Network Modernization and Our Job Security Protections

June 15, 2023

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(This article first appeared in the May/June 2023 issue of The American Postal Worker)

With management’s network “modernization” plans to establish large regional processing facilities and carrier delivery units underway, postal workers have serious and legitimate concerns over their impact on our jobs, long run job security, and service to the public.

The national APWU leadership is diligently working to limit negative impacts on the workforce and to ensure that the network modernization plans do not lead to a reduction in retail hours or closures.

“Top management has been put on notice that, if their network changes lead to reduction or closures of retail operations, the APWU, with our community allies and the full power of all its resources, will take it to the streets, community by community,” declared APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “Verbal commitments that window and box operations will not be impacted are not sufficient. It is past time to put these promises into writing,” he continued.

The APWU leadership is continuing to insist that management abide by the contractual provisions regarding potential job impacts and excessing. It is also demanding accurate information on what, up to this point, have been constantly changing management plans. In addition, where changes of mail processing constitute an Area Mail Processing (AMP), management must adhere to the AMP guidelines of the PO 408, including provisions for community meetings and input from impacted communities. The union’s attorneys are researching potential legal actions.

Taking Stock of Our Job Security Protections

Changes in the mail mix, automation, buildings and transportation have been going on for decades and can result in the movement/excessing of workers within existing facilities, from facility to facility, and at times from craft to craft.

However, through generations of struggle, including the Great Postal Strike of 1970, the APWU has secured great job protections that almost no other U.S. workers, union and non-union alike, are afforded. Some examples include:

  1. Article 6, “No Layoffs or Reduction in Force:” Protects any career employee (FTR, PTR, PTF) with six years of continuous service from lay-off.
  2. Memorandum “Re: Layoff Protection:” Extends no lay-off protections to all career employees, even without the six years of continuous service, who were employed as of September 21, 2021.
  3. Article 12: “Principles of Seniority, Posting and Reassignments:” Dictates that any dislocation and inconveniences to employees in the regular workforce shall be kept to a minimum.
  4. Memorandum “Re: Transfer opportunities to Minimize Excessing.” Allows for voluntarily transfer of regular workforce employees from impacted installations through eReassign.
  5. Memorandum “Re: Minimizing Excessing:” After exhaustion of any agreed-to-actions to minimize excessing outside the installation or craft, no employee can be excessed more than 50 miles.
  6. Retreat Rights in Article 12: “Principles of Seniority, Posting and Reassignments:” Employees involuntarily reassigned have retreat rights to the first vacancy in the level, craft or occupational group in the installation from which reassigned.

“In the 2015 round of national negotiations, management tried to eliminate our no-layoff protections and weaken the limiting of involuntary excessing to a 50-mile radius. We fought back and succeeded in protecting these hard won and vital benefits. At times like now, with management plans that will cause some disruption and uncertainty to the workforce, our job security protections should make every union member proud,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. ■

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