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July 8 — About 200,000 postal workers represented by the American Postal Workers Union have a new 40-month labor contract after an arbitrator settled an impasse between the union and the U.S. Postal Service.
Gains in the new contract include the conversion of noncareer employees in the maintenance and motor vehicle crafts to career status; protections against layoffs for all career employees on the rolls as of July 8; new subcontracting limits; and a temporary moratorium until at least April 2017 on new plant closings and consolidations, the APWU said in a July 8 posting on its website.
However, covered employees will pay a larger share of their health insurance premiums, the union said.
The partly retroactive award sets wages, hours and conditions of employment for the period from May 21, 2015, through Sept. 20, 2018.
Career employees will receive a 3.8 percent increase over the life of the contract, the union said.
A 1.2 percent increase is retroactive to Nov. 14, 2015, the APWU said. Employees will receive a 1.3 percent increase effective Nov. 26 and a second 1.3 percent increase on Nov. 25, 2017.
In addition, cost-of-living adjustments will be provided in March and September of each year of the contract, the union said.
At the same time, the employee portion of the cost of health premiums will increase by 1 percent per year for each of the next three years, the APWU said. The Postal Service at this time generally pays about 78 percent of the cost of most full-time postal workers' health insurance premiums.
The award was issued by Stephen B. Goldberg, the “neutral chair” of a three-member arbitration panel. Robert A. Dufek represented the USPS on the panel, and Phillip Tabbita represented the APWU.
“We made some real progress on most of our major goals,” APWU President Mark Dimondstein said in his message to union members. “We gained an all-career workforce in our Maintenance and Motor Vehicle Crafts. We secured real general wage increases. We preserved our COLA and no lay-off protections.”
Although the union was forced to accept the Postal Service's proposal that employees pay a greater share of health insurance premiums, it successfully fought back against other concessions sought by the USPS, Dimondstein said. The USPS had wanted to increase the number of noncareer employees, create a new tier of lower-paid career employees, eliminate COLAs and weaken the existing protections against layoffs, he said.
Some provisions from the parties' previous contract remain unchanged, including seniority and job-bidding rights, grievance procedures, protections against unjust discipline, annual and sick leave provisions, and holiday and overtime pay, the union said.
Postal Service spokeswoman Darlene Casey told Bloomberg BNA in a July 8 e-mail that the arbitration award is intended to resolve differences between the USPS and the union, which prevented the two sides from reaching a negotiated collective bargaining agreement after their prior agreement expired in May 2015.
“The award, which was the result of a legally mandated binding arbitration process that is required when the parties reach impasse, has resulted in an awarded contract covering approximately 200,000 employees in the clerk, motor vehicle and maintenance crafts,” Casey said.
“The Postal Service is evaluating the award,” she added.
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Text of the new contract is available at http://src.bna.com/gDf.
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