Postal Service Says It Will Request Proposals to Outsource Some BMC Activities

January 18, 2008

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The Postal Service has notified the union that it intends to issue a Request for Proposals for the outsourcing of some Bulk Mail Center activities.

At a Jan. 9 meeting with APWU national officers, postal officials presented a “pre-decisional briefing” on its Request for Information (RFI) Concerning a Time-Definite Surface Network.The briefing was a follow-up to a Sept. 11, 2007, meeting.

Through the RFI, issued on July 24, the USPS sought to gather market research and to identify interested private companies with the ability to sort and transport parcels and standard mail — duties that are currently performed in the BMC network.

At the Jan. 9 briefing, the USPS indicated that it intends to proceed to the next step — to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) designed to outsource some BMC activities.

There was, however, also discussion of “in-sourcing” some functions that are currently performed by non-USPS employees.

“We believe that in-sourcing these functions would moderate the negative impact on our members,” said APWU President William Burrus. “While we expect changes to the BMC network and to the employee complement, we do not anticipate that they will result in a significant reduction in the number of USPS employees.”

The Postal Service expects to make a public announcement about responses to the RFI in mid-February, and expects to issue a Request for Proposals at approximately the same time. Discussion between the parties about USPS plans for the BMCs and the application of our contract will continue, Burrus said. “We intend to do everything we can to make any changes to the BMC network as painless as possible for our members.”

The impending changes to the BMC network underscore the importance of passing the Mail Network Protection Act (H.R. 4236), Burrus said. The bill would require the Postal Service to bargain with the union before implementing significant subcontracting.

“Although we have been successful in negotiating a requirement that the Postal Service ‘notify and consult’ with the unions when it contemplates subcontracting, we have been unable to achieve real bargaining over whether or not specific activities will be subcontracted,” Burrus told APWU members.

“The requirement to bargain over subcontracting will be beneficial for the Postal Service, postal workers, and the American public,” he said. “Contracting out often ends up costing the Postal Service more than if the work were performed by postal employees. Subcontracting is frequently ineffective, and the contractors’ service to the public is often poor.”

Burrus has encouraged union members to seek support from legislators for H.R. 4236, which was introduced on Nov. 15, 2007, by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA). “It is imperative that union members contact their representatives and let them know that this bill is important to the future of the Postal Service and to postal workers,” he said.

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