Burrus: Confusion Over Starting Date Of APWU Contract

There is understandably some confusion about the different contractual dates as reported in my recent post. The cover of the contract lists one date and the governing contractual clause lists a different date. For many, the question is which one is right or does it make a difference? For starters, it does make a difference. A contract is a legal document that cannot unilaterally be amended. The parties, APWU – USPS have the authority to mutually agree to the effective and termination dates with neither side having the unilateral right to modify either date no matter the rationale. The contract begins when “they” say it begins and ends on the date mutually determined. Of the 12 contracts negotiated between these parties, this is the first occasion when a contract has been negotiated six months after the expiration of the prior agreement. This extended period was exhausted in the identification and agreement for changes comparable to the significant wage reductions and change to the guaranteed 40 hour work week. This “this for that” bargaining consumed time and effort as the union sought comparable return. Agreement was reached to extend the prior contract until agreement was finally reached, but this extension does not attach to the new contract unless the parties agree. They did not agree as referenced by Article 43 that specifically provides that the effective date is May 23, 2011. No amount of logic or rationale can change the clear agreement establishing the effective date.

Arbitrators routinely connect the new agreement with the expiring one in their awards, distinguishing new provisions with specific dates but this is the decision of arbitrators and it is significantly different from the decision of one party in a mutual effort.

The excuse that November 21, 2011 provides for continuity of dates has no legal or contractual basis. Extending that logic, most of the contractual provisions date from the original negotiations in 1971, so an excuse that the intent was to bridge unchanged language from one contract to another fails to be convincing. One would not consider putting 1971 on the cover of the 2011 agreement because some language is unchanged. No matter the rationale, one of the parties cannot unilaterally establish an effective date. The Postal Service evidently resisted using the November 21, 2010 date so no agreement was achieved.

From November 21, 2010 through May 22, 2011 the 2006 contract was in effect and it is the only document that can be enforced during that time frame.

The problem with the conflicting dates is that any infractions incurred from the dates of November 21, 2010 to May 22, 2011 – under the new contract cannot be enforced in the processing of grievances or legal matters while citing the May 23, 2011 agreement.

Infractions during this time frame must be grieved under the 2006 national agreement. The enforceable language may be the same but it is the appropriate contract that is being enforced. While many contractual terms are continuous they must be pursued under the contract in existence on the date of the infraction. The fact that the language is the same is immaterial. The Mail Handlers and Letter Carriers have the same language in Article 12 with few exceptions but an APWU Steward cannot cite the NALC contract as a basis for a grievance.

One cannot explain away two different effective dates. The only one that is enforceable is the one bearing joint signatures.

Bill Burrus

BurrusJournal.org – CONFUSING DATES – March 7, 2012

13 thoughts on “Burrus: Confusion Over Starting Date Of APWU Contract

  1. This is the end
    Beautiful friend
    This is the end
    My only friend, the end

    Of our elaborate plans, the end
    Of everything that stands, the end
    No safety or surprise, the end
    I’ll never look into your eyes…again

  2. Mr. Burrus continues to disparage the current administration. This is the same president who wanted to negotiate or Health benefits away. Luckily the convention stopped him cold. This is the same president who allowed casuals to be “separated to the extent possible.” This is the same president who KNEW that excessing was coming and “negotiated” the level 6 pay. Nice, but it was the only way clerks could be excessed into the carrier craft. Mr. Burrus retired before negotiations. His comments are simply designed to disparage, humiliate and create dissension. Mr. Burrus you really need to put your experience to good use. This is not the way and I too am sick and tired of your constant negativity. 87,000 people voted for this contract. Since you have not worked at the Post Office for years, your input is irrelevant.

  3. I want to know why Bill Burrus even has anything to say to the APWU members since he so conveniently retired at the time we needed his imput {during contract negotiations}. As far as I’m concerned, he can go and get bent.

  4. what difference does it make?, usps isn’t following the language or articles of the contract, apwu can’t enforce the contract, everybody evolved in this crap is in jeopardy of being jobless, voluntary or involuntary reassignments can be laid-off because of no protection for employees under 6 years of service in non-apwu crafts, the hell with it all. a bunch of BS. i’m gonna lose 2nd job in 3-4years because of excessing(wrongly done, more time than 15-20 drivers and i’m carrying mail for last 2years) and now no time as letter carrier. really people apwu has some work to do. new contract was suppose to get me back to mvs, its been almost a year since i was told that and still nothing. i’m not writing no congress or anybody because i’m being lied to constantly, congress isn’t going to help me at this moment, apwu isn’t either, so you tell me why should i care anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I appreciate everything you are doing Mr. Burrus. You were one of the few voices of reason that was looking out for the members during this contract debacle. You tried to warn the members what they were getting into by voting for this contract, but unfortunately some people followed the current leadership like sheep and look at the mess it got us into.

  6. Hey Burrus, didnt you retire? Get a life and quit second guessing evry move your replacement makes. Im not an APWU employee. I am a Mail Handler and am sick of your stabbing the new APWU President. Get a life, go golf, volunteer at an old folks home, or better yet move into an old folks home. You sold the APWU down the drain when you gave up “casual in lieu of” for a level increase. Thats right fifty cents an hour raise and you got perma-casuals. Then the current APWU President has to play cards with no aces, and gets PSE employess. You srewed the pooch Burus. No go and do what old people do.

  7. Do you REALLY think that any one in Congress is really going to do anything before the elections! GET REAL!

  8. Click here to send a quick message telling both of your Senators that the postal reform bill, S. 1789, is acceptable in its current form. No amendments need to be made to S. 1789. The stakes for postal workers have never been higher. This legislation, as written, would give the Postal Service financial relief while preventing long-term damage to the Postal Service. As written, S. 1789 would strengthen current service standards, and save jobs facilities.
    Support S. 1789 ! for APWU and NALC supported Early Out Incentives.
    S. 1789 is a job-saver: President Rolando has approved the Senate’s postal bill. “S. 1789 would enable union members to retire with dignity, in May 2012 ,and also save our nation’s Postal Service,” Rolando said in a statement.
    H.R. 2309 would save the USPS: the bi-partisan postal reform bill would enhance the USPS rather than dismantle it.

  9. Looking at the 3rd paragraph of this article, “The excuse that November 21, 2011 provides for continuity of dates has no legal or contractual basis.” shouldn’t that date have been November 21, 2010?

  10. The APWU is asking you to please reach out to your senators and ask them to support the 21st Century Postal Service Act (S. 1789). To send your senators a quick message, click here.
    After you send a message to your senators, make sure you also take a minute to call their offices and tell them to vote for S. 1789.
    You can reach your senators by calling their Capitol Hill offices using the numbers below:
    Image Blocked“APWU members have done a great job of getting the word out to legislators about our concerns: Keep up the good work ,support S-1789”
    — Cliff Guffey,     President

    Call Your Senators:    
    (Capitol Switchboard)    
    [Click here for direct #s]    
    Tell them you Support    
    S. 1789 as it is currently written
    This Bill contains the early Retirement Incentives and Buyouts.
    The APWU will be working to negotiate a retirement program that will provide an incentive to APWU members who choose to retire or resign during the coming months, thereby providing additional landing spots for any members who may face excessing from their current installations.

  11. Seems like you’re real good at pointing out missteps…who’s paying you now? If you knew this why not pick up the phone BEFOREHAND???

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