by Shelly Lucido
“Our Solidarity is what gives us the credibility and power to make changes.”
It is due to our solidarity, dating back to the Postal Strike of 1970, that we benefit from our new contract. As dues paying members of the American Postal Workers Union, we have participated in the process by standing in solidarity. The term of the new contract is May 21, 2015 – September 20, 2018. By the time you read this, career employees will have received a 1.2% wage increase, and PSE’s a 2.2% increase, effective August 6, 2016. Expect retroactive pay for the period of November 14, 2015 – August 5, 2016 on November 4, 2016.
To name a few other highlights of the new contract
• 6 paid holidays for the PSE’s
• 2 more pay increases during the life of the contract
• retaining the no lay off clause
• increase in clothing allowances to include an allowance for PSE’s to purchase 3 shirts annually
• retained COLA’s.
To review the full award go to APWU.org. A new contract will be provided to the local members of the APWU as soon as they become available.
Solidarity vs “Let’s make a deal”
If you were not aware of it, making a deal with management in direct violation of the contract is, in most cases, harming your fellow employees. Management wants to play Let’s Make a Deal to benefit themselves and sow division within the union. Do you care? Solidarity is not about one it is about all. It is about unity. It is about caring when your fellow employee’s rights are being violated. It is standing together and enforcing the provisions of the entire contract for the entire membership. It is not picking apart the contract to benefit oneself. Those who do this disrespect and show ungratefulness for the solidarity that has brought us this far and will take us farther into the future.
I Didn’t Know
LMOU Item 4 states in part:
Reverted leave must be in writing submitted to the Local APWU President and the Postmaster, or their designee, for approval at least 14 days prior to the start of the leave.
In one case that went to arbitration, an employee reverted their leave less than 14 days in advance and was scheduled for work. Another employee requested the union file a grievance because they were harmed because they would have wanted to take those vacated days off. The arbitrator ruled that if an employees’ request does not meet the provisions of the LMOU Item 4 they cannot revert their leave and must take those annual days off.
In a recent local occurrence, an employee notified management in writing but did not notify the union until a week before the leave started and the union could not approve the request to revert leave. This employee stated “they didn’t know” even though this has been a provision for several years and they had adhered to this provision several times before. Who is at fault here? The union, the steward or the employee?
There are now two Step 3 settlement agreements that state “lunches must be taken within 6 hours. This is not an option. Lunch and break schedules must be posted and adhered to.”A change of schedule must be submitted and agreed on by the union prior to taking the “no lunch”.
Grievances were initially filed on this issue because PSE’s were not afforded lunches and breaks, and one PSE was sent home because they asked for a lunch at 6 hours, while other PSE’s who skipped their lunch were allowed to stay and work. The union has also received complaints that some were allowed to take a “no lunch” and others were not. In addition, people who wanted to take lunch were made to feel like a saboteur of the operation. As union members none of us should be OK with any of this.
LMOU Item 21.F states “an employee will work their duty assignment as posted.” This means any changes to the posted duty assignment for an employee’s convenience require a PS Form 3189 Change of Schedule, available on our website.
Too often employees change their duty assignment for their convenience without a change of schedule, but grievances must be filed on behalf of employees when management changes employee schedules for management’s convenience. When disputes are filed on behalf of one the outcomes could be, and great deal of the times are, applied to all.
Arbitration rulings are binding not just on management but also on the union and union members.
This information has been presented at union meetings, in the LMOU, in stand-ups with management and the union, on the website and in previous newsletters.
This information is readily available. Please take the time to know your rights and responsibilities. Read your contract. Go to auroralocalapwu.org. Go to apwu.org. Read your Local Memorandum of Understanding. Attend your union meetings. Ask questions. But do not blame me or your stewards or officers for your failure to know.
With a new contract comes an opportunity to negotiate the Local Memorandum of Understanding. This is an opportunity if either party wishes to negotiate changes to the LMOU.
Let us always remember and be grateful for the sacrifices made, the battles fought and won and the solidarity it has taken to secure this most recent contract. We all benefit. We all have jobs that make it possible to provide for our families, take vacations, use sick leave or go to the doctor when needed, and look forward to retirement. Never take for granted what we have! We all need to work to protect it for those Postal employees that come after us.