US Postal Workers Contract Arbitration Decision Expected Soon
The American Postal Workers Union recently announced a contract for more than 200,000 workers could be announced in mid-July after the final arbitration session took place on May 4. The contract hearings began in February.
According to the union, the new agreement should be another multi-tier takeaway contract. The USPS proposed a third lower-pay tier for new workers and they want to speed up the process of transitioning the postal workforce to casual low-wage labor.
Union President Mark Dimondstein stated that management wants to expand rather than eliminate and reduce the non-career workforce, which the union believes would lead to unrest by postal workers. He pointed out the two-tier wage structure is the cause of strife in the auto industry. He also pointed out workers are bothered by management proposing the elimination of the Cost of Living Adjustment.
Postal workers and the entire USPS have faced problems for nearly a decade. The wage freeze of two years was a result of the 2010 to 2015 contract. It also imposed a 30% cut in healthcare. The first two cost of living raises were cancelled and the following two for that contract were deferred. It also created another tier of workers and cut the pay for top earnings from five to eight steps. Full-time workers must work 30 hours per week and the non-career workforce in the USPS was expanded to 30,000 employees. Government figures estimate the contract lowered compensation for postal clerks by $4 billion.
USPS has not received federal funding since the 1980s. It has lost more than 300,000 jobs in the last 15 years, despite layoffs not being allowed according to union contracts. Nearly 100 postal facilities were shut down in 2015 and at least 15,000 jobs were lost.