Work on Our Next Union Contract Begins

Charlie Cash

July 17, 2023

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While we there are many things changing in our work lives due to the Postmaster General’s 10-year plan, one thing has not changed: The importance of having a collective bargaining agreement (CBA or “contract”). The APWU negotiated a good 2021-2024 contract. Though, at least for me, it seems like we just ended our last contract negotiations - it is nearly time for negotiations to begin again.

The 2021-2024 contract brought us unprecedented changes in work rules. Items like automatic Postal Support Employee conversions after two years, the start of uniform and work clothing allowance rollovers, an improved Part-time Flexible (PTF) employee daily work-hour guarantee, and the 24 hour per pay period work and/or pay guarantee for PTF employees as well. Our contract continued our strong no-layoff provisions and left intact the 50-mile limitation on excessing that is proving more important today and moving forward. I can also not overstate the importance of the full Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) for all career employees under the National Agreement that has helped our wages keep up during this period of high inflation. Our CBA is strong and we intend to keep it strong.

The next contract negotiations are set to open in June of 2024. I know that seems like a long time from now, but for your negotiators, it is just around the corner. While we deal with the day-to-day issues of keeping the union moving forward, dealing with the challenging changes being made to the people’s public Postal Service, and our grievance process, your core negotiating committee must also prepare for negotiations.

The Industrial Relations Department has begun our preparations. We constantly research trends in benefits and wages, track inflation, and of course, put together and review the Labor Management Resolutions to help set our negotiating priorities. We monitor the other postal unions as they go through negotiations. When they reach agreements or have them imposed through interest arbitration, we meticulously research their contracts and compare them to the APWU agreements to discern Postal Service strategy, and to form our strategy as well. Negotiation planning and preparation is always ongoing in the department.

We have begun to reach out to economists, and will begin to meet with subject matter experts to make sure that we have the best data and information possible when negotiations do start, so we put forth well thought-out proposals, that we can defend and support, if needed, in interest arbitration. You have been part of this research and preparation even if you were not aware. Of course, the national negotiation priorities are provided to us through the adopted Labor Management Resolutions, but thousands of members have assisted in our negotiations preparation by participating in both the informal and the professional scientific surveys conducted on the work environment at the Postal Service. That data is important to our contract negotiations as well.

In the coming days, weeks, and months, the core negotiating committee, officers, attorneys, and staff members of the APWU will be meeting to discuss our priorities, educate ourselves, exchange data, determine what additional information we need to demand the Postal Service provide the APWU, and develop strong contract demand proposals. There is much work to be done. But we are up for the challenge!

As we draw closer to June 2024, we will provide updates on when the contract negotiations opening day will be. We will be asking you all to participate in these negotiations in some way through a contract campaign and by standing united with the entire APWU while we once again battle for a good contract that continues to provided good wages, benefits, and working conditions for current APWU members, and those yet to come!

Solidarity! ■

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