To APWU Members
I have written a number of opinion letters criticizing the tentative agreement; however, while forcefully advancing my position I realize that there is a countervailing position as expressed in the hypothetical letter below reflecting the sentiment of many APWU members.
Dear Mr. Burrus:
I have read your opinion regarding the tentative agreement and with all due respect to your service and experience as a union representative, I strongly disagree.
I was apprehensive about the outcome of the 2010 national negotiations during a period of economic uncertainties in our country and in the Postal Service. The unemployment rate continues at an uncomfortable level and by all reports the Postal Service is approaching bankruptcy putting my employment in serious jeopardy. While I have complaints about several aspects of my job, it does provide me the income necessary to maintain my standard of living and the uncertainties of arbitration would threaten my economic security; I really wouldn’t like that.
When I learned that a negotiated agreement had been agreed to that does not drastically reduce my income; that continues to provide health insurance with a modest increase in my premium, and that the new provisions will not directly threaten my ‘job security’ I breathed a sigh of relief. As added benefits, the tentative agreement eliminates mandatory overtime and limits excessing to a reasonable commuting distance as well as returns contract jobs to the Postal Service. Other features that I do not fully understand will not affect me personally but will not hurt me either.
The initiation of a two tier wage schedule and the increase of non-career employees are negatives but they will not directly apply to me and I will even receive modest pay raises.
The increase in casuals (I don’t care what you call them) is troublesome, but if that is the only price that I have to pay I will swallow it. If someone has to perform the same work for $12 per hour, that’s their problem.
When I was informed that employees hired under this contract would receive over $200,000 less for performing the same work I was disappointed, but those new employees can speak for themselves and those who accept postal employment will know in advance the wage scale that will apply; they will be free to seek employment elsewhere. I hear that McDonalds is adding 50,000 new positions so that will be an alternative if postal wages are not acceptable.
I know that this is selfish on my part because I inherited the advances made by the postal generations that preceded me. I appreciate the struggles of those who jeopardized their careers by participating in the strike and those who were responsible for rejecting the tentative agreement in 1978 that would have capped the COLA and reduced my income dramatically over my career. I appreciate all of the contracts negotiated since I was hired that advanced my rights and increased my income.
I am thankful for the 2007 upgrades Mr. Burrus and the fact that you protected the income of those who have been hired after each of the contracts that you negotiated because if you had agreed to a two tier salary before I was hired it would have affected me and when all is said and done, it is about “me.”
Mr. Burrus, if you or Mr. Biller, the only two presidents that negotiated contracts during my career had reduced postal wages at any time before or during my employment it is possible that I would not have accepted or continued postal employment, but I cannot live in a world of “what if’s.” You did what you had to do and now it’s my turn. In this decision, I have to look out for myself. I am appreciative that I am being provided the opportunity to vote and my vote is “Yes.”
And if my vote makes a difference, I will admit that I was partially responsible for reducing the pay of future postal employees up to 24% and reducing full time jobs to 30 hours a week and still call them full time, but times are difficult and in this instance it’s them or me and I chose the latter. Isn’t that what a union is all about?