Stay Strong Going Into Arbitration

April 2, 2019

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

By Organization Director Anna Smith

With contract negotiations going into interest arbitration, staying united and strong is essential at every level. Reminding not only ourselves but our non-member co-workers that the need to stand together is essential to preserve the rights and benefits we currently enjoy.

Below are some examples of what APWU members can and have achieved by working together.

All APWU Members

  • You have a voice and a vote
  • Membership ratification of contracts
  • Representation in the grievance procedure
  • An effective grievance procedure to adjudicate disputes with management
  • Protections against unjust discipline, including termination
  • Prohibitions against unilateral actions by our employer
  • An active legislative program that fights for postal workers on Capitol Hill
  • Representation and provisions for safe working conditions

Career Employees

  • Regular pay increases
  • Night differential pay
  • Enforcement of overtime provisions
  • Sunday premium pay
  • Out-of-schedule premium
  • Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA)
  • Health insurance benefits
  • APWU Consumer Driven Health Benefits – with 95% of employers portion of your premium paid for by the USPS
  • Basic life insurance with additional insurance options
  • 10 paid holidays (PTFs are compensated by receiving a higher straight-time hourly rate throughout the year)
  • Annual and Sick Leave accrual
  • Flexible spending accounts for health care and dependent care
  • Holiday scheduling rights
  • Allowances for uniforms and work clothing
  • Job security
  • Protections against layoffs
  • Jobs awarded by seniority, not favoritism
  • Access to training opportunities to upgrade skills
  • Retirement planning benefits
  • 50-mile excessing limitations during the life of the contract

Postal Support Employees

  • Regular pay increases
  • Night differential pay
  • Time-and-a-half for overtime work in excess of 40 hours
  • Higher level pay when performing higher level work
  • Work hour guarantees when scheduled to report for work
  • Health benefits eligibility upon employment
  • APWU Consumer Driven Health Plan after first 360-day term and upon reappointment – with 75% of employers portion of your premium paid for by the USPS
  • Annual Leave accrual and unused leave cash-in
  • 6 paid holidays and option to have annual leave balance credited in lieu of holiday leave pay if you work
  • Annual uniform allowance
  • Strong contractual language that provides for career appointments
  • Reappointments by seniority, not favoritism

If each of us had to negotiate one-on-one with the Postal Service, some may get some of the above benefits, but the reality is most would not even get half, if any at all.

It wasn’t all that long ago that we had casuals performing our work. They could be – and many were – fired without any notice or explanation. They had no benefits what so ever, no leave, no health benefits, and no guarantees of regular pay increases. Let’s be clear, there was no representation for them. So, would any of us really be better off if we weren’t unionized or if we weren’t standing together?

Managements wants to divide and conquer, workers against workers, members against members. There is no doubt that we all have faced conflict in our workplace from time to time, or in our union halls, but when we choose to let the conflict divide us the only one who wins is management.

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