Summary and Highlights from Interest Arbitration Award

July 8, 2016

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(This article first appeared in the July-August issue of The American Postal Worker Magazine)

With the decision of the interest arbitration panel of July 8, 2016, we have a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the American Postal Workers Union and the United States Postal Service that covers the wages, hours and working conditions of 200,000 postal employees. The contract covers a 40-month period from May 21, 2015 through September 20, 2018.

Below is a summary of the main highlights and significant changes contained in the Collective Bargaining Agreement award. A full arbitration award can be found on the union website: All rights and benefits contained in the previous union contract which remain unchanged carry forward into our new contract. These include seniority and bidding rights, the grievance procedure, protection against unjust discipline, annual and sick leave, holiday and overtime pay, health and safety protections and so many of the important union benefits won over many decades of struggle.

Career Employee General Wage Increases

There will be across-the-board pay increases of 3.8% for career employees over the life of the Agreement:

  • 1.2% effective November 14, 2015 (Retroactive)
  • 1.3% effective November 26, 2016
  • 1.3% effective November 25, 2017

Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA)

The COLA for career employees is maintained under the current formula. Cost-of-living adjustments will be made in March and September of each year of the contract.

PSE Wage Increases:

PSEs (who do not receive COLA raises) will receive wage increases as follows:

  • 2.2% effective Nov.14, 2015 (Retroactive)
  • 2.3% effective Nov. 26, 2016
  • 2.3% effective Nov. 25, 2017

In addition to these general wage increases, PSE wages will be increased by fifty cents per hour over the life of the contract as follows:

  • $0.09 per hour effective Nov. 14, 2015 (Retroactive)
  • $0.20 per hour effective May 13, 2017
  • $0.21 per hour effective May 26, 2018

No Lay-Off Protections for Career Employees

The no lay-off protections of Article 6, for employees with more than six years of service, remain in full force. In addition, no lay-off protection is extended to all career employees who are on the rolls as of July 8, 2016.

Job Security Provisions

There will be no new subcontracting of PVS driving work during the life of the contract.

For a minimum of the first year of the contract, the Postal Service will not expand contract stations, village post offices and approved shipper programs. (The fight over Staples is not affected by this moratorium.)

There will be no further plant closings and consolidations until at least April 2017.

Workforce Structure

  • All Maintenance Craft PSEs will be converted “in place” to career within 60 days of the Award. Thereafter the PSE category of employee will be eliminated in the Maintenance Craft.
  • All Motor Vehicle Service Craft PSEs will be converted to career - either full-time or PTF - within 60 days of the Award. Thereafter, the PSE category of employee will be eliminated in the MVS Craft. However, in the future PSEs could be authorized as part of a package to bring back currently subcontracted MVS work.
  • PTF employees are reintroduced into the MVS craft, not to exceed 20% of the MVS career workforce.
  • Non-Traditional Full-Time (NTFT) duty assignments are eliminated in Function 1 (mail processing) and Function 3 (MVS) and will be reposted as traditional full-time duty assignments. NTFTs cannot be introduced into the Maintenance Craft. Current four day a week/ ten-hour a day duty assignments may remain in place if the local parties agree. Local parties may mutually agree upon more such assignments under the Modified Work Week Memo.
  • Non-Traditional Full-Time employees in Function 4 (Retail) are now capped at 8%, excluding NTFT assignments in POStPlan offices. (Previously there was no cap.) The rules concerning schedules and postings in the NTFT memo remain. However, the restriction on assigning mandatory overtime to non-OTDL employees is narrowed from installation wide to the facility.

Veteran Hiring

Preference Eligible Veteran hiring will be greatly enhanced with the creation of the all-career workforce in the Maintenance and MVS Crafts where veterans will now be hired directly into career positions.

Career Employee Health Benefits

The Health Plans and benefits for career employees remain in effect. Over the next three years, the employees’ portion of the health premium will increase 1% a year. For the APWU Consumer Driven Health plan, the Postal Service will continue to pay 95% of the premium.

PSE Health Benefits and Holiday Leave Pay

  • PSEs will now receive pay on six major holidays: New Years, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. (PSEs had no holiday leave.)
  • The number of hours paid for the holiday will vary by size of office: 200 Man year offices – 8 hours; POSTPlan offices – 4 hours; all other offices – 6 hours.
  • PSEs who work on a holiday will have the same option as career employees to have their annual leave balance credited in lieu of holiday leave pay.
  • The 75% contribution of the USPS to the premiums of the APWU Consumer Driven Health Plan, available after one year of service, remains in effect. In addition, PSEs will now have access to a USPS-sponsored health plan upon employment with the USPS contributing $125 per pay period.

Limits on Excessing

During the life of the CBA, no employees can be excessed beyond a 50 mile radius.

Enhanced and Expanded Services

Parties established a joint Service Enhancement and Innovation Task Force.

Uniform and Work Clothes for 
Eligible Career Employees:

Allowances for uniform and work clothing programs will be increased:

  • Effective May 2016, increase of 5%
  • Effective May 21, 2017, increase of 2.5%
  • Effective May 21, 2018, increase of 2.5%

Eligible PSE Employees

For the first time, PSEs employed in retail will receive an annual uniform allowance for three shirts, subject to the normal eligibility requirements.

Clerk Craft

  • Incorporates successful MOU “Re: Filling of Residual Vacancies” into the contract.
  • New pecking order for full-time vacancies allows for a possible PTF transfer and conversion of PSEs within a 50-mile radius.
  • New pecking order for PTF vacancies provides for conversion of PSEs within the installation, the transfer of PTFs within 50 miles and conversion of PSEs within a 50-mile radius.
  • PTFs can express a preference to work outside their installation.
  • One-time conversions of all Clerk Craft PSEs to career in 200 work year installations with over 2.5 years of service as of July 8, 2016. One year from the award, the parties are ordered to discuss the possibility of another one-time conversion.
  • New language in Article 37.5.D that streamlines process for PSE conversion to career.
  • Employees can now exercise retreat rights without regard to level.

Maintenance Craft

  • All Maintenance Craft PSEs converted to career and the PSE category eliminated.
  • Maintenance Jobs MOU eliminated except for provisions related to pending disputes over “Unit Clarification.”
  • New provisions for ET-11 issues including a nationwide PAR for ET-11s and negotiations for LMOUs with MTSC.
  • Retained the Subcontracting Cleaning Services MOU with entire installation in the 18K sq. ft. formula.
  • Retained the 50-mile rule on excessing.

Motor Vehicle Craft

  • All MVS Craft PSEs converted to career and the PSE category eliminated except when part of package to bring in contracted work.
  • The evaluation of 8,000 HCR routes for possible return to PVS continues.
  • No new subcontracting of PVS driving work during the life of the contract.
  • The Award provides for the return of PTFs with a 20% cap.
  • All Full-Time Regular Motor Vehicle Craft employees – not just operators – will use their seniority for vacation scheduling.
  • Bids for Examination Specialist (SP-2-188) and Vehicle Operations – Maintenance Assistant (SP-2-195) are open to all full-time regular MVS employees.


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