APWU Again Preserves Pay Increases and Job Security

Vance Zimmerman

March 17, 2020

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(This article first appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

We have a new contract! With Arbitrator Goldberg’s award in early March 2020, our collective bargaining agreement is now set.

We would not have had this outcome if it were not for all the hard work of the members who participated in our contract campaign events throughout the process, and without the sacrifices of the employees selected off the workroom floor to come to Washington, D.C. to testify in front of the Arbitration Panel. The employees from all crafts – full-time regulars, part-time flexibles and postal support employees – shared their work stories, personal life experiences and the complexity of their jobs with the panel. Their testimonies were moving and effective. I want to thank them all again for what they did for us all in these proceedings.

You have all seen highlights and specifics of the new contract online or in this magazine (see page 6-7), so I am not going to discuss them all again. I want to discuss some of the things that I believe were important gains and preservations.

First, we began to close the gap on the contentious twotier wage scales. For those hired after May 23, 2011, in level 5 positions you gained an additional top step. Now you will top at step “K” instead of step “J.” Those in level 6 and 7 gained two additional top steps, now topping out at step “L.” Level 8 employees also gained two steps and will now top out at step “M.”

The gains in step progression is big! What exactly does this mean? Currently, each step in level 6 is worth about $1000 a year more. This means more per hour for straight time, overtime work, and Sunday premium. It also means at least an additional $100 deposited to your TSP if you are saving 5% – not including the interest you would earn. It also increases your “high three” years for the calculation of your retirement annuity. The value of any banked leave also increases when moving to a new step.

We achieved these gains without having to give anything back or “buy” them with other changes to our contract!

We did not see any increases to the number of non-career employees the USPS can use in the APWU represented craft. We preserved the all-career maintenance work force; the MVS PSE usage only in “new work” that is returned to the craft, and the PSEs in the Clerk Craft restrictions in Function 1 and Function 4 remained in place. Something only the APWU has done in recent contracts, while other unions saw increases to non-career employee usage.

Also, we kept our COLA provisions intact. We did not see a change to the COLA “base” that would lead to a loss of COLA pay. We fended off the USPS “proportional” COLA demand keeping full COLA for all our employees.

Our no-layoff protection continues for career employees and the 50-mile limitation on excessing continues to protect our bargaining units for multiple years.

The APWU stood its ground and behind its core value to never again sacrifice the junior employees in our crafts in the name of any contract provision. What we defended in the interest arbitration process is very important. Other unions now have proportional COLA and increased the usage of non-career employees in their crafts.

Each union negotiating separately from each other has shown to be beneficial to the USPS and not for the union movement as whole. In the current process, the USPS hangs what the other unions got as either a carrot for the negotiating union to give back or the maximum to what the Postal Service will negotiate.

It is not the best system. We need to go back to negotiating together. If we do, we will be stronger as we fight side by side for all postal workers.

Solidarity!

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