What the Proposed Contract Means for Wage Increases

Vance Zimmerman

January 6, 2022

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(This article first appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

As you are all aware, in December a new tentative agreement was reached with the Postal Service and approved to be sent out to members for ratification by the Rank-and-File Bargaining Advisory Committee. This contract will provide good wage gains, hold the line on health insurance contributions, and provide a level of job security not seen in any previous APWU agreement. I want to address just exactly what the wage changes mean for career employees under this agreement. The APWU, unlike the other postal unions, represents employees across a large swath of grades and steps.

It would be impossible to address every step and level in this article, so I will lay out what the wage improvements will mean to the grade and step that is most populous under this contract—Grade 6 Step-A (Grade 6-A).

When looking at the wage increase an APWU-represented employee receives, one must consider that the contract includes both general wage increases and Cost of Living Allowances (COLAs). When ratified, the agreement will deliver a Grade 6-A employee a significant wage increase with the three general wage increases of 1.3%, adding $2037 to their pay. The APWU had an independent economist project what the Cost of Living Allowances (COLA) will be for each employee by using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Congressional Budget Office. Based on the current projections from December 10, 2021, each employee could receive $3,786 in COLA increases over the life of the agreement. For a Grade 6-A, the total projected dollar amount is $5823. This represents an 11.2% increase in salary in 3 years.

But don’t forget that anyone who has not reached top step will continue to earn step increases as well. The same Grade 6-A would earn four step increases over the life of the agreement, adding an additional $4101 to their salary over the agreement. Adding this in, the Grade 6-A employee has now increased their salary by $9,924 or 19.0% over three years!

The Industrial Relations Department has looked at every Grade and Step in the pay scales under this agreement. Based on the current projections, the average increase, excluding any step increases, is $6857 or 11.9% over three years. Additional step increases make the wage increases even greater.

This contract made strides in restoring our pay schedules to the pre-2010 levels. Grade 8 will be restored to the pre-2010 step-progression and a new top step is added for everyone in Grade 8. The six bottom steps will be eliminated and the employees occupying them will be moved into the new higher schedule. There will no longer be a “new” and “old” pay schedule. Like Grades 9, 10, and 11, there will be only one schedule. This lays the foundation for future negotiations on the pay schedules and the APWU making further progress on this primary issue.

I am proud of what the APWU has done on wages in this contract. The pay raises are the highest the APWU has had on average, dating back to the 2000-2006 agreement. Our last contract that was awarded to us by an interest arbitration panel provided lower increases than we were able to negotiate. But if we look at just November 2020 until September 2021, that same Grade 6-A employee saw their salary increase by a general pay increase of 1.0% and two COLAs, for a total of $2351 or 4.7%.

Once ratified, this contract will provide more job security to all covered by it than at other time in our history. With significant increases in guaranteed work hours, day-off scheduling, a solid and predictable path to career, no excessing beyond 50-miles, and the continuation of no-layoff protection that will protect 72,000 employees who were not previously protected, I believe this contract is second to none!

January 25 - APWU Live with the President

Join President Dimondstein for an APWU Live with the President Livestream on January 25 at 7:00pm ET! During the event, President Dimondstein will discuss and answer questions on the Tentative Agreement, and provide updates on the ratification process. Register and submit questions for the event at apwu.org/live. The recording of the APWU Live will be available to view at apwu.org/live and youtube.com/apwucommunications following the event.

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