Burrus: Justifying Your Decision

I have read the justification/excuses for electing to support an agreement that transforms postal employment in a very negative way for existing and new employees far into the future and the reasons fail to pass the smell test. The reduction of wages in the staggering amount of more than $200,000 per employee and the conversion of full time assignments to part time with a new title of “non traditional” will dramatically change postal employment, and lead to a shift of $3.8 billion over the life of the agreement from the pay checks of APWU represented employees to USPS to use at its discretion. And instead of using this windfall to “save” the Postal Service it can and will be used for other nefarious purposes like increasing rate discounts for major mailers.

A simple fact, unless the retiree health care issue is resolved there is nothing the union can do to save the Postal Service short of working for free.

Because of the threat of more significant losses in arbitration, many employees believe and hope that the impact of the changes will be limited to the next generation of postal employees with modest impact in the immediate future. This is a false reading of the changes incorporated in the negotiated language.

Employees who believe that the major changes will be deferred until the future will be disappointed when they experience major workplace modifications within months of finalization of the ratification process. Computer scheduling will quickly realign the work centers to match employees to mail and the mix of full time with part time scheduling will be initiated expeditiously. Full time employees will have little choice except to re-bid their existing work assignments with many forced to accept schedules with less than 40 hours per week, resulting in significant pay reductions as the loss of scheduled work hours will add to the wage reductions.

Work Centers will have integrated scheduling with a mixture of NCAs, new hires under the reduced pay scale and existing full time employees, resulting in a single work center having employees earning three (3) different wages for performance of the exact same work.

Pay Reductions

You will also be disappointed to find that for current employees, the two year wage freeze will result in actual pay reductions. While you have been told that this contract will generate wage increases of 3.5% over the life of the agreement, in fact you will experience wage reductions.

Using the expiring contract as a guide of historic salary adjustments to protect buying power, salaries are increased in the range of 1% a year plus COLA. This deferral of salary adjustment represents a loss of 2% in salary and a projected 4% in COLA as inflation reflects the exceptional increases in gasoline prices. So after balancing the 3.5% increases back loaded in the tentative agreement against the losses of 6% (2% for historic wage increases and the expected 4% representing the loss of 4 COLAs) from the wage freezes in 2011 and 2012, existing employees will suffer wage losses in the range of 2.5% over the 4 year agreement. Instead of the advertised increase of 3.5%, in reality, each existing employee will actually suffer wage losses of 2.5% or more.

One will be able to monitor the actual dollar amount of the COLA losses in 2011 as the Mail Handlers and the Letter Carriers receive the COLA salary adjustments that are generated prior to the expiration of their existing contracts.

So for those employees who will make their decision on the basis of the monetary effect of the agreement, while new employees will suffer wage losses up to 30% (wage rate reductions and the absence of pay adjustments in 2011 and 2012), existing employees will likewise experience significant financial reductions (approximately 3.5% after balancing the 3.5% increases against the 7% in losses) over the life of the new agreement when the 2.5% wage loss is added to the increased contributions for health benefits.

Future Uncertainties

These negative changes for existing employees and ‘new hires’ must be balanced against the uncertainties of arbitration and the question asked if the union can dictate the conditions when arbitration is less challenging. The previous national agreement was finalized in November 2006 and it was not possible at that time to accurately predict the circumstances that would be present at its expiration in 2010. The economist did not predict the severe recession beginning in 2008 and its negative impact on mail volume and USPS revenue. Who would have predicted the attack on collective bargaining in 2011? And what if the 2012 national elections results in the House, Senate and White House being controlled by anti-labor forces when the union returns to bargaining in 2015? These and numerous other negatives are possible and very likely, making any future arbitration equally as challenging.

When the union last bargained in 2006, the effect of Postal legislation requiring the pre-funding of future health care liabilities had not been implemented and its crippling effect on USPS finances had not yet been experienced. These and the other interim events had not been identified in 2006, and cannot be projected with any accuracy going forward. Those who make decisions based upon current external factors will discover that national events are not static and the future does not guarantee that at a given point circumstances and events will be more favorable. The decision on whether or not to arbitrate must always be limited to the present. Do the contractual provisions meet expectations? If not, fight.

Stuff happens: Anthrax in the mail; 9-11; the home mortgage debacle; wars; Congressional interference, and on and on. There are never excuses for the acceptance of unacceptable conditions for workers and deferring the fight to 2015 or later. There is no guarantee that the obstacles in 2015 will not be equal to or exceed those we presently face.

In this agreement, the union either believes that the reduction of wages in these unprecedented amounts and the elimination of full time jobs are in the interest of the members or it has an obligation to fight. We cannot predict the future so if the option is to fight, a union fights.

In union solidarity,
Bill Burrus

source: Burrus Journal

28 thoughts on “Burrus: Justifying Your Decision

  1. I worked for 40 yrs 6 months for the P.O. I have a health condition which was being made much worse by the stress at work. I worked on the window and most of the time opened up alone for about and hour to and hour and a half, with a line out the door.
    I really did not want to, but my health sort of dictated that I leave. When they offered the $15,000.00 buy out for an incentive to retire, I took it. I have since come the regret it, but I cannot change it.
    I cannot believe what I am seeing in what has,been so called, negotiated on your behalf. It is pathetic. I cannnot believe that the current APWU team that is currently negoiating this contract is in their right minds and has the employees best interest at heart. This is stupid. Asking you to first of all, take over a $4,000.00 pay cut right off the top. And then a pay freeze and then a 1% pay raise. I was always nervous whenever we had to go to arbitration, but it always seemed to work out ok. There is not guarantee that in this economic climate that it would work out that way this time. Rather doubtful. BUT, rather than agree to this B>S> I would much rather take my chances with arbitration that have this stuffed down my throat. You may loose some things, but to give up being a FTR for a, we might have you come in some day, and some not,type of deal, no thanks. It is just like several people on here have commented, it would be like going to work at Wal-Mart. And that is just a slap in the face to all the employees who have worked at the P.O. putting up with all the crap and stress, to willingly agree to these terms.
    You might have some of it shoved down your throat if you go to arbritration, but I don’t believe that it would as be as bad as this is. This is pathetic.
    If you have any respect for yourselves as employees, vote HELL NO! Over the years we have advanced slowly but surely. But this would be worse than it was when I first started back in 1969. Back then is was 2.95 an hour and not guaranteed that you would even get to work an entire week/ They would say that if you came in, you might only get to work 4 hours a day.
    I cannot believe that you would willingly vote to be put on a work week of 30 hrs a week. Can you see yourself getting along on that with the situation as it is now, with no hope of it improving during your career? I hope not.
    I really feel sorry for the situation that the P>O>

  2. I think if you had a comment on this page and it was a yes vote for the contract a a put Bill down statement you are one of three things. Either a stupid idiot or someone pretending to be a postal employee who really works for management. or a right winged wacko conservative.

  3. Yeah right Bill you did a good job fighting YOU QUIT ON US. CHICKEN.
    Good Job APWU . Many of yoy could have also retired but chose to
    stay on and help. Burrus is FULL OF HIMSELF.

  4. Well Mack the Knife, since most of the people in your plant are voting yes, maybe your plant has been MIS-INFORMED!! Read the T/A and be informed instead of not knowing where the TRUTH lies. VOTE NO!!!


  6. Since most of the people in my plant are voting yes, I have to assume that this is the typical crazy internet crap. Rumours and dis-information galore!

  7. Why give up what we have fought for? It taken us 40 years to get here and we JUST GIVE IT BACK WITHOUT A FIGHT? VOTE NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. I guess its time to turn those retirement papers in……..I might as well go ahead and start work for Wal-Mart…….See ya’ll soon

  9. Mr.Burrus has a right to retire when he pleases.He planned his in2009.This man has had a 53 yr career .How old was he when he started? That means it’s time for him to enjoy the remaining years of his life. He didn’t just jump ship without thinking about us he asked to sit in on the negotations GUFFEY told him yes and LIED when time came GUFFEY REFUSED TO ALLOW BURRUS TO REMAIN .ONLY ON THE INITAL FIRST MEETING POSTAL & UNION INTRODUCING THEMSELVES THEY ALLOW HIM TO STAY BUT WHEN IT WAS TIME FOR THE SELL OUT HE WASN’T ALLOWED!!!!!!!!!!! I know sometimes you have to give to get but “WHAT THE HELL’S GOING ON?”

  10. Folks: Those of you think that Mr. Burrus abandoned the ship, think again. You are dead wrong. So let me put the facts first to you. Please remember: Knowledge is power.

    Mr. Burrus announced his retirement on 9-30-2009, some 18 months ago, not in 2010. At that time, negotiations for the contracts did not even start. When he announced his retirement, he never ever thought in his wildest dream that the ship he was getting off would be piloted by Guffey and his associates (turned out as Somali Pirates) straight to an Iceberg (USPS) for a wreck only to be sunken and they would be rescued by under the table deals.

    If he had any clue that the pirates would hit the iceberg, he would not have given up the helm. Does anyone know that Guffey planned for his retirement before Mr. Burrus announced? But once Mr. Burrus announced his retirement, Guffey changed his mind. It was unfortunate that he announced in 2009. He never saw Tsunami coming at APWU members.

    I seriously believe that Mr. Burrus must be regretting his retirement. But it can be corrected and let us bring the veteran back at the helm. Let us admit: We all make mistakes. Don’t we.

    Please read the following text of his retirement.

    APWU President William Burrus Announces Retirement. September 30, 2009 by Lu
    Filed under: APWU
    President Burrus announced he will retire at the end of his term in 2010. The delegates at the All- Craft Conference in Las Vegas, NV gave him a standing ovation which brought tears to his eyes. He also asked for a per capita national dues increase of $1 next year to help offset decreases in membership. He would continue making cuts in expenses as needed. Don Cheney

    Burrus to Retire at End of Term

    APWU News Oct. 1, 2009

    In an emotional closing to his speech at the union’s All-Craft Conference Sept. 30, APWU President William Burrus announced that he would not seek re-election in November 2010, ending a 53-year career in which he fought for better wages, benefits and dignity and respect on the job for hundreds of thousands of postal workers.

    “I am in good health and I love what I do,” he said. “But I want to move on to another part of my life.

    “I want to spend more time with my wonderful wife, Ethelda,” he said, introducing her to the assembly. “She has been by my side throughout my 37 years as an executive officer of this union.”

    “I have looked forward to every day that I have served our members, and I look forward to the next 13 months. This is not the end, but effective November 2010 it will be time for me to turn the page and move on to the rest of my life.

    “In the interim, I intend to continue my commitment to the membership, every hour, every day,” he added, drawing two standing ovations from a room packed with more than 2,000 conference participants.

    The end of Burrus’ term will coincide with the conclusion of negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement; the current contract expires Nov. 2010.

    If Ronald Reagan can become President at age 80, if William Rehnquist stayed as Chief Justice of US Supreme Court until his last breath, sure Mr. Burrus can come right back at the helm.

    Remember, he was the last person at the helm and did not see on 9-30-2009 that Tsunami would be coming to us in March 2011. He never ever imagined that Guffey and his associates would do that much damage to us.

    Did Japanese ever imagine or see that Tsunami of this magnitude will destroy all their nuke plants, cities, radiation damages? Never ever dreamed.

    Solution: We must seek court’s intervention and ask for an independent commission/panel of arbitrators to study the contract and present its findings to us. Put everything on hold. This new contract may be violating National Labor Relations Act and other federal laws.

    Remember: Your and my paycheck comes from the USPS. The paycheck of most of APWU officials nationwide comes from our dues. Will you like if your union official agrees to your removal, your pay cuts, your loss of benefits and sleeps with the management?

    By the way, do you know how much Guffey makes? He makes $149,209.57 per annum, plus necessary expenses. See the Constitution. Would he and all officials take 25-50% salary cut?

  11. Amelia before the unemployment line comes into your view, you will first become an NTFT (Non-Traditional Full Time) employee. The FTR (Full Time Regular) positions will all be eventually CONVERTED into NTFT’s. YES, Guffey is right that you can’t be FORCED into an NTFT position but the new MOU states that an OCCUPIED or VACANT FTR position can be converted into an NTFT position!! Once postal management starts converting FTR positions into NTFT positions and you do not bid those NTFT positions, you will be an unassigned regular and will eventually be slotted into a vacant or residual NTFT position. WATCH for this to happen if this T/A (Tentative Agreement) is ratified!! Best Wishes to all future NTFT employees!!!

  12. Do you folks hear yourselves? Burris abandoned the ship! He got out while the getting was good. What is left? Guffey and the negotiators are trying to save it. Please look around yourself (with your eyes open!) do you not see the dwindling mail volume? What good are our benefits and good pay if there is no USPS? How is that going to feed your families? We kept no layoff, cola and are getting jobs back into the union. Do you really think an arbitrator would have given us this? You better wake up people! This is not the post office of twenty years ago. Considering what they had to work with, I think its a good deal for the future of the USPS. Maybe you’re right though, don’t give up anything —- I’ll see ya in the unemployment lines!

  13. Folks: Always remember: You never ever give up your gains for what you fought for. Here are facts: Has Texas given up part of Mexico it won in the war? Has Israel given up a large part of land it won in the war? We gained where we are now is through a battle of the last 30 years. Guffey and his entire team are giving away all gains with a stroke of a pen. In return, they get a “Golden Parachute” as a reward.

    Let us face the reality. The Titanic (APWU) would be sinking in the next few days after crashing with a giant iceberg (USPS). Guffey and his team would be rescued by a USPS chopper as planned. He steered the ship straight to the Iceberg. It is about to hit it once contract is ratified.

    What do we do now? First all Vote NO. This is sure thing. In addition to that:

    1: Must seek court intervention through legal maneuvers/injunctive relief/restraining order and put things on hold. We all pitch in $1 or more in a fund.

    2: Seek court appointed panel of arbitrators/Commission to study the impact of New Contract and let them give us findings. We had 9/11 commission, Kenney assassination commission and many commissions appointed to get the facts. We need one right now.

    3: Must start national recall petition of Guffey and his entire cabinet and clean the house.

    4: We do not have time to debate and argue who should and who should not be at the helm to steer the ship away from the iceberg.

    5: We have no choice but to call 911 and seek Mr. Burrus because he is the only experienced pilot who would steer the ship away from the iceberg. Let us not debate what he did and what he did not do. We are sinking. He is our only life jacket. It does not matter if the jacket is torn, old or new. You will stay afloat.

    6: He was the first person to my knowledge publicly opposed to the new contract when all of us were caught napping.

    7: He has contacts, knows rules, laws, lawyers, skills, knowledge you name it. It is time to make a decision.

    8: The real winners in the new contract are: USPS and APWU National. USPS will make us Wal-Mart employees for $12 an hour. Take it or leave it. The profits they will make will get them bonuses. APWU National will get more money in dues. Let us ask Guffey. Would you take 25% pay cuts?

    9: Wake up folks. Let us credit Mr. Burrus for firmly standing against the new contract. Mr. Burrus. Are you there? This is our 911 call for you. Would you please rescue us and steer the ship away from the iceberg? If you don’t we all will sink.

    10: United Airlines passengers did not argue and debate how to attach 9/11 hijackers. They just attacked the hijackers, broke the door, poured hot water on them, rushed into cockpit and saved the nation. They did not argue because there was no time.

    11: Our ship is hijacked by Somali Pirates (Guffey and his team, Rank and File Committee and USPS). We need commander in chief (Mr. Burrus) at the helm now because he was the last person at the helm before Guffey steered the ship towards the iceberg.

  14. Our government pissed away $75 billion for their cronies’ bailout. Postal officials, union reps, and all concerned have pleaded their case on the $50-$75 billion overpayment. Good luck with that. See the correlation?
    The Federal Gov. announced the looming shutdown over budget concerns. Then the truth came out that ‘OUR’ Social Security Trust Fund, ‘OUR’ FERS and Civil Service Retirement Funds, even ‘OUR’ TSP could be ‘borrowed’ from in the event of the impending shutdown.
    It has always been said that posession is nine tenths of the law, look who has possession of ‘OUR’ money.
    The Gov has all of us by the short hairs by way of holding “OUR’ money. Government has been making promises to us all of our lives, spending what was ‘OURS’. Suddenly realizing that funds are not available to pay the upcoming boomer and echo generations their due, threats of less of everything is ‘OUR’ reward. Why else would Congress suddenly be so interested in our contract?
    They’re calling down the thunder.

  15. All managers and supervisors are completing their evaluation reports this month (April) for more raises and bonuses. They will get those raises with this new contract because our salaries will go to them.

  16. OK So after I lost 150,000 Union Memebers for the APWU Now I want you all to listen to me and everything will be fine. Just go with me one more time I promise I wont trick you this time………Bill Burruss

  17. The APWU is done many union members will leave the ranks of being in the Union. You can count me in also if this passes. Everybody should get out of this non caring union. Moe Biller, Bill Burress build this union what it is today and in one contract President Cliff Guffey has destroyed it. what a Benjamin Arnold thats right a traitor. VOTE NO save your job

  18. burrus is to much-big house, armani suits, jaguar cars, 1st class travel to Vegas, 2 hour lunches on K Stree, expense accounts, put anthrax fund donations into general fund to pay for the aforementioned…..now he is telling us Guffy & Company are sellouts? I was a Teamster and this aPwU is a corrupt apendage of the corrupt govt. never had a 1% raise in my life until I got to this dump….saw them cover up & sweep the postal shootings under the rug-burrus, guffy, potter, biller, donahoe——all crumb buns in my correct opinion. I hope this place goes under so at least I can see the mismgt rat scum scurry off the sinking ship! this contract as the bible would say is “nothing new under the sun” a sellout is a sellout…guffy or burrus….no difference that I see! anybody see my COLA? oh yeah govt says there is no inflation! lol!

  19. Can anyone address the issue of the $60 million the APWU will be getting for the PSE’s. A so called fund to prepay their APWU medical insurance???? and training????
    and other benefits????????????
    If the postal service is in such dire straits and having problems with the prefunding of retired employees insurance how can the APWU even be asking for this amount every year.
    And what is the APWU going to do with that money.

  20. Vote NO!!! This contract is wrong for all of us. We didn’t need a Union to negotiate this contract. As Union members we need to stand together and tell management to take this contract and stick it!!!! I don’t see management being let go from my facility. Until they start at the top, nothing will change!!! Again, VOTE !!!!!!!!!!

  21. S Webb: Thanks. Watch out. NALC is next. To put it in simple language: All jobs nation wide under the new contract will be reposted. This is game plan. If you bid, you fall under new category and will be a casual with a new name PSE. If you don’t, you are unassigned, subject to excessing and no more work for you.
    Bottom line: USPS will be a Wal-Mart to work for $12. Take it or leave it

  22. I am an NALC member and I totally believe this statement to be correct. USPS is probably offering the NALC leaders the same package! We’re being sold out to the highest bidder…the USPS!

  23. Dear APWU Members:
    A close friend of mine was a clerk with me about 12 years ago. He is a supervisor since about 5 years. He always told me management’s secret plans from the district level to headquarters.

    He told me in August 2009 that management was planning from district level to Southwest area to the headquarters to break up all unions-not just APWU. I laughed at him and did not believe him at that time.

    Looking at the new contract, I must admit that he was right and told the truth. Management is Breaking UP the union now with the new contract.

    I strongly believe that USPS bought out Cliff Guffey and his entire team for a price paid under the table. The new contract will make us all-current and future employees “Wal-Mart Wage” earners.

    This is what needs to be done:
    1: Everyone Vote NO for Heaven’s Sake.

    2: Seek an immediate court order/injunctive relief/restraining g order and put a hold on ballot counting and the entire process. Is there any major local out there? Create a fund. We all chip in the legal cost if needed. $1 minimum. No limit on maximum.

    3: Start a National petition to recall all national negotiators and demand that Rank and File committee be dissolved right away.

    4: Let a court appointed panel of arbitrators decide our fate.

    5: Until then, the old contract must continue.

    6: Let us bring back Mr. Burrus at the helm and clean the house of all who sold us out.

    7: Or be ready to become Wal-Mart employees. Tsunami is coming.

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