Consolidation Begins in Bits and Pieces
Burrus Update #12-05, Nov. 17, 2005
The long-expected USPS network consolidation has begun in bits and pieces, with individual offices now being notified of changes to their mail processing operations. Over the past several weeks the union has received notification from the USPS of the planned consolidation of “some operations” at 10 offices one week, followed by a dozen more the following week.
In 2002 I informed APWU members that plant consolidation represented one of the most important challenges facing the union. Concern about the effect consolidations would have on our members was a major factor in our decision to extend the 2000-2003 Collective Bargaining Agreement until Nov. 20, 2005. (This past summer, members again overwhelmingly ratified an extension, until Nov. 20, 2006.)
The two-year contract extension required management to share its consolidation plan with the APWU by December 2002, and protected members from excessing beyond 50 miles through May of 2003.
Despite numerous discussions and our repeated requests over the two-year period of the contract extension, the USPS never presented a consolidation plan. Management finally acknowledged that it had abandoned the concept of a national plan and that future consolidation efforts would be directed at “Area-wide efficiencies.”
It is now clear that USPS management plans to alter the national network through a series of piecemeal changes. It is expected that in the coming months the Postal Service will inform the union of additional offices identified for change.
These changes will include merging many mail processing operations, leaving some communities with only retail and delivery services. The APWU will respond with all available resources. A group of resident officers has been empanelled to coordinate the APWU response, including activating and updating APWU plans that were developed and distributed to local and state presidents in 2003. As local offices are identified for consolidation, the national union will coordinate national and local resources to oppose any degradation of service caused by consolidation.