According to an article in Wednesday’s Federal Times, city letter carriers may find out the terms of their new contract by week’s end. For those whose expectations may be exceptionally high during the Postal Service’s financial crisis, there may be some disappointment.
The NALC’s chief of staff, Jim Sauber told the Times Wednesday that letter carriers “understand that difficult things were necessary” in the contract negotiations. “But on the other hand, we also want to reward the people who are working harder and have harder jobs.” He was undoubtedly referring to those career letter carriers who are having to take up the slack as more and more carriers retire from the Service without being replaced.
In its negotiations NALC has proposed the creation of a new class of lower-paid, non-career employees – city carrier assistants—who would replace transitional employees (TEs). Although these assistants would earn less than the current TEs, they would get first choice whenever a career vacancy becomes available.
The major issues for the 3-member arbitration panel would be how many non-career employees the Postal Service can hire and how much they would be paid.
If the Postal Service has its way, there will of course be more non-career employees. In addition, it’s also proposing freezing wages, eliminating COLAs and slashing benefits. NALC President Fredric Rolando said in his testimony earlier before the arbitration panel that these proposals by the Postal Service are “completely unacceptable.”
In 2011, the American Postal Workers Union agreed to a two-tier wage system that pays new career employees less. And in July of last year the National Rural Letter Carriers Association accepted a similar deal for their contract.
Says Sauber, “We feel like we’ve been a very responsible bargaining partner with the Postal Service. We didn’t stick our head in the sand when the (financial) crisis hit.”