Update From American Postal Workers (APWU) President William Burrus
Information received from APWU local presidents indicates that USPS management plans to eliminate Tour 2 at mail processing facilities across the country. This would eliminate tens of thousands of preferred duty assignments, which are filled by the most senior employees.
Postal management has failed to inform the national union of this plan, and no discussions on the subject have taken place. The union believes that this lack of consultation at the national level violates the employer/union relationship, and we will respond appropriately.
Mail volume continues to reflect the slumping economy, and personnel adjustments are the typical response to shifting work opportunities. In addition to the plans to eliminate Tour 2, the Postal Service has offered Voluntary Early Retirement to many categories of employees.
The total number of employees accepting early-out offers will not be known for several weeks, but I do not expect management to achieve the complement reduction it hoped for. My advice to employees is to continue to reject the early-retirement offer unless the Postal Service offers a monetary incentive. In this uncertain economy, there will be very few employment opportunities available for retirees to supplement their annuities.
The termination of Tour 2 mail processing may be intended to force senior employees to retire or accept unfavorable hours of work: If that is the intent, my advice is to reject this insidious option.
Layoffs continue to be a possibility, but the union has filed a national-level grievance [PDF] asserting that the National Agreement requires the Postal Service to grant severance pay as a precondition to layoffs or a reduction-in-force (RIF).
If the Postal Service initiates layoffs, it would nullify any justification for refusing to offer monetary incentives to employees who accept early retirement. If applied, severance pay would exceed the six-months-of-salary bonus that was included in previous early-retirement offers.
Discussions continue on the implementation of the 10-4 workweek, which would allow employees to work four 10-hour days each week. However, the national union does not intend to facilitate the elimination of Tour 2 by allowing management to use 10-4 workweeks to reduce the work schedule to two tours.
When I negotiated the Modified Work Week program in 1994, a central point in the accompanying rules was that participation must be voluntary on the part of each employee. No employee could be required to work 10 hours each day as a condition of his or her bid assignment.
I continue to believe that many employees would prefer to work four 10-hour days each week, but such a schedule would not be desired by every employee.
I will keep the membership informed as national discussions continue.