NPMHU - postalnews blog


Postal unions form alliance to preserve America’s postal service


March 11, 2014–Declaring that “the U.S. Postal Service is under unprecedented attack,” the four postal unions have formed an alliance to fight back to preserve America’s postal service for the benefit of the public.

“A congressionally manufactured financial crisis drains the USPS of vital resources,” the union presidents wrote in a proclamation (PDF). “Six-day delivery is under constant threat of elimination. The reduction of service standards and the elimination of half of the nation’s mail processing centers have slowed service and wiped out tens of thousands of good jobs. Post offices in cities and small towns are being sold or closed or having their hours cut back.

“Corporate privatizers seek to gain control over larger segments of postal operations–and to get their hands on the Postal Service’s $65 billion of annual revenue. The postmaster general’s policies of subcontracting and degrading service are fueling the privatization drive,” the proclamation declared.

“We stand with the people of our country in defense of their right to a universal postal service operated in the public interest.”

The goal of the alliance is to enlist public support in preserving the national treasure that is the U.S. Postal Service. The USPS is based in the Constitution, provides Americans with the world’s most affordable delivery network, and is operationally profitable without using a dime of taxpayer money.

The proclamation was signed by National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando, American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein, National Postal Mail Handlers Union John Hegarty and National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association President Jeanette Dwyer.

Read more: Postal unions form alliance; Declaration promises joint efforts.

Four postal unions express ‘strong opposition’ to Senate bill

Jan. 27, 2014–The four postal unions–the National Association of Letter Carriers, the American Postal Workers Union, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union–sent on Jan. 27 a joint letter to members of the Senate committee with U.S. Postal Service oversight, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, expressing “strong opposition” to an amended version of Senate bill S. 1486 and urging senators to oppose the bill when it is considered by the committee on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

Click here to read the letter.

The substitute bill was issued on Jan. 23 by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the authors of the original bill, and it retains many of the negative features of the original bill and adds new provisions “that are totally unfair and unnecessary,” the letter says. One of the new provisions requires the USPS to pre-fund $17 billion in future workers’ compensation expenses.

Read the rest of this entry »

Update on the GOP Government Shutdown: Possible Impacts on Postal Workers

The Mail Handlers Union has provided this list of aspects of the GOP’s government shutdown, and how they may impact mail handlers and other postal workers:

NPMHU_logo(October 4, 2013) As a result of the ongoing government shutdown, please make note of the below captioned list of government managed benefits and their possible impact on Mail Handlers.  We will continue to monitor the impact of this action on federal agencies.  If the shutdown is prolonged, additional information will be compiled, updated, and distributed as warranted. Read the rest of this entry »

NPMHU Files Unfair Labor Practice Against USPS for Unlawful Formation of Lean Mail Processing Teams

NPMHU_logoOn September 18, 2013 President Hegarty notified Local Presidents of an unfair labor practice filed by the NPMHU against the United Stated Postal Service. Specifically, the Union asserts that the USPS violated Sections 8(a)(1) and 8(a)(2) of the Act through the unlawful formation and domination of labor organizations in the form of so-called Lean Mail Processing Teams. As of now, the matter is being investigated by Region 5 of the NLRB in Baltimore, MD, with NPMHU witnesses scheduled to be interviewed next week. Additional details will be disseminated to the Locals as appropriate.

Follow link for more information and a copy of the charges filed with the NLRB.

Mail Handler Union President Addresses Delegates at AFL-CIO Convention

NPMHU_logoNational Postal Mail Handlers Union President John F. Hegarty addressed the AFL-CIO National Convention in Los Angeles yesterday- here is a summary of his remarks:

President Hegarty commented that the NPMHU with support from other postal union affiliates of the AFL-CIO have worked to build broad public coalitions to resist more damaging austerity in the Postal Service and to build support for sensible reform.

Such reform has been proposed in Congress: The Postal Protection Act of 2013—S. 316 in the Senate and H.R. 630 in the House.

This legislation should be adapted and adopted to do the following:

Stabilize the Postal Service’s finances by reforming or eliminating unwise and unfair pension and retiree health financing policies that have crippled the Postal Service’s finances since 2006;

Strengthen and protect the Postal Service’s invaluable mail processing, retail and last-mile delivery networks that together comprise a crucial part of the nation’s infrastructure; and

Free the Postal Service to meet the evolving needs of the American economy and to set its prices in a way that reflects the cost structure of the delivery industry while assuring affordable universal service and protecting against anti-competitive practices.

The Postal Service is a national treasure that can play an important role in our future. Its networks are invaluable and should be used to address pressing national problems. The universal geographical reach of its 30,000 post offices could be used to provide financial services to the 40 million Americans who lack access to basic banking services, provide low- cost remittance services to immigrant workers, finance a National Infrastructure Bank to help rebuild our nation and create millions of jobs, and provide public Internet access and other media and technology services to underserved communities. With a federal vote-by-mail statute, the Postal Service could be the answer to voter suppression across the country while boosting voter turnout the way it has in Oregon and other states that conduct elections through the mail. The Post Office can be re-imagined as a platform for state and local services in rural and inner city areas that lack access to services. We should not only save the Postal Service, but also reinvent it for the 21st Century.

The AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions are called on to help mobilize the entire labor movement and our allies in the progressive community to defeat the forces of austerity and anti-unionism in the debate over postal reform. We must repeal the pre-funding mandate, free the Postal Service to diversify its services, and use the Postal Service’s unique networks to address other national problems by enacting legislation that promotes innovation and growth, not downsizing and decline.

Follow this link for more information


Mail Handlers contract finalized

From the National Postal Mail Handlers Union:

NPMHU_logoThe NPMHU and USPS have finalized the text of the 2011 National Agreement as compelled by the February 15, 2013 Award of the Board of Arbitration. The term of the contract is four and one half years in duration (November 21, 2011 through May 20, 2016). The contact was recently sent to the Union printer and will be distributed by mail to each NPMHU member in the coming weeks.

In anticipation of that delivery, you may access a complete .pdf version of the National Agreement by following this link.


NPMHU and USPS Reach Agreement on Fishgold Arbitration Questions & Answers

From the National Postal Mail Handlers Union:

NPMHU_logoQuestions and Answers 2011-2016 Fishgold Arbitration Award

With the release of the Fishgold Arbitration Award, which established the terms of the 2011 National Agreement, the parties agreed to jointly develop and implement a Question and Answer document addressing and affirming the parties’ mutual understanding and interpretation of many provisions contained in the 73 page decision.

Over the course of the past six months, the National Contract Administration Department, along with our National Shop Steward Trainer, has been working diligently with the Postal Service to flesh-out and resolve many of the issues that arose as a result of the Fishgold Award.  As a result, we are pleased to provide the jointly developed Questions and Answers document, which was finalized on August 7, 2013.  To assist the parties with implementation of the 2011 Fishgold Arbitration Award, the Q&A memorializes our mutual understanding of the 44 most prevalent issues that could be agreed upon.

The Award, while quite complicated, makes significant changes to Article 7 on workforce structure, Article 9 on wages, and Article 12 on seniority and reassignments.  It also will change some of the routine practices of the Local Unions — most notably the enforcement of casual restrictions — and will at the same time require the Local Unions to monitor management’s use of MHAs.  As you can imagine, these substantive changes to the make-up of our workforce will inevitably bring some uncertainty about the meaning of some longstanding contractual provisions.

While the Q&A document does not address every matter, the interpretations contained in the Q&A should be self-explanatory and this document may be updated if agreement is reached on additional items by the parties. Moreover, the Q&A is not intended to “add to, modify, or replace, in any respect” the language in the National Agreement.  The Questions and Answers are binding on all representatives in the resolution of disputes at the Local and Area/Regional levels and in all phases of the grievance process up to arbitration.

As part of our recurring obligation to update the Contract Interpretation Manual, the Questions and Answers will be included in the next revision of our CIM (Version 4) which is now in development.  Additionally, these Questions and Answers will be the primary topic of the next Union Time publication which will be distributed to every Union representative in the country.

Click Here to Read Fishgold Q&A

Postal unions write joint letter to Reid against Carper-Coburn postal bill

August 5, 2013—Today, the presidents of the four postal employee unions—the National Association of Letter Carriers, the American Postal Workers Union, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union—sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid D-NV “to express our utter dismay with the introduction of S. 1486 on August 1,” a postal bill introduced by Sens. Tom Carper D-DE and Tom Coburn R-OK that “renews a commitment to the disastrous Bush administration policy to mandate massive pre-funding of future retiree health benefits and provides for major downsizing measures to pay for it.” Read the rest of this entry »

APWU, Mail Handlers Plan August Actions to Push Postal Reform

APWU Web News Article 086-2013, July 17, 2013

apwulogoThe APWU and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union have announced plans to conduct a nationwide joint lobbying effort over the Congressional recess from Aug. 5 to Sept. 6 to urge senators and representatives to co-sponsor the Postal Service Protection Act (H.R. 630 in the House / S. 316 in the Senate) and the Protect Overnight Delivery Act (H.R. 2459).

This effort is intended to build support for the unions’ demand that Congress take action now to save the Postal Service and protect postal jobs.  There are 28 co-sponsors for S. 316, 163 co-sponsors for H.R. 630, and 72 co-sponsors for H.R. 2459, but many more are needed. (Check the list of co-sponsors to see if your members of Congress have signed on.)

NPMHU_logoIn a letter to state and local presidents dated July 12, [PDF] President Guffey wrote, “We must bring attention to the drastic cuts in service that management has made and will continue to make if Congress doesn’t act now.  We must demand that Congress take action to prevent and reverse the dismantling of the mail processing network and stop the further degradation of service to the American people.”

Guffey urged locals to contact their Congressional representatives’ and senators’ state offices to schedule an appointment as soon as possible, to explain the urgency of the House and Senate taking up postal reform before the end of  USPS fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2013.

“We must also urge legislators to oppose any bill, such as the ‘discussion draft’ being circulated by House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, which would reduce service to the American people,” Guffey said.

The July 12 mailing includes talking points [PDF], a summary of the union’s position for distribution to Congress [PDF], and a flyer [PDF] for distribution to the public.

“The Postal Service’s plans threaten the jobs of every postal worker,” Guffey said.  “Dismantling the network and cutting service will not fix the Postal Service’s finances. It will lead to the demise of the Postal Service by making its services less timely and therefore less valuable.”

“Locals are doing a fantastic job getting our message out at rallies, public input meetings, and in the media,” said APWU Legislative Director Gary Kloepfer. “We need to keep up the pressure on Congress to act now,” he said.

Please join us in lobbying for postal reform during Congress’s August recess.  If you require any assistance, contact APWU Legislative Director Gary Kloepfer at 202-842-4211 or the Vice President’s office at 202-842-4250.


Mailhandler Contract Arbitration Award Released

NPMHU_logo(February 19, 2013)  Earlier today, the three-member arbitration panel established to determine the terms of the 2011 National Agreement between the National Postal Mail Handlers Union and the U.S. Postal Service released its Award.  The Award is dated February 15, 2013, and is effective on that day, but was not released until today, Tuesday, February 19, 2013.  The panel awarded a contract which runs for four and one-half years, from November 21, 2011 through May 20, 2016.  A copy of the full Award, covering seventy-two pages, is available, below, as a PDF attachment.

The Award fully protects the jobs and careers and living standards of all 42,000 career mail handlers now employed by the Postal Service.  After a two-year wage freeze, it restores, starting in November 2013 and continuing through May 2016, the historic pattern of annual general wage increases and semi-annual cost-of-living adjustments for all current mail handlers.  In particular, the Award contains three general wage increases for all career employees – 1.0% in November 2013, 1.5% in November 2014, and 1.0% in November 2015 – as well as seven COLAs to be paid from March 2014 through March 2016.  These wage and COLA increases follow the pattern previously established by the negotiated contract governing the American Postal Workers Union, and by the arbitrated contracts governing the National Rural Letter Carriers Association and the National Association of Letter Carriers.

The Award also continues the pattern, starting next year, of increasing employee contributions toward health insurance by 1% per year; and it includes, effective immediately, a small upward adjustment in night shift differential (of 7 cents per hour) and of clothing allowance.  The Award also provides full no-layoff protection, consistent with prior practice, for any and all career mail handlers hired on or before November 20, 2011.

At the same time, the Award substantially changes the workforce that will be allowed to perform mail handler work in the future.  In the larger facilities, all part-time flexible employees will be converted to full-time regular, the number of casuals will be reduced to 5.0%, and a new category of bargaining unit employee will be created.  More specifically, these changes include the following:

  • Within 180 days of the Award (by August 14, 2013), all current part-time flexible employees working in the larger postal installations (those with 200 or more workyears of employment) will be converted into full-time regular employees.  Those few part-time flexible mail handlers still working in smaller facilities then should be able to transfer to a larger installation and be converted automatically to full-time regular status, if they so desire, although the part-time flexible status will remain for mail handlers in the smaller installations.
  • Rather than the current 12.5% casual employees who are outside the NPMHU bargaining unit, the Award establishes a workforce that is no more than 5.0% casual employees, measured and counted by installation.  This reduced number of casuals will now be authorized to work without being restricted by the “in lieu of” clause under Article 7.1B of the National Agreement, with each individual casual allowed to work up to 360 days per year.
  • The Award creates a new category of noncareer mail handler employee called the Mail Handler Assistant, or MHA.  The MHA category will serve as the entry point for all future career mail handlers to be hired by the Postal Service.  A maximum of 15% of mail handlers in any district may be MHAs, with a cap of 20% in any particular installation.  Unlike casuals, MHAs will be members of the NPMHU bargaining unit, will be hired based on the postal exam and other routine hiring criteria, and will be eligible for conversion to career status based on their relative standing.  Although MHAs will work flexible hours and may be separated for lack of work, many other provisions of the National Agreement will apply to their employment, and the Union will be able to represent them in the grievance and arbitration process.  Starting pay for new MHAs has been set at $13.75 per hour at Level 4 and $14.50 per hour at Level 5, but those amounts will be increased by a total of 7% during the remaining years of this Agreement.  MHAs also will have limited access to subsidized health insurance in accordance with the Affordable Care Act.
  • Significantly, future career employees (those hired after February 15, 2013) will be placed on a revised pay scale that reduces entry pay, but contains seventeen step increases of more than $1,300, providing guaranteed increases in pay every 52 weeks, with top pay at Step P being precisely the same of current career mail handlers.  The wage scale governing future career employees will continue to be adjusted upward by general wage increases and COLA increases, although the COLA before top Step P will be proportional to Step P.  The USPS demand for a permanent two-tier pay scale was rejected.
  • Also rejected by the arbitration panel were a series of draconian proposals from the Postal Service, including absolutely no general wage increases for career employees, no cost-of-living adjustments, and a drastic increase in employee contributions for health insurance to the current rate paid by federal employees.  Another proposal from the Postal Service sought to modify, and effectively eliminate, the current no lay-off clause.  In addition, the Postal Service sought the authority to hire and to utilize, without any contractual restrictions whatsoever, a total of 25% casual employees.  Finally, for new career mail handlers hired in the future, the Postal Service proposed that their pay rates be 20% lower at the entry level and 20% lower at the maximum level.

The arbitration panel was chaired by Herbert Fishgold, a longstanding arbitrator and mediator with decades of experience.  The NPMHU-appointed member of the arbitration panel was Robert Weinberg, from the law firm of Bredhoff & Kaiser, PLLC, which also is the home of NPMHU General Counsel Bruce Lerner.  USPS counsel Robert Dufek was the Postal Service’s appointed arbitrator.

The Award follows fifteen months of work by the NPMHU, including its National Officers, the National CAD, its legal staff, and a series of expert witnesses and consultants who diligently prepared the union’s case for the interest arbitration proceeding.

A complete copy of the Fishgold Award is attached, including new wage and night differential schedules, new and updated contract language, and new and amended Memoranda of Understanding and Letters of Intent.  A fuller description of the Award will be provided in publications to be circulated by the National Office, and during the Semi-Annual Meeting of the Local Unions already scheduled for the first week of April 2013.

We thank our NPMHU membership for its continuous patience and support during this lengthy and sometimes frustrating 2011 round of negotiations.

Read the PDF of NPMHU/USPS Interest Arbitration Award