If you meet a postal clerk who seems particularly cheerful today, it’s because more than 200,000 employees of the U.S. Postal Service began this week with a slew of new benefits. The American Postal Workers Union concluded a two-year contract negotiation, securing pay raises, cost of living adjustments, job security commitments and more for its members.
“We, as a union, should be proud of the results,” APWU President Mark Dimondstein said. “We made some real progress on most of our major goals.”
Career employees covered by the union will receive a 3.8 percent pay increase in three installments before 2018. The first installment of 1.2 percent is retroactive, effective Nov. 14, 2015, and the next two installments of 1.3 percent each will come in November 2016 and 2017.
Career employees will also maintain their current COLA formula. Dimondstein said in a June 8 press release that postal management had sought the elimination of COLA for career employees.
Postal support employees — to whom the COLA does not apply — will receive larger pay raises. They will follow the same schedule as the career employees, but will be 2.2 and 2.3 percent each. In addition, support employees will receive additional increases of fifty cents per hour in installments. The first, $0.09 per hour, is retroactive, effective Nov. 14, 2015. The second and third will be in May 2017 and 2018, and will be $0.20 and $0.21, respectively.
Support employees will also receive six paid holidays and access to a USPS health plan, to which the agency would contribute $125 per pay period.
The contract also includes several job security provisions, including no lay-off protections, embargoes on subcontracting of driving work for the Postal Vehicle Service, and a guarantee not to close or consolidate plants before April 2017.
In addition, all maintenance and motor vehicle support employees were converted to career employees, and the PSE category was eliminated in these crafts.
The union was forced to make one main concession.
“We were unable to stop management’s demand that employees pay a greater share of health insurance premiums,” Dimondstein said.
The portion of health care premiums paid by employees will increase 1 percent per year for the next three years.
However, he did say that the union “successfully fought back the main concessionary demands of postal management — for increased percentages of non-career employees, a new tier of lower-paid career employees, the elimination of COLA and the weakening of our no layoff protection.”