March 2013 Update
Now that the arbitration award setting the terms of the 2011 National Agreement has been issued we are moving forward with the process of implementing its provisions.
Many aspect of the award are straight forward. For example, it’s easy to read the award and determine when a cost of living adjustment will be made or when a general wage increase will be implemented. Yet, there are other provisions which produce more questions than answers.
This is the result of the 2011 National Agreement being the product of an arbitration award rather than a negotiated settlement. No matter how extensively the record is developed prior to the arbitration panel rendering its decision, it is impossible for the panel to become as intimately familiar with the provisions of the contract as the parties themselves. This is the practical reality of arbitration and sometimes this creates situations where an arbitration award may not clearly identify how its terms meld with the pre-existing contractual provisions.
Recently, I called a meeting of the metro area Branch Presidents in order to identify those provisions of the arbitration award for which there were questions. The issues identified at that meeting primarily concerned the introduction of mail handler assistants into the bargaining unit. Fortunately, the next Semi Annual Meeting of the Local Unions will be held in early April and I anticipate that the National Union will provide clarification to many issues. And, the endeavor to implement the 2011 National Agreement will continue.