Breaking News: National Agreement Reached Between APWU and USPS
After months of negotiations and protests, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the United States Postal Service (USPS) have reached a new collective bargaining agreement that covers more than 200,000 employees. The agreement, which was announced on May 21, 2019, is retroactive to September 2018 and will remain in effect until September 2021.
According to the official statement from APWU, the new agreement includes several improvements in wages, benefits, and working conditions for postal workers, as well as some protections against outsourcing, harassment, and excessing. Here are some of the key highlights:
– A general wage increase of 1.3% for all career employees retroactive to August 2018, and another general increase of 1.3% in August 2019. In addition, certain employees in selected grades and steps will receive additional increases ranging from 1.5% to 3.0%.
– A cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of $645 for full-time career employees and $322 for part-time career employees, based on the CPI-W index.
– A new top step for career employees in the Mail Handler and Maintenance Craft, which provides an additional 2.1% increase and a pathway to reach the top of the pay scale sooner.
– An expansion of the career employees` health benefits, including the introduction of a new plan option called the Postal Service Health Benefits (PSHB) plan, which offers lower premiums and deductibles but higher out-of-pocket costs.
– A reduction of the non-career workforce, including a limit on the number of Postal Support Employees (PSEs) and the conversion of some PSEs to career status within 18 months.
– A joint task force to address the issue of excessive subcontracting and the creation of new work opportunities for career employees.
– A stronger enforcement mechanism for the existing anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies, including the establishment of a National Labor-Management Committee on Diversity and Inclusiveness.
– A provision that allows employees who are involuntarily reassigned or excessed to use their accrued sick leave for up to 40 hours to cover travel and relocation expenses.
– A continuation of the no-layoff clause and the protection of excessed employees` rights to bump into other positions or transfer to other installations.
The negotiations between APWU and USPS were closely watched by many stakeholders, including other postal unions, lawmakers, and customers. One of the main issues was the USPS`s financial situation, which has been struggling with declining mail volume, rising costs, and a statutory obligation to pre-fund retiree health benefits. However, APWU argued that postal workers should not bear the burden of the USPS`s financial problems and should be fairly compensated for their essential role in delivering the nation`s mail and packages.
The national agreement between APWU and USPS is subject to ratification by the union members, who will vote on it in the coming weeks. If approved, the new agreement will provide some stability and relief for postal workers and their families, as well as some assurances for the USPS`s customers and stakeholders. However, it is also a reminder that collective bargaining, like democracy, requires active participation, informed advocacy, and ongoing vigilance to protect and advance the interests of the workers, the public, and the common good.