Burrus: Agreement is Not Fair

As you are aware, I have expressed my opinion that the tentative agreement is not fair to  employees who will be hired in the future because it dramatically reduces their income and they are denied an opportunity to make a decision if the contractual changes are of equal value to the more than $200,000 in wage and retirement losses that they will each experience.  Notwithstanding my reservations, I expect the agreement to be ratified and I choose not to express an opinion of the reasons.  Each member casting a ballot is entitled to apply his/her individual decision and I do not pass judgment on their reasons.  As a retiree, I will not personally be affected by the new agreement and those that will follow but it is my firm opinion that this contract will begin a new era of postal employment in the crafts represented by APWU.

The agreement will permanently reduce the wages of APWU represented employees to a level in existence prior to the 1971 Postal Reorganization Act when collective bargaining was afforded postal employees.  The standard for the work performed by clerks, lower level maintenance and motor vehicle employees will be reduced to the new levels established in this agreement.   As  current employees leave postal employment, the compensation level for work performed will be set at the lowest level applicable.     Postal management will refuse to pay $28.00 per hour for work that the union has agreed can be performed by the 2nd tier work force at $16.00 for new hires and at $12.00 per hour by casuals who have been integrated into the regular work force.

In addition, the 40 hour guaranteed work week will not automatically apply to all full time employees and over time, fewer and fewer employees will enjoy the standard work week that has been integral to postal employment.

Keep Our Standards

Over my entire career as a union representative, I have not experienced a union converting employment from middle class to working poor with the objective of expanding the bargaining unit.  The cry of “we want our work” is consistent with APWU goals, only if the work can be returned at APWU standards as opposed to reducing our standards to the level of the outsourced work.

Organizing the unorganized is a continuing objective of the labor movement but it is contrary to the basic principle of union collective bargaining for a  union to exchange full time, good paying opportunities for wages and careers resembling retail and fast food employers.

40 Years of Progress

There are examples in the food and banking industries where jobs have been transformed from modest income and benefits when unionized,  to transitional employment for new entrants in the labor market.  But postal employment, through aggressive union representation broke through  the barriers of “service” employment and set new standards.  This agreement will erase 40 years of progress.

Race to The Bottom

Optimistic projections that this bad agreement will be used as a springboard for future corrections is optimistic at best and a foolish promise.   Militant statements of future corrections will meet the reality of the marketplace.  The entire trend in workplace justice is downward pressure on non professional employment as being played out in Wisconsin, Ohio and several other states where collective bargaining rights are under attack.  To believe that a conservative Congress or the Board of Governors will permit contractual improvements equal to the losses embedded in this contract is a pipe dream and will never happen.  These major concessions will serve as a springboard in a race to the bottom.

APWU members can expect a series of future national conventions attended by a mixture of members governed by three distinct wage scales where delegates demand the unification of all rights and benefits at the higher level.   Resolutions  will be overwhelmingly adopted directing the negotiators to achieve that which will not be possible at the bargaining table leading to a series of interest arbitration decisions.  No relief will be forthcoming.  Postal management having achieved their 40 year priority to reduce wages will not relent to an agreement that restores lost ground.  Arbitration will become the norm.

In the five (5) prior contracts decided by arbitrators, each decided that APWU represented employees compensation exceeded the legal standard of comparability and awarded the Postal Service moderate restraint.  The union has now agreed to voluntary restraint and future arbitrators will not serve as vehicles to return to previous conditions that had been consistently found to  be excessive.

This For That

This agreement is in fact “out of the box” and will usher in a new day for postal employees.   The strategy applied was to exchange the wages of future employees for immediate contractual improvements, “this for that.”   In addition to the unfairness of denying the affected employees a voice in the debate over the changes, this strategy has limited continuing applicability for future gains.  What is to be traded in future negotiations, COLA – No Lay Off – Health Benefits?  And how does the union make improvements if every step forward is balanced against a step backward?


We have been provided a preview of tomorrow and it has no semblance to yesterday.  The security of full time employment, middle class wages and the satisfaction of knowing that you are compensated for the work performed will cycle with history to be recalled in interesting discussions.  Change is inevitable, but this change is self-induced and it will be negative.

In solidarity,
Bill Burrus


source: Burrus Journal

64 thoughts on “Burrus: Agreement is Not Fair

  1. It seems like certain apwu union reps say to vote “yes” because they know they did a lousy job at representing us union people to get what we could have had if we had tried harder (better conditions, pay, treatment). So rather than say they (apwu reps) screwed up, screwed us, they want to use the scare tactic that if we don’t take what we have now, it will only get worse. Quite a few union reps make so much money from USPS retirement (because alot of them have retired), self given to themselves by themseives “apwu bonuses” that we do not even hear about, and in addition to that they make another great amount of wages making $50,000 plus for being in certain union titled positions. Many of the apwu union reps don’t care about their members as much as they pretend because they are protected, out for themselves, are already established have lots of money coming in and will not lose their hours of coming in and leaving everyday no matter what happens. Huge problem is that now that USPS knows that apwu settled/settles for less per example of us excepting the crappy offer of what they accepted for all of us, they will give less than they would have if we had not fought for more. That in itself has done us maybe alot more irreversable harm than we ever could know By them “not” saying no to begin with, all along, we have opened another ball of wax. So yes, apwu, saying it can be worse if it goes to arbritration maybe true since usps knows we settle, settled for less. Nothing is lost for USPS. USPS scored on so many things. Looking at what apwu accepted and with alot of union reps telling us to say yes to it it looks like the writing is on the wall. Who wrote the whole thing to begin with? looks like USPS for sure.

  2. If Guffey was smart he would have extended the contract, but he is in the PMG’s hip pocket and sympathizes with the Agency. WEAK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mis-Mgt is the reasin why the Post Office is going down the tubes. They took a lot of Services away too. Bring back the stamp machines dumbasses!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Sen. John McCain wants us to pay 28% of our health care premiums and has introduced a bill in the Senate to force the issue. If we vote this agreement down, this is what, in all liklihood, we will be facing. Management also initially proposed a casual workforce of 30%. Using UPS as a business model,(who utilizes a 50% supplemental workforce), they would probably get something close to that in an arbitration. This contract is not perfect. You can’t ever get something without giving something. If this contract goes to arbitration, this tentative agreement will look like a lottery jackpot compared to what we would end up with. Congress is already down on the PMG for being too “generous”. If we go back to the table, does anyone really believe we can get something better? Wake up.

  4. zack, maybe you like playing with 5th graders because you spell like one!!! HAHAHHAHHAHAHHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHA!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Zack, Your voting no on it sounds good. Sorry about spewing hostility towards you, was having a angry moment and was a bit delusional. Thought you were somebody else. :0)

  6. This is fun, I can’t lose with you dumbies. It’s like playing football with a bunch of fifth graders.

  7. You can lead a horse to water, but you cant make him drink. I suppose all of you voting Yes is because your last job was at McDonald’s. You couldn’t get a better job than this. Losers

  8. So you feel from our perspective that McCain/Palin would have been a better choice? In light of what is going on with a lot of these anti-labor corporate shills?

  9. Zack is likely a hired flunky for one of the lawyers who will make a killing if this TA goes to arbitration.

    As for Burrus…still waiting for his apology for making APWU support Obama in 2008.

  10. Zac, Why care when you already have it made. You have your place in life, don’t have to worry like some of the rest of us, about our jobs, kids getting jobs. None of this crappy shitty new contract will bother you either way, you will get make your money no matter way, probably working your same hours as the unioin person that you are looking down on everyone laughing your ass off that you think you are so great, feeling like the arrogant smug piece of sh@t that you are.

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