The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) said that a new method that the US Postal Service is using to determine duty assignments in local post offices “is an all out assault on our jobs” that will reduce service to customers and disrupt the lives of thousands of post workers.
The union also said that the new duty assignment method, which local managers are supposed to use to determine staffing levels at local post offices, “blatantly violates” the union’s collective bargaining agreement with the Postal Service.
Consequently, APWU has launched a nationwide, coordinated effort to stop the contract violations.
“We are gearing up for a large fight,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “I know that if we stick together and stay united, then – just like the Stop Staples and contract struggles – we will be victorious.”
APWU successfully mobilized members, postal customers, and other unions to stop the Postal Service’s plan to privatized services by contracting with Staples, the US’ largest office supply retailer, to provide postal services in Staples stores.
APWU also mobilized members to win a fair contract through its Good Postal Service! Good Jobs! Good Contract! campaign. The solidarity shown by members during this campaign made it hard for the Postal Service to win the concessions it was seeking during the negotiations, which lasted nearly a year.
When an impasse between the two sides was declared, the contract went arbitration.
As a result, according to Government Executive magazine, “the union won a series of new rights and benefits for non-career workers, and protected the benefits of regular, full-time employees the Postal Service had previously threatened.”
The union also won protections against layoffs .
But the Postal Service now appears to be using the back door to achieve what it couldn’t achieve through contract negotiations–reducing layoff protections for career postal employees.
Article 37.3.A.1 in the postal workers collective bargaining agreement with the Postal Service contains specific language about how managers are to determine duty assignments at local post offices.
This language requires Postal Service managers to use “all available work hours” to determine duty assignments.
The new method that the Postal Service wants managers to use ignores Article 37.3.A.1 and instead relies on a fanciful estimation of work hours needed to determine staffing levels at local post offices.
The union is concerned that if the Postal Service uses this new method, local post offices will be left under staffed, customers will be under served, and postal worker jobs will be in jeopardy.
The union is planning a national strategy to protect jobs and services at local post offices.
In addition to meeting with management at all levels of the Postal Service to protest the new duty assignment method, the union is conducting a national coordinated fight to stop its implementation.
The union is providing local officers and members with specific training about the duty assignment issue across the country, so that if local managers ignore the collective bargaining agreement when assigning duties locals of APWU will be able to file effective grievances.
Locals are also conducting a public outreach campaign aimed at informing the public about possible threats to services created by the new duty assignment method.
The Baltimore APWU local on June 10 held an informational picket at the city’s main post office. The picket was attended by local members and community supporters.
The union has also designated National Business Agents in each area to work with local officers and members “to develop strong grievances, coordinate our actions, and put our best foot forward in addressing these issues.”
“As postal workers we must fight together against the Postal Service 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,” reads a statement issued by the union.