The following is an article written by Jay Killackey, Executive Vice President, National Association of Postal Supervisors (NAPS)
You and Your Benefits under attack (February 28, 2011)
You might wonder why my article this month is on collective bargaining. As supervisors, managers and postmasters in the Postal Service, we do not enjoy the right to collective bargaining. But, since most current and retired EAS employees started their postal careers as craft employees, collective bargaining is something all postal employees have taken for granted for many years. Collective bargaining is the linchpin that provides us management employees with our consultative rights.
Anyone watching the news knows collective bargaining for state and federal government employees is under attack. Governors from several states and some elected leaders in Washington, DC, are of the opinion government employees no longer should have the right to collective bargaining. Why? Because, in the opinion of some, the basic right workers have to collective bargaining has bankrupted the country.
In the Postal Service, only the craft unions have collective bargaining, while field management employees have an exception to the rule excluding supervisory employees from collective bargaining. This exception is allowed for EAS employees as shown in Section 208 of the Postal Reorganization Act (PRA) of 1970.
Management associations in the Postal Service exist solely to represent EAS field employees. The PRA made it clear postal supervisors engage in consultation that is similar to, but not the same thing as, collective bargaining.
Our consultative rights provide NAPS and the other two postal management associations the ability to participate directly in the planning and development of pay policies and schedules, fringe benefit programs and other programs relating to supervisory and other managerial employees. Without our consultative rights, we would have to rely on the benevolence of the Postal Service, which otherwise could change a rule without even giving us time to review and respond. Our consultative rights for pay and benefits begin at the end of collective bargaining periods for the largest of the postal unions.
Prominently displayed on our website and in our organization’s Constitution & Bylaws is the following; “The object of the Association is to promote, through appropriate and effective action, the welfare of its members, and to cooperate with USPS and other agencies of the federal government in a continuing effort to improve the service, to raise the standard of efficiency, and to widen the field of opportunity for its members who make the Postal Service or the federal government their life work.”
Because of our consultative rights, we successfully have helped our members in two major postal reorganizations in the past two years. With the major restructuring scheduled to be announced March 25, our consultative rights will be more precious than ever. But, collective bargaining and, possibly, our consultative rights, are on some elected officials’ radar scopes for extinction.
The new chairman of the House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and Labor Policy, Rep. Dennis A. Ross (R-FL), of late has been posting tweets on the Internet, expressing his opinions of collective bargaining in the public sector. Ross has posted comments such as, “There is no constitutional basis for collective bargaining rights or unionization.” In another post, he said, “Private-sector unions were needed in the 20s and the 30s. They are even helpful in some ways today. Public-sector unions must go.”
With comments such as these from the chair of the committee that will be overseeing the future of the Postal Service, every member of a management association or postal union should be very concerned. The collective bargaining rights the unions now enjoy and the consultative rights the management associations have under Title 39 could be abridged or even eliminated under the new leadership of this House committee.
All too often in our country, people don’t get involved in a controversy until it immediately affects them. When someone is on the side of the road, many won’t even make a free cell phone call to advise authorities there is a person in distress, let alone stop for them. NAPS members cannot afford to sit on the sidelines while there are attacks on public-sector unions because today’s attacks at the state level will be tomorrow’s attacks on the federal level—aimed directly at the rights we enjoy as postal employees and managers.
Every NAPS member should contact his or her elected officials in Washington to say you want them to continue supporting collective bargaining by postal unions and to maintain our consultative rights with the Postal Service under Title 39, United States Code.