June 2022 Update
Contract negotiations at the national level are underway, and at the local level we are preparing for the “2020” National Convention this August. The outcome of these events will chart two of the courses which we will follow in the futures. The results of contract negotiations will control our lives in the workplace for several years, while the results of the National Convention will govern the operation of the Union until the next Convention. These are important events, and your Representatives are focused on producing the best possible results for the Membership.
Contract negotiation between the Postal Service and the Union is nothing new. In fact, collective bargaining between the parties has been in place since the passage of the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970. Since then, the dynamics of the negotiations have changed. Initially, all the Unions (the NPMHU, the APWU, the NALC, and the NRLCA) bargaining with the Postal Service together. This was known as joint bargaining. The NRLCA (National Rural Letter Carriers Association) was the first Union to break away and bargain separately. Our Union, the NPMHU broke away and bargained separately beginning with our 1981 National Agreement, and the APWU and NALC separated from joint bargaining in the 1990’s. Since that time all the Unions have bargained separate National Agreements with the Postal Service. That’s why we see different contracts of different durations operating over different timeframes.
Considering a 50 plus year bargaining history, it should be a no surprise that the framework of our National Agreement is well developed. Proposals to change our contract more often involve tweaks, or minor changes to contract language rather than a complete writing or rewriting of contractual provisions.
But what exactly is our contract? Our contract is an employment contract; but like any other contract, it represents an allocation of rights between parties. One way of looking at the contract would be that management has the right to run the Postal Service and that every provision of the contract is a limitation on that right. For example: Who determines when overtime is needed? Management determines when overtime is needed. But once management determines that overtime is needed, the contract determines who gets to work that overtime. Similarly, when management determines that Mail Handlers are needed to work a holiday, the contract determines which volunteers or non-volunteers will work that holiday. How does the contract determine who works overtime or on the holiday? By seniority. So, the contract doesn’t only allocate rights between management and Mail Handlers through the Union, it also allocates rights among Mail Handlers using seniority as the controlling principle.
The bargaining over the allocation of rights is precisely what is occurring in Washington, DC right now. The negotiation of a contract is never an easy job, and this round of bargaining may present some particularly difficult issues. However, the National Union, along with Mail Handlers and Local Unions from across the country have worked together to bring our issues to the table. All the preparations for bargaining have been completed and we wish the National Union the best as they strive to secure a better future for the Membership and their families. Watch your bulletin boards or visit the national website to follow the developments.
At the local level, the Local 323 Delegation is preparing to head to the “2020” National Convention. This convention will be held in Denver, CO and was delayed from August of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Convention at its core a Constitutional Convention. The Delegates will debate and vote on the proposed amendments which will govern the operation of the National Union and the Local Unions in the future. The Local 323 Delegation will consist of me, Vice President Dean Abatte, ND SEBM Brock Engstom, Recording Secretary Brian Newhouse, St. Paul Steward Delicia Johnson, and St. Paul Branch President Edward Yun. The Local 323 Delegation will be meeting in July to finalize our preparations for the convention.
As we continue to work day-in and day-out providing representation to the Members on the floor, the National Union and the Local Union are looking toward the future.