March 2012 Update
The month of March has seen several developments regarding matters of continuing concern to all Mail Handlers. Yet, these developments have fallen short in answering the lingering questions about the future. In early March the Union received withholding notices at the regional level concerning the facilities of Rochester and Mankato in the State of Minnesota as well as Minot in the State of North Dakota. The initial notices set forth a 35 mile withholding radius for all of these affected facilities. Subsequently, we received notices expanding the Minot, ND withholding, first to 100 miles, and then to 130 miles. With respect to the facilities of Rochester and Mankato, this last week we received notices for each facility expanding the withholding radius to 100 miles.
Developments concerning the remaining facilities which were under consideration for consolidation revealed that Grand Forks, ND has been removed from the list and will remain unaffected. In addition, it has recently been confirmed that no action will be taken during 2012 with regard to the St. Cloud or Duluth facilities.
Still the question remains: when will we know what’s going to happen? Management has been consistent in stating that the linchpin of their consolidation plan is a change in service standards and it is anticipated that there should be some announcement in this respect within the next week. Certainly the substance of this announcement contains in itself many various scenarios; so, it’s probably better to wait and see rather than speculated. Nevertheless, some clarity on the future is long overdue for the Mail Handlers in the affected facilities. In a noteworthy respect this is also true for the Mail Handlers working in the so called “gaining installations” as they have been working shorthanded and have been subjected to significant and often unwelcome amounts of overtime.
Turning to the National Agreement, by now everyone should be aware that the dispute has proceeded to mediation. Whether that process will result in a National Agreement remains to be seen. More information will be forthcoming as it becomes available.