December 2022 Update
Looking at the Tentative Agreement
The National Postal Mail Handlers Union and the United States Postal Service have reached a tentative agreement over the terms of the 2022 National Agreement. This tentative agreement will not become effective unless it is ratified by a vote of the Membership. A detailed explanation of the contract changes along with ratification materials is expected to be sent to each Member during January.
There have been several questions received from the Membership and it seems that there are already some misconceptions on the workroom floor. The primary questions appear to revolve around wage increases and the changes to wage schedule M7. So, we’re going to focus on those issues.
What follows is based on my current understanding of the tentative agreement. This understanding may not be complete as it is based on the summary of the tentative agreement and the national teleconference during which it was announced. Further clarification is likely to be provided in the ratification package which will be sent to each Member.
The 2022 National Agreement will cover a period of three years, and will expire at midnight on September 20, 2025.
This is clear. If ratified, the 2022 National Agreement will be in effect for 3 years and will expire at midnight on September 20, 2025.
General Wage Increases
All career Mail Handlers will receive three general wage increases during the term:
-- the first, retroactively effective to November 19, 2022, will be 1.3%;
-- the second, effective on November 18, 2023, will be 1.3%; and
-- the third, effective on November 16, 2024, will be 1.3%.
In addition, for career employees hired since February 2013, an additional 1% will be provided to Steps BB, AA, and A retroactively effective to November 19, 2022. As explained below, within six months of ratification, Step BB will be eliminated and all Mail Handlers at that step will be advanced to Step AA and will advance to Step A following the appropriate step waiting period.
For Mail Handler Assistants (MHAs), the first three general wage increases will be 1% higher per year, or 2.3% retroactively effective to November 2022, 2.3% in November 2023, and 2.3% in November 2024.
As everyone knows, there are 2 separate wage schedules for career Mail Handlers. Schedule M which is applicable to Mail Handlers hired before February 15, 2013, and Schedule M7 which is applicable to Mail Handlers hired on, or after February 15, 2013.
I’ll be using the term “back pay” to describe retroactive pay. Although back pay and retroactive pay are technically different concepts, the distinction is only important to contract negotiators and contract administrators. It is not uncommon for Mail Handlers to refer to retroactive pay as back pay.
All career Mail Handlers (in both wage schedules) will receive back pay based on the wage increase of November 19, 2022. So, what might implementation look like? The first step will be to increase all steps of both wage schedules by 1.3%. An effective date will be agreed upon, and the wage rates of all Mail Handlers will be increased by 1.3% on that date. This will occur at the beginning of a pay period and the last day of the previous pay period will be used as the ending date for the purpose of calculating back pay. The hours worked by each Mail Handler will be calculated and the difference between the amount they were paid, and a 1.3% increase will be provided as back pay. No one knows the exact dates on which this will occur, only that the dates will be in the future. The additional 1% for Steps BB, AA, and A, of wage schedule M7 and the 2.3% increase to MHA wages will be implemented similarly. I don’t know if these increases will be implemented simultaneously with the 1.3% increase, but I don’t know why they wouldn’t be.
All career Mail Handlers will receive six cost-of-living adjustments, using the July 2022 CPI index as the base:
-- the first COLA will be effective in March 2023
-- the second COLA will be effective in September 2023
-- the third COLA will be effective in March 2024
-- the fourth COLA will be effective in September 2024
-- the fifth COLA will be effective in March 2025
-- the sixth COLA will be effective in September 2025
All cost-of-living adjustments paid during the 2022 National Agreement will be rolled into basic salary immediately, and will follow the formulas set under prior agreements.
Cost-of-Living Adjustments will be maintained throughout the term of the 2022 National Agreement.