In his most recent blog posting, former APWU President Bill Burrus claims that the APWU’s National Executive Board has decided to withold agreement on retirement incentives for its members “in response to management’s refusal to implement newly negotiated contractual provisions”.
Burrus calls the decison “awkward at best”:
This decision is highly unusual in that the retirement incentive would be used as a benefit for the represented employees and to deny it as a means of punishing management is a clumsy means of contract enforcement.
The employer has a host of options to reduce costs beyond the separation of retiring employees, but the target is to reduce costs and this is only one of the tools available to employers to reduce payroll. If a particular means is not available, such as lay off or reduced hours, management often turns to consolidations or other ways of reducing expenses. So if the option of voluntary retirement is unavailable the principle objective of reducing costs will continue to be aggressively pursued. Management has the tools to reduce labor costs without accelerating attrition
Every employee leaves employment with the only question being the timing of his/her separation so the denial of a substantial incentive is a high individual price to pay for a mano to mano sense of collective activity. In the end, it is “we” who have decided that “you” will not receive a benefit. That is an odd place for a union to find itself.