As provided for in Article 15, Section .3E of the National Agreement between the National Postal Mail Handlers Union and the United States Postal Service, both parties have agreed to jointly produce a Contract Interpretation Manual (CIM), which represents a good faith effort to identify contractual issues on which the National parties are in agreement regarding interpretation and application of the parties’ National Agreement. The latest issue of the CIM is Version 4, which was released on August 24, 2017.
Effective on September 2, 2017, career Mail Handler craft employees are scheduled to receive the third of seven possible cost-of-living (COLA) adjustments as outlined in Article 9.3 of the 2016 National Agreement. This COLA increase is based on the upward change in the relevant Consumer Price Index (CPI) following release of the July 2017 Index, and provides an annual increase of $270 for all Steps in Table 1 and for Step P of Table 2. The remaining Steps in Table 2 will receive the proportional COLA increase percentages as outlined in Article 9.3 of the National Agreement.
Management continues to implement its ill-conceived plans to realign its work force. Their plans involve massive bid reversions and job abolishments in almost every mail processing facility throughout the country. In most cases, management is basing its staffing needs on the flawed Function 1 Scheduler that the Postal Service uses to determine staffing levels at the large mail processing plants. Postal management continues to argue that these reversions and/or abolishments are necessary because of the continuing decline in mail volumes.
In response to these unwarranted attacks on the postal workforce, NPMHU President Paul Hogrogian and APWU President Mark Dimondstein sent a joint letter to Postmaster General Megan Brennan protesting the Postal Service’s proposed actions. The two Presidents vowed that both unions would work together to combat the Postal Service’s attacks on its employees.
The NPMHU has been recently informed by Postal Headquarters that the September 2017 “move date” will be pushed back and that no Mail Handler will be involuntarily reassigned out of his/her installation until, in all likelihood, at least February 2018. Postal management has agreed to use this extended period to discuss with the unions ways to minimize and even eliminate the involuntary reassignments of Full-Time career employees out of their current installations. Management also confirmed that it is required under Article 7 of our National Agreement to reduce their proposed non-career work hours to the greatest extent possible before excessing career employees out of their installation.
However, management remains steadfast in its intention to realign the work force and align employees’ schedules/start times with the projected mail arrival profiles. This will result in wholesale start time changes, bid reversions, and abolishment of duty assignments. Area Labor-Relations specialists will be meeting with the respective NPMHU Regional Directors to discuss how they will be implementing these changes. During these meetings, our Regional Directors will be voicing our strong opposition to these unnecessary changes and suggest more efficient alternatives.
Unions representatives at the Local and Branch levels will challenge the unwarranted start time changes, reversions, and abolishments and will file the appropriate grievances. The National and Regional CAD remain fully prepared to assist the Local Unions in processing these grievances. All members also should stay informed of these issues, both through the mail and on the NPMHU website.
On June 21, 2017, NPMHU President Paul Hogrogian and APWU President Mark Dimondstein delivered a clear message to Postmaster General Brennan, copy of the correspondence is as follows:
Postmaster General – Chief Executive Officer
United States Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20260
Dear Postmaster General Brennan:
As presidents of our respective unions representing over 250,000 hard-working postal employees, we are deeply disturbed by the wholesale and massive job cuts under way by your administration. The cutting of an already skeletal workforce will not only cause massive disruption to the workforce but will cause further degradation of postal services for the American people throughout the country.
We also note that your public commitment to abide by the respective Collective Bargaining Agreements as you address workforce complements is being violated because the ongoing job reversions and job abolishments are contrary to contractual obligations. The excessing impact statements – currently amounting to over 1500 events affecting over 15,000 employees and counting – are blatant violations of our CBAs in relation to advance notice, mandated information to the unions, meeting requirements, move dates, and residual vacancies.
Using the information that the Postal Service has provided to the unions, there also is no way to determine if the required Article 12 provisions involving part-time flexible hours or PSE and MHA/Casual employment were considered or if the staffing is based upon all available work hours.
Our contracts further require that at the Area/Regional meeting a list of residual vacancies be provided to the union for each excessing event. At the current time, there are insufficient residual vacancies to accommodate the impact of thousands of bargaining unit employees. In fact, it would take a significant amount of time to gather that number of residual vacancies.
Without the residual vacancies, there is no excessing. That begs the question of why there is a demand to excess thousands of employees if there are no ‘landing spots’ for the excessed employees to be placed into.
Based upon all of the above factors and concerns expressed above, the NPMHU and the APWU request that management consider and explore all other alternative options prior to the massive excessing plan currently proposed.
Without change, these management actions essentially throw any good faith efforts and constructive relationships to the wind. At a time when the parties have been working together to craft, promote, and pass constructive postal reform legislation, we wonder why the Postal Service would choose to declare war on its unions and its employees. Rest assured that, absent correction, the APWU and the NPMHU will together resist these misguided actions and violations of your agreements with, and commitments to, our members.
We are both available early afternoon on Tuesday June 27th or late morning or early afternoon on Wednesday June 28th to further discuss these matters in person.
We await your response.
(Signed) Presidents Paul Hogrogian and Mark Dimondstein
Congratulations to the 2017 Scholarships Recipients:
Local 301 NPMHU Scholarships
Joseph Spencer – Son of Brockton P&DC Mail Handler Joseph Spencer.
Joshua Labonte – Son of Springfield NDC Mail Handler David Labonte.
NPMHU Arthur S. Vallone National Scholarship
Molly Dion – Daughter of Central MA P&DC Mail Handler John Dion.
The National Office has been in contact with Postal Headquarters to discuss the deluge of bid reversions and abolishments that are being implemented across the country as a result of the Function 1 Scheduler. Postal Management has argued that these reversions/ abolishments are necessary because of the continuing decline in mail volumes. The most recent figures (for the period from October 1, 2016 through May 31, 201 7) indicate a decline of over 6 billion pieces in total mail volume from the same period last year.
In an extreme over reaction to these mail volume figures, USPS Headquarters has directed all Postal Areas to assess their current workforce complements and make the necessary adjustments to reflect the decline in mail volume. Not surprisingly, the Area Managers are now over reacting to Postal Headquarters’ initial over reaction.
The “staffing tool” that is being used to determine complement in each postal installation is called the Function 1 Scheduler. As explained by Postal Managers, the Function 1 Scheduler uses mail volumes, available equipment, allied labor, and volume arrival, among other factors, to help the processing centers to determine their bid alignments and schedules. However, as most Mail Handler representatives already know, the Function 1 Scheduler is far from perfect.
Trump and Congress Take Aim at Federal and Postal Employees
The last few days have seen a litany of proposals, both from the White House controlled by Donald Trump and from a Congress controlled by a Republican majority, that are aimed at the benefits of federal and postal employees. It is time for mail handlers across the country to pay attention and take action, lest these proposals ever get adopted or implemented.
On May 23, 2017, the Trump Administration released its budget for Fiscal Year 2018. Called “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” the budget supports what can only be called catastrophic reductions in spending on the pension benefits currently enjoyed by all federal and postal employees, including all mail handlers.
For active postal employees who participate in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), the Trump budget calls for gradually equalizing contributions made by employees (including mail handlers) and the Postal Service, which effectively would be up to a six percent (6%) cut in pay over the next six years, depending on precisely when an employee was first hired.
For active postal employees participating in FERS or in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), the Trump budget calls for reducing pension benefits for future retirees by basing annuities on an employee’s average pay over five years (high-5) instead of over three years (high-3). The proposal also would terminate the “Social Security supplement” that covers the gap for workers who retire under FERS before they qualify for Social Security benefits at age 62.
For current and future retirees, the Trump budget calls for the elimination of cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for annuitants under FERS (which covers any employee hired after 1984). For those under the Civil Service Retirement System, COLAs would be reduced by one-half of 1 percent (that is, 0.5 percent) each and every year. These changes, if adopted, would destroy the financial well-being of retirees who rely on annual COLAs to keep up with the cost of living.
The full scope of these proposals – called both terrible and cruel by various political leaders – are probably dead on arrival in the Congress. But it will take a lot of hard work to ensure that no portion of these proposals, however small, finds its way into any legislation that passes the Congress.
With regard to the Postal Service itself, the Trump budget is no wiser or kinder. It calls for $46 billion in cuts over the next decade, and proposes reductions in the frequency of mail delivery and in door-to-door delivery, and the cuts in mail processing that would accompany such changes.
“The Trump budget is an embarrassment, and should be opposed by all thoughtful Members on Capitol Hill. There is no basis for cutting retirement benefits; nor is there any reason to reduce any services provided the Postal Service. Fortunately, the existing coalition of postal stakeholders (unions, management, and mailers) already has identified legislation that would fix many of the Postal Service’s financial issues, and the entire Trump budget can simply be ignored as not worthy of serious consideration.”
Notably, the Trump budget does not attack only federal and postal employees, but also takes aim at Medicaid, children’s health, food stamps, student loans, and Social Security disability programs, among others. Even the NLRB faces massive cuts in its budget, reducing the protections that the Board provides for workers and their unions and the entire collective bargaining process.
As if not wanting to be outdone by the Trump budget, certain Members of Congress also have introduced and supported other unacceptable proposals. For just one example, on May 24, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1293, on an unrecorded voice vote, to require the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to submit annual reports on the use of official time by federal employee representatives. This is a thinly-veiled attempt to attack unions representing federal employees, and demonstrates the anti-union and anti-worker atmosphere that permeates large portions of Congress.
All mail handlers are encouraged to contact their Congressional representatives and to stay actively aware of the evolving legislative process.
May 16, 2017
Retroactive Adjustment Payments
On May 16, 2017, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union received notification from USPS Headquarters that an error had occurred with the processing of Mail Handler retroactive payments to be received this pay check dated May 19, 2017.
This error has resulted in retroactive adjustment payment for approximately 4200 Mail Handlers being delayed from May 19, 2017 to June 2, 2017.
Please notify you Branch President or Steward if you do not receive your retroactive adjustment payment by June 2, 2017.
The Local 301, NPMHU 17th Annual Charity Golf Tournament to benefit the New England Center and Home for Veterans will be held on Friday, June 2nd, 2017.
Place: George Wright Golf Course, 420 West Street, Hyde Park, MA
Time: 7:30 am (scramble format with a shotgun start)
Registration Fee: $125.00 each / $500.00 foursome
Registration Forms are available at your Branch Union Office or contact Kathy Caulfield at 508-651-2227, ext. 105.
Local 301 NPMHU Scholarships
Two (2) – $1000.00 Scholarships to a dependent of a Local 301 Member in good standing. Applications available at the Union Office and at the Local 301 website www.npmhul301.org . Deadline May 31, 2017.
Please see your Branch President / Steward or contact the Local Office for further information.