Privatization, Walmart and Goin' Postal
An agreement between Walmart and the private shipping company Goin’ Postal threatens to further privatize postal services. Under the arrangement, announced on Sept. 29, 2014, Goin’ Postal is lining up franchisees to establish postal kiosks in approximately 2,000 Walmart stores.
The arrangement has the potential to dwarf the Postal Service’s agreement with Staples, which started as a pilot program at 82 Staples stores and which is being expanded to Staples’ 1,500 U.S. stores.
The Walmart deal represents a new twist, however, because Walmart isn’t offering services through a direct agreement with the USPS. Instead, Walmart’s agreement is with Goin’ Postal.
Walmart will likely claim that Goin’ Postal is just a renter in their stores, and postal management will likely claim that the Postal Service has nothing to do with the arrangement. However, both Walmart and USPS brass will be very happy with the transfer of work from the Postal Service to Goin’ Postal kiosks in Walmart stores.
The Postal Service doesn’t want to pay living wages to postal employees and Walmart wants the additional foot traffic they hope the kiosks will bring to their big-box stores.
Moreover, as you might guess from the name of the company alone, the owner of Goin’ Postal, Marcus Price, has issues. A review of his published comments reveals disrespectful remarks about women, anti-union biases, and other problematic opinions. He even mocks Walmart customers.
We have been researching the arrangement and our options. We will oppose any management plans to expand the USPS Approved Shipper program to Goin’ Postal franchisees. We also will press Walmart not to do business with a company whose owner has expressed anti-women attitudes and made other questionable comments.
Stopping the transfer of living-wage jobs to low-wage Walmart jobs is a top priority for the APWU.
Filling Vacancies, PSE Conversions
As a result of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Filling Residual Vacancies, many employees have been able to move to new assignments that benefited them for various reasons.
However, the most significant benefit from the MOU is that more than 9,000 Postal Support Employees (PSEs) have been converted to career status, including 5,200 in the Clerk Craft as of Oct. 31, 2014.
The change from PSE to career marks a substantial improvement in pay, health benefits, retirement, and overall well-being for PSEs and their families. Each conversion means a lot to the individual workers, who as career employees now have significantly better lives.
The agreement, which outlines the procedure for filling residual vacancies in the Clerk, Maintenance and Motor Vehicle Craft, was signed by the APWU and USPS on March 24, 2014, and was extended on Oct. 31.
Implementing the MOU has been a slow process, but much progress has been made through the impressive efforts of many dedicated stewards, officers and members.
When the Postal Service rolled out the POStPlan (Post Office Structure Plan) in May 2012, it created chaos in towns across America.
The POStPlan reduced the hours of operation at thousands of small post offices from 8 hours to 2, 4 or 6 hours. In the process, the POStPlan essentially created two new categories of post offices – Administrative Post Offices (APOs), which remained full-day offices, and associated Remotely Managed Post Offices (RMPOs), where hours were reduced.
The reduction in hours was massive and unfairly targeted rural communities, where post offices frequently play a significant role in civic life. Why should some people get less service than others?
Another major problem was that the Postal Service assigned supervisory employees to perform work at the RMPOs that should have been performed by Clerk Craft employees. In July 2012, the APWU filed a national-level grievance, protesting the assignment of work to managerial personnel.
In a ruling dated Sept. 5, 2014, Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg awarded jurisdiction over most of the assignments in the 4- and 6-hour POStPlan offices to the APWU. The victory resulted in the establishment of 9,000 new Clerk Craft positions. In this era of massive downsizing, that is a major accomplishment.
A Sept. 22 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlined procedures for implementing the award.
The relationship between the newly-created APOs and RMPOs raised numerous questions, however. Given the short time frame for implementation of the MOU, we had to work quickly to resolve them. (The agreement required the USPS to post and fill the positions within 90 days of the Sept. 22, 2014, agreement.) Many national officers, local officers, and union members provided information and insights that helped make a better outcome under the time constraints. It is still a work in progress.
Despite the difficulties, we are pleased that we won jurisdiction over the jobs before we enter national negotiations.
Winning the jobs puts us in a better position to advocate for good service – and good jobs – for our communities. Who can better protect the interests of the community than the brothers and sisters who provide service and enjoy the backing of the entire union and our allies?
The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 requires the Postal Service to “provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas”… while providing “worthwhile and satisfying careers in the service of the United States.”
With that noble mission in mind, the union will work to extend the hours and improve service in POStPlan offices while also fighting to improve the working conditions for the employees who provide that valuable service.
Every member’s participation in this good fight will make the struggle a little easier.