February 2023 Update
The ratification vote which will decide whether to accept the tentative agreement is underway. If the tentative agreement is ratified it will become the 2022 National Agreement. Anything is possible if the Membership decides to reject the tentative agreement. Put another way, if the tentative agreement is rejected all bets are off. Let’s take a brief look at the different outcomes.
Should the Membership ratify the tentative agreement we will know with absolute certainty where we stand. To be sure, the tentative agreement is not perfect; but a perfect contract is not possible. This is the reality of collective bargaining. It’s worth noting that the National Union could have said no to the tentative agreement and proceeded to arbitration. As such, it seems to me that the National Union felt that the tentative agreement had sufficient merit to warrant a Membership vote.
If the Membership rejects that tentative agreement, there will be nothing but questions.
Will the Postal Service agree to go back to the bargaining table? Probably not.
Will the parties begin some type of mediation process or engage in fact finding? Probably not.
When will the arbitration process begin and how long will it take? Who knows? It’s completely possible that we could be sitting here a year from now waiting for an arbitrator’s decision.
Will the arbitrator award a wage increase above that contained in the tentative agreement? Don’t for a minute think that an arbitrator is Santa Claus or some type of benevolent old wise man. In fact, most of our current contractual problems are the result of an arbitrator’s decision.
And here’s a big question: Will an arbitrator, at some unknown point in the future, give retroactive pay going back to September 20, 2022, to a Union that rejected a tentative agreement? Don’t bet on it.
What will an arbitrator give to the Postal Service? If the Union gets something we didn’t get at the bargaining table, odds are that an arbitrator will give something to the Postal Service. What will that be? Our COLA; our overtime pecking order; or something else of significant value?
Indeed, there are only two possible outcomes. A ratified agreement which tells us the answers or a rejected agreement which leaves us with nothing but questions. Regardless of the outcome, the choice made by the Membership will prevail in accordance with the principles of Union democracy.