Keep the Clerk Craft Strong
(This article first appeared in the January-February 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
The Clerk Craft continued to grow with a net gain of approximately 5,500 new employees in the last year. Nearly all of this growth has been to career jobs. If we continue forward with increased organizing, the APWU can create even more living wage jobs for our communities.
However, 2017 will bring challenges to continued growth. The moratoriums on plant consolidations and the expansion of private retail operations will both end this summer. We must prepare for the potential ending of the moratoriums.
The moratorium on plant consolidations ordered by Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg in his interest arbitration award on our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) ends in April 2017.
The Postal Service went from 528 mail processing facilities in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 to 307 in FY 2015. Most of the consolidations occurred prior to 2013. The Postal Service acknowledged problems with mail delays where mail processing facilities were consolidated.
The APWU hopes with the moratorium in place, both parties will be in a better position to have a rational discussion regarding possible future consolidations. There are many in management who oppose delay of mail because it goes against the stated mission of the USPS.
Nevertheless, we must prepare for a scenario assuming the Postal Service will attempt to restart consolidating our mail processing facilities. There are powerful corporations with allies in Congress pushing the Postal Service to further serve them, at the expense of the general public.
The argument of the large corporations is simple and selfish. Many bypass mail processing facilities by drop-shipping their mail at the end facility where it will be delivered. They have no interest in paying for mail distribution networks they do not use. They do not care that mail consolidations delay the mail for tens of millions of Americans. The consolidations create second-class service for a first-class stamp. The mail is delayed and postage remains the same.
We must renew our efforts to build coalitions in our communities, win government representatives to our side, utilize media to educate the public, and coordinate with other areas undergoing consolidations.
Information on the APWU’s fight to end consolidations is available at apwu.org under, “Campaigns.”
Privatization of Retail
Arbitrator Goldberg placed a 12-month moratorium on any new contractual agreements between USPS and private businesses regarding the Approved Shipper Program, Contract Postal Units (CPUs), and Village Post Offices (VPOs). It is scheduled to end on July 8, 2017.
The moratorium on private retail expansion provides the APWU and the USPS with the opportunity to have healthy discussion on the future of retail. Clerk Craft officers have had multiple meetings with USPS to primarily address the Approved Shipper Program and CPUs.
Our face-to-face meetings were productive and USPS representatives indicated they plan to improve existing Postal Service retail operations. However, the Five Year Strategic Plan released by USPS in late October 2016, indicates their plan is to expand “alternative access,” USPS-speak for expanding private retail operations. As this column goes to press, we are waiting to hear if they truly intend to expand private retail operations or not.
Given the USPS Strategic Plan and the history of outsourcing postal work, the APWU must be fully prepared for the end of the moratorium. A postal transaction at a private business is one less transaction done by an APWU member. A job at a private business is one less job providing a living-wage. By stopping the Postal Service from utilizing private businesses to replace post offices, the APWU preserves good service and union jobs for our communities.
The APWU successfully stopped Staples from expanding postal services to over 1,000 planned stores. The successful Stop Staples campaign also discouraged other large retail companies from performing postal work.
Unfortunately, in the last three years, UPS dramatically increased their Approved Shipper stores. UPS regularly lobbies, in the broad sense of the term, to further privatize the Postal Service for their own profit.
We are working to convince the Postal Service to keep the sacred duties of providing secure, safe, and timely delivery of the mail with public postal workers earning a living wage. If the Postal Service continues to transfer work to private companies, we will boycott those companies and picket in front of the stores. The APWU is serious about preserving a public post office and good jobs for our communities.