The APWU, Still Fighting for the Rights and Wages We Deserve

Vance Zimmerman

November 19, 2019

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(This article first appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) 

I must start by telling all of you thank you. You, the members of this great union, let your voices be heard and elected me to a second term as your Industrial Relations Director. I am deeply honored to have been given the continued opportunity to serve each of you. You have placed your trust in me to continue to fight against an employer who it seems does not value and respect you for the work you all do. I will be dedicated to you, the members. I congratulate all the winners of the past election and look forward to everyone working for the betterment of the members and the union.

Even before negotiations began, we were preparing for a possible interest arbitration. Since starting on Sept. 4, 2019 with Opening Day, thirteen days of hearings have taken place. At the time this article is being printed, both the APWU and the USPS will have finished our direct testimony and will be completing our primary cases. Our next contract is now in the hands of the Arbitration Panel.

As Director, I oversaw the planning, development, and implementation of our interest arbitration strategy. Working with various headquarters and craft officers, we put on a strong case throughout the numerous days of hearings in support of you being awarded the good and just contract you all so deserve. Our team of attorneys; APWU Craft Directors; our experts in the fields of economics, job analysis, wage comparability; and APWU members testified on the work you do. They worked together to put forth the arguments we believe were necessary to sway the Arbitration Panel chair, Stephen Goldberg, to rule in our favor.

I was personally moved greatly by our APWU member experts' testimony on your work. These experts came from the ranks of window clerks, mail processing clerks, maintenance personnel, MVS drivers, MVS mechanics, and PSEs who go to work at the Post Office every day. They shared inspiring stories of their dedication to the Postal Service and its mission – stories of helping their customers and the pride they take in that work. They shared stories of the difficulties of being a non-career postal employee. Most of all they reminded us how dedicated the hard-working women and men of the Postal Service are to the American public. The testimonies shared by these union sisters and brothers clearly demonstrated that all of you are deserving of a fair wage increase and benefits package.

Of course, the Postal Service took the opposing view. Though they didn’t directly question any of the testifying members’ dedication and hard work, they did question whether or not the skills you have and the work you do is worth the wages and benefits you currently earn. Witness after witness testified for the Postal Service that – clerks in particular – are non-skilled employees. They testified that things window clerks do – like face-to-face interaction with others – is not important to the job. They claimed that if you make a mistake in your job it is insignificant and does not cause a problem. I know, as I am sure you do too, that when a mail processing clerk experiences an out-of-sequence error on a 200,000-piece DPS run, that it is problematic. We all know that a small error can cause a problem and has an effect on our customers.

With the majority of the arbitration process done, we can now only wait for the decision. When the decision is released it will be final and binding. There will not be a vote of the membership to ratify the Arbitration Paneldecision. You deserve every penny you earn and every benefit the Post Office is required to provide under the contract. A fair and decent contract is not too much to ask the arbitration panel to require the Postal Service provide.


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