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USPS to enter contract talks with 2 unions

The U.S. Postal Service has entered into negotiations with the National Association of Letter Carriers and will open talks with another union at the end of the month.

Days after announcing that it would ask Congress to drastically cut the postal workforce and make sweeping changes to its workers’ benefits programs, the U.S. Postal Service on Aug. 18 entered into negotiations with the National Association of Letter Carriers, which represents about 280,000 active and retired postal workers.

USPS also is slated to begin contract negotiations Aug. 30 with the National Postal Mail Handlers Union. According to USPS, the two unions together represent 247,000 of the Postal Service’s 560,000 career employees — 200,000 NALC members who work primarily as urban letter carriers, and 47,000 NPMHU members who work in mail-processing plants and post offices.

USPS released two white papers less than a week earlier that detailed plans to ask Congress for permission override “no-layoff” provisions in its union contracts, and to move its employees out of their current federal health and retirement benefits systems.

The request to void the no-layoff provisions would allow USPS to cut 120,000 positions — in addition to 100,000 positions lost through normal attrition — by 2015.

In a statement, NALC President Fredric Rolando called on Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to “disavow” the plans unveiled last week.

“Despite the Postal Service’s outrageous show of bad faith at the start of these negotiations, we are prepared to negotiate a fair, responsible and innovative labor agreement to reward our members and to position the Postal Service for a stronger and better future,” Rolando said.

Through it will not enter negotiations until the end of the month, NPMHU also released a statement opposing the Postal Service plan at its release Aug. 12.

“USPS management also has decided to try to bypass the NPMHU and other postal unions by asking Congress to enact legislation that would impose most of its outrageous proposals,” the union said. “Instead of coming to the bargaining table in good faith, management is looking for two bites of the apple. The mentality seems to be: Let’s see what we can get through bargaining, and then if we don’t like it, we’ll go to Congress.”

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