With arbitration for a new contract set to begin on Wednesday, Feb. 17, the union’s negotiating team, attorneys, economists, workers and other experts are busy making last-minute preparations.
“We’ve worked many long hours preparing to testify and present a strong case,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “We’re ready for the challenge.”
As the hearings get underway, the union is asking APWU members to wear stickers bearing the message, “Opening Day – Fighting for Justice.”
“Management takes note of how many APWU members wear union stickers and other gear, and sees it as a sign of our strength,” Dimondstein said. “So, sticker up!”
Negotiations began a year ago, on Feb. 19, 2015.
“Our members are deeply dissatisfied with the current state of affairs,” Dimondstein said when negotiations began. “We want an end to the three-tiered structure that pays workers very different amounts for performing the same work. We want an end to the situation where new hires can barely make a living wage and where full-time career workers are replaced.”
Postal workers should be fairly compensated and enjoy a dignified retirement when their careers end, he said.
Major concessions were made in bargaining in 2010 amounting to over $4 billion in savings to the Postal Service directly from the wages and benefits of postal employees. “Enough is enough! The union’s objective now is to stop the bleeding turn things in a better direction,” Dimondstein said.
The APWU is seeking to:
- Win good wage increases for all union members;
- Protect cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs);
- Defend the no-layoff clause;
- Gain a career workforce
- Redefine “full-time” so that it once again guarantees 40 hours of work per week:
- Limit subcontracting,
- Gain a singular pay scale and end the multi-tier workforce.
We currently have a three-tier workforce, Dimondstein noted:
- Pre-2010 career employees
- Post-2010 career employees, who earn lower pay than their pre-2010 counterparts
- Post-2010 PSEs, who earn lower pay and fewer benefits
The Postal Service demanded a fourth tier – a new career tier with even lower pay and fewer benefits – no COLAs, virtually no protection against layoffs, and a reduction in annual leave and sick leave.
Management didn’t limit the outrageous proposals to future employees. The USPS wanted to gut the COLA provisions for current workers and made other egregious economic demands, he said.
“There’s no way we were going to engage in that kind of concessionary bargaining,” Dimondstein said.