July 2022 Update
If there’s anything certain about the future, it’s that the future always comes. Planning for the future requires that we consider all possibilities. This is far from an exact science. But the more thoroughly we consider the possible outcomes, the better prepared we’ll be when the future arrives. The scope of our consideration involves the future of the Postal Service and the future of the Union. Like it or not, the future of the Union is inseparably connected to the future of the Postal Service.
Contained in the USPS 10-year plan is the creation of 60 new regional processing centers that can process, sort, and send out mail for delivery under one roof. Implementation of these regional centers is already underway in the Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Charlotte areas. The goal is to consolidate all processing operations in a metro area into one building. The Minneapolis – St. Paul metropolitan area did not make this year’s list; but what will happen should the Postal Service turn its attention here?
Looking at our current situation, we have the Minneapolis/St. Paul NDC and the St. Paul P&DC located on a common campus in Eagan, the Minneapolis P&DC is located about 15 miles away in downtown Minneapolis, and within that 15 mile radius there are two satellite facilities, the PSA and the Twin Cities L&DC. What should we take into consideration when evaluating the possibility of these facilities being consolidated? The first consideration is whether a consolidation is likely.
The USPS is creating 60 new regional processing centers with the stated goal of consolidating all processing operations in a metro area into one building. Is it likely that the Minneapolis – St. Paul metropolitan area is going to be missed by this process? It is not. It seems likely that a consolidation of our facilities will occur at some point in the future, and prudence dictates that we prepare. To be sure, I can’t guarantee one way or the other whether consolidation will happen, but I’d rather be prepared for something that doesn’t happen than unprepared for something that does. Considering that consolidation appears likely, the next question is when. It could be announced tomorrow or 5-years down the road. What can we do now to prepare?
What we can do now is build a stronger Union. In fact, we’re always working to build a stronger Union. For the Local Union to be strong on the work floor, it must be strong financially, strong intellectually, and consist of Representatives committed to serving the best interests of the Members. The Representatives must be provided with the tools, training, and support they need to accomplish our goals. This is a never-ending process and a process to which I remain committed. These principles apply equally to the National Union. Indeed, being strong at the bargaining table requires the same resources.
Two significant events have transitioned from the future to the present. The first being the “2020” National Convention. This Convention will be held in August and was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Delegates of Local 323 have had a preparatory meeting and are united in pursuing our goal of a stronger Union. The Delegates at the convention will determine the Constitutional provisions under which the Union will operate for the next two years. The next Convention is scheduled for August of 2024. The second event which has transitioned from the future to the present, is the ongoing negotiations over the terms of the 2022 National Agreement. The 2019 National Agreement expires this September 20th and negotiations have been underway since June 10th. The 2022 National Agreement will determine our future terms and conditions of employment (my guess – next three years).
Interestingly, the National Convention and Contract Negotiation seem to share a common aspect with our future being tied to the Postal Service. Just like the future of the Union being inseparably connected to the future of the Postal Service, our strength at the bargaining table is inseparably connected to the actions of the Delegates at the Convention. The goal of Local 323 is to not only protect, but to increase our strength at the bargaining table.
The National Convention will have concluded, and the Delegates will have returned home by mid-August, we will look toward the immediate future for the outcome of National Negotiation, and we will continue looking toward the future and evaluating the possibilities which lie beyond the horizon.