Former APWU President Bill Burrus has been highly critical of his successor Cliff Guffey, but that criticism reached new levels last week as Burrus accused Guffey of using union busting tactics against the APWU’s own employees, including the unilateral elimination of the no-layoff clause in their recently expired contract. Burrus’s blog post on the subject is entitled “A Union Busting Union”, and compares Guffey to Wisconsin’s union busting Governor: “Scott Walker will have to move over; there are forces within the labor movement that equal his passion to destroy labor unions.”
The APWU had already been embarrassed by the spectacle of having its headquarters picketed by Newspaper Guild members earlier this month.
Burrus summarizes the dispute:
Unable to negotiate the elimination of no lay off provisions included in the Guild contract, APWU leadership intends to abrogate the protection unilaterally. The very union that has declared at repeated national conventions that no lay off protection is absolute intends to eliminate it for 10 of its employees without bargaining.
On its web site, the Newspaper Guild asks why the union is so determined to eliminate layoff protection for its own employees, while it spends millions to defend that security for its members:
Baltimore Newspaper Guild 32035 members turned out in force July 11 to protest American Postal Workers Union management’s plan to declare an impasse in bargaining talks July 20. “The primary issue is the insistence of a layoff clause," said unit chairman Tim Fitzgerald. “Meanwhile, the APWU is currently spending millions in an advertising campaign denouncing Congress for trying to get rid of the layoff clause that protects the 200,000 Postal Service clerks, mechanics and maintenance workers that the union represents.” The APWU unit’s two-year contract expired May 20.
On his blog, Burrus offers this explanation for the APWU’s seemingly inconsistent actions:
A member of the Guild for some unexplained reason has received the wrath of the president and this act is the continuation of a personal vendetta against that specific employee. She was arbitrarily removed from the Guild and placed in the secretaries’ union (OPEIU, Local 2), grieved the reassignment and won the arbitration ordering her return. She was then assigned to a work center with no computer, no telephone and videotaped. Another grievance was filed and the arbitrator ordered the assignment of duties consistent with her skills. These duties were being performed by children of officers and employees who are employed in the summer student work program. This act of vindictiveness has now extended to declaring impasse in the negotiations with the layoff of this employee to follow.