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The 411 on 211

12/23/2014 - Every hour, thousands of Americans require some type of essential human service. However, trying to determine what service is available or how to qualify for a service can be a challenge even for the most resourceful and tenacious of individuals. That’s where 2-1-1 comes in.

2-1-1 is a free, confidential information and referral service – available throughout most of the country – that is making it easier for people to connect with agencies and vital community based organizations that provide aid.



A Step-by-Step Guide to Signing-Up New Members

12/23/2014 - Happy New Year! In 2015 the Organization Department will expand our training efforts by reaching out to locals and conducting regional training seminars on how to sign-up non-members.

“The union” isn’t a third party. It’s you. It’s me. It is all of us working together for a common cause. By working together we aim to achieve better working conditions, safe work places, a better standard of living for ourselves and our families, and dignity and respect on the job. 

When people talk about what the union does or doesn’t do, remember, we are the union.

Our Plans for 2015

12/23/2014 - As a difficult year ends and a new year begins, it is a good time to think about areas we need to concentrate on in the new year.

Our work to coordinate relationship-building between members of Congress, our local and state legislative activists, and the Legislative and Political Department in Washington, DC, has been highly successful.

This also entails educating senators and representatives and their staffs about our issues. Financial support from COPA, the APWU Committee on Political Action, is critical to this process.

These relationships create an “echo chamber,” with the same message being repeated back home as well as in Washington. It also builds an environment of unified, continued support for the congressperson financially and with voters, which all politicians crave. We will keep working to find ways to improve and expand these efforts.

A New Year's Resolution

Standing Up and Fighting Back

12/23/2014 - On behalf of the union officers of the Northeast region, I wish you a happy New Year, filled with peace and fulfillment.

Our current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires on May 20, 2015, and in recent months we have been busy preparing for negotiations for the next contract. Negotiations have been difficult since the inception of collective bargaining between the USPS and its postal unions in 1971.

This year, the committee includes several outstanding representatives from the Northeast Region. I know them personally and can assure you that they have the best interests of our members at heart. I’m confident they will perform their work above and beyond the call of duty. Serving on the committee from the Northeast Region are: Bob Johnson, president, Greater CT Area Local; Jonathan Smith, president, New York Metro Area Postal Union; Ron Suslak, president, Queens NY Area Local, and Bill Weaver, Motor Vehicle Craft president, Boston MA Metro Area Local.

If the parties fail to reach agreement on a new contract the Postal Reorganization Act provides a process to resolve the dispute in “interest arbitration.” The award of the arbitrator is binding on the parties.

APWU Payroll Experts Issue a Warning

12/23/2014 - When management declared an Information Technology (IT) emergency due to a breach of USPS data systems recently, more than 150 systems that USPS programmers develop and administer were taken offline so they could be patched and reconfigured. The programmers – who are APWU members – were on call all hours of the day and night to get the systems tested and running.

These union members performed selflessly throughout the emergency.

IT/AS employees also perform an invaluable function for their APWU brothers and sisters day-in and day-out: They are responsible for every USPS employee’s pay and for making payroll corrections when errors occur.

Winning 'Automatic' Remedies for Staffing Violations

12/23/2014 - Hopefully, every local applied the procedures outlined in the July 9, 2014, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding implementation of the MS-47 - TL-5 Handbook at the conclusion of fiscal year 2014.

The agreement includes an automatic remedy for violations of custodial staffing requirements: In facilities maintained by USPS custodians, if staffing fell short of 90 percent of the work hours shown on Line H of PS Form 4852, management must compensate custodial employees identified by the local union at the overtime rate. (In fiscal year 2014, the first year of implementation of the MOU, the comparison period was prorated.)

Is Sub-Contracting Cheaper? Really?

12/23/2014 - As we prepare to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement, one of the most important issues to resolve is what constitutes a “fair cost comparison of all reasonable costs.” It’s fair to say that this is a key issue for the Motor Vehicle Craft, especially if we are to return subcontracted work to our members.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on “Contracting or Insourcing of Contracted Service,” which is part of the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement, provided the Motor Vehicle Craft with language we could sink our teeth into for the very first time. It states:

“It is understood that if the service can be performed at a cost equal to or less than that of contract service, when a fair comparison is made of all reasonable costs, the work will be performed in-house.”

The problem is that the United States Postal Service can’t determine what subcontracting costs.

Privatization, Walmart and Goin' Postal

12/23/2014 - 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.

Despite Huge Earnings, Walmart is Notorious for Low Pay

12/22/2014 - According to the Fortune Global 500 list, based on revenue, Walmart is the world’s biggest company. With more than 2 million workers, it is also the largest employer.                                     

But despite its huge earnings, Walmart is notorious for the low wages it pays its workers. In fact, wages are so low, the company counsels its workers on how to apply for government assistance!

Walmart is also infamous for its staunch opposition to unions. The giant retailer closed a brand new store in Canada because the workers there organized a union, and it closed all in-store meat processing soon after meat cutters at a Texas Walmart voted to form a union.