Gearing up for Contract Negotiations in 2021

Vance Zimmerman

January 11, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

Happy new year, sisters and brothers! This past year brought challenges we had not seen in the Postal Service before. But all of you accepted these challenges and proved how important the Postal Service is to those living in the United States. Your hard work delivered hope and normalcy to cities and communities across America. Throughout the pandemic the APWU has demanded that the USPS provide postal workers a safe work environment. We enforced our collective bargaining agreement, and worked to improve the hours, wages and working conditions of the membership.

I want to congratulate the more than 5,500 PSEs who are being converted to career status. These conversions bring improved scheduling, better pay, retirement and all the other benefits of being a career employee. I also want to welcome the nearly 15,000 other non-career employees that were changed from the various “clerk assistant” designation to PSEs. These new PSEs will now be covered by our collective bargaining agreement. These sisters and brothers will begin earning annual leave, be subject to overtime provisions, have opportunities to become career, have access to the Article 15 process, and obtain Article 16 protections. These are just a few of the improved benefits these new members will enjoy. Welcome to the APWU!

Upcoming Contract Negotiations

Heading into 2021, the fight to better the hours, wages, and working conditions we enjoy under the APWU contract has started in earnest. The 2018-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement will expire in September of this year. Preparations for negotiations have already begun. Under the direction of Chief Negotiator, President Mark Dimondstein, the Industrial Relations Department has been examining previous Labor Management Resolutions, past proposals, as well as the results of previous negotiations and interest arbitrations to help set priorities and goals for the 2021 negotiations. Input is being sought from the National Negotiations Committee, the National Executive Council, and of course the membership.

You will soon receive – or have received – your new 2021 APWU membership card. Included with your membership card is a survey that we are asking everyone to complete on what you believe our priorities should be in negotiations. You can complete this survey online or by filling out the physical survey and mailing it back to the Industrial Relations Department. This input is invaluable to negotiations.

Soon the Rank-and-File Advisory Committee will be appointed in accordance with the APWU Constitution. The committee is made up members who are appointed by the National Executive Board. Each member of the Board appoints one member to the committee, with the President appointing one additional member to represent the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Task Force.

Negotiations require massive amounts of data collection, data analyzation, and input from outside economists, labor relations experts, and our attorneys. The data and information to support our demands is being gathered, experts are being consulted, and our strategy is being fully developed and finalized.

As we go into negotiations, it cannot be understated how important every member is to the process. Like past negotiations, we will be asking all members to participate. Your support in past contract actions, as well as legislative actions, has been an important part of our fight for not only the contract we deserve, but also for protecting the Postal Service as a whole. Our efforts led directly to the public expressing unprecedented support for postal workers during the pandemic and the 2020 elections. Continued public support is vital to our 2021 negotiations. These negotiations will be challenging as we face a new Postmaster General and a worldwide pandemic that will more than likely have an effect on the negotiations process, but together we will meet the challenges head-on and work for a contract we deserve.

Solidarity!

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