Stepping up in a Challenging Year

Vance Zimmerman

November 17, 2020

Share this article

(This article first appeared in the November/December 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

As 2020 comes to an end, we reflect on the many challenges throughout the year we have faced. These include the COVID-19 pandemic, drastic changes to mail service implemented and then partially reversed by Postmaster General DeJoy, and a contentions election season.

You all stepped up when called upon. When the pandemic first overtook the country, you worked hard to keep the mail flowing — especially the heavy increase in the number of parcels that our customers needed as they sheltered at home. When Postmaster General DeJoy instituted his ill-conceived changes to the mail system that drastically slowed the mail down, you all stepped up to educate the public and fight back against them. You rallied our communities and got them involved. You worked to ensure vulnerable citizens still received their prescriptions and other important mail pieces. You showed the PMG and other government leaders that the Postal Service is beloved and should not be a “political football.”

When you were called upon to make the 2020 election successful, you stood up, took on the challenge and delivered 65 million ballots from and to state and local election offices. When you all saw where ballots were getting bogged down, you sounded the alarm again and helped to get them moved. Your actions on local task forces for election mail was vital.

As a member of the APWU, I am proud of the work you all did during these challenging times. I want to personally thank the national officers, state and local officers, shop stewards, and of course the frontline members for everything that you did. Your efforts can only be described as heroic.

Annual Salary Increases to Come

Even with all this going on, we still have a contract that must be followed and enforced. Part of that contract is our annual salary increases.

On November 21, 2020 the third and final general salary increase will become effective. It will then show up on paychecks dated December 11, 2020. The final increase will be 1.0 percent of the salary effective on September 20, 2018. PSEs will receive an additional 1.0 percent as well, totalling 2 percent (PSEs do not receive cost of living allowance increases). Overall, employees will have received 3.4 percent in salary increases under the 2018-2021 National Agreement, excluding cost of living allowance (COLA) adjustments for career employees or any extra pay increases for PSEs.

Even though this is the last general salary increase under the contract, that does not necessarily mean we are done with pay increases. Under the current agreement, there is a possibility of two additional COLAs for career employees. Because the date a COLA becomes effective is based on the release of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data, we do not know the exact dates yet. However, typically the effective dates are in March and September. COLAs are based on changes in the CPI. Currently the CPI is rising, which will lead to a pay increase. You can see the most recent COLA update on the APWU website at apwu.org/ cola-employees-covered-national-agreement.

Employees represented by the APWU are the only USPS employees who still receive a FULL COLA. Other employees only receive a portion of the COLA based upon their length of career service. Members of other crafts only receive COLAs in relation to what percentage they make of that craft’s top step. If a new employee’s starting salary is only 49 percent of the top step of their craft, they only get 49 percent of the COLA (simply put: $49 of every $100 of COLA). Even the most junior APWU career employee receives a 100 percent dollar-for-dollar COLA. Over the lifetime of a career this can equate to tens of thousands of dollars in pay, retirement, TSP contributions, and matching TSP funds. That is why keeping full COLA has and always will be a priority for the APWU.

Solidarity!

Sign up for News

Stay in touch with your union

Subscribe to receive important information from your union.