Postal Service fails to reach agreements with unions
The U.S. Postal Service failed to reach new agreements with two of its largest labor unions Saturday, agreeing to continue negotiations with one while reaching an impasse with the other.
The Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union agreed to keep talking until noon Tuesday. But talks with the National Rural Letter Carriers Association ended in an impasse Saturday afternoon, the union said.
"Should APWU negotiations fail as they have with the NRLCA, a process begins which could result in a third party determining contract terms and work rules for more than 324,000 employees whose wages and benefits exceeded $20 billion last year," the Postal Service said in a statement e-mailed early Sunday.
"There is still potential to negotiate an agreement," APWU President Cliff Guffey said Sunday. The union represents 220,000 postal clerks, mechanics, drivers, custodians and some administrative workers.
"Throughout the collective bargaining process, the APWU has sought to protect our members' jobs and to strengthen the Postal Service. Every proposal we have made to preserve jobs for our members will also benefit the USPS, because APWU members can perform the work more efficiently and less expensively than subcontractors," Guffey said.
NRLCA represents more than 100,000 rural letter carriers. In a statement, the union said the Postal Service had proposed "wage freezes and significant benefit cuts for current career employees, including the abolishment of cost-of-living adjustments and a new salary schedule with a lower wage scale for new hires." The Postal Service also sought to eliminate a no-layoff clause for all but the most senior NRLCA workers, the union said.
The Postal Service did not respond to requests for further comment. Postal negotiators said in September that they would seek concessions from the union on wages, health benefits and working conditions as it tried to pare down full-time workforce and expand the use of part-timers. With mail volume continuing to drop from its highs in 2006, the Postal Service can no longer guarantee eight-hour shifts for clerks, mail handlers and other workers, it said when negotiations began.
By law postal workers are not permitted to strike and workers represented by the two unions will continue working under their old agreements until new deals are struck.
The stalled negotiations come at a critical time for the Postal Service, which lost $8.5 billion during the fiscal year that ended in September. Postmaster General John E. Potter is set to step down next week, leading some union leaders to worry privately about the future of labor negotiations.
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| November 21, 2010; 11:20 AM ET
Categories: Postal Service
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