(This article first appeared in the November-December 2017 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By Support Services Director Steve Brooks
The Support Services Division ratified two of its tentative agreements in August. First, the Information Technology & Accounting Services (IT/AS) agreement, which had a 77 percent approval, and then the private-sector mail-haulers contract with Salmon Companies, with a 75 percent approval.
The contract terms are effective Sept. 2, 2017, with retroactive pay from Jan. 21, 2017, for the IT/AS agree- ment, and August 31, 2017 for the Salmon group.
The IT/AS agreement covers approximately 1,140 IT/AS employees located in four separate centers in Eagan, MN; St. Louis, MO; San Mateo, CA; and Wilkes-Barre, PA. The members had an opportunity to ask questions and make an informed decision during onsite visits, where the terms of the agreement were presented. The process proved to be successful. The details of this contract can be found on apwu.org and in my last article outlining the tentative agreement.
Salmon Companies Agreement
Our Salmon Companies group includes private-sector drivers from locals in Dallas, TX; Little Rock, AR; Memphis, TN; and Shreveport, LA. In this agreement, we were able to negotiate individual terminal work rules on job bidding, bumping rights and extra-board provisions. Each APWU representative on the negotiating team had significant input in the development of the terms for their own terminal.
These employees receive pay based upon the prevailing wages in the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA), which are set according to occupation. In addition, they received a health and welfare stipend to be used towards their health benefits, life insurance, 401(k) and other benefits. We also achieved an opt-out clause based on guidelines in the Affordable Care Act; whereas, an individual may opt out of the company health insurance plan if they can provide documenta- tion stating they are covered under a spousal group plan. This is a very important issue, as the company plan is very costly.
In addition, we were able to raise the wages for lay- over pay and work performed that is not SCA covered work. It also includes a provision for extra holiday pay for someone who volunteers to cover a vacant run for the holiday.
Earlier this year, I reported that our Division had lost a Mail Transport Equipment Service Center (MTESC) in Detroit, MI. It was due to a new company’s bid and operational move to Temperance, MI. I am happy to announce that the APWU has come to terms with the new company to hire the displaced Detroit workers. In addition, the company will recognize the APWU as the sole representative of the workers.
The parties have also agreed to a collective bargaining process, so in the near future, we will begin negotiating their contract. These types of negotiations for an initial agreement prove to be challenging. We will be starting from scratch, as we do not have any existing language to adjust. These negotiations will be similar to the ones we completed earlier this year for a new MTESC with another company in Urbandale, IA.
I believe that we need to continue down the path of organizing the private-sector. There are so many companies out there doing work that touches the mail – and we have the right to organize them. Mail pre-sort facilities and distribution centers, MTESCs and mail-haul companies are all within our grasp. The organizing process can be time consuming and costly, but the rewards outweigh the price.
I look forward to expanding our membership through outside organizing. I believe it is the way to grow this great union exponentially. By doing so, we will be able to improve the working conditions and benefits for many workers across the country.