Update on Management's Network Modernization Plans: APWU Takes a Series of Actions

November 17, 2023

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(This article first appeared in the Nov/Dec 2023 edition of the American Postal Worker)

While still in its early stages, postal management is aggressively proceeding with their “network modernization” plans. Currently, three out of an estimated 60 future Regional Processing and Distribution Centers (RPDCs) are at least partially up and running – Richmond, VA; Charlotte, NC; and Atlanta, GA – with at least nine more scheduled to open next year. There are approximately 24 Sorting and Delivery Centers (S&DCs) (large carrier/delivery units) open, with plans for dozens more in 2024, and hundreds more in the coming years. These network changes will eventually touch almost every local.

As management constructs new buildings, centralizes processing, and installs new automated package sortation machinery, they must do it in accordance with our union contract, and in such a way that limits the negative impact on current employees. The national APWU leadership is fully committed to enforcing the union contract and, toward that aim, has initiated a number of actions:

  • The APWU filed a major national-level grievance challenging management’s action where they are not properly withholding jobs in accordance with the job security protections of Article 12. Article 12 demands that all residual vacancies in all crafts and installations within 50 miles are held as “landing spots” for any impacted career employees facing potential excessing. The APWU is seeking to expedite this grievance.
  • The APWU filed an Unfair Labor Practice with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to enforce management’s legal obligation to bargain over the changes it is making to the network. The APWU has its legal department taking a hard look at potential court action in relation to any unlawful acts of management.
  • A grievance was filed charging that changes to the postal handbook and manual PO-408, previously the “Area Mail Processing Guidelines,” and now the “Mail Processing Facility Review,” were unilaterally made by management and interfered with the union’s rights to information and input on facility consolidations.
  • The APWU filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the NLRB due to management not sufficiently responding to union information requests associated with the network changes. In response the Postal Service has begun providing some of the requested information.
  • The five APWU Regional Coordinators are holding regional-level meetings with management, in accordance with the union contract, to address potential impacts. They have successfully reduced or eliminated many impacts on the current workforce. In addition, the APWU has prevailed in a significant regional area grievance, forcing management to reverse impacts and excessing in Utica, NY.
  • The APWU has challenged management’s assigning most of the work in the new High Output Parcel Sorters (HOPS) to the Mailhandlers.
  • The Clerk craft has expanded training for local and state union representatives on Article 12 (which deals with centralization of mail, consolidations of operations, and potential excessing) and on jurisdictional issues about assigning work to the Clerk craft or the Mailhandlers.
  • The national union conducted a series of informational meetings that updated national, state, and local leaders on network changes, and will continue to do so.
  • As previously reported, the APWU negotiated an important memorandum protecting existing retail and box section operations when letter carriers are moved to larger facilities with the S&DC plans.

“Changes in the mail mix, mail processing and the march of automation and technology are not new for the APWU,” said President Mark Dimondstein. “We have met these challenges over many decades and will continue to meet them today. The APWU leadership is fully united in our efforts to protect our jobs, serve the people, and keep the members fully informed as these network plans unfold.”

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