USPS Fails to Reach Agreement with Unions on Labor Contracts
WASHINGTON, DC—Nov. 21, 2010—Contract negotiations with the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO (APWU) and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association (NRLCA) expired at midnight Saturday, Nov. 20. While negotiations with the NRLCA resulted in an impasse, the Postal Service and the APWU agreed to extend the negotiation deadline until Tuesday, Nov. 23 at noon ET.
Should APWU negotiations fail as they have with the NRLCA, a process begins that could result in a third party determining contract terms and work rules for more than 324,000 employees whose wages and benefits exceeded $20 billion last year.
Unlike the private sector, Postal employees are not permitted to strike when negotiations come to an impasse. That’s because Congress designated the Postal Service as an essential service to the nation. An arbitrator determines the final outcome and is not legally required to consider the Postal Service’s financial obligations when rendering a decision.
The drop in the economy coupled with the shift to digital communications has created the greatest loss in mail volume since the Great Depression. Mail volume peaked at 213 billion pieces in 2006 and plummeted to 170.6 billion in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. Revenues shrank from $72.6 billion in 2006 to $67.1 billion. The 2010 net loss was $8.5 billion. By 2020, mail volume is projected to drop to 150 billion pieces.
To remain strong into the future, the Postal Service needs to control costs through a flexible workforce to adapt to the nation’s changing mailing trends.
The Postal Service operates solely from the sale of stamps and related services without taxpayer subsidy. As a quasi government agency, it deals with the challenges of the private sector while continuing to operate under federal regulations and Congressional oversight.
Reasonable wages and benefits are just one element needed to help the Postal Service fully meet its financial obligations and remain strong in the future.