NAPS: The Threat to End Collective Bargaining

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; “The 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 work”.

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 official’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 Florida’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; “There is no Constitutional basis for collective bargaining rights or unionization”. In another post Ross added; “Private sector unions were needed in the 20’s and the 30’s. They are even helpful in some ways today. Public sector Unions must go”.

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 don’t get involved in a controversy until it immediately affects them. When someone is on the side of the road, many won’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 today’s attacks at the state level will be tomorrow’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.

  • trout

    As much as I have issues with the various unions witihin the USPS, I do believe we/they have a right to collectively bargain. Just because I disagree with tactics employed by union officialsI do not believe the answer is to remove the ability to negotiate within the parameters of the agreements made. I still believe they/we exist for good reason. For some politician to decide that we (the middle class) are the basis and cause for the down fall of the economy is ludicrous and ignorant. When a federal official claims that federal employees are the blame and forgets or conveniently leaves himself out of the equation then we must correct him or her. We must stand up for our rights and educate the uneducated.
    We must also relaize that the status quo has changed and we must adapt accordingly. They are coming after our jobs and our ability to negotiate. Like every other treaty (agreement) ever made in the past, we must remember this: every treaty is as good as the people who made it up.

  • Vet

    We need to remind the Republican representatives that a very large percentage of Postal employees and Federal employees are military veterans, and a significant percentage of those veterans are disabled and/or combat vets.

    Preference for Federal hiring via point status and the veterans re-employment act is a significant reward for honorable service and that fact isn’t being discussed.

    We all (Postal and other Federal Employees) need to respond to the current retoric with rhetoric of our own.

    “When you attack Federal Employees, you’re attacking our nation’s veterans!”

    When you write to Congressman Ross, include the above concept if you’re a vet.

  • Push to Shove

    Management associations may have consultive rights, but that doesn’t mean all that much. Postal Headquarters can–and often does–disregard much of our input. If Headquarters wanted to bust the management associations, all they have to do is say No to all our requests for rights etc. Membership would immediately dwindle because dues paying members would realize that the $300-$500 a year in dues does nothing for them. With Wisconsin’s union busting blitzkrieg, you can bet Postal Headquarters is getting all sorts of ideas.

  • GeorgeNArizona

    The responsibility for the bankruptcy lies in the lap of politicians and the Federal Reserve Bank; not the working man that pays the taxes of their folly.

  • dryMAILman

    Speaking of attacks on the union, why don’t letter carriers carry billy clubs like police officers? Please, no more fatal dog attacks.

  • Manager

    Collective bargaining may not be a constitutional right, but it is a human right; the right of an individual to demand just compensation for the service provided. Unions may sometimes go to far, but without the ability to standardize work conditions and benefits, the agencies could, and would, vary those conditions and benefits without justification.

    Government agencies need to hire and retain competent employees. If an agency slashes its wages and benefits because it is unable to adequately or competently establish budgets, who suffers? both the employees and the public interest; the employees may have a great deal of time invested in a government retirement system and have to choose between loss of their contributions or working for substandard wages; the public interest suffers because those who are the most able to obtain commercial employment do so, leaving behind those less competent.

    If the government mirrored commercial wages and benefits, or acted in good faith, there would be no need for collective bargaining agreements; but the government, just like private industry, is controlled by managers and supervisors who often gage success by how little they spend, not how much they accomplish. As such, collective bargaining agreements simply allow a check and balance between the heirachical needs of the employee and the organizational needs of the agency, and this is how it should remain.