Contract Arbitration Underway

March 1, 2016

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(This article first appeared in the March-April 2016 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

Arbitration hearings for a new APWU Collective Bargaining Agreement with the U.S. Postal Service began on Feb. 17, and are expected to last several months.

The case is being presented to a three-member panel comprised of a union-appointed advocate, a management-appointed advocate, and a neutral arbitrator, who determines the outcome. Under federal law, the APWU and USPS must mutually agree on the neutral arbitrator.

Members of the Lancaster [PA] Area Local wear APWU T-shirts

Stephen B. Goldberg was selected as the neutral arbitrator and is presiding over the case. Goldberg served as neutral arbitrator for the 2000-2003 Collective Bargaining Agreement, the last time an APWU contract was decided in arbitration. Since then, he has amassed extensive experience as a national-level postal arbitrator.

Arbitration hearings on the Collective Bargaining Agreement, known as “interest arbitration,” are similar to court cases, with opening and closing statements, witness testimony, cross-examination of witnesses, and presentation of supporting documents.

Complex Material

Because of the complex nature of the material, the hearings are expected to stretch over numerous sessions, based on Goldberg’s availability.

The case will largely focus on the economic issues in dispute. In arbitration, the APWU seeks to:

  • Win fair wage increases;
  • Protect cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs);
  • Defend the no-layoff clause;
  • Win improvements for Postal Support Employees (PSEs) and Part-Time Flexibles;
  • Secure more career jobs;
  • Redefine “full-time” so that it once again guarantees a 40-hour work week;
  • Limit subcontracting, and
  • Win better service for our customers.

Management wants to gut the COLA for current workers and is seeking another lower tier in the career workforce with lower pay, no COLAs, virtually no protection against layoffs, and a reduction in annual leave and sick leave. (The APWU currently has a three-tier workforce, consisting of pre-2010 career employees; post-2010 career employees, who earn lower pay than their pre-2010 counterparts, and post-2010 PSEs, who earn lower pay and fewer benefits.)

APWU’s attorneys are presenting the union’s case, with testimony from officers, economists, workers and other experts.

Phil Tabbita, APWU Manager of Negotiations Support, will serve as the union-appointed advocate on the panel.

Negotiations began more than a year ago, on Feb. 19, 2015. The 90-day negotiation period ended on May 26, following a one-week extension. The parties engaged in mediation throughout the summer and began identifying possible neutral arbitrators in the fall. Informal talks continued.

“We began preparing for the possibility of arbitration even before negotiations began,” President Mark Dimondstein said. “Our negotiating team, attorneys, and other advocates are ready for the challenge.”

“We’re fighting for justice – for a strong Postal Service for generations to come and economic justice for postal workers and retirees today and in the future,” he said.

Sticker Day

APWU members across the country marked Feb. 17 – the opening day of arbitration for a new contract – with a show of solidarity. Workers in every craft and category wore stickers specially made for the occasion, with the slogan, “Opening Day – Fighting for Justice.” 4

Try It on For Size!

Members of the Central Arkansas Area Local.

Wear Your Union Gear Thursdays are still going strong, with members wearing APWU T-shirts, buttons and stickers on workfloors across the country.

Management takes note of how many members are wearing union gear - and sees it as a sign of our strength. So try it on for size and show your solidarity on your sleeve! 

Dallas Area Local 732 stewards at the North Texas P&DC.

Boston Metro Area Local clerks at the Porter Square Post Office

Members of the Denver Metro Area Local in the
Steward's Room at the General Mail Facility.

Remember to send photos of you and your co-workers in union gear to

San Jose Fifth Graders Love the Postal Service!

The San Jose Contract Action Team and Regional Coordinator Omar Gonzalez visited 120 fifth graders at Donald J. Meyer Elementary School on Dec. 4, where they talked about the importance of the post office and APWU’s efforts to expand and improve postal services.

As an exercise, students wrote a letter to their parents about the visit and asked them to send in an “I Stand with Postal Workers” postcard, which was enclosed with a stamp.

Fifth graders at Donald J. Meyer Elementary School learn about the
APWU and its efforts to improve and expand postal services.


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