APWU Grows Impatient With Pace of Contract Talks With USPS

Burrus Update #18-2010, Oct. 25, 2010

More than half-way through the 90-day period established for contract negotiations, the APWU is becoming impatient with the pace of bargaining.

The union negotiating team is well aware that the Postal Service is experiencing serious financial difficulties. For that reason, we anticipated that bargaining would be difficult as we attempt to build on the advances negotiated in past years.

Yet as the Nov. 20 contract expiration approaches, I am increasingly disgusted by management’s refusal to get to the heart of the matter: Bargaining began on Sept. 1, and representatives for both sides have been meeting each week to explore issues of agreement. The APWU negotiating team is led by the President and Director of Industrial Relations, and includes the Executive Vice President and the Craft Directors.

As expected, USPS proposals have included efforts to maximize supervisory control of the workplace and reduce costs by removing previously negotiated contractual protections.

However, to date, management has not presented its proposals on the central contractual issues of wages, benefits, protection against layoffs, seniority, and workforce structure. When these proposals are presented, we expect them to be consistent with the propaganda we have heard so frequently in recent months: the falsehood that postal workers’ wages and benefits are responsible for the dire financial straits of the Postal Service.

To date, the negotiating meetings have consisted of formal presentations by the union and management, followed by questions regarding the justification for the requested changes. The APWU negotiating team has vigorously challenged management’s justifications for its negative proposals and has defended the union’s proposals by demonstrating how they would benefit the Postal Service and the employees we represent.

I have expressed my impatience with the speed of the bargaining process, exhorting management representatives to accelerate the process so that we can begin to engage in the serious give-and-take of bargaining. So far, the meetings have consisted exclusively of formalities: Real bargaining involves passionate feelings for positions taken.

The union cannot convert the process unilaterally, so I have requested that management negotiators conclude these mechanical exchanges and engage in the full range of activities necessary to achieve mutually agreeable provisions.

I am confident that there is common ground on a package of proposals yet to be identified, which can meet management’s expectations of cost reductions and employees’ determination to share the gains in productivity and efficiency. I reject the premise that the serious discussions necessary to identify the framework of an agreement should be deferred to the final stages of negotiations.

Management negotiators seem to believe delay will maximize the pressure on the union, because of the looming threat of arbitration. How wrong they are!

We will not be intimidated by threats or ultimatums. We are convinced that the union’s case for improved conditions for the employees who maintain the best postal system in the world at the cheapest rate is compelling. It is also consistent with the statutory obligation to maintain postal wages and benefits on a standard of comparability with the private sector.

As postal negotiators further reveal the details of their bargaining proposals, the union will evaluate our responses and continue our efforts to improve conditions for our members.

At this point in the process, I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the outcome of the negotiations. As the Nov. 20 deadline approaches, the union will re-establish the APWU Hot Line, so that interested members can follow the negotiations on a timely basis.

William Burrus

9 thoughts on “APWU Grows Impatient With Pace of Contract Talks With USPS

  1. These people in charge drove us into the ditch. Every time they propose a solution it does not work. Why WHY should we trust them? Every projection they have done is wrong. They get it WRONG all the time. I have 20 people in my pay location and 3 supervisors and 1 manger. TOP heavy? Really?

  2. Don’t get mad at the current President because he refuses to bail out the Postal Service..you should have been contacting your elected officials along time ago to report abuse at the Post Office…It really does not look good for us…This Crap is making me SICK! EVERYONE SHOULD CALL OUT SICK FOR JUST A DAY ACROSS THE NATION IN PROTEST…MAYBE SOMEONE WILL LISTEN….

  3. A lot of money is being wasted on EEO’s, MSPB, ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES….VIOLATIONS…ETC.., NOW THAT YOU CAN BLAME ON YOUR UNION..THEY COULD HAVE STOP THIS ALONG TIME AGO…OIG all of a sudden can now do their jobs..Something SMELLS FISHY…

  4. Where has all of the over payment money to CSRS and FERS gone ? How come the APWU doesn’t go to Congress ? Oh, I forgot Congress wants to take OUR money away, too. OBAMA IS NOT WHAT WE THOUGHT WE ELECTED, EITHER. He wants to nationalize ALL retirement funds, including TSP. In 2012 the post office’s share of our health care will count as YOUR INCOME which you will have to pay taxes on. That is OBAMA CARE for ya. It’s time for the APWU to TAKE A FIRM STAND and let it be known PUBLICLY what’s going on. I said PUBLICLY. Run ads in news papers telling Joe Public what this USPS really is and what management really does or should I say doesn’t do. Most of the public still believes we are subsidized by taxes. Can’t we stop this once and for all ?

  5. Hey Burrus, Now are you going to get that time share with Potter? Costa Rica is nice this time of the year and you guys have so much in common.

  6. The USPS is once again proving their intractability and overall lack of capability in negoitiating for themselves. I believe that it isn’t a matter of strategy but a lack of competence. If they refuse to even try to negotiate in good faith, then the responsibility for the contracts will go, once again, to an arbitrater and they will be off the hook. If they work out a contract themselves, then it is their responsibility for whatever fallout there is.
    But, what are they employed for if they refuse to take the responsibility for that part of their jobs? Are the rest of the employees not responsibility for ALL their job responsibilities? It must be nice not to have to do the part of jobs that you don’t want to do.
    This is another example of the lack of accountability that management grants themselves at every level.
    When will Congress hold postal management accountable???????????

  7. Re: William Burrus APWU President.

    I can clearly see the issues on both sides of the table, that is transparent. But the reports from the OIG regarding waste in the USPS is staggering. NO company can survive with that level of accountability. It is not surprising to me PMG Potter is also retiring at the end of this year. APWU does have some very powerful and strategic information at hand, this we all know, in addition to some well grounded negotiators. What they (apwu) are asking for is fair and equitable. We are not getting rich at the expense of the USPS. We just want to remain financially stable. That is not an unreasonable deal.Nor is it for the USPS to want the same, however, we are not squandering our money.

  8. Just another way for management to think they will get what they want. Why don’t they cut some of the top brass! How would they feel if they couldn’t afford their mortgage? Take away their six figure salaries and save the USPS tons of money, and don’t for get to make them pay for their benefits!!! What a bunch of crap! Take from the HARD WORKING MIDDLE CLASS LIVING PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK and continue to sink the USPS! That is managements way! Don’t give in one bit!!!!

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