Two Wins, One Loss In Private-Sector Campaigns

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(This article appeared in the July/August 2008 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

APWU members ratified a “first contract” in late May for approximately 120 workers at the Cincinnati Mail Transportation Equipment Service Center. The workers at the private-sector MTESC operation are getting their first raise in six years.

“In addition to a whopping 10 percent wage in July, there are solid improvements on many fronts,” said Mark Dimondstein, the APWU’s lead field organizer. “We have just-cause protection, a strong grievance procedure, and seniority and bidding rights. And we’re especially pleased that it’s a union shop.”

Support Services Division member Elaine Henderson was the APWU’s lead negotiator. “The APWU from coast to coast should be proud of this effort to raise the living standards and improve the workplace protections of private-sector employees,” said Executive Vice President Cliff Guffey. “And as Bill Manley, the division’s NBA, points out, we have over 100 new dues-paying members of the union.”

In another private-sector success story, the APWU won the right to continue representing 90 mail-haul drivers in Des Moines, despite a relentless anti-union campaign by Mail Contractors of America (MCA).

Des Moines Area Local President Jim Spina confirmed that aMay 15 “decertification” election went the union’s way. “Drivers Lee Gray and Jeff Kile were instrumental in this victory,” Spina said.

MCA has been using union-busting tactics at its facilities for years. “The company even promised people cheaper insurance to its workers if they voted against the union,” Dimondstein said. “This vote underscores the confidence these workers have in the APWU. It protects this unit, where we recently signed a contract.”

As a result of this election, he added, workers once again are paying their dues by checkoff. “The Des Moines local and Support Services Director Lee Gray should be commended for their successful efforts under such difficult circumstances.”

The APWU was unable, however, to overcome serious obstacles at a DHL-operated ABX Air site in southwest Ohio. A three-year organizing drive was dealt a setback in early June with a union-representation election in which neither the Teamsters — which intervened to get on the ballot long after the APWU had begun its campaign — nor the APWU got a majority of the votes.

A runoff is to be held between “no representation” and the Teamsters, who benefited from an announcement two weeks earlier that UPS planned to take over DHL’s domestic air shipment of express and international packages — news that came shortly after DHL announced a restructuring that is expected to eliminate approximately 7,000 jobs in Wilmington, OH, and essentially wipe out the site as a “hub.”

“The APWU fought to keep the jobs there,” Dimondstein said, while the Teamsters, who represent 200,000workers at UPS nationwide, supported the restructuring plan. In fact, the APWU organizer said he had learned that the election may be set aside because of misconduct. “If the NLRB does hold a new election, the APWU will again be on the ballot.

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