USPS, Mail Handlers Continue Contract Discussions Beyond Deadline

Following marathon bargaining sessions in the days leading up to the contract expiration, both sides now have agreed to continue talks in an attempt to reach agreement over the terms of the 2011 National Agreement. The deadline for negotiations – initially set at midnight on Sunday, November 20, 2011 – has been mutually extended by the NPMHU and the Postal Service in order to make every possible effort to reach a negotiated settlement. With bargaining sessions continuing well into the evening on the 20th, the parties have agreed to extend that deadline through Wednesday, December 7, 2011, and perhaps longer.

The parties continue to discuss a host of important and complicated issues. The negotiations are at a very delicate stage, and as of this writing it still is impossible to tell whether an overall deal is likely.

National President John Hegarty and National Secretary-Treasurer Mark Gardner have vowed to continue the negotiations for whatever period is necessary, as long as there is a realistic possibility that the negotiations will have a successful conclusion. Following this intense bargaining period, President Hegarty wanted to send his personal assurances that “the NPMHU bargaining team will continue to discuss and debate the countless proposals and counter-proposals that have been exchanged, and will continue to seek mutually beneficial solutions on the many issues that are important to the NPMHU membership, and to help ensure a viable Postal Service into the future,” adding that “in these extremely difficult economic times, we will continue our quest not only to preserve and improve the important work rules that govern our day-to-day operations, but also to retain a fair compensation package going forward.”

As previously publicized, if a settlement does occur, the tentative agreement would be sent to all eligible members for a ratification vote using a mail in ballot; every member will have the opportunity to vote – yes or no – on the terms of the proposed settlement. While it remains the strong preference of the NPMHU to reach a negotiated settlement, the NPMHU leadership will continue to keep its options open. If the NPMHU leadership ultimately decides that a fair deal cannot be reached, the NPMHU will be prepared to present its case on these important matters before a neutral interest arbitrator.

Next week, a pre-scheduled meeting of the Local Union Presidents will occur in Washington, DC on Thursday, December 1, 2011. During that meeting, President Hegarty and the National Negotiations Team will report on whatever progress has been made in negotiations, and will discuss the prospects for reaching a tentative agreement.

Please watch for additional Contract Updates, as you will be kept apprised of further developments as soon as they occur. Information about contract negotiations, and other important topics, can be accessed on the NPMHU website at

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