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This page allows members to read about a variety of issues pertaining to such things as member pay, new automation and mechanization, postal policies, legislation, etc. 

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NATIONAL POSTAL MAIL HANDLERS UNION

Paul V. Hogrogian – National President Mark A. Gardner – Secretary-Treasurer

2016 CONTRACT UPDATE # 8 

Contract Negotiations Extended Beyond Deadline

2016 No. 8 – May 25, 2016

You are reading the latest Contract Update produced and distributed by the NPMHU during the course of 2016 negotiations. These updates, along with the Union’s magazine and monthly bulletins, will keep mail handlers throughout the country informed and involved in the issues raised during this round of bargaining.

As expected, a lot happened during the final days of this year’s regular bargaining period. The Postal Service and NPMHU negotiated right up until the clock struck midnight on Friday, May 20. Despite these efforts, however, an agreement on all of the outstanding terms and conditions of employment could not be reached before the deadline.

At the same time, there were many issues that the parties were able to resolve during the 90-day timeframe for initial negotiations. Both sides made considerable progress in this regard. President Hogrogian and USPS representative Patrick Devine initialed over twenty tentative agreements concerning workplace rules.

That said, these tentative agreements are null and void if the parties fail to reach an overall agreement on a new National Agreement. Thus, the Union and Postal Service agreed to extend their negotiations indefinitely. This gives both sides more time to talk through economics and work rules not yet settled.

On May 24, President Hogrogian shared this information and more with the Local Presidents attending the pre-scheduled contract meeting in Washington, DC. He expressed optimism about the likelihood that the National parties would eventually be able to reach a negotiated settlement, followed by a ratification vote by the entire NPMHU membership.

Local Union Presidents and others in attendance at the contract meeting on May 24 had the opportunity to ask questions about the last 90 days of National bargaining. Their questions were both pointed and on point, demonstrating a high level of knowledge and interest in the bargaining process.

It is critically important that the entire Union maintains this engagement as the bargaining process continues through the upcoming weeks and months. As developments occur, circulation of these Contract Updates will continue, so please check your bulletins for more information.

PLEASE POST!!

Jefferson Peppers John Gibson David Wilkin Lawrence Sapp Rudy Santos

Vice President Vice President Vice President Vice President Vice President

Central Region Eastern Region Northeastern Region Southern Region Western Region

 

NATIONAL POSTAL MAIL HANDLERS UNION

Paul V. Hogrogian – National President Mark A. Gardner – Secretary-Treasurer

2016 Contract Update #7

Contract Expiration Approaches

Bargaining Intensifies

2016 No. 7 – May 18, 2016

You are reading the seventh Contract Update distributed by the NPMHU during the course of 2016 negotiations. These updates, along with the Union’s magazine and monthly bulletins, try to keep mail handlers throughout the country informed and involved in the issues raised during this round of bargaining.

With the contract expiration date nearing, bargaining has entered its final stage. The parties have launched a series of meetings at a hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. These meetings will occur with increasing regularity as the week progresses.

The NPMHU bargaining team is hard at work. Postal Service representatives also are working to ensure that the agency’s interests are represented in this new contract. Much of this work is done at the eleventh hour, however. Considerable progress is expected between now and midnight on Friday, May 20.

Several tentative agreements have been initialed by both parties, and our hope is to have many more approved this week. In addition, both sides are presenting economic proposals to be hashed out in the coming days.

The purpose of meeting at the hotel is to further encourage the parties to work on reaching an agreement. With only one meeting room, and no scheduling conflicts, arranging meetings is quick and simple. In fact, multiple meetings on multiple sections of the contract can occur at once, or over the course of one day.

In addition to these meetings with the Postal Service, the Union has also been holding a series of internal meetings. During these sessions, the bargaining team reviews what has been discussed that day, and prepares for its upcoming meetings with the Postal Service. This includes researching proposals, drafting counterproposals, or reaching out to the Local Unions or Regional Offices for more information.

Participation from the field is crucial during this last week of bargaining. Although the Local Unions are not sitting at the bargaining table, information they provide to the bargaining team is invaluable to the negotiations that take place.

Next Tuesday, on May 24, 2016, Presidents from every Local Union will convene in Washington, DC to learn about the current status of negotiations. At that time, the attendees will be able to ask questions, and further participate in the process.

You too can play a role in bargaining by staying informed. Watch your bulletin boards and/or the NPMHU website for current bargaining information during the coming days.

PLEASE POST!!

Jefferson Peppers John Gibson David Wilkin Lawrence Sapp Rudy Santos

Vice President Vice President Vice President Vice President Vice President

Central Region Eastern Region Northeastern Region Southern Region Western Region

 

NATIONAL POSTAL MAIL HANDLERS UNION

Paul V. Hogrogian – National President Mark A. Gardner – Secretary-Treasurer

2016 Contract Update #6

USPS Delivers Financial Presentation

2016 No. 6 – May 12, 2016

You are reading the sixth Contract Update produced and distributed by the NPMHU during the course of 2016 negotiations. These updates, along with the Union’s magazine and monthly bulletins, will keep mail handlers throughout the country informed and involved in the issues raised during this round of bargaining.

This past week the Postal Service presented the NPMHU bargaining team with its official, on-the-record Financial Presentation. This did not include a proposed wage or benefit package for the 2016 National Agreement, but rather focused on the Postal Service’s current financial situation.

The presentation was slightly dated, primarily relying on data from Fiscal Year 2015 (ending on September 30, 2015) and the first quarter of FY2016 to reach its conclusions. It also focused on the termination of the exigent rate increase that led to a reduction in postage rates last month. However, it appears that the projections made in the presentation were fairly accurate. Outlined were the Postal Service’s views on the root causes of its financial instability, the steps it has taken thus far to deal with this financial situation, and the additional actions that it believes are still necessary to cope with the formidable financial challenges that lie ahead.

Unsurprisingly, according to the Postal Service, the financial outlook is not great. The agency is currently operating under a total liability of $101 billion. It has little hope of paying back its debts in the near future, and is virtually locked out of borrowing more money from Congress.

This is nothing new. In fact, FY15 marked the ninth consecutive year of losses for the Postal Service. By 2018, it may face insolvency or be forced to default.

These losses, according to the Postal Service, are caused primarily by the rapid decline in mail volume – especially first class mail. The Postal Service hopes to offset this volume decline by relying on the continuing increase in standard mail, as well as shipping and packages.

Unfortunately, that will be a tall order. Although the positive volume in both standard and package mail has been noticeable in recent years, their respective rates of increase would have to more than double to break even when compared to the loss in first-class mail. An increase of that proportion has never happened in the history of the Postal Service.

By far the largest expense of the Postal Service, of course, is that of labor. Labor costs, more specifically wages and benefits for all employees, account for nearly 80 percent of total Postal Service expenses. Mail handlers make up 6 percent of labor costs, and 5 percent of total costs.

As a result, the Postal Service continues to implement numerous cost cutting initiatives, many of which affect mail handlers. Between 2007 and 2015, it slashed the career workforce by 29 percent, and increased the size of its non-career workforce by 31 percent. Total workhours are also down 23 percent.

The Postal Service also sees value in reviving its capital investments. While cutting costs, the agency has to act simultaneously to update equipment, repair facilities, and deploy new machinery. It sees these investments as both sustainable and necessary.

Achievement of the Postal Service’s five-year plan, according to the Postal Service, is critical to its success. If everything goes according to plan, the Postal Service believes it will be able to increase revenue and stave off default.

The Postal Service also outlined a series of marketing strategies it has recently implemented, apparently to some success. Innovation is essential to staying competitive, even if some of these strategies might be contrary to the interest of certain union members. At some point during the next few years, for example, the Postal Service expects to press forward with its closings and consolidations of mail processing facilities.

Notwithstanding the Postal Service’s pessimistic presentation, the bottom line is that the economic condition of the Postal Service has improved since the last round of bargaining in 2011, with operational surpluses during the past few years. Revenues are increasing, and operational costs are decreasing, if only marginally.

A financially stable Postal Service certainly is in the best interest of the mail handler craft. The question remains, however, whether the economic proposals put forth by USPS management during the last week of bargaining, either individually or collectively, will represent the best course of action for the future of the Postal Service and for all mail handlers.

PLEASE POST!!

Jefferson Peppers John Gibson David Wilkin Lawrence Sapp Rudy Santos

Vice President Vice President Vice President Vice President Vice President

Central Region Eastern Region Northeastern Region Southern Region Western Region

 

NATIONAL POSTAL MAIL HANDLERS UNION

Paul V. Hogrogian – National President Mark A. Gardner – Secretary-Treasurer

Building a Contract through Tentative Agreements

2016 No. 5 – May 3, 2016

You are reading the fifth Contract Update produced and distributed by the NPMHU during the course of 2016 negotiations. These updates, along with the Union’s magazine and monthly bulletins, will keep mail handlers throughout the country informed and involved in the issues raised during this round of bargaining.

Bargaining is entering its final phase as the month of May 2016 approaches. With the contract slated to expire at midnight on May 20, 2016, both the NPMHU and the Postal Service have begun to draft tentative agreements.

Tentative agreements, or TAs, as they are known in the world of collective bargaining, are crucial to the practice of contract negotiation. They serve as markers of everything that is agreed upon during the period of negotiations. At the moment, both parties have signed off on only a handful of tentative agreements, but there certainly will be more to come.

Tentative agreements are the final step in the drafting process. They adopt language from proposals written and presented at the main table, taking into account the discussion and concerns that arise through the subcommittee sessions.

Often tentative agreements will have been preceded by amended proposals as well as counter-proposals. A rule of thumb for bargaining is the more time both sides spend evaluating a given proposal, the more strongly it is being considered as a possible agreement and the more heavily it will be edited before finalization.

That said, an uncontroversial proposal will not warrant much discussion. Those proposals are likely to evolve into tentative agreements. If one side agrees with the particular language included in the other side’s proposal, it may simply present the original proposal as a TA. This does not preclude the initial proponent of the proposal from suggesting edits before signing off on a final version.

In order to make it into the negotiated contract, a tentative agreement has to be approved by both parties. This approval, although fairly informal, is symbolic of agreement and progress. National President Paul Hogrogian and the Chief Negotiator for the Postal Service, Patrick Devine, even have shaken hands at the end of the initialing process.

It has to be remembered, however, that even though TAs may be signed, they are not binding. In fact, they mean very little until they are inserted into the contract at the end of bargaining. On this issue, it is important to quote directly from the Ground Rules signed by the parties prior to the start of 2016 negotiations:

"It is understood that tentative agreements reached by the parties on individual items are subject to the parties’ final and total agreement on the entire collective bargaining agreement. Tentative agreements on particular contract articles or subjects will be initialed (or signed) and dated by the chief spokespersons. . . . Should such a tentative agreement not be ratified by the eligible membership of the NPMHU, the current Agreement shall remain in effect, and the parties shall meet to agree upon dispute resolution procedures.

The bottom line is that, unless there is an overall negotiated settlement agreement on the terms of the 2016 National Agreement at midnight on May 20, 2016 or on a subsequent date agreed to by the parties, every tentative agreement previously initialed is considered null and void.

Both sides hope to have many tentative agreements signed and placed into the National Agreement during the last week of bargaining. These final few weeks are crucial to the process of determining whether a negotiated agreement is achievable.

Watch your bulletin boards for more bargaining information through the coming days and weeks.

PLEASE POST!!

Jefferson Peppers John Gibson David Wilkin Lawrence Sapp Rudy Santos

Vice President Vice President Vice President Vice President Vice President

Central Region Eastern Region Northeastern Region Southern Region Western Region

 

NATIONAL POSTAL MAIL HANDLERS UNION

Paul V. Hogrogian – National President Mark A. Gardner – Secretary-Treasurer

2016 Contract Update #4

Proposals and Counterproposals

2016 No. 3 – April 19, 2016

You are reading the fourth Contract Update produced and distributed by the NPMHU during the course of 2016 negotiations. These updates, along with the Union’s magazine and monthly bulletins, will keep mail handlers throughout the country informed and involved in the issues raised during this round of bargaining.

As bargaining moves forward, both sides continue to bring additional proposals to the table.

At the main table session on Tuesday, April 5, the parties reconvened after a brief hiatus to receive and discuss several counterproposals from the Postal Service. Each proposal was presented by a different member of the Postal Service’s bargaining team. At the end of each presentation, the Union had an opportunity to seek clarification and ask questions.

"Counterproposal" is the term used to describe any proposal brought forward by the Postal Service in direct response to an earlier NPMHU proposal. Most of the currently outstanding proposals have been introduced organically, however. They are issues that the Postal Service hopes to rectify in this round of bargaining, rather than counterproposals to what the Union has already presented. In this sense, "counterproposal" is not the best way to account for the past few weeks of bargaining.

In fact, the free-wheeling subcommittee sessions are when proposals are most directly countered and challenged. The parties have been meeting in subcommittee with some regularity, and the sessions have certainly been full of open discussions, sometimes even contentious. It still is too early to tell whether these discussions will prove to be productive.

It is in the subcommittees that promises are made to draft counterproposals. Both sides have stated the intention to revise some of their more heavily discussed proposals.

The potential of counterproposals was demonstrated by the introduction of the Article 11 subcommittee. The committee met for the first time on April 6, and the session was constructive because both sides previously had submitted proposals on the same set of issues. In other words, neither the Union nor the Postal Service simply wants to continue the status quo. But it still is much too early to determine whether the parties can reach a common ground or will revert to the current rules and procedures.

We can expect to see some more counterproposals presented at the main table in the next few sessions to come. This will shed more light on what may actually make its way into the 2016 National Agreement.

In the meantime, the Union’s bargaining team continues to research and review the Postal Service’s proposals, all the while working on writing proposals of its own. We expect to have over 100 proposals on the record before bargaining ends – topping the count from the last few rounds of negotiations.

Watch your bulletin boards for more bargaining information throughout the coming weeks.

PLEASE POST!!

Jefferson Peppers John Gibson David Wilkin Lawrence Sapp Rudy Santos

Vice President Vice President Vice President Vice President Vice President

Central Region Eastern Region Northeastern Region Southern Region Western Region

 

2016 Contract Update #3

NATIONAL POSTAL MAIL HANDLERS UNION

Paul V. Hogrogian – National President Mark A. Gardner – Secretary-Treasurer

Bargaining Subcommittees in Full Swing

2016 No. 3 – April 5, 2016

You are reading the third Contract Update produced and distributed by the NPMHU during the course of 2016 negotiations. These updates, along with the Union’s magazine and monthly bulletins, will keep mail handlers throughout the country informed and involved in the issues raised during this round of bargaining.

The NPMHU and the Postal Service have now been engaged in collective bargaining for approximately one month. Here is a summary of what has happened during that time, and an update as how negotiations are proceeding.

During the month of March, the Union has been meeting with management representatives an average of three days per week. Some of the meetings were on the record (also known as "main table") and some have been off the record, in the form of more informal but focused subcommittees. The meetings are expected to occur even more frequently as bargaining moves forward.

As addressed previously, the main table sessions are centered on the official introduction of proposals from both sides. Under the governing ground rules for negotiations, no proposal can be considered if it has not been presented to both sides in this formal setting. As of this point in the negotiations, the NPMHU has submitted almost 100 written proposals. Some already have been amended to address concerns raised at the main table or during subcommittee meetings. The Postal Service has made less than 10 proposals. And almost every time the parties meet, they exchange counterproposals – sometimes orally and sometimes in writing.

The parties also have formed several subcommittees, which meet in their own sessions. These meetings are off the record and focus on particular portions of the National Agreement, considering any related proposals as a group. Six subcommittees have so far been formed, including separate subcommittees on Articles 7 (Employee Classifications), 8 (Hours of Work), and 12 (Principles of Seniority, Posting, and Reassignments), as well as subcommittees on Subcontracting (Article 32), Mail Handler Assistants, and Memoranda of Understanding and Letters of Intent (MOUs and LOIs).

Each of these subcommittees meets on an informal, off-the-record basis, the purpose of which is to hash out each proposal, with representatives from both parties knowing that they are able to speak freely. The privacy of the off-the-record sessions allows for a more open discourse between the parties. Both the Union and the Postal Service are able to articulate their positions frankly and to ask their questions directly.

The subcommittee sessions have been running smoothly, but there is much more work to be done before there can be any sense of progress. So far, with most of the written proposals coming from the Union, most of the discussions have focused on NPMHU submissions. The Postal Service is only starting to draft its own specific proposals and counterproposals. Once those are presented, the parties can begin the hard work toward reaching some tentative agreements.

Watch your bulletin boards for more bargaining information throughout the coming weeks.

PLEASE POST!!

Jefferson Peppers John Gibson David Wilkin Lawrence Sapp Rudy Santos

Vice President Vice President Vice President Vice President Vice President

Central Region Eastern Region Northeastern Region Southern Region Western Region

 2016 Contract Update #2

 

NATIONAL POSTAL MAIL HANDLERS UNION
 
Paul V. Hogrogian – National
President Mark A. Gardner – Secretary-Treasurer

 2016 No. 2 – March 29, 2016

 NATIONAL POSTAL MAIL HANDLERS UNION Paul V. Hogrogian – National President Mark A. Gardner – Secretary-Treasurer Bargaining Continues 2016 No. 2 – March 29, 2016 You are reading the second Contract Update produced and distributed by the NPMHU during the course of 2016 negotiations. These updates, along with the Union’s magazine and monthly bulletins, will keep mail handlers throughout the country informed and involved in the issues raised during this round of bargaining. Bargaining is underway! Representatives from the Postal Service have now met at least three times with representatives from the NPMHU Negotiations Team for productive rounds of on-the-record meetings. The purpose of these meetings at this early stage of the proceedings is to introduce and explain all of the parties’ official bargaining proposals. Typically the Union presents its proposals first, followed by counter-proposals from the Postal Service a few weeks into bargaining. To this point, the NPMHU has presented almost 100 bargaining proposals, covering the full panoply of topics covered by the National Agreement. In response, the Postal Service has offered only a few proposals of its own, but as usual these management proposals seek substantial givebacks or concessions from the bargaining unit comprised of the mail handler craft. Over the course of the on-the-record meetings, President Hogrogian has taken the lead in explaining the Union’s noneconomic proposals to USPS representatives at the main table. Some of these proposals came out of the Field Negotiating Committee that convened in October. Others were conceived by members of the NPMHU National Executive Board and Negotiations Team to address some of the National Agreement’s most pressing concerns. The proposals varied in intent and substance. A handful of the proposals contain simple cosmetic changes, for example updating dates and correcting typographical errors. Others are more dramatic – changes in benefits, work hours, seniority and the posting of bids, and securing more contractual protections for Mail Handler Assistants. At these main table sessions, the Postal Service’s bargaining team, led by its chief spokesperson Patrick Devine, asked questions aimed at understanding the purpose of the proposals brought forward. Sometimes the USPS seeks clarification, for others the Postal Service promised further inquiries during the coming weeks. At this point, concrete discussions about the viability of certain proposals are just beginning. Those conversations will happen in the coming weeks, more frequently and more openly, once the pace of negotiations pick up through continuing main table discussions and numerous subcommittee meetings. In the meantime, the Union is working to prepare its final set of proposals – those addressing economic issues, including wages, benefits, premiums and differentials, and subcontracting as authorized under Article 32. NPMHU bargainers are slated to meet with the Postal Service on several days each week to address each and every one of the issues to be bargained. Please watch your bulletin boards for more bargaining information throughout the coming weeks. PLEASE POST!! Jefferson Peppers John Gibson David Wilkin Lawrence Sapp Rudy Santos Vice President Vice President Vice President Vice President Vice President Central Region Eastern Region Northeastern Region Southern Region Western Region

 

2016 Contract Update #1

NATIONAL POSTAL MAIL HANDLERS UNION

Paul V. Hogrogian – National President Mark A. Gardner – Secretary-Treasurer

2016 No. 1 – March 10, 2016

Collective Bargaining Under the PRA

You are reading the first Contract Update produced and distributed by the NPMHU during the course of 2016 negotiations. These updates, along with the Union’s magazine and monthly bulletins, will keep mail handlers throughout the country informed and involved in the issues raised during this round of bargaining.

The framework for collective bargaining between the U.S. Postal Service and its major unions – including the NPMHU – is governed by the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970. It is useful to review the provisions of this law so that mail handlers know what to expect in this round of negotiations.

Bargaining begins when one party to the contract serves a written notice to the other of an attempt to modify the current agreement. Under Article 39 of our National Agreement, this notice must be served "not less than 90 nor more than 120 days" before contract expiration. As a result, the parties have only a short period of time – essentially from February until contract expiration on May 20 – in which to agree on the changes proposed by both sides to the existing contract. During that time, the parties are required to adhere to procedures that they mutually adopt before the start of bargaining.

If the bargaining process results in a tentative agreement between the parties, that agreement is subject to a ratification vote by the membership of the NPMHU. As required by the NPMHU National Constitution, the vote would be by mail ballot. It would be run in accordance with procedures agreed upon by the National Executive Board. Presuming that a tentative agreement is reached in late May, the mail ballots would likely be distributed in June.

If the parties fail to reach a tentative agreement, the PRA allows for several alternative courses of action and encourages the parties to mutually decide upon which to pursue. One option, and the one most often followed by the parties, is to agree to dispute resolution procedures on their own. In this regard, the NPMHU and the Postal Service already have agreed in ground rules for this year’s bargaining to have their respective lawyers discuss the adoption of dispute resolution procedures in the days leading up to May 20. If the parties cannot agree on procedures to govern the resolution of their dispute, then they must defer to the provisions of the PRA, which mandates a particular procedure.

The PRA-dictated procedure contains several steps, and can be summarized as follows: First, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) would establish a 3-person fact finding panel. Two of the members would be selected by the respective parties from a list of 15 names given to them by the FMCS. The third person would be selected by the other two or, if they cannot agree, by the Director of the FMCS. The fact finding panel then would have 45 days in which to investigate the bargaining dispute and issue a report of its findings.

If an agreement still has not been reached after the fact finding, the PRA requires the establishment of an arbitration board within 90 days of contract expiration. This board generally consists of three members – one appointed by the Union, one appointed by the Postal Service, and a third (neutral) member. This neutral member is appointed either by agreement of the two other members or, if they cannot agree, by the Director of the FMCS.

After the arbitration board is selected, it holds a hearing in which both parties are given the chance to present evidence. The board is required to make a decision 45 days after its appointment. This means an arbitration award would not be issued until at least 135 days after the contract expires – in this case, no earlier than October 2016. However, in past rounds of bargaining, the parties often have extended these deadlines for many months in order to continue bargaining or wait for related proceedings to be completed.

Most importantly, the PRA states that the ultimate arbitration decision is "conclusive" and "binding," meaning both parties must accept it. That is one reason why the NPMHU National Constitution requires the National President to convene a meeting of the Local Unions and receive their advice before agreeing to enter the arbitration process.

As the NPMHU and the Postal Service bargain over the coming months, please watch your bulletin boards for the latest information.

PLEASE POST!!

Jefferson Peppers John Gibson David Wilkin Lawrence Sapp Rudy Santos

Vice President Vice President Vice President Vice President Vice President

Central Region Eastern Region Northeastern Region Southern Region Western Region

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