Thursday, March 31, 2011

Postal Service Agrees To Big Incentive For Employees Who Join Union

The controversial proposed labor contract between the U.S. Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union includes an unusual bonus for the world’s largest postal union: a USPS-funded incentive of up to $7,000 annually for thousands of “non-career” employees to join APWU.

The incentive would come in the form of a health-insurance benefit for “postal support employees” – the new name for casual and temporary workers. After one year on the job, they could sign up for employer-sponsored health insurance, with USPS paying 75% of the premium if they choose the "APWU Consumer Driven Health Plan". (See pages 173-174 of the contract for details.)

Only APWU members can sign up for the APWU health plan.

For an employee buying family coverage, the Postal Service share of the premium would cost $6,817 at current insurance rates, according to a union presentation. For employee-only coverage, USPS would pay $3,030.

Federal agencies are not allowed to encourage or discourage their employees from joining unions. Postal executives presumably believe that the indirect nature of the proposed incentive would not violate union-neutrality rules.

The proposed 4 ½-year contract, which faces a ratification vote next week, would allow significant increases in the number of PSEs so that they eventually might constitute nearly 20% of bargaining-unit employees. That means the healthcare provision could end up applying to about 30,000 workers.

The healthcare provision would give the APWU a way to gain new members from a group of employees who rarely join, helping to counter its membership losses from the Postal Service's elimination of career positions via retirements. It was part of the price postal executives are willing to pay for some valuable concessions it would gain from APWU, such as lower pay for new employees (See Is the APWU Eating Its Young?) and a greater ability to match staffing to fluctuating mail volumes.

The proposed contract has been attacked from both sides. Former APWU President William Burrus and others have criticized current APWU leadership for caving in to postal management and big mailers and for selling out future employees. Meanwhile, Republican Congressmen have labeled the deal as a giveaway to the APWU and have scheduled a hearing on the proposal.

What is becoming increasingly clear is that the proposed contract resulted from some extreme “horse trading”. The question is which side got the better horses.


Drewk86a said...

I have heard the "selling out future employees" argument and do not take it lightly.


Without some changes there will be NO new employees. It is clear, over the past ten years that the USPS has not hired many career employees. My 200+ clerk plant has lost over 100 clerks in the past ten years with zero new hires.

By introducing the new pay scale the APWU is encouraging the hiring of new employees, at a better wage than they would get in the private sector. Is this "selling out" future employees? Or is it opening the door for future employees? I believe the latter.

Which is better? Protecting great wages if it means nobody is hired? Or offering very good wages at which people will be hired?

Unknown said...

It is indeed horse-trading as the Unions fight a steady decline; kudos to them for securing this provision.

Years ago American Airlines had A, B and C-scalers. Those young C-scalers working alongside and doing the same job as veteran A-scalers accepted a vast disparity in pay for comparable work. Yet, they took the job knowing the compensation. The older workers were fortunate to lock-in high levels of compensation in a market that had changed beneath their feet.

The airlines had to respond to intense domestic and international competition. The postal unions are simply trying to hold on to a shrinking pie.

It's ironic, de-unionizing and privatizing to open up competition would spur innovation and growth for the distribution industry and the nation. Rather, we cling to stasis and forfeit a better future.

Anonymous said...

Vote "NO" and save your job. The goal is to force employees into "Non Traditional" positions and cut days of service. Three 12 hours days(36 Hours) without overtime is a 10% cut in pay.

Unforgiven said...

Simple fact is that without an agreement, which allows the USPS to survive, there will be no future employees. So obviously there is no "sellout" of future employees, problem is just that Burruss is a moron, just as congress, both parties, is full of crooks, who wish to continue extorting the USPS at the expense of the mailers, the public and now the employees. Also there's nothing to say that in future years, if the USPS returns to sound financial footing, that provisions in the current tentative agreement, cannot be renegotiated in future contract bargaining, assuming of course that despicable senators and congressman do not strip federal employees of their collective bargaining rights.

hard working clerk said...

As I read the contract, the USPS has the flexibility to hire PSE's as the regular workforce retires, so there will be new hires b/c the USPS is itching to replace us with lower paying employees. We also have to pay more for health insurance (employee share) No COLA's and no raises for 2 years, so I defy some politician to see where this contract is a union giveaway.ervalf

postmandaddy said...

I have over 20 years and many contracts under my belt. I have been active in the Union for a long time. With all the questions about the contract "negatives" I think the positives still out weigh. With all the hostile forces against the Unions everywhere, I can't help but vote YES for this contract.

Granddad said...

If in negotiating this the APWU was REALLY interested in helping the worker then the health care option would not be limited to JUST the APWU plan. The selection would be from FEGLI and the one that best meets that person's personal needs.

Anonymous said...

The APWU health care provision is not new to this contract, it has been available for quite a while.

Casuals and temps didn't join the Union because they couldn't. They were not members of the bargaining unit. If they were they would have signed up in drove, lower cost APWU health care plan or no. The right to representation and the grievance procedure are most important.

Anonymous said...

It's not true that "Only APWU members can sign up for the APWU health plan." Any federal employee can sign up for it, as stated on the first page of their brochure "All Federal employees,other Postal Service employees in non-APWU bargaining units, and annuitants will automatically become associate members of APWU upon enrollment in the APWU Health
Membership dues: Associate members will be billed by the APWU for the $35 annual membership fee, except where exempt by law. APWU will bill new associate members for
the annual dues when it receives notice of enrollment.

Many federal employees belong to this plan and they certainly didn’t join the APWU.I have several friends who are carriers (like myself) and they did not have to join the APWU. They are associate members.

Now whether the new employees will be required to join the APWU because they are clerk craft, in order to get this insurance is a different question, and one I don't know the answer to.

Anonymous said...

Vote NO.

Mr.Nofuture2016 said...

Mr. Nofuture2016 said: Vote"yes", and let's eat our younger generation,then......
Under the two-wage systems by the new contract, USPS can cut the new employees' work down to only 30hrs. per week if mail slows down and use them work up to 48hrs, 10hrs×4, or 12hrs×3 instead of paying the current employees overtime whenever they want. If you have any plan to retire before 2016, you're lucky! Otherwise, you might be the next one sold by USPS + the younger generation + APWU...