December 2012 Update
Approaching the New Year provides the perfect opportunity to consider things. Not only in terms of what we accomplished during the year; but also in terms of the challenges which lie ahead. There’s no point in mincing words, 2012 was a difficult year. Difficult in terms of an ever increasing workload, difficult in terms of elevated grievance activity, and difficult in losing many of our friends and coworkers to an early retirement offer.
There has been nothing so unrelenting, however, as the ever increasing workload. This can be directly attributed to staffing. Management has made it well known that they will not be hiring Mail Handlers until such time as the terms of the 2011 National Agreement are decided; and, as people leave the workforce, they are not being replaced. The workload that has been performed by these people must then be reallocated to those who remain. This has resulted in innumerable hours of overtime both voluntarily and involuntarily being performed by the workforce.
It could have been different. We could have acceded to management’s demands during the bargaining process. Demands such as no COLA, no wage increases, vastly increased and unrestricted casuals usage, elimination of the no-layoff clause, as well as a drastic increase in employee contributions to health insurance. But we held the line and said no. That’s something of which you can be proud. Hearings were conducted on several dates throughout November and December and at least 6 days of hearings are scheduled for January. So, maybe sometime in March we’ll see a result.
While grievance activity was elevated during 2012, the vast majority of these grievances were successfully resolved during the steps of the grievance procedure. Those that remained were resolved at the pre-arbitration level. I would be remiss if I didn’t commend our Officers and Stewards for their efforts in producing this result. They have all faced difficult situations and remained steadfast in serving the interests of the Membership. Bravo and thank you.
It will be game on once again in 2013, with the first big ticket item being the consolidation of the mail processing operations from Rochester into the Saint Paul P&DC. We will be implementing new provisions from the 2011 National Agreement in the near future, we will be seeking Postal reform on Capitol Hill by participating in the 2013 National Legislative Conference, and we will continue enforcing the contractual rights of Mail Handlers throughout the States of Minnesota and North Dakota. This is not speculation. These things are going to happen. Many other issues may arise. I’ll not speculate on those; we’ll have to wait and see how things develop. 2013 is not likely to be an easier year, but, it may end up being a better year.
Until then, Happy New Year to everyone!