Management Issues Draft 'Request for Proposals'
To Subcontract Some Work at Bulk Mail Centers
APWU Web News Article #64-08, July 9, 2008
The Postal Service has posted a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) [PDF] for a “Time-Definite Surface Network,” seeking comments from private companies that are interested in subcontracting work currently done at Bulk Mail Centers. The draft RFP is the latest step in a process that began last year when the Postal Service announced it was considering outsourcing some of the duties performed at the 21 BMCs across the country.
The Postal Service has informed the APWU that the draft RFP is an attempt to gather more information about pricing. The document is intended to help the USPS prepare the final RFP, but it is not expected to have a significant impact on management’s decision about whether to subcontract.
APWU representatives will meet with postal officials later this month to discuss management’s plans for the BMCs. Under the provisions of Article 32 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement [PDF], the Postal Service must “give advance notification to the Union at the national level when subcontracting which will have a significant impact on bargaining unit work is being considered,” and must “meet with the Union while developing the initial Comparative Analysis report.” The Comparative Analysis report describes the affected work, impacts, and costs for both an in-house operations and an outsourced operation.
Article 32 also stipulates that, “A statement of the union’s views and proposals will be included in the initial Comparative Analysis and in any Decision Analysis Report relating to the subcontracting under consideration. No final decision on whether or not such work will be contracted out will be made until the matter is discussed with the Union.” The Decision Analysis Report is prepared for senior management and the Board of Governors. It includes virtually everything in the Comparative Analysis, and provides a more thorough business plan and justification for the proposal.
Despite the language of Article 32, APWU President William Burrus points out, the final decision on subcontracting rests solely with the Postal Service. “We have been unable to achieve real bargaining over whether specific activities will be subcontracted,” he said.
The impending changes to the BMC network underscore the importance of passing the Mail Network Protection Act (H.R. 4236), he said. The bill would require the Postal Service to bargain with the union before implementing significant subcontracting.
“The requirement to engage in real bargaining over subcontracting will be beneficial for the Postal Service, postal workers, and the American public,” Burrus said. “Contracting out often costs the Postal Service more than if the work were performed by postal employees,” he noted. “Subcontracting is frequently ineffective, and the contractors’ service to the public is often poor.”
Burrus has encouraged union members to seek support from legislators for H.R. 4236 [PDF], which was introduced on Nov. 15, 2007, by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA). “It is imperative that union members contact their representatives and let them know that this bill is important to the future of the Postal Service and to postal workers,” he said.
Discussion between the parties about USPS plans for the BMCs and the application of our contract will continue, Burrus said. “We intend to do everything we can to make any changes to the BMC network as painless as possible for our members.”
For more information about the union's fight against wasteful, inefficient, and detrimental subcontracting, click here.