By Jay Killackey, Executive Vice President, National Association of Postal Supervisors
One might ask why I am devoting my article this month to the issue of collective bargaining. As supervisors, managers and postmasters in the United States Postal Service we do not enjoy the right to collective bargaining. But, since most current EAS employees started their careers in the Postal Service as craft employees, collective bargaining is something that all postal employees have taken for granted for many years and it is the benchmark that provides management employees with our consultative rights.
Collective bargaining for state and federal government employees is now under attack as governors from several states and some elected leaders in Washington are now of the opinion that government employees no longer should have the right to collective bargaining because the basic right collective bargaining has bankrupted the country.
In the Postal Service, only the recognized unions have collective bargaining while field management employees have an exception to the rule of exclusion of supervisory employees from collective bargaining. This exception is allowed as shown in Section 208 of the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970.
Our management organizations in the Postal Service exist solely to represent EAS field employees and unions. The Postal Reorganization Act makes it clear that postal supervisors engage in consultation that is similar to, but not the same thing as collective bargaining.
Our consultative rights provide the management associations to be entitled to participate directly in the planning and development of pay policies and schedules, fringe benefit programs, and other programs relating to supervisory and other managerial employees. Without our consultative rights we would have to rely on the benevolence of the Postal Service who could otherwise change a rule without even giving us time to review and respond.
Prominently displayed on our website and in our organizations Constitution and By-laws is the following; â€œThe object of the Association is to promote, through appropriate and effective action, the welfare of its members, and to cooperate with USPS and other agencies of the federal government in a continuing effort to improve the service, to raise the standard of efficiency, and to widen the field of opportunity for its members who make the Postal Service or the federal government their life workâ€.
Because of our consultative rights we have successfully helped our members in two major reorganizations in the past two years. With the major restructuring coming this month our consultative rights will be more precious than ever. But, collective bargaining and possibly our consultative rights are on some elected officialâ€™s radar.
The new Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and Labor Policy, Congressman Dennis A. Ross, R of Floridaâ€™s 12th District has been posting tweets of the internet of late with his own opinions of collective bargaining in the public sector. Chairman Ross posted comments like; â€œThere is no Constitutional basis for collective bargaining rights or unionizationâ€. In another post Ross added; â€œPrivate sector unions were needed in the 20â€™s and the 30â€™s. They are even helpful in some ways today. Public sector Unions must goâ€.
With comments like this from the chairperson of the committee that will be overseeing the future of the Postal Service, every member of a management association or a postal union should be very concerned that the collective bargaining rights that the unions now enjoy and the consultative rights that we have under Title 39 could be abridged or even eliminated under the new leadership of this House committee.
All too often in our country, people donâ€™t get involved in a controversy until it immediately affects them. When someone is on the side of the road, many wonâ€™t even make a cell phone call to advise authorities that there is a person in distress, let alone stop for them. NAPS members cannot afford to sit on the sidelines while there are attacks on public sector unions because todayâ€™s attacks at the state level will be tomorrowâ€™s attacks on the federal level aimed directly at the rights that we now have as postal employees and managers.
Each and every member of NAPS should contact their elected officials in Washington and let them know that you want them to continue to support collective bargaining by postal unions and to maintain our rights under Title 39, United States Code for consultation with the Postal Service.