Up Next: Preparing for Local Negotiations

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(This article appeared in the July/August 2011 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

Mike Morris, Director Industrial Relations

The 2010-2015 collective bargaining agreement has been ratified by the membership, and it is now time to move to the enforcement phase of our new contract. This agreement has many sweeping changes, and there is much work to do. (Visit the Contract Negotiations page for charts showing the implementation dates of various provisions of the contract.)

The ratification of the national contract has set the stage for local negotiations. Many locals will choose to open negotiations in order to update their Local Memorandum of Understanding (LMOU); preparations should be underway. The USPS may also choose to open negotiations.Article 30 of the National Agreement says, “There shall be a 30 consecutive day period of local implementation which shall occur within a period of 60 days commencing Aug. 1, 2011.”

The local-implementation period will terminate on Sept. 30, 2011, which means locals have a 60-day timeframe to complete their 30-day negotiation period.

For example, a local that is negotiating more than one Local Memorandum of Understanding (LMOU) may begin negotiations on each agreement at different intervals within the 60-day timeframe. However, the contract provides for only one 30-day negotiation period for each LMOU.

Locals have until Aug. 15, 2011, to provide written notice of their intent to invoke the local implementation process. (Of course, locals that wish to begin bargaining on Aug. 1 will have to provide notice to management prior to that date.)

Either side may appeal to impasse arbitration items that remain in dispute at the conclusion of the local negotiating period. Due to scheduling conflicts with national APWU conferences, the time limit for filing these appeals has been extended until Nov. 4, 2011. The extension applies to both APWU appeals and USPS appeals.


Our Collective Bargaining Agreement provides that local contracts that are “not inconsistent or in conflict with the 2010 National Agreement shall remain in effect during the life of this Agreement unless changed by mutual agreement... or as a result of an arbitration award or settlement arising from either party’s impasse of an item.” Items that remain in dispute at the conclusion of negotiations may be appealed to impasse arbitration if they fall in any of the following three categories:

  • Union proposals to establish or change provisions regarding the 22 items listed in Article 30 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement as “mandatory subjects for bargaining.” 
  • Items management declines to carry over because it claims the items are “inconsistent or in conflict” with new or amended provisions of the National Agreement, or if the language is in conflict or inconsistent with provisions that have been changed subsequent to the effective date of the previous National Agreement. 
  • Proposals on mandatory items when management claims the current language poses “an unreasonable burden” on the Postal Service.

Our Newest Members

As locals enter this round of negotiations, care should be taken to address the concerns of our newest bargaining unit members, Postal Support Employees (PSEs). The union has had no institutional role in protecting and improving the rights of Casuals, but that is not the case with PSEs. Their needs regarding leave, and other contractual issues should be taken into account as locals prepare for negotiations.

My office has prepared a special Collective Bargaining Report (CBR) that provides guidance for local negotiations. It can be accessed from the CBR Reports page union’s Web site.

In preparing this booklet, we considered the changes in the current National Agreement that may impact local negotiations. We also reviewed a number of LMOUs, impasses that occurred under previous contracts, as well as impasse arbitrations and “rights” arbitrations on provisions of local contracts. The CBR provides information about management’s right to appeal items to impasse arbitration, challenges based on management’s assertion that language is “in conflict and inconsistent” with the National Agreement, and the 22 items that are considered “mandatory subjects” for negotiations, in accordance with Article 30.

A copy of the CBR was mailed to each local. We will continue to provide further information or advice to locals upon request.

Grievance Appeals: New Address

The Postal Service has closed five USPS grievance processing centers and will handle all Direct Appeals to Arbitration, Step 3 Appeals and Appeals to Arbitration from Step 3 and from Employee Claims at a single National Grievance/Arbitration Processing Center. All National Business Agents and locals should adjust their records accordingly. The address is:

Collective Bargaining & Arbitration
ATTN: Appeals/LR Service Center
United States Postal Service
P.O. Box 23788
Washington, DC 20026-3788

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