Jan. 11, 2013 –The three-person board of arbitrators has issued a final and binding award that sets the terms of a four-and-a-half-year collective-bargaining agreement between the National Association of Letter Carriers and the U.S. Postal Service, NALC President Fredric Rolando announced on Jan. 11.
“NALC had three primary objectives in this critical round of collective bargaining,” Rolando said. “First, to protect the jobs and living standards and working conditions of the nation’s 180,000 letter carriers. Second, to protect the integrity of our historic institution-the United States Postal Service. And third, to work cooperatively with all stakeholders to enable the USPS to continue to serve the American public, in the internet age, by strengthening our unequalled last mile ‘delivery’ capacity.
“This agreement meets all three of those objectives,” he said.
The arbitration board was chaired by Shyam Das, a member of the American Arbitration Association’s labor panel who has been a full-time labor arbitrator since 1977. NALC’s member of the arbitration board was General Counsel Bruce Simon of New York-based Cohen, Weiss & Simon. USPS counsel Robert Dufek was the Postal Service’s arbitrator.
The award follows months of work by the NALC, including its officers, staff, consultants and expert witnesses who diligently assembled the union’s case in the interest arbitration proceeding.
“Although we would have preferred to reach a negotiated settlement in November 2011,” Rolando said, “the process worked as intended to resolve all outstanding issues and to address both sides’ key concerns while laying the groundwork for a productively innovative Postal Service in the years to come.
“I thank all the members of the NALC for their patience during this long process and for the hard work they do every day to make USPS the most affordable and efficient postal service in the world,” he said. “This agreement rewards city carriers for these contributions and sets the stage for a major comeback for the Postal Service, provided that Congress does its part to enact real reforms that will allow us to serve the American people and the U.S. economy for decades to come.”
Here are some highlights of the contract, which covers the period from November 20, 2011 to May 20, 2016, follow:
No two-tier pay scale;
Three general wage increases and seven COLAs awarded
The Das board rejected the Postal Service’s proposals to freeze pay, eliminate cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) and implement a two-tier wage schedule for career city carriers. Instead, the new contract provides three general wage increases between now and the end of the contract: 1 percent in November 2013, 1.5 percent in November 2014, and 1 percent in November 2015. It also provides for the payment of seven COLAs between now and 2016, though the two COLAs calculated in 2013 will be deferred and paid in 2014. These wage and COLA provisions follow the wage pattern established by the negotiated American Postal Workers Union (APWU) contract and the arbitrated National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (NRLCA) contract.
However, the award lowered the entry wage for new career letter carriers (appointed on or after Jan. 12, 2013) and created a new step progression that ends at the existing Step O in both Grades 1 and 2 of the current NALC pay charts. Moreover, this new step progression (labeled Table 2 of the City Carrier Schedule) will reach the top step pay of the existing pay chart (now called Table 1 of the City Carrier Wage Schedule) in exactly 644 weeks, the same 12.4 years that applies to career carriers appointed before Jan. 12, 2013.
New career letter carriers hired under Table 2 will initially earn $16.71 per hour at Step A. They will earn step increases worth 2.75 percent of top step pay every 46 weeks until they reach Step O of Table 2 ($27.17 per hour)—the same top step pay of Grade 1 of Table 1.
Step A of Grade 2 under Table 2 will be paid $17.06 per hour and carriers will earn step increases worth 2.75 percent of top step pay every 46 weeks until reaching Step 0 ($27.74 per hour)—the same top step of Grade 2 of Table 1.
NALC successfully argued that reducing the top step pay of city carriers was not justified given the extension of street times in recent years and the increased physical demands of our jobs.