U.S. Postal Service Labor Negotiations Fact Sheet


* The Postal Reorganization Act authorizes collective bargaining on wages and working conditions, generally under laws applying to private industry. As the Postal Service is an essential service to the nation’s economy, Congress mandated that employees represented by unions cannot strike. Impasses in collective bargaining negotiations may ultimately be resolved through arbitration.

Current Operating Environment

* Mail volume peaked at 213 billion in 2006. Since 2007 mail volume plummeted 35 billion pieces — 20 percent. By 2020, mail volume is expected to decline to 150 billion.
* Many mail processing plants previously operated three, eight hour shifts, seven-days-a-week. Today, many facilities have reduced operations to two eight-hour shifts operating five- or six-days a week.
* Seventy-eight percent of Postal Service costs are linked to wages and benefits.
* To remain relevant while meeting today’s changing mailing trends, the Postal Service must manage its labor costs by matching workforce to workload.
* The Postal Service’s goal is to negotiate a contract that’s fair to its customers and its employees while meeting its financial and operational needs.

Negotiations Process

The collective bargaining process for the Postal Service may entail a three-step process: negotiation, mediation and interest arbitration. The parties may negotiate a contract at any of the three steps in the process.

Step 1: The negotiations period begins approximately 90-days prior to the expiration of the contract. During this time, the parties try to reach agreement themselves. If they reach a tentative agreement, it must then be ratified by a vote of the union membership.

Step 2: If they cannot reach agreement, a federal mediator is appointed by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), unless both parties waive mediation. If no agreement is reached with the mediator, or if the parties waive mediation, the contract goes to impasse.

Step 3: The impasse proceeds to final and binding interest arbitration. In interest arbitration the dispute goes before a three-member panel. The panel consists of a neutral arbitrator serving as chairperson and two arbitrators representing each party. The neutral arbitrator may be selected by agreement of the parties, or from a list provided by the FMCS.
Employee Unions

Most hourly employees are represented by four unions. The American Postal Workers Union AFL-CIO (APWU) represents employees who work as clerks, mechanics, vehicle drivers, custodians and some administrative positions. Employees represented by the National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO (NALC) deliver in metropolitan areas; National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (NRLCA) employees deliver primarily in rural and suburban areas; and, employees represented by the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, AFL-CIO (NPMHU) work in mail processing plants and Post Offices.

Union     Employees     Contract Expiration
APWU     211,000     midnight, Nov. 20, 2010
NALC     207,000     midnight, Nov. 20, 2011
NRLCA     67,000 career
48,000 non-career     midnight, Nov. 20, 2010

NPMHU     49,000             midnight, Nov. 20, 2011

In addition to the four major unions, five other bargaining units collectively cover more than 1,100 employees representing nurses, police officers, Information Technology and accounting services, headquarters maintenance employees and machinists.

Contract negotiations for the NRLCA begin Sept. 13, 2010. The NALC and NPMHU begin negotiations next year approximately 90-days prior to the contract expiration date.

7 thoughts on “U.S. Postal Service Labor Negotiations Fact Sheet

  1. What is the breakdown of the 78 percent labor cost on wages and benefits between upper level management and the rest of the USPS workforce? Its funny how the USPS will not supply this information when asked!!

  2. lets get back to doing what we are mandated to do. offer affordable service.
    dont close post offices that are making; money by skewing the facts. simply add up your expenses (not inflated) and deduct that from your revenue.. (dont deflate that). i am sure you will find that 99% of the post offices out there are making money.. to the plus side.. even if that plus is minimal we have an OBLIGATION to provide service… if we dont someone esle will.. btw.. to all the clerks anccarriers out there.. how about the mail these mondays lately… now take the saturday del out of the mix.. now how much mail would you have.. duh.. cant do the no saturday delivery.. and if you do.. dont tell the window clerks to tell customers that priority mail is 2 to 3 days.. cant happen with no saturday deliv..
    and finally thanks to the po for supplying me with NO mother and child xmas stamps… assholes..

  3. Potter was and is worthless, why should he make his fat check and bonus money to get on stage with his red-face and tell lies

  4. Don’t believe the hype. If the PO can afford to overpay it’s Funds to OPM by $142 Billion, they have plenty of money! Don’t kid yourself, the spin doctors are hard at work! It’s time to get down to brass tacks right the PO to where it should be!

  5. Give us back our over payments to Health and retirement beifits.
    Have mailers stop using string ,and rubber bands to wrap mail.
    It causes damage to mail ,overtime ,and delays mail.
    Five days a week mail delivery to small towns only.
    Stop all bonus money until we right size the ship before we go down.

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