10/04/2006 - Management representatives painted a bleak picture of USPS finances during contract talks held Oct. 3, and, to no one’s surprise, concluded that “cost containment is the only answer.” Labor expenses are the “key drivers of costs,” management asserted, in a presentation clearly intended to convey that labor costs must be restricted.
Union negotiators challenged the USPS analysis and raised pointed questions about productivity improvements, excessive postage discounts, and mail volume. Management’s presentation did not include any contract proposals.
USPS spokesmen recited the often-repeated doctrine that “labor costs account for 80 percent of the Postal Service’s expenses,” and union representatives responded by requesting figures showing what portion of postal expenses APWU-represented employees are responsible for. The Postal Service was unable to provide that information at the negotiating session.
Following the two-hour discussion of postal finances, union officers asked questions about management’s previously submitted non-economic proposals, which addressed issues such as work assignments and management’s rights.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for Oct. 18.