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Jan 25, 2020
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Clerk Craft Information
Jan 14, 2020

Negotiation/Arbitration with the USPS

November 19, 2019

(This article first appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) â€‹

Most postal workers would be surprised to learn that during negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the top management officials did not meet with the union to discuss and resolve issues to secure a new CBA. However, management did come to interest arbitration to tell the Arbitrators what they “need” from a new CBA.

Testimony of COO Dave Williams

Chief Operating Officer (COO) David Williams, head of postal operations and second in command to the Postmaster General, bashed postal workers from every craft and utilized vague old corporate code words to indicate postal workers should be paid less and management should have more power to do whatever they want. Williams used the word 'flexibility' and its variations approximately 56 times during his testimony. He utilized companion corporate words 'agile' 11 times and 'nimble' seven times. Williams openly talked about replacing workers with automation and technology, including utilizing a fake “avatar” instead of a real person at post offices.

The USPS used a worsening financial condition to argue for lower wages and greater management control. Although management touched on it slightly, the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) changes, pushed by privatizers and the large mailers, implemented an unreasonably aggressive prefunding of retiree health care and the crippling cap on postage increases that put the USPS in this financial situation. The PAEA also stated the USPS should not offer logical expanded services like postal banking, which has provided much revenue for postal services in other countries and would help Americans keep more income as opposed to turning it over to corporations that charge outrageous sums for basic financial services.

The Revolving Door

COO Williams’ testimony sparked a reminder of the revolving door between the large mailers and the top managers of the USPS. Williams mentioned that the Postal Service was investing in automated guided vehicles to replace what are commonly referred to as “tuggers.” Williams did not mention that the USPS contracted with the Seegrid Corporation for those tuggers, and that former PMG Patrick Donahoe was on their Board. Also, former top postal managers occupy the top positions in influential large mailer business associations that pushed the PAEA and continue to push for reducing employee numbers and wages.

Williams’s performance as COO and his testimony at the interest arbitration session demonstrate to the large mailers that he is worthy of their consideration to the vacant PMG position and/or could follow similar top management officials into lucrative positions working/consulting for the large mailers.

Imagine

Despite the deck seemingly stacked against us, there are plenty of reasons for hope. Poll after poll shows that the American people overwhelmingly think highly of and support the Postal Service. Millions of workers would like the opportunity for living wage postal jobs in their community. We have in our history the Great Postal Strike of 1970, along with the Sears and Staples boycott victories. I am hopeful because it really should be an easy fix.

Imagine you are observing an island with 100 people where one person lives in luxury, owns all the land and controls all the resources. He might have 19 people that he pays a bit better than the rest to try to control the 80 employees/ peasants. How long should it take for those 80 people to change the system over to a fair system?

How does the vast majority of people allow a few people to dominate them? What is needed to be done to change things for the better?

Answer these questions, and the people on the island can create a truly democratic system. Answer these questions, and postal workers can create a better Postal Service that serves our communities while providing good, meaningful work and wages and benefits that result in a better life for postal workers and their families.


May 23, 2019

Clerk Craft Updates

(This article first appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) 

By Clerk Division Director Clint Burelson 

National Grievances

As a result of the Clerk Craft’s win in the Sales Retention Team dispute, the USPS recently sent checks to eligible employees as part of the $36 million remedy for the USPS violations when they failed to post new duty assignments in the sites with Sales Retention Teams. The Clerk Craft’s win of $49.9 million in the Postmaster Relief (PMR) dispute should be coming out to eligible employees later this year. Part of the delay in paying employees is getting accurate information from the Postal Service.

Part-Time Flexible (PTF) and Postal Support Employee (PSE) Conversions

Given USPS’s current lack of excessing plans, which could change in the near future, now is the time to convert PTFs to regular and PSEs to career. It is difficult to convert once excessing and the withholding of jobs occurs.

Notably, the USPS asked us at the national level to convert PSEs to unassigned/unencumbered without any residual vacancies for much of last year. Despite some concerns, we support converting PSEs as fast as possible. Over 1,000 PSEs have been converted to career in this way.

Trump Task Force

The Clerk Craft, and all of the APWU, is under attack in the Trump Task Force report released on Dec. 4, 2018. The Trump Administration paid the Mitre Corporation $1.6 million for the report, which relies upon, and largely supports, the interest of the large mailers. One of their first steps is to “redefine” the universal service obligation (USO) in order to reduce service. Somewhat surprisingly, the report acknowledges the role of the large mailers in allowing slower delivery:

The Task Force’s outreach with major mailers revealed that geographic coverage, predictability on timing of delivery, and six-day delivery are more important than the speed of delivery. Mailers can, in many cases, adjust drop-off dates to accommodate slower or faster delivery.

Here are the broad recommendations of the Trump Task Force in two sentences:

The Task Force believes that the USPS must operate in a more cost-efficient manner by exercising discretion to lower service standards and to increase the use of third parties through additional work sharing and the use of third party processing and logistics providers. In addition, as postal employees are part of the U.S. federal civil service, their wages and benefits should be aligned to comparable U.S. federal employee groups, including aligning their ability to collectively bargain for wages and benefits with other federal employees.

The Task Force recommends reducing service to the public, increasing discounts/contracting out/privatization, and dismantling the power of postal worker organizations. The Postal Service has already been doing this, but there is a provision in the report that takes the recommended privatization a step further:

The Task Force recommends that the USPS explore franchising the mailbox as a means of generating revenue. This could be done by retaining the mailbox monopoly and allowing regulated access, for a fee, to certified private companies. These “franchisees” would be granted access to the mailbox for the delivery of mail and small parcels.

This would open the mailbox for anyone to deliver for a fee. If implemented, this would be a gift to FedEx, UPS, and Amazon. Mailbox franchising, like the postage discounts to large mailers, would be another way to privatize operations without transferring ownership to another entity.

Final Words

It is not surprising that the richest .01 percent of the population want to use their power to benefit themselves. What is surprising is that the 99.9 percent of us allow the .01 percent to control the USPS and our society. Show that you are not going to take it anymore by showing up for union meetings, becoming an active union member, an active citizen, and otherwise fight today for a better tomorrow.


Mar 04, 2019

Update:

RI-399 Monetary Settlement Distribution

WEB NEWS ARTICLE #: 
17-2019

03/02/2019 - As previously reported, in 2018 the APWU, the National Postal Mail Handlers’ Union (NPMHU), and the USPS reached a tripartite agreement updating the RI-399 work jurisdiction process. As part of the agreement on the update to the RI-399 process, all pending RI-399 grievances filed prior to September 1, 2017, were administratively closed with some limited exceptions.

The Postal Service agreed that they would pay $14.5 million to each union in consideration of the withdrawal of national level disputes. The settlement agreement calls for the unions to each make their own determination on how this money would be distributed.

After consultation, much discussion, and agreement with the Clerk Craft Director, the APWU has decided that the money will be distributed in equal amounts to clerk craft employees who fall into the following two categories:

  1. All career clerk craft employees who were on the rolls as of September 1, 2017, in postal installations that employ both clerk craft employees and mail handlers; and
  2. All PSE clerk craft employees who were on the rolls on September 1, 2017, in postal installations that employ both clerk craft employees and mail handlers and who are still on the rolls as of March 1, 2019.

The exact amount of money is yet to be determined as the APWU is still determining exactly who are entitled to payment. We currently estimate this number to be around 85,000 career and non-career clerks (including any eligible career employees who retired after September 1, 2017). The number of eligible clerks is nearly double the number of mail handlers who will receive payment. President Mark Dimondstein and Clerk Craft Director Clint Burelson released a memorandum to national, state, and local officers.

Updates will be provided as the process progresses.




Page Last Updated: Jan 14, 2020 (07:40:03)
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