USPS Financial Difficulties And the Possibility of Layoffs
Update From APWU President William Burrus
There has been significant interest in my Sept. 30 Update for union members, which discussed the Postal Service’s bleak financial situation and the presidential election: Interest has been especially high about the reference to the possibility of layoffs – for the first time in postal history.
Let me be clear: The possibility that the Postal Service may exercise its authority to layoff career employees is real, but it would affect very few APWU-represented employees. The 2006-2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement guarantees that each employee who is employed in the regular work force as of Nov. 20, 2006, “shall be protected henceforth against any involuntary layoff or force reduction during the term of this Agreement.”
The agreement also provides that “upon completion of six years of continuous service in their regular workforce” APWU-represented employees are protected against any involuntary layoff or force reduction “during any period of employment in the regular work force with the United States Postal Service or successor organization in his or her lifetime.” To receive credit for the year, an employee must have worked at least one hour (or received a call-in guarantee in lieu of work) in at least 20 of the 26 pay periods during that anniversary year.
APWU-represented employees who meet the criteria listed above are protected for the life of the 2006-2010 National Agreement or for their lifetime, and are not threatened by layoffs resulting from the significant decline in mail volume or the USPS financial difficulties.
If the Postal Service’s offer of early retirement fails to reduce the workforce commensurate with USPS budgetary problems, the Postal Service will have a continuing need to reduce the number of employees. I expect that non-protected employees will be exposed to the possibility of layoff.
During a meeting between Postmaster General John E. Potter and the union presidents last month, he reported that 16,000 postal employees lack protection against layoffs. Members of the Mail Handlers Union and the APWU have the protections described above.
The threat of layoffs is just one of the factors mentioned in my previous Update, which informed union members that the November elections have great significance for postal employees and are much more personal than abortion, guns, gay marriage and terrorism. This time it is about your job.