Attacks on Federal Workers APWU

(This article first appeared in the November/December 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

By Industrial Relations Director Vance Zimmerman

Let me take a moment and wish each of you a happy and safe holiday season. No matter how you celebrate the holidays, I hope you all have an enjoyable time with your families and friends.

Recently our sisters and brothers who work for other federal agencies had their collective bargaining rights attacked. In a series of Executive Orders, President Trump forced agencies to re-write collective bargaining agreements under new guidelines.

In the new collective bargaining agreements, workers would not be allowed to perform on-the-clock representation. Union stewards and officers would be limited to small amounts of official time. Union stewards and officers would be required to be off-the-clock for all grievances, negotiations and meetings.

The orders called for the elimination of the right to file a grievance on discipline, like removals. Federal unions can no longer bargain over work rules, staffing, or schedules. Unions with dedicated union space inside agency buildings were issued eviction notices to force them to move out of the agency buildings. Finally, in one of his most insulting actions against federal workers, President Trump issued a call to freeze federal worker pay – all while he continues to brag about how much more money Americans are making today because of his policies.

Multiple unions sued and some of the orders were put on hold by the court. Even though the unions may have been victorious today, the White House has appealed the court decision and it is clear that war will be waged against the federal unions – and the postal unions.

The Executive Orders did not apply to the Postal Service because we have our bargaining rights under the Postal Reform Act. However, there are other ways the Presidential Administration is attacking our union. Calls for privatizing the Post Office are the most basic attack on us. Breaking up and selling off the Post Office to the highest corporate bidder would eliminate your contract because the collective bargaining agreement we have is with the Postal Service – not a new corporation. There would be no guarantee you get to keep your job at the new “Corporate Postal Service” and if you did, you wouldn’t have your current wage, retirement, annual leave, or many of the other benefits you enjoy today.

Attacks on federal workers and calls for post office privatization don’t just hurt the workers. When the APWU and the other federal unions negotiate contracts, we negotiate things that help the American people. When we negotiate good schedules or win the fight for proper staffing, we are ensuring our customers are cared for. When we negotiate good wages and benefits, it helps our customers because the workers feel better about what they do and feel justly compensated. The fight against privatization and the fight to protect federal unions is really the fight for the American people.

Lastly, please remember that you have the right to a safe work environment. You have the right to come to work and return to your families unharmed. Be mindful that any safety program the Postal Service has is voluntary. For example, the Safety Ambassador program is not a jointly agreed to program. Under Article 14 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, your union is the sole representative for the enforcement of safety rules and regulations and the Postal Service is required to cooperate with the APWU on safety. Your national safety officers have initiated a national dispute on this program. Our dispute is that the program was implemented unilaterally without negotiations with the union, that it is not implemented consistently, and hinders what local safety and health committees are tasked with. You are asked not to participate in this program and should be filing grievances as necessary. Should you have questions on the program, please contact your national safety and health officers.

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Time’s Up APWU

(This article first appeared in the September/October 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

By Central Region Coordinator Sharyn M. Stone

This is a tough article to write because by the time you read it, we could either have a contract or be headed for binding interest arbitration. Our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires on September 20, 2018. Hopefully we have achieved a fair and just contract and maintained the hard-fought protections we have achieved. Our negotiations’ team, headed up by President Dimondstein, serves us well.

Even if all is complete with the CBA, we have miles to go before we sleep. The constant threat of Article 12 excessing, reorganizing, mismanagement, harassment, coupled with the President’s threat to privatize the Postal Service into oblivion is still in play.

Have you called your member of Congress? Nothing should be more inspiring and more motivating than a threat to our livelihood and the continued existence of the Postal Service committed to serving every community even though sometimes you can’t help but wonder whose side is the USPS is on. They run the Postal Service as if they want it to fail. Why? Whatever private business ended up owning the Postal Service would never hire ex-postal managers to run it. We have faced difficult challenges in our past and we will face all future challenges unified and “fighting today for a better tomorrow”.

No matter what happens, we will always stand up for safe jobs, protest to put an end to workplace harassment, and fight to keep the post office a viable community service for all.

Young Members Committee

At our 2016 convention, a committee was created – made up of APWU members 35 years of age and younger. Convention delegates recognized our need for members, and especially younger members, to step up and become involved with the union for our longevity.

What better way to move forward than with a group of enthusiastic engaging young members. President Dimondstein appointed, with recommendations from the five Regional Coordinators, two members from each region to participate on the Young Members Committee (YMC). These appointees are also involved with their locals and have their support. Since that time the committee has functioned with the Coordinators serving as their advisors. The YMC is an excellent group of young people.

We have communicated with YMC members on an ongoing basis. We provide advice, and knowledge about the APWU Constitution and our contract with the USPS as support for the committee’s efforts. We assist them whenever possible in learning about the union and how it works – politics and all (just kidding). As an organization, we need everyone’s involvement.

The YMC provided a well-attended workshop at the Craft Conference last year in Las Vegas. I am positive my fellow coordinators: Omar Gonzales Western Region, John Dirzius Northeast Region, Mike Gallagher Eastern Region, and Kennith Beasley, Southern Region join me in congratulating the YMC for what they do and in encouraging them into the future. It is important if we are to survive and grow as a highly functioning viable organization into the future, we need all members to get involved, not just for the issues like the new CBA or CAT teams but for the future of our organization. Younger members involved at every level should inspire all members to become involved.

Everyone may not want to be a steward or officer or not even serve on a committee, but what about being a knowledgeable re-enforcement on the work room floor? Every member can participate in some

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White House Plan to Privatize the Postal Service

Statement by President Dimondstein

Web News Article #:

59-2018

06/21/2018The White House proposal on restructuring the federal government released today, “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century,” delivered nothing but misinformation and, if implemented, would end regular mail and package services at an affordable cost to 157 million addresses every day. Furthermore, the White House plan is an attack on many federal agencies and the public services they provide.

The White House’s plan states, “Like many European nations the United States could privatize its postal operator…” What’s left unsaid is European nations charge substantially more for mail services delivered in a much smaller area. They also regularly raise the cost of delivery. For example, the cost of sending a letter in the United Kingdom has increased 80 percent over the past decade. By comparison, the U.S. has the lowest postage rates in the industrialized world.

Eliminating the universal service obligation, as the plan suggests, would hurt business and individuals alike, and would be a dagger aimed at the heart of rural America and undermine e-commerce.

The draconian plan uses “burdening the taxpayers” as justification to promote the privatization of the U.S. Postal Service when the truth is USPS is self-supporting and receives no tax dollars for postal operations.

And, while letter mail volumes are lower, package delivery is up substantially. No institution is better suited for the e-commerce revolution than USPS.  The public postal service serves each and every person and belongs to the people of this country. According to recent surveys by Gallup and the Pew Research Center, it enjoys the highest level of satisfaction and trust of any government service or agency, rating the highest among young people.

Privatizing the Postal Service is not in the public interest or the interest of postal workers and would be nothing more than a raid by corporate pirates on a national treasure.

This outrageous White House plan should be a wake-up call to every postal worker and APWU member. The threats of postal privatization, the threats to decent union jobs, the threats to good services, are real.

The American Postal Workers Union stands with the people of the country and our many allies in the ongoing fight to ensure a vibrant public Postal Service for generations to come.

More information and calls for action will be forthcoming.

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