September 2019 Update
Sometimes we can be overtaken by the pace of activity and we find ourselves in the position of trying to catch up. This may be driven by an increase in the volume of usual activities or a decision to take on additional tasks. The first may be the result of external factors, while the second usually results from a decision to seek further objectives. You keep pushing forward day after day until you find yourself typing in a hotel room far from home because there’s a couple of hours left in the day that you can’t afford to waste. Sometimes that’s the way it goes.
The Officers and Representatives of Local 323 have been quite busy during the last few weeks. We’ve been working on solidifying the present while building for the future. This primarily involved conducting “Steward Seminars” for our metro area Branches. I chose to characterize these as “Steward Seminars” rather than “Steward Trainings” because it was my desire to have a broad, two-way, exchange of information. It wasn’t just about providing the Stewards with a better understanding of the Union or contract administration; but also, to allow the Stewards to tell their Branch Presidents, Chief Stewards, and me, of their needs. The Local Officers and I are responsible for ensuring the Stewards have the knowledge, tools, and resources, that they need to serve the Membership. We covered quite a bit of material over each two-day session and it will serve as a strong foundation as we move forward. There will be an additional Seminar in October for those who we unable to attend the previous sessions.
I recently attended the Semi-Annual Meeting of the Local Unions which included an update on the negotiations over the 2019 National Agreement. The 2016 National Agreement expired on September 20th. And, as those following the bulletin boards are aware, the USPS and the National Union have agreed to extend the negotiations. So, what does it mean that the parties are continuing to negotiate? This suggests that neither party is convinced that a negotiated settlement is not possible. Beyond that, it’s tough to say how close thing are to coming together (or falling apart). In the long run it may be necessary to go to arbitration. Still, staying at the bargaining table is more responsible that rolling the dice in arbitration. Negotiations are often difficult and declaring impasse is always easy. We’ll see what happens.