USPS: New APWU contract saves $3.8 billion

WASHINGTON, May 23 — The U.S. Postal Service issued the following news release:

It’s official. The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) AFL-CIO ratified March 14 tentative labor contract agreement with the U.S. Postal Service that will save the nation’s mail system $3.8 billion over the four and a half year life of the contract that becomes effective today.

"This contract serves as a testament to the commitment the American Postal Workers Union has to its membership and to preserving the future of the Postal Service," said Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe. "We worked together to negotiate a responsible agreement that is in the best interest of our customers, our employees and the future of the Postal Service. It offers short-term cost relief, structural changes to future labor costs and enhanced workforce flexibility to adjust to America’s changing mailing trends."

"I am pleased that we were able to negotiate a contract that will strengthen the Postal Service for the future and protect the job security of union members so that we can better serve the American people," said APWU President Cliff Guffey. "The new contract accomplishes those goals," he added, "and it shows that public-employee unions and their employers can make collective bargaining work — even when faced with a financial crisis."

The contract, which is effective May 23, 2011, through May 20, 2015, is a cornerstone for the Postal Service to achieve short-term cost relief, structural changes and enhanced workforce flexibility.

Short-term cost relief

The contract includes a wage freeze for the first two years, with low wage increases over the life of the contract (ranging from 0 to 1.5 percent), totaling 3.5 percent. Cost of living adjustments (COLAs) are eliminated in the first year, deferred in the second to the third year and resumed thereafter.

Structural changes

The agreement establishes a new career pay schedule that on average is permanently 10.2 percent lower than the current pay schedule. It also allows for significantly increased use of non-career employees from the current level of 5.9 percent to 20 percent in clerk craft and 10 percent in maintenance and motor vehicle craft function. As the Postal Service moves to greater use of non-career employees, which will happen as current APWU employees retire, the Postal Service will not be incurring long-term liability costs for retirements and other benefits.

Enhanced workforce flexibility

The contract introduces completely new scheduling flexibility for career employees; rather than working 8 hours a day for 40 hours a week, the Postal Service can schedule employees for irregular shifts with hours totaling between 30 and 48 hours per week. Employees will contribute additional amounts to health care premiums; employer contributions to health care will equal 76 percent at the end of the contract.

The agreement is a key component in the Postal Service’s strategy to address its dire financial condition. Other components include aggressive cost-reductions in excess of $12 billion over the last four years. The postal workforce has been reduced by more than 112,000 employees in the same time frame, through consolidating mail-processing facilities and reducing the Postal Service retail facility footprint.

Nearly 205,000 employees represented by the APWU generally work as clerks, mechanics, vehicle drivers, custodians and in some administrative positions.

Negotiations with the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (NRLCA) came to an impasse upon the contract’s Nov. 20, 2010, expiration; however, discussions between the parties continue. If those discussions do not result in a negotiated resolution, the parties will continue to follow the current agreement until a third party determines the outcome of a new contract. Unlike in the private sector, when negotiations come to an impasse, federal employees are not permitted to strike. An arbitrator determines the final outcome and is not legally required to consider the Postal Service’s financial obligations when rendering a decision.

Employees represented by the NRLCA deliver mail in primarily rural and suburban areas. The NRLCA represents 67,000 career employees and 48,000 non-career employees who substitute for career employees on their days off. Employees represented by both unions received more than $20 billion in wages and benefits last year.

Two other unions represent most other postal employees. More than 203,000 employees represented by the National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO (NALC) deliver mail in metropolitan areas, and 48,000 employees represented by the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, AFL-CIO (NPMHU) work in mail-processing plants and Post Offices.

The NALC and NPMHU begin negotiations this year approximately 90 days prior to the midnight Nov. 20, 2011 contract expiration date.

  • jethro tull

    It seems when I ask the drivers maintenance workers and clerks they all deny voting to approve this contract. they are sacrificing the young for the security of their jobs. The next contract will be the same, more give backs with more part time workers. The letter carriers are the only needed employees the usps has. not everyone wants to go out in the cold, heat snow and Ice covered areas also dealing with dogs bees wasp attack cars birds and sometimes irate patrons. they are the backbone of the P.O. and they have more bargaining power.the APWU knew this and gave in.with the flats going to dps, carriers will be on the streets longer and more routes absorbed. forcing carriers into rifs. Five day will not happen they are saving money on the new contract 3.5 Billion and cutting carriers will be billions more.the post office will be a lean machine with workers. Now what will they do with all the management personell that will be excess.their wont be any jobs for them. God bless the P.O. and I wish it success. 10 days and a wake up.

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  • r sohal

    i like apwu new contact. this is the only way to save money and postal service.I know it is going to be hard to change our finacial life style, means smaller cars and smaller houses. And those lazy clerks who always try to go against managment got to move their limbs little harder if not those oldtimers needs to stayhome.

  • Moondawg

    This is the worst contract I have witnessed in 28 years,, all I can say is 2 more years! However, I hope the integrity of the mail remains secure…?

  • Bernie

    God bless the hard working members

  • ShellH

    When my daughter was hired 7 yrs ago, I told her she had to be a carrier if she wanted her job to stay local. (I’m a clerk with 25+ yrs) writing has been on the wall for quite a while now, and our local was notified just last month that we’ve been AMP’d and the processing & 2/3rds of the clerk jobs are going 60 miles north. The carriers AND clerks work hard, no point in squabbling. BTW, I don’t love the new contract, but I voted for it for the lesser amount of excessing.

  • Lucky

    I think we all understand that our world has changed and we must change with it.How can we expect everyone else to suffer & we don’t have to? I hate knowing that our med costs will go up.But keep govco out of our pockets and cut mgmt!We also need to be let loose so that we can compete and beat UPS/Fedex.I am STILL proud to be a USPS worker!

  • johnnyd

    This is a terrible contract. Did you know that they can repost our bids and put them up with anywhere from 6hour days to 10 hours days as long as we still get anywhere from 40-44 hours per week? Yes they can!
    And have you seen the carrie’r current COLA?
    Were not getting it! Just when the cost of living is finally going back up we are left out! When is the last time we had any kind of raise and when will we get another? You do the math and see if you are any better.

    I know my union anniversary date and I’m going to act.


    To bad workers take the brunt of postal losses not created by workers. New hirees will no longer look forward to long careers with the postal service, When hired Postal Support Employees will work 360 days a year and will require a 5 day break in service and the postal service will not have to hire them back. The $5billion retiree prefunding law created by the Bush administration doesn’t help. How does $5billion Retiree prefunding law compare to $3.8 billion saved based on what is taken form the workers.

  • sterling Brandenburg

    I agree that we have to meet have way to save our jobs in the post office. I really think that the comments about clerks not working hard is unfair. I am a Sales & Service associate thats sorts mail and works the window. I work hard at my station and many times I was the only clerk there and had to do everything. There are hard workers in the clerk, mail handler, & carrier craft.

  • Pat

    APWU members will now help pay for a good chunk of it, or it will help other Government agency officials keep their bonuses, salary increases, and so on, but it “is not enough, APWU members should pay more” says Issa and other Government USPS officials. Good thing the President of APWU and collegues work on same side as them, so they are getting more and more what they want

  • ZACK

    You won’t get another pay raise between now and May 2015, because you can bet that Capitol Hill will have us contributing 5% or more to our own pensions before long. Even if you did get a raise, you wouldnt know it since the cost of everything is going up. The Union’s are afraid of Congress doing away with Collective Bargaining in the Federal workforce so the Union’s didn’t want to seem like takers, with no giving.

  • johnnyd

    Good point ZACK,

    But i think that the new hires pay, more health care contribution, no COLA for two years and the possibility that they can give us crazy work schedules was a little bit too much. Not only will our standard of living go down due to the fact that we will see no real increase(looking to the past and future)for 4 years, but there will be many who will have to scramble to take care of there children due to the possibilty of odd work schedules.

    And in my office they just excessed 3 of our 9 clerks.
    And our window is open till 7PM!!!
    How are we gonna get the carriers out the door on time!

    I’m fed up already. Again, I know my union anniversary date!