Mike Morris, Director
Members Input on Bargaining Is Welcome
Greg Bell, Director
(This article first appeared in the Mar/Apr 2010 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
With negotiations for a new contract set to begin in August (90 days prior to the Nov. 20 expiration of the current contract), the Industrial Relations Department is busy preparing for bargaining. As part of our preparation, we seek input from union members and officers at all levels of the organization.
Members are encouraged to provide suggestions to their local APWU stewards or officers, or to national union headquarters. Suggestions may be sent by e-mail to email@example.com or by mail to: Greg Bell, Industrial Relations Department Director, APWU Negotiations 2010, 1300 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20005.
Local, state and regional APWU meetings also provide an important opportunity for members to voice their concerns. Resolutions adopted at these meetings will be submitted to the national union for consideration by delegates to the National Convention in August. At the convention, the Labor- Management Committee will review contract resolutions and make recommendations to the delegates, who vote the proposals up or down. Resolutions approved by the convention are included with others to be considered during negotiations.
A compilation of Previously Adopted Labor Management Resolutions is available on the Industrial Relations page of the APWU Web site. These are considered “standing resolutions,” so it is not necessary to resubmit resolutions that have been previously adopted.
Not every individual suggestion or convention resolution will become part of the new contract, but as we prepare for talks and try to negotiate the best possible contract for our members, the National Negotiating Team will evaluate all proposals.
Of course, in addition to formal resolutions and proposals, the union’s national negotiators hear first-hand from local and state leaders, regional coordinators and national business agents about problems in the field that need to be addressed through contract negotiations.
The APWU Constitution and Bylaws provides for a Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee, which convenes at least 60 days prior to the submission of contract proposals, and whenever the president deems it necessary to keep its members informed of the progress of negotiations. Each member of the National Executive Board appoints one member to serve on the panel.
If a tentative agreement is reached on a new collective bargaining agreement, the Rank and File Committee evaluates it: If a majority of the members support the proposed agreement, it will be mailed to APWU for a ratification vote. If a majority votes against it, the contract will not be sent to union members for ratification. A vote against a tentative agreement by the Rank and File Committee shall be considered a mandate to the national negotiating team to re-open negotiations.
If the Rank and File Committee approves a tentative agreement, it supervises the ratification vote of the union’s membership.
If the parties are unable to negotiate a new agreement, the impasse will be referred to Interest Arbitration. If the contract is decided in this manner, there will be no ratification vote.
Negotiating the Collective Bargaining Agreement is perhaps the union’s most important job. We take the responsibility very seriously, and we have been preparing for the upcoming round of bargaining since last year.
This year’s negotiations promise to be tough, and we will need the support of the entire membership. We welcome your input.
APWU Files Labor Charges Over Requirements
For Cross-Craft Assignments
It has been called to our attention that the Postal Service may have reassigned some APWU bargaining- unit employees to National Association of Letter Carriers-represented positions for which they did not meet the qualification requirements for the position, and subsequently fired them for failing to meet those same qualifications.
The APWU contends that this practice is highly inappropriate, and wrote to the Postal Service in October 2009 in order to determine whether there is a disagreement between the parties at the national level on this matter. The Postal Service failed to respond.
In December, the APWU filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the Postal Service, protesting management’s refusal to respond to our inquiry and failure to provide information the union requested regarding the reassignment of APWU bargaining-unit employees to positions in other crafts.
It is unconscionable that management would even consider firing dedicated employees in these situations. Instead, these workers should be reassigned to installations where vacant bargaining-unit positions are being withheld to accommodate excessed employees, as provided for in Article 12.
The union contends that, in accordance with Article 12 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Postal Service has an obligation to determine whether employees meet the requirements of positions in other crafts before reassigning them to such positions.
If an employee being considered for reassignment to a Letter Carrier position does not meet the driving qualifications for the position, that employee is not eligible for reassignment to the position. The employee should simply be subject to involuntary reassignment to a bargaining-unit position for which he or she meets the qualification requirements – in an installation where positions are being withheld to accommodate excessed employees. The employee should not be fired.
Employees who are improperly reassigned to Letter Carrier positions they are not qualified for should contact their local union representative to file a grievance.
It should be noted that once APWU bargaining-unit employees are reassigned to Letter Carrier positions, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) becomes their exclusive representative. Employees who are issued a Notice of Removal for failure to meet the requirements of their position should contact their local NALC representative to file a grievance.
Both unions are working at the national level to resolve this issue.