Sunday, May 15, 2011

Union Members Ratify Contract

APWU members approved a new contract May 11, with more than 75 percent of those casting ballots voting in favor of ratification. The final tally was 69,451 toContract 22,351 in balloting that ended May 10. The agreement will expire May 20, 2015.
“The new contract is an important achievement for the APWU,” said President Cliff Guffey. “We were able to retain protection against layoffs, bring back thousands of jobs in each craft, and limit excessing.
“The agreement includes many big changes, and I realize that some union activists are apprehensive,” Guffey added.“With help from the national union, I am confident that locals can implement the new provisions and protect the rights of APWU members.
“We also must make legislative activity a priority,” Guffey said. “We must support bills — such as H.R. 1351 — that will enable the Postal Service to remain viable in the future. This measure, which would correct postal funding inequities, is essential to our future.
“APWU members must visit members of Congress frequently and talk to them about our issues,” he said.
“In addition, we must focus on organizing,” the union president noted. “We have an opportunity to reach out to newly-hired workers and to non-members who are already on the rolls,” he said. “They will benefit from many of the new provisions, and we must let them know that their participation will make the union stronger.
“As a result of the new contract, the USPS will begin hiring — for the first time in many years. New people will strengthen the union and improve work life for current employees,” Guffey said.
New Provisions
In addition to safeguarding jobs and restricting excessing, the contract [PDF - members only] awards wage increases of 3.5 percent, as well as seven uncapped Cost-of-Living Adjustments. The first increase will take place in November 2012.
The agreement also includes several new concepts: The “full-time” designation will apply to any position of 30 or more hours per week and to any position of 48 hours or less per week. This will allow for the creation of a variety of full-time schedules, including four 10-hour days, three 12-hour days, and four 11-hour days.
However, no current employee can be forced into a full-time position of less than 40 hours per week or more than 44 hours per week. Furthermore, there will be no mandatory overtime for employees in non-traditional assignments or in functional areas that utilize non-traditional full-time assignments.
The new agreement also provides for the creation of new positions for non-career Postal Support Employees.
These employees will have the opportunity to join the ranks of the permanent, career workforce by seniority. They will be part of the APWU bargaining unit, and will receive raises, health benefits, and leave.
Transitional Employees and Casuals will be eligible for conversion to Postal Support Employees if they have passed the appropriate tests and are on the register. “We will begin to spread the word among TEs and Casuals right away and encourage them to take the necessary exams,” Guffey said.
The Numbers
Ballots were mailed to 176,611 union members, and more than 50 percent were returned by the deadline.
“I wish more union members voted,” Guffey said, “but I am pleased that participation increased substantially over previous ratification votes.” Forty percent of eligible union members took part in the ratification process for the 2006-2010 contract.
“The increase demonstrates that our membership is interested and active,” he said. 
Ballots were mailed to 35,668 non-members, who were invited to vote, provided they completed union sign-up cards that were enclosed in their ratification packets.
The vote count was conducted by the American Arbitration Association on May 11 near Washington, DC, under the supervision of the Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee. Clarice Torrence, chairperson of the committee, announced the final results at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
Results showing the voting by individual locals will be posted at as soon as they become available. Winners of the union’s voter-participation contest will be announced as soon as they have been identified.
Bargaining between the APWU and the USPS began Sept. 1, 2010, approximately 90 days prior to the expiration of the old contract on Nov. 20. The parties agreed to several extensions while negotiations continued.
On March 14, the union and management announced a tentative agreement. The Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee voted unanimously to endorse the agreement, as did the National Executive Board.
“I want to thank the members of the union’s Negotiating Team for their invaluable assistance,” Guffey said. “They are Greg Bell, Executive Vice President; Mike Morris, Director of Industrial Relations; Rob Strunk, Director of the Clerk Craft; Steve Raymer, Director of the Maintenance Craft, and Bob Pritchard, Director of the Motor Vehicle Craft. In addition, APWU staff worked long hours and provided expertise that was crucial to our success.
“I also appreciate the seriousness and dedication of the members of the union’s Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee,” Guffey said. “They worked diligently to represent the membership of our union.
“Finally, thank you to all the union members who made the effort to read the agreement and vote. No matter how you voted, the APWU is stronger and better because of your participation.”

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