day productive and enjoyable."
The Rutgers instructors included: Carmen Martino, Assistant Professor, Professional Practice and Occupational Training and Education Consortium (OTEC) Co-Director; Dr. Michael Merrill, Director of Labor Education and Research Now (LEARN) and Professor of Professional Practice at Labor Studies and Employment Relations (LSER); and Tia Polihros researcher and editor for OTEC and LEARN. Professor Martino focuses in strategic planning, root cause analysis, high performance work systems, basic skills development, organizing, and stewards training.
APWU’s focus group included:
Mike Ferrara, Mount Vernon (NY) Local President
Zora Dudley, Mount Vernon (NY) Local
Rick Slater, North Jersey Area Local Executive Vice President
Jamille Way, North Jersey Area Local
Joe Shevlin, Red Bank (NJ) Local President
Howard Polner, Central Jersey Area Local Secretary-Treasurer
Anthony Moya, Central Jersey Area Local Editor
Michael Congo, Wilmington DE/Malcolm T Smith Area Local
Brian Pigott, New Jersey Mid-State Area Local Clerk Division Director
08/18/2017 - The APWU’s national headquarters is gearing up for the upcoming 2018 Contract Campaign!
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), also known as a union contract, between the APWU and the USPS expires on Sept. 20, 2018 – just a little over one year from now. The contract determines wages, benefits and conditions of employment.
In June 2018, the APWU will open formal negotiations with management, and preparations are already underway. Some of the APWU’s major goals for upcoming negotiations include:
Ensuring job security, including protecting no lay-off provisions and limiting sub-contracting;
Providing fair pay raises that reward postal workers for their hard work and contributions;
Bridging the gaps between the divisive “three tier” wage and benefit structure;
Protecting and expanding career jobs;
Uplifting the Postal Support Employee (PSE) workforce;
Holding abusive managers accountable;
Expanding and enhancing postal services.
Negotiations are never easy. Especially in the current political environment, they will be extremely challenging. The APWU’s success will depend on how much power and leverage can be mustered with member involvement and support from the public.
By successfully doing this in 2015, the union made real progress in the last contract.
Over the next year, the APWU will be building momentum, establishing contract action teams, wearing union gear and educating postal customers. There will be many opportunities – and much need – for members to get involved.
After Nine Day Strike, Workers Win All their Demands Including a Pay Raise, a Freeze on Any Health Insurance Premium Increase and Governor Veto of Anti-Worker Legislation
WEB NEWS ARTICLE #:
It was an inspirational show of solidarity. Education workers across all 55 counties in West Virginia – about 34,000 workers in total – said ‘enough is enough.’ Members of the American Federation of Teachers - West Virginia (AFT-West Virginia), the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA), and the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association (WVSSPA) went out on strike from Feb. 22 – Mar. 6. Together, they were victorious.
West Virginia teachers were the 48th lowest paid in the country, with starting salary of just $33,000 – and there are nearly 700 vacancies across the state. The workers’ health insurancepremiums were slated to increase.
Among the strikers’ demands were a pay raise and a remedy to health insurance issues. They also wanted to stop an expansion of charter schools in the state, maintain seniority, and opposed a paycheck “protection” bill (which would weaken unions by stopping payroll dues deduction).
The final settlement (approved by the state’s legislature on Mar. 6) included an immediate 5% pay raise, a freeze on the insurance premium increase, and a promise by Governor Jim Justice to veto all anti-worker legislation. The workers also secured the creation of a task force on the state’s health care plan, with a seat at the table for each of the three striking unions.
The strike was reminiscent of postal workers’ own strike. “In the 1970 postal strike, militant postal workers carried out similar unlawful but needed job actions,” said President Mark Dimondstein. “These too were propelled from the ‘rank and file.’ The most important event of our postal labor history laid the basis for the many subsequent gains in our union contracts and postal workers’ rights and benefits.”
For the workers, it did not matter what union they belonged to, be it the NEA, AFT, or WVSSPA, or what job they performed, whether it was teacher, bus driver, cafeteria worker, custodian or clerical worker. They went on strike together.
The hashtags #55United and #55Strong spread on social media like wildfire, highlighting that the strike included every county in the state. Education in West Virginia was on hold until the state government heard and met with the strikers.
Cody Thompson, a social studies and civics teacher at Elkins High School in Elkins, WV, told the Associated Press, “We feel like we're under attack constantly. Eventually whenever you're pushed into a corner, you've got to push back."
Student and Community Support
Another factor in the workers’ success was the tremendous support from students, parents, community groups, and even school superintendents.
The day before the strike, thousands of students across the state held a “purple-out,” wearing purple to symbolize the combination of red and blue – the two teachers unions’ colors. A group of students at Capitol High School in Charleston told CNN that they started the hashtag #SecureOurFuture and also penned an open letter to the state.
“Public servants deserve more, and if we want hardworking, dedicated, and talented teachers to stay in West Virginia, we must compensate them competitively,” the students wrote. Thousands of students joined their teachers on the picket line and at the protests in front of the West Virginia Capitol building.
Many parents of the more than 277,000 students were inconvenienced, having to find child care options while schools were closed, but they directed their frustrations at the state officials, not the workers. “To me, a 5% raise is the least we can do,” said Lynn Swann, a parent of a high school student.
Because the strike also had the support of the school superintendents, all the workers continued to receive pay. This meant that everything collected for the West Virginia Teachers’ Strike Relief went toward feeding students who depended on school breakfasts and lunches.
Solidarity Won the Day
The strike was mobilized at the grassroots level – a truly ‘bottom up’ action. Together, the workers stood up for their rights ‘in the streets.’ They took huge risks, putting themselves in each other’s hands, and did not listen to any voices telling them to ‘play it safe.’
The workers’ actions have also inspired educators throughout the country. Right now, teachers in Kentucky, Arizona and Oklahoma are publicly demanding that their state legislators address their frustrations over pay and benefits.
The strike’s success shows how “workers can force whichever political wing of corporate power holds the reins to respond to workers’ union action,” said President Dimondstein. “Workers can build power when we mobilize and take ownership of our unions – and fight for our own destiny.”
“I am so proud of West Virginia’s education employees,” said West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee. “Without them, [the] agreement would not have happened. They stood in solidarity – 55 strong – and each day it was clear their resolve grew stronger.”
“It feels good right now,” said Christine Campbell, president of American Federation of Teachers (AFT) West Virginia. “This has been a really long process, but an energizing process.”
National Education Association (NEA) President Lily Eskelsen García praised the way workers “stood in solidarity and made their voices heard to demand recognition of their professionalism and dignity.”
“That victory is a testament to the voice and determination, the resilience and compassion, and the collective power and organizing of the educators of this state,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said.
“We got a freeze on [the health care increase] and a seat at the table. We got a pay raise for ourselves and all other state workers,” wrote AFT member Greg Cruey on Twitter. “We beat down bad bills. We got respect and self-respect and found ourselves. Teachers won. Labor won. West Virginia won.”
Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee Appointed
WEB NEWS ARTICLE #:
03/07/2018 - With contract negotiations set to begin early summer, President Mark Dimondstein has announced the names of union members who will serve on the Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee. In accordance with the APWU Constitution, each member of the National Executive Board names one person to the committee; a 14th member, appointed by the president, is a member of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Task Force.
The APWU National Negotiations Committee (NNC) has full authority to negotiate the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement and the Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee provides input to the NNC. The rank and file committee must also approve any tentative agreement before it can be sent to APWU members for a ratification vote.
Contract negotiations are set to begin on June 26. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires on Sept 20, 2018.
The appointees are:
Ashley Cargill - President, Oklahoma Postal Workers Union
(appointed by Mark Dimondstein, President)
Tiffany Foster - Executive Vice President, New York Metro Area Postal Union
(appointed by Debby Szeredy, Executive Vice President)
Doris Orr-Richardson - President, Florida Postal Workers Union
(appointed by Elizabeth Powell, Secretary-Treasurer)
Scott M. Hoffman - President, Boston Metro Area Local
(appointed by Vance Zimmerman, Industrial Relations Director)
Sandra Munoz - Executive Vice President, Broward County Area Local
(appointed by Clint Burelson, Clerk Division Director)
Roscoe Woods - President, 480-481 Area Local
(appointed by Steven Raymer, Maintenance Division Director)
Fred Wolfmeyer - President, Saint Louis Gateway District Area Local
(appointed by Michael Foster, Motor Vehicle Service Division Director)
Arrion Brown - Support Services Director, Nation's Capital Southern Maryland Area Local
(appointed by Steve Brooks, Support Services Division Director)
Daleo Freemen - President, Cleveland Area Local
(appointed by Sharyn Stone, Central Region Coordinator)
The dispute was initiated after the Postal Service admittedly failed to honor their agreement 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, and Level 18 offices would be staffed 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.
“Our goal is for management to abide by their contractual obligations in the first place. When they don’t, it is best if management addresses the problem as quickly as possible, in this case to properly staff the POStplan offices,” remarked President Dimondstein. “Unfortunately, neither happened, and I congratulate the Clerk Craft in insuring that these management violations have consequences as a deterrent to future violations.”
The money from the settlement will be distributed among Clerk Craft employees to be identified by the National APWU. The Postal Service is required to cooperate and provide information necessary for the union to identify employees eligible for payment. Updates on the implementation of the settlement agreement will be provided to local/state organizations and the membership through the APWU website.
“It is important we have arbitrators willing to rule that monetary payments and other strong remedies are necessary to address willful and/or repeated violations of the contract,” said Clerk Division Director Clint Burleson, “It is even more important that the membership work together to develop the leverage to win grievances at the local level and ideally prevent violations from occurring in the first place.
“Many thanks goes to Assistant Clerk Craft Director Lynn Pallas Barber,” Burleson continued, “who served as the case officer for the grievance, provided testimony at the hearing, and developed the leverage to secure the $49.9 million in remedy. Thanks also go to Assistant Craft Director Lamont Brooks for his assistance in negotiating the final settlement.”
White House Budget for 2019
Continues Attacks on Postal and Federal Workers
Web News Article
02/21/2018 - The White House introduced its proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget to Congress last week. This non-binding proposal begins an annual, months-long government funding process and also showcases the Administration’s funding priorities, setting the tone for budget negotiations.
For postal and federal workers, this budget is largely a reintroduction of last year’s failed attacks on our pay and benefits, but takes them even further. It:
Increases employee FERS contributions 1% a year for each of the next six years;
Eliminates FERS Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), and reduces CSRS COLAs by 0.5%;
Eliminates the special retirement supplement;
Reduces retirement benefits by using a “high five” salary average formula, rather than the current “high three” average;
Lowers the G-fund interest rate to provide worse returns on Thrift Savings Plan investments;
Increases the share postal and federal workers pay for care under the FEHBP;
Slashes Postal Service personnel costs and reduces mail service to the American people to achieve $44 billion dollars in postal-specific savings;
Decrease FECA compensation for injured workers and institute a new waiting period before they can receive benefits;
Cuts $237 billion from Medicare.
Each of these proposals would be severe cuts to dedicated postal employees, both active and retired.
“We’ve been down this road before, and once again we cannot allow the budget to be balanced on the backs of working people,” said President Mark Dimondstein.
As justification for attacking our paychecks and retirement security, the White House cites the need to reduce the federal deficit; however, the White House and its allies seemed unconcerned with the deficit when they passed a $1.5 trillion bill to finance tax cuts for the wealthy elite.
“Just as we feared when we fought against the disastrous tax proposal, the White House is coming after our hard-earned pay and benefits to ‘fix’ the deficit they are growing,” said Legislative and Political Director Judy Beard.
Many of the Administration’s disastrous proposals were incorporated into last year’s House budget, as part of a $32 billion dollar cut targeted at federal and postal worker pay and benefits. Postal workers, active and retired alike, rallied last year against the budget attacks and stood arm-in-arm with our sisters and brothers in the Federal-Postal Coalition to defend our livelihoods. We flooded Congress with tens of thousands of calls on our coordinated Day of Action against the budget, and thanks to our activism, we were victorious. Congress ultimately abandoned the House budget and instead adopted the Senate budget which excluded these terrible provisions.
As this year’s budget process begins anew, we will bring that same vigilance and action to succeed.
02/17/2018 - On Saturday, Feb. 24, workers will gather from coast to coast for a Working People’s Day of Action to demand an end to the rigged economic system. They will to stand together to fight for social and economic justice including the right to fair bargaining and union representation!
The Day of Action, organized by AFSCME and Jobs with Justice, comes at a crucial time in labor movement history. It is part of the commemoration for the 50th anniversary of the historic Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike. The strike was sparked by the tragic deaths of Echol Cole and Robert Walker on Feb. 1, who were sheltering from a storm inside their truck when it malfunctioned, and crushed them. On February 12, 1968 the black sanitation workers went on strike to demand that their dignity, their humanity and their union be recognized.
Today, workers are still fighting for the same issues. Too many people are killed or injured on the job. The right of workers to come together and have a voice in their workplace is being fought by groups like the National Right to Work Committee – financially backed by the corporate elite who continue to work to weaken unions.
However, working people know that In Our Unity Lies Our Strength, and together we can stand up to the forces that wish to hurt us.
What You Can Do
On Feb. 24, workers will gather together to call for an end to this unfair system.
Visit www.itsaboutfreedom.org to sign up to attend a rally above or to see what other events are planned near you. Click here to download a flyer to pass out at your workplace and in your community.
If you are unable to attend one of the rallies above, you can still spread the message to your co-workers, family members and community of the need for respect, dignity and safety on the job. This includes our 2018 fight for a fair contract. Together we are Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow.
02/16/2018 - In accordance with the 2015-2018 Collective Bargaining Agreement, career employees represented by the APWU will receive a 25 cent per hour cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), effective March 3. The increase is the result of a rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W). It will appear in paychecks dated March 23, 2018 (Pay Period 06-2018), and will total $520.00 per year.
The COLAs are in addition to general wage increases.
This is the sixth cost-of-living increase under the 2015-2018 contract:
$0.00 The first COLA would have been effective Sept. 5, 2015
$0.00 The second COLA would have been effective March 5, 2016.
$21.00 The third COLA was effective Sept. 3, 2016.
$333.00 The fourth COLA was effective March 18, 2017.
$270.00 The fifth COLA increase effective Sept. 2, 2017.
$520.00 The sixth COLA effective March 3, 2018.
The COLAs received so-far during the 2015-2018 CBA will total $1,144 per year.
Postal Support Employees (PSEs) do not receive cost-of-living increases, but have five general wage increases under the 2015-2018 contract. On Nov. 25, 2017, PSEs received a pay increase of 2.3 percent and will receive a 21-cent raise on May 26, 2018.