Department & Division News

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.

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.

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.)

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.

The Impact of Plant Closures: Beyond the Postal Sphere

12/22/2014 - How can we stop the USPS from lowering service standards and closing or consolidating mail processing plants? How can we reach our communities? How can we motivate our legislators and neighborhood organizations? How can we reach the businesses in our cities and town?

We must let residents know the effect the reduction in service standards and the closure or consolidation of postal facilities in their communities will have on their town and on them.

Most of these groups don’t realize that they will also take a big hit if service standards are lowered and 82 mail processing plants are shuttered. They may feel sorry that postal workers will be forced to work outside the community. However, they have been told over and over that the USPS is broke and must make cuts. The Postal Service doesn’t dare tell members of the communities how they will be adversely affected.

Much is at Stake, Much is Possible

12/22/2014 - New Year's Greeting to One and All!

Your membership in the American Postal Workers Union is the foundation of our strength as we fight for workplace and social justice. I salute you, the thousands of union members and activists, for your contributions to the well-being of all postal workers – active and retired, career and non-career.

I encourage those who are not yet “union active” to commit some of your time in the coming year. There is something for everyone to do: Attend union meetings, volunteer to serve on a committee, act as a shop steward, write an article for your local union paper or website, join a protest at Staples, urge your members of Congress to defend postal workers and the public Postal Service, support fast food and Walmart workers in their demands for $15 per hour and a union, and get involved in our fight for a new APWU union contract in 2015.

The survival of the public Postal Service and our jobs is at stake and you can help make a difference. Yes, each and every one of us has an important role to play. Think about how much stronger we would be if every member volunteered just an hour or two each month for union activism.

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert

Senate Passes $1.1 Trillion Federal Budget Agreement, Obama Signs it into Law

12/19/2014 - After a day of drama and partisan wrangling, the Senate voted 56-40 on Saturday to send a government funding bill to President Barack Obama for his signature. Obama then signed the bill into law on Tuesday. The $1.1 trillion legislation funds most of the government through September, but sets up a February showdown over funding for the Department of Homeland Security. More at Twenty-one Senate Democrats voted against the bill, while 24 Republicans voted for it, including every member of the Senate GOP leadership. Democratic opponents included several senators rumored to have presidential ambitions such as Elizabeth Warren (MA), Cory Booker (NJ), Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY). A tally of the Senate vote is at