APWU President WIlliamBurrus Update
Significant Changes Expected; Sacrifices Must Be Shared, Burrus Says
Over the past several months I have attempted to alert APWU members to the financial crisis that is confronting the Postal Service, and the substantial impact it will have upon postal employees. Although some in the postal community dismissed my warnings as alarmist, it was my intent to prepare APWU members that — unless there was a sudden and dramatic improvement in the economy — significant changes were inevitable.
Non-union postal employees have been particularly oblivious to the adverse consequences of low mail volume and reduced revenue. Evidently, they believe they are protected by virtue of their employment; clearly, they fail to appreciate the need for collective action to protect employee rights.
Well, change is upon us: In the near future, the Postal Service will implement modifications to postal operations that are unprecedented in the 230-year history of this great institution. Change will take place, and the changes will affect employees.
Rumors have been circulating throughout the system recently, but at this time I have received no information from the Postal Service about which alternative or alternatives management plans to implement.
When I receive official notification about the course of action management intends to pursue, I will be in a better position to inform APWU members of the contractual provisions and employee protections that apply. Any plan that is adopted will include work-hour reductions, which has been at the very core of management’s response to reduced volume and financial deficits.
I have previously expressed my concern over this narrow approach. No business can exist for long with this strategy; eventually it will become impossible to maintain an acceptable level of service.
But when work-hour reductions are implemented, they should not be applied disproportionally to bargaining unit employees. Staffing is based on workload and responsibility, so if the number of employees must be reduced, reductions should be made across-the-board, including all craft employees, supervisors, postmasters, managers and contract employees.
The very foundation of the postal complement is craft employees, with the remaining categories staffed at a ratio of responsibility for the activities of those employees. Since the number of craft employees has already been reduced by more than 100 million work hours over the last four years, there should be proportional reductions in the remaining categories. There is no justification for the retention of supervisors, managers, and contract employees at previous levels when the number of craft employees has been reduced to this extent.
If postal executives want craft employees to understand the need for significant changes, the sacrifices must be shared by every segment of the postal community.
If the sacrifices are not shared, employees will reject the plan, and I will proudly lead that effort. If there are fewer craft employees, there must be fewer supervisors, fewer postmasters, and fewer contract employees. And “workshare discounts,” which subsidize the major mailers at the expense of the Postal Service and employees, must end.