Opening Day Testimony

Mark Dimondstein

September 10, 2019

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(This article first appeared in the September/October 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) 

As your National President, I was honored to present testimony on behalf of all our members on the opening day of Interest Arbitration on Sept. 4. Interest Arbitration is now the process to determine our new Collective Bargaining Agreement (union contract). (See article here.)

We expect an Arbitration Award by the end of the year. What follows are some excerpts from my testimony, with the entire testimony available on the APWU website.

The general ‘interests’ of the approximate 194,000 postal workers represented by the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO, are contained in the preamble of the APWU National Constitution: “We believe all members of labor have the right to economic, political and social justice.” That is what we are continually seeking, including in this round of collective bargaining, now culminating in this interest arbitration process…

Postal workers are passionate in our support for the essential mission of the public Postal Service, outlined in the 1970 Postal Reorganization Act: “To provide postal services to bind the Nation together,” to “provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas,” and to “render postal services to all communities…”

Postal workers earn the right to be justly compensated for our service and hard work. The economic lot of workers should be constantly improving and those improvements should be passed on from generation to generation. We earn the right to a safe workplace, free of harassment and discrimination, and, after concluding our careers, to enjoy a secure and dignified retirement…

Our members seek an end to the unfair and divisive threetier structure that pays workers significantly different amounts for performing the same work. We brought this issue before the Arbitration Board in 2015 and appeal to you again to restore the higher step increases that were lost in 2010. Our members want further reductions in the non-career workforce and an increase in the career workforce where workers make decent, family-sustaining wages and receive a solid set of benefits – so that our families gain a better life… Our members must be relieved of the ever-growing problem of hostile work environments and a management structure that refuses to hold managers accountable…

Our economic proposals are fair and reasonable, especially in light of the substantial sacrifices of postal workers carrying forward from the 2010 contract. Our proposals include: on average over a 3 percent annual general wage increase, a substantial shift of the non-career workforce to career, maintaining of COLAs, protection of no lay-off provisions, increased company contributions to health premiums and the creation of a single pay scale...

Management’s economic proposals are drastic and regressive. They are demanding a new round of severe concessions – the elimination of COLAs, creation of a new lower “third tier” of career employee with reduced benefits amounting to a four-tier wage system, higher percentages of non-career employees and less job security. These are not only unwarranted by any legitimate measure, but are an insult…

The key to the past and future success of the Postal Service is the hard work and dedication of hundreds of thousands of postal workers – from those who sell postage and accept packages; to those who sort medicines, letters, and on-line orders; to those who transport the mail and repair the vehicles; to those who maintain the equipment and facilities; to those who deliver the mail.

It continues to be in the interest of postal workers to reverse the tide of the race to the bottom and turn back to the kind of standards of wages, benefits, workforce structure and rights…where our work is honored and respected, our families are secure and our communities reap the benefits of both good and vital services and the positive impact of good jobs on the entire community.

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