The Fight for a Good Contract Marches On
(This article first appeared in the September-October 2015 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
The fight for a good contract is marching on! Union negotiators participated in mediation and continued to prepare for the possibility of arbitration throughout the summer, while union members took the APWU’s message to the work floor and communities across the country.
Mediation began on June 9, under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), whose job is to help the parties reach a voluntary agreement. If mediation is unsuccessful, the contract will be resolved through arbitration.
The FMCS convened several mediation sessions over the summer and held several private meetings with each side, APWU President Mark Dimondstein reports. The union and management also continued to hold informal talks.
“Despite our best efforts, mediation has not shown much progress – at least not yet,” Dimondstein said. “Management continues to insist on demands we simply cannot accept.” They include:
- Eliminate cost-of-living adjustments as we know them;
- Increase employees’ contributions to healthcare coverage;
- Create a new, permanent lower pay scale for future career employees with reduced benefits;
- Increase the percentage of non-career employees,
- Weaken protection against layoffs.
APWU proposals include fair and reasonable wage increases, limits on subcontracting, more career jobs, improvements for Postal Support Employees, limits on excessing, and better service for our customers.
“It’s important for our members to understand,” Dimondstein said, “that mediation and arbitration don’t take place in a vacuum. Workers can affect the process. Mediators and arbitrators – like judges and courts – are influenced by the political climate. That is why it is so important that our members remain active and continue to show solidarity.”
And that’s what union members have done. APWU members have been wearing their solidarity on their sleeve every Thursday, with union T-shirts, buttons, and armbands.
“Postal management also takes note of how many of our members are wearing union buttons, stickers and T-shirts, and see it as a sign of the union’s strength,” the union president said.
Postcards: ‘I Stand with Postal Workers’
Union members have also taken the message to the people, by securing signatures on postcards that declare, “I Stand with Postal Workers.”
More than 50,000 postcards have been mailed from the union’s national office, and thousands more have been mailed by locals, state organizations, and individuals.
Over the summer, locals set up booths at state and county fairs, as well as various conferences and conventions to take the message further, gathering signatures at a multitude of events.
“I urge union members to get involved in these activities, and to ask their families, friends and neighbors to sign cards,” Dimondstein said.
“Our struggle continues,” he noted. “So keep your heads up, stay strong, stay united and keep Standing Up and Fighting Back!”