Union, USPS Sign Agreement For Offices Without a Local Union Structure

January 28, 2008

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The APWU signed a landmark agreement Jan. 25, for Members-at-Large who work in small post offices and are not represented by a local union.

The agreement, the Local Memorandum of Understanding for Offices Without a Local Union Structure [PDF], outlines the rules for these small offices on topics that are typically the subject of negotiations at the local level between USPS managers and union officers.

“The Memorandum is a first,” said APWU President William Burrus. “It will provide the protection of a local contract to thousands of union members in small offices who have not previously been covered by a local agreement.” The agreement covers approximately 15,000 workers.

The Memorandum (LMOU) is the result of negotiations for the 2006-2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement. During national contract talks, the APWU won a commitment from the Postal Service to negotiate such an agreement. Discussions about specific contract language culminated in the LMOU.

“Assistant Clerk Craft Director Mike Morris was instrumental in bringing this project to a successful conclusion,” Burrus said, “and I have asked him to oversee the union’s effort to communicate more effectively with our Members-at-Large.

“A committee of national, state, and local officers also made important contributions to our efforts to negotiate the LMOU,” he said. The committee, chaired by Western Region Coordinator Omar Gonzalez, included Pat Williams, Clerk Craft assistant director; John Dirzius, president of the Greater Connecticut Area Local; Larry Sorrells, president of the North Carolina Council, and John Jackson, former president of the Pennsylvania Postal Workers Union.

The primary subject addressed by the Memorandum is the use of leave, Morris noted. “That has always been a sore spot in small offices,” he said. “Postmasters often select the best vacation slots for themselves, preventing APWU members from taking vacations on July 4th or Labor Day. The LMOU will put an end to that practice.”

The LMOU is effective on Feb. 24, 2008, which is 30 days from the day it was signed. Because the leave provisions include deadlines that precede the effective date, an Implementation Agreement also has been executed, which postpones the deadlines from Feb. 1 to March 1; from Feb. 15 to March 15; and from March 1 to April 1, for calendar-year 2008 only. “The Implementation Agreement enabled us to set a reasonable time frame for future years, while applying the principles this year,” Morris said.

The Memorandum also requires the postmaster to notify the APWU Regional Coordinator whenever it is necessary to change, abolish, or revert a duty assignment. “Jobs have been disappearing from small post offices at an alarming rate without any notification to the union,” Morris said. “This provision will help the union protect jobs.”

Enforcement of the provisions of the LMOU will be the responsibility of APWU state presidents or National Business Agents with jurisdiction over the area, Burrus said.

The APWU also created a new section of its Web site designed for Members-at-Large. It provides information about who Members-at-Large (MALs) should contact if they have a grievance or a question about their rights, and contains an extensive list of Frequently Asked Questions.

“Members-at-Large face special challenges,” Burrus said. “Without a union structure, they have found it difficult to stand up for their rights. And until now, MALs have lacked some of the most basic protections other members have enjoyed as a result of local agreements.

“We hope this important first step will help Members-at-Large feel more like a part of the APWU family, and help them win justice in the workplace.”

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