Letter Is Response to APWU Criticism of Executives’ Strategy Recommendations
In response to criticism by APWU President William Burrus, the Postal Service has officially notified its managers that efficiency-improvement strategies must be in full compliance with collective bargaining agreements.
“Strategic programs designed to increase efficiency will always prove to be more successful when accomplished by adhering to the contractual requirements in our respective collective bargaining agreements,” wrote the Postal Service’s highest-ranking Labor Relations executive in a letter sent to postal managers and executives nationwide.
The Nov. 15 letter [PDF] was in response to Burrus’ criticisms of an October USPS News Link report on the outcome of a meeting of 700 USPS managers. When asked to identify the best opportunities for improving postal efficiency, participants at a National Executives Conference gave top-ranking to managing sick leave, managing overtime, and maximizing the use of non-career employees.
In a letter to Postmaster General John E. Potter, the APWU president noted that “each of these issues is governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which details the rights of the employees.” Compliance with the National Agreement was not among the highly-ranked objectives, Burrus pointed out, even though USPS contract violations have resulted in numerous grievance settlements totaling in the millions of dollars.
The Labor Relations letter cautioned managers that, “While all three of these areas provide potential to increase our efficiency, we must proceed by being mindful of our contractual obligations that govern these areas.”
“Accordingly, it is fully expected that any and all programs designed to increase efficiency… will be accomplished in full compliance with the collective bargaining agreements.”
Burrus said, “We are pleased that the Postal Service has withdrawn what seemed to be an invitation to ignore labor agreements. As long as the agreement is honored we do not object to efforts to improve the quality of service.”
Participants at the USPS conference were asked to rank in importance from among a “list of areas of opportunities.” The list did not include compliance with labor agreements or such areas as morale and harassment of employees. “Managers who simply adhere to the collective bargaining agreement can bring about serious change that would improve efficiencies,” Burrus said.