June 2012 Update
As the Dog Days of summer approached we continue to wait. Wait to see what will happen with the 2011 National Agreement, wait to see what action (if any) that Congress will take with respect to pending Postal legislation, and wait to see what impact these matter will have on us individually. Particular attention is being paid to these matters by people whose installations are slated for future consolidations.
Those who have previously waited for the resolution of an impasse over the terms of a National Agreement know that we can wait quite a wait. For example, the 1998 National Agreement expired on November 20 of 2000 and a negotiated tentative agreement was not reached until late February of 2002. That tentative agreement was ratified by a vote of the Membership which happened in April of 2002 with implementation occurring subsequently. I don’t mean this to suggest that a negotiated settlement is likely regarding the terms of the 2011 National Agreement; but, anything is possible. In all likelihood we will be proceeding to arbitration. The next step will be for the National Parties to attempt to agree on the selection of an arbitrator. Should they be unsuccessful, a list of arbitrators will be requested from the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. The parties would utilize this list and some type of elimination process until the neutral arbitrator is selected. Each party will then appoint their own arbitrators who along with the neutral arbitrator would comprise the arbitration panel. Once the panel has been assembled a schedule for the hearing dates would have to be determined. The actual hearings could occur on numerous dates over a several month period.
It may be worth noting that the National Agreement with the National Rural Letter Carriers Association expired in November of 2010. They have completed the arbitration process and the decision is expected in the very near future. But as of right now they’ve been working 19 months without a new contract. This type of time frame is not beyond the realm of possibility with respect to our own contractual impasse.
It has recently been suggested that the House of Representative is once again preparing to take up the mantle of Postal reform. What this means for the future direction of the Postal Service, the planned consolidations, and the collective bargaining process, remains to be seen. That is something which will have to be evaluated when, and if, the House passes legislation.
Keep your eyes on the bulletin boards and web sites. It may be necessary to contact our elected officials in the near future.