Mail Handler contract arbitration begins

The interest arbitration proceedings to determine the terms of the 2011 National Agreement between the NPMHU and the Postal Service have begun, with hearing dates already scheduled through January 2013.

The three-member arbitration panel held its first planning and process meeting on October 15, 2012. The neutral member and chair of the panel is Herbert Fishgold, a nationally known arbitrator with more than thirty years of experience. As previously announced, Fishgold – who was appointed through a striking process run by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service –is an arbitrator of nationwide reputation and professional stature, who is also a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators. He has served as a third-party neutral for more than thirty years, during which time he has mediated and arbitrated bargaining disputes in a wide range of industries at the national, state, and local levels. Arbitrator Fishgold is familiar with many of the basic facts and issues presented by the Postal Service, the mailing industry, and postal employees generally – based on, among other things, his service as an interest arbitrator in the 2006 dispute between the National Rural Letter Carriers Association and the Postal Service.

Joining Fishgold on the panel as the USPS-appointed arbitrator is Robert Dufek, a Manager of Labor Relations at the Postal Service and long-time management attorney and representative. The third member of the panel has been appointed by the NPMHU, and he is union lawyer Robert Weinberg, a senior member of the law firm of Bredhoff & Kaiser, PLLC in Washington, DC. That firm, which has operated as General Counsel to the NPMHU since 1992, also is the home of Bruce Lerner and Matt Clash-Drexler, the lawyers representing Mail Handlers both in last year’s national negotiations and in the current arbitration proceedings.

Hearings are slated to begin on November 9, with as many as twelve dates scheduled in November, December, and January. As the testimony and evidence are presented, more details will be distributed.