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.

39 total views, no views today

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

153 total views, 3 views today

Major Victory For Expanded Postal Services APWU

Web News Article #:

72-2018

07/23/2018On Wednesday, July 18, the APWU and our allies won a big victory by defeating an attempt to prohibit the Postal Service from expanding financial services. In a vote on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, an amendment to a government appropriation bill (H.R. 6147) offered by Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC) was rejected by a bipartisan vote of 212 to 201. The APWU greatly appreciates the bipartisan support from lawmakers who voted down this proposal.

In the short span of only two business days, APWU President Mark Dimondstein and the Legislative and Political Department launched a strategic campaign in coordination with our sister postal unions and other allies to defeat this stealth attack. “Make no mistake about it, this was an attack on our public Postal Service,” said President Dimondstein. “The defeat of this concerted effort to curtail financial and other innovative services is an important victory for those who believe that the Postal Service exists to serve the people of this country.”

The amendment would have prevented the Postal Service from using its existing legal authority to enhance its offering of basic financial services – including domestic electronic money transfers, bill payment services, expanded check cashing, and expanded international money transfers.

Not stopping there, it also preemptively banned future USPS innovations that have not already been approved by Congress. Earlier versions of the proposal even meddled with APWU collective bargaining, as it attempted to overturn the agreement reached in our last round of contract negotiations with the USPS to pursue expanded postal services.

The banking industry lobbied hard in favor of this amendment, joining with anti-government organizations like Americans for Tax Reform and the Heritage Foundation. These are the very groups that are determined to privatize our public Postal Service.

“This victory is an excellent example of what is possible through bipartisan outreach by the APWU to educate lawmakers of both parties about the importance of a robust public Postal Service,” said APWU Legislative and Political Director Judy Beard. “It also shows the importance of coalition building.”

The commitment of the National Association of Letter Carriers, National Postal Mail Handlers Union, and National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, as well as our allies in the Campaign for Postal Banking, the AFL-CIO, Americans for Financial Reform, and Take on Wall Street, won the day. “Only through the collective work of all our allies in the public interest, united in solidarity, could we defeat this attack,” Director Beard emphasized.

Standing up for robust postal services, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, urged his colleagues to “oppose this effort to impose arbitrary limits on the Postal Service’s ability to innovate.”

Speaking on the House floor, Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) urged their colleagues to vote “No” on the amendment. “The Postal Service,” said Connolly, “deserves better, our consumers deserve better, Postal Service customers deserve better, and we can do better.”

When Representative John Curtis (R-UT) – who was serving as Acting Chair at the time – called for a voice vote, it was clear the majority opposed the amendment. Despite this, however, he ruled that the amendment had been adopted.

Recognizing the strong bipartisan opposition to the amendment and that the Acting Chair had ruled incorrectly, Representative Kaptur demanded a recorded vote. When the votes were counted, she was vindicated as the House of Representatives rejected the amendment by a roll call of only 201 in favor and 212 opposed.

The Postal Service is in a unique position to provide basic, affordable, non-profit financial services via its existing infrastructure, as well as a host of attentional expanded services. These services provided by the USPS could help struggling families throughout the country achieve financial stability and strengthen the USPS mission to serve the public.

“Be heartened sisters and brothers, because this vote is testament to the support for our cause,” said President Dimondstein. “However, we have a ways to go. We must go forward and build on this victory to protect and enhance vibrant public postal services now – and for many generations to come.”

135 total views, no views today