Preparing for Opening Day of Contract Negotiations

Vance Zimmerman

May 7, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

A little over one year ago, the 2018-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement was finalized when arbitrator Stephen Goldberg issued his interest arbitration decision establishing our contract. His award established that the contract would expire in September of 2021. With the expiration of the contract coming up, it is time again for contract negotiations.

The Industrial Relations Department has been preparing for upcoming negotiations since the fall of 2020. We have been reviewing the previously adopted Labor Management Resolutions, examining the proposals/notes/minutes of the 2018 negotiations, requesting needed information, analyzing work hour histories, and more.

Additionally, you were all asked to provide feedback on a survey as to what your priorities are for the upcoming negotiations. Over 5,000 members in all crafts, career and non-career, responded to the survey. All feedback, whether submitted electronically or mailed in, was reviewed. The information provided has been invaluable to our preparation.

As this issue goes to press, the Chief Negotiator (President Dimondstein) and the Chief Spokesperson (Industrial Relations Director) have met with the Core Negotiating Committee, the National Executive Board, the National Executive Council, and the Rank and File Bargaining Committee in preparation for negotiations. The negotiating team held briefings with economists and other experts to discuss the atmosphere that we will be negotiating in during this round of contract negotiations.

The APWU will demand a contract that recognizes the hard work and dedication you showed during the pandemic and the 2020 election. Your actions were recognized nationwide by the public and the media.

The Postal Service and its employees were cheered, praised, and honored as the heroes you are. We are insisting that the Postal Service also show respect and recognition of what you did and still do. The Postal Service can do that by rewarding you with a contract that provides good wages, benefits and working conditions. It has been stated publicly how much management identifies your hard work and dedication. It is now time for the Postal Service – to use the cliché – “to put their money where their mouth is.”

Negotiations are scheduled to open the week of June 21. Exactly how the Opening Day will be held is still being discussed between the APWU and the USPS. You can be assured that safety and health of the participants and any observers will be our main priority when determining the specifics of the event. All necessary precautions due to COVID-19 will be considered. We anticipate that Opening Day will be significantly more scaled down than past negotiations. However, we are in active discussions with the Postal Service to make Opening Day as productive as possible and to allow for as many people as possible to be able to witness the proceedings, including options to view parts or all virtually. When details are agreed to and finalized, we will publicize the information on how Opening Day will be conducted and can possibly be viewed.

As we enter into negotiations, we must remember that we need to stay united and speak with one voice to management. The APWU is the sole voice that speaks for APWU-represented employees. This is especially important to remember now that the Postal Pulse survey has begun.

The APWU has not strayed from its opposition to employer conducted surveys, focus groups, and the like. We implore you not to participate. These surveys have been used against us in the past to undermine our negotiating positions and you can expect the survey data will be used by the Postal Service in the 2021 contract negotiations. The members of the APWU deserve a good contract.

Your negotiators will do everything possible to reach a negotiated agreement that recognizes your contributions to keeping the Postal Service the most respected government agency in the country.

Solidarity!

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