Shyam Das named arbitration chair for next NALC-USPS pact

The NALC and the Postal Service have agreed upon the selection of National Arbitrator Shyam Das as chairman of the three-person arbitration board that will set the terms of the next collective-bargaining agreement between the union and the USPS.

“We will vigorously defend letter carriers’ wages and benefits and seek to advance our bargaining goals through this step of the process,” NALC President Fredric V. Rolando said. “Those goals include achieving the best possible contract for our members and laying the groundwork for a revival of the United States Postal Service.”

Das is a member of the American Arbitration Association’s labor panel and has been a full-time labor arbitrator since 1977. He has served on national arbitration panels involving postal workers since 1996 and has chaired arbitration proceedings involving United Steelworkers and the Major League Baseball Players Association.

The board is now working on a schedule for hearings. Once arbitration is underway, those hearings and related testimony could last for several months. After the proceedings are complete, the arbitration panel will meet to broker a final and binding “award” that sets the terms of the next contract.

“We will call on working carriers to be witnesses and advocates for their fellow carriers,” Rolando said, “and we will need the full support and cooperation of the membership to put on the best case possible.”

The last time an NALC-USPS agreement was reached through interest arbitration was in 1999 (see chart below).

NALC Collective Bargaining History, 1971-2007
Contract Term Type of Settlement Bargaining Structure*
1971-1973 Negotiated settlement JBC: NALC, APWU crafts, NPMHU, NRLCA
1973-1975 Negotiated settlement JBC: NALC, APWU, NPMHU, NRLCA
1975-1978 Negotiated settlement JBC: NALC, APWU, NPMHU, NRLCA
1978-1981 Healy Award (partial arbitration) JBC: NALC, APWU, NPMHU
1981-1984 Negotiated settlement JBC: NALC, APWU
1984-1987 Kerr Award (arbitration) JBC: NALC, APWU
1987-1990 Negotiated settlement JBC: NALC, APWU
1990-1994 Mittenthal and Valtin Awards JBC: NALC, APWU
1994-1998 Stark Award (arbitration) NALC
1998-2001 Fleischli Award (arbitration) NALC
2001-2006 Negotiated settlement NALC
2006-2011 Negotiated settlement NALC
* In many rounds of bargaining, two or more unions formed a Joint Bargaining Committee (JBC) to negotiate with the Postal Service. The NALC has negotiated on its own since 1994.

Anyone interested in learning about the history of postal bargaining may wish to consult this time line or read the NALC’s official history, Carriers in a Common Cause, available from the NALC Supply Department.