President's Report

November / December 2020

 

 

A TENTATIVE NALC/USPS CONTRACT AGREEMENT!

 

 

      Following more than 17 months of negotiations with the Postal Service, which included navigating the challenges of a pandemic and which also occurred against the backdrop of politically motivated attacks on letter carriers and the Postal Service itself, a tentative settlement has been reached on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

      The proposed new contract was announced by the NALC on Wednesday, November 25. The tentative agreement is 44 months in duration, retroactively effective back to September 21, 2019 and expiring on May 20, 2023.

      A detailed overview of the pertinent provisions of the proposed new Contract can be found later in this article. As background, this is the 15th Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated by the NALC with the Postal Service since postal unions gained full contract negotiation rights following the legendary March 1970 strike.

      Prior to the strike and the subsequent Postal Reorganization Act which was passed by Congress and signed by then President Richard Nixon in 1970, postal unions could only bargain over work issues and not economic issues. The NALC and our nation’s letter carriers had to rely on the whims of the United States Congress to attain pay increases. The inevitable result was a badly underpaid work force that had to seek public assistance just to feed their families.

      One other significant change resulting from the 1970 Postal Reorganization Act was the abolishment of the old Post Office Department, then an entirely government controlled and operated agency that had existed since our nation’s earliest days. It was replaced by the quasi-independent United States Postal Service, effective on July 1, 1971. The intention was for the USPS to become a self-funded delivery business even while maintaining its mandate to provide postal delivery service to every address in the

United States.

 

Some Contract History

 

      Of the previous 14 labor contracts over which the NALC has engaged in collective bargaining with the United States Postal Service, seven have been negotiated settlements that were subsequently ratified by the union’s active members. The other seven were interest arbitration awards that were issued by National Arbitrators, most recently the contract award that was issued by National Arbitrator Shyam Das in January 2013.

      The first contract to go to arbitration, the 1978-1981 National Agreement, had perhaps the most interesting outcome. It initially had been tentatively settled by the bargaining parties. However, the NALC’s active membership voted to reject the proposed agreement, which resulted in a brief period of mediation and ultimately resulted in National Arbitrator Healy’s award. Healy’s award granted some of what the NALC sought but it also granted USPS management some of what they sought. The mixed result highlighted both the risks and the rewards that can accompany a decision to go binding arbitration.

      In general, it is usually better to attain a negotiated settlement whenever this is possible. Sometimes it will not be possible. Both parties bargaining in good faith and making reasonable compromises when necessary creates the foundation for most kinds

of successful negotiation. However, there can be and sometimes there are outside factors that will impede this otherwise noble ambition.

 

Other Important Information

 

      The proposed agreement announced on November 25 will be sent to all active (nonretired) NALC letter carrier members along with a ratification ballot. With the previous negotiated (2016-2019) contract, all active letter carriers having at least 90 days of membership in the NALC at the time of the tentative agreement were eligible to receive a copy of the agreement and a ballot. It is anticipated that eligibility rules with the current tentative agreement will be the same or similar. All eligible members will have the opportunity to review the proposed contract and to express their concurrence or non-concurrence by completing and returning the ratification ballot.

      Branch 2184’s members are strongly encouraged to take sufficient time to the read over the tentative agreement once they have received it and to make a ratification decision by utilizing an objective approach that is based on facts and evidence. Everyone will have an opinion. Make yours an informed opinion by first obtaining factual and accurate information concerning the proposed contract. Never make any decisions based on what “somebody said.” Always take the time to find out for yourself.

      Additionally, the copy of the proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement that you receive is yours to keep for reference anytime you wish. Bring it to work with you and make sure management sees that you have it. Knowledge is power, especially in the workplace.

      Non-members will have no say whatsoever in this process and they will not receive a copy of the proposed agreement or a ratification ballot. Retired members will not receive ratification ballots because the National Agreement only covers economic and workplace issues that apply to those actively employed as City Letter Carriers. All retirement-related

issues are solely under the purview of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) as well as the Legislative (United States Congress) and Executive (United States President) Branches of the Federal Government. Thus, these issues are not subject to the collective bargaining process.

      If the proposed Contract is ratified by the NALC membership, it will be effective immediately thereafter. If it is rejected, a period of further negotiations and and/or mediation could occur, or the interest arbitration process which had already begun but

has been suspended pending the outcome of the ratification process would be resumed and completed. The choice to approve or disapprove the proposed agreement will be yours, and again, this should be an informed decision that is based on accurate information from trusted and verified sources.

      Please keep in mind that the tentative agreement is NOT yet in effect and that the terms of the previous (2016-2019) Contract remain fully applicable to all workplace matters until the proposed new Contract is ratified by active NALC members.

      The following is a summary of many of the pertinent details of the tentative agreement reached between the NALC and USPS. Please keep in mind that the NALC/USPS collective bargaining agreement covers MUCH more than just the subjects discussed below.

 

 

 

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Western

AFL - CIO

Branch 2184

Wayne County, MI