(This article first appeared in the May-June 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
By Support Services Director Steve Brooks
Negotiations with Pacific Architects and Engineering, Inc. (PAE) for our Mail Transport Equipment Service Center (MTESC) were successfully completed with the membership’s unanimous ratification of the tentative agreement. The parties agreed to terms including a grievance process with just cause provisions. We were also able to achieve a “no lay-off” clause as well as a guaranteed floor in regards to a minimum number of full-time positions.
Both are unprecedented in private sector Postal Service contracts.
The main goal in establishing this initial agreement was to improve working conditions. This is a two-year contract that will enable the parties to test the provisions and readdress what needs to be changed in the next agreement. We established a good foundation which can be built upon going forward.
The employees will also receive two cash payments as well as an established incentive program which will offer compensation based upon performance standards. We normally do not desire such a program, but in this environment it is customary. During the next contract discussions, we will be negotiating for permanent wage increases that are in excess of those required under the Service Contract Act.
As this article was submitted, we are still in negotiations with the Postal Service for the IT/AS agreement. The Feb. 24 extension has passed. However, the parties settled on all its non-economic issues and are narrowing down economic requests.
We held our initial bargaining session with the private sector group covered under the Salmon Companies collective bargaining agreement. The first session went smoother than anticipated. The parties were able to tentatively agree on several working condition changes. As this issue goes to press, negotiations are expected to continue in mid-April.
Going into this process, it was a concern of our negotiating team that the company would not bargain in good faith. So far, they have been willing to compromise on many issues. By the time you are reading this, we hope you will already have read on apwu.org that we have a ratified agreement.
Outstanding Grievances Reduced
The Support Services Division has been very busy the past few months. Contract negotiations require many hours of preparation, in addition to the actual hours traveling and negotiating. Any time between negotiation sessions is spent dealing with day-to-day grievances received from represented locals. I am pleased to state that despite the fact that we have had to spend so much time in negotiations, we have also been able to cut the number of outstanding old cases.
The next three years for Support Services will prove to be very challenging. We, like the other crafts, must be prepared for the changes we expect due to the results of the 2016 Election. We cannot trust that newly elected officials will do the right thing by the Postal Service. That means USPS may find it necessary to make changes in its operations, affecting all of us.
I believe our union members will meet the challenges ahead. When we fight together, we show our strength and prevail.