December 2022 Update
Looking at the Tentative Agreement
Changes to the Steps for Mail Handlers Appointed to Career on or after February 15, 2013
In addition to the general wage increases and COLAs, the 2022 National Agreement makes two changes to the wage scale for those career employees appointed on or after February 15, 2013:
• Elimination of Step BB (to be effective within six months of ratification). As a result, the wage scale will be reduced from 17 to 16 steps.
• Reduction of the waiting period to advance to the next step on the wage scale from 52 weeks to 48 weeks.
The result of these two changes is that the time for a career mail handler to move from the entry level step to the top step (P) has been reduced by more than 2 years (from more than 17 years to 15 years), a total reduction of 116 weeks.
Presuming the Membership ratifies the tentative agreement, the changes to wage schedule M7 would occur within 6 months of the ratification date. Although, the Postal Service could implement the changes sooner if administratively possible (don’t hold your breath there). This is a significant change; so, let’s start at the beginning: What is it? Or, what do the changes to wage schedule M7 represent? The changes to wage schedule M7 represent a wage schedule contraction (the reduction of waiting periods from 52 to 48 weeks) along with a baseline reset (the elimination of Step BB).
How will these changes be implemented? Once again, a date will be selected, it will be the beginning of a pay period, and on that date all Mail Handlers who are at Step BB will be moved to Step AA. It is my understanding that each Mail Handler who is moved immediately from Step BB to Step AA will begin a new 48-week waiting period (many Mail Handlers will reach Step AA before this implementation occurs). This is the baseline reset. It is further my understanding that Mail Handlers who have already reached Step AA (or any subsequent step) will retain their time in step for application of the 48-week waiting periods. For example, if a Mail Handler has 48 weeks in Step AA, they will be moved to Step A, if a Mail Handler has 48 weeks in Step A, they will be moved to Step B, if a Mail Handler has 48 weeks in Step B, they will be moved to Step C, etc. This is the wage schedule contraction and every Mail Handler will move to the next Step upon reaching 48-weeks. Of course, everyone starts a new waiting period when they move up a Step, that’s nothing new.
Overall Impact of Wage Increases
For a Level 4 Mail Handler at top step, the wage increases during the three years of the 2022 National Agreement – not including COLA – will total $2,715, with each increase totaling $905. For a Level 5 Mail Handler at top step, these general wage increases – again not including COLA – will total $2,760 over the three years of the contract, with each increase totaling approximately $920. When projected COLA payments are added at the consensus estimate of $250 per increase, at top step for career employees there will be an additional $1,500 in base wage increases – over and above the general wage increases described above – during the term of the 2022 National Agreement. And, of course, protection against future inflation is precisely why the COLA provision remains an important component of the National Agreement.
For MHAs, at Level 4, the rate that started in 2013 at $13.75, and has recently been $17.32, will immediately go to $18.22 per hour retroactively effective in November 2022. By November 2024, the Level 4 rate will go to $19.02.
We should keep in mind that if the tentative agreement is ratified, all the changes will be implemented in the future. So, what is the Postal Service doing right now to prepare for these changes? Absolutely nothing. I doubt that the Postal Service has even started to consider developing the computer programs necessary to implement these changes. This seems particularly likely when considering that the Postal Service doesn’t know whether the tentative agreement will be ratified. Simply put, the Postal Service is not going to dedicate any expense to implementation until the ratification question is answered.
This is probably a good place to stop for today. There are several more items that each Member will have to take into consideration when deciding how to vote. I’m going to cover the remaining items shortly after the first of the year.
Until then, Happy Holidays to all Members and their families.