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Arbitration begins for APWU contract

Arbitration hearings began Feb. 17 for the American Postal Workers Union’s new collective bargaining agreement with the U.S. Postal Service.

Arbitration hearings began Feb. 17 for the American Postal Workers Union’s new collective bargaining agreement with the U.S. Postal Service.

Contract negotiations that were begun about a year ago failed to produce an agreement. The case will presented to a three-member panel comprising a union-appointed advocate, a management-appointed advocate, and a neutral arbitrator who determines the outcome.

APWU President Mark Dimondstein, in comments presented at the opening of arbitration, maintained that USPS proposals so far would only serve to pull postal workers into a “race to the bottom.”

“Management’s drastic and regressive economic proposals demanding a new round of severe concessions: the elimination of the COLA, creation of a new lower third tier of career employee with reduced benefits amounting to a four tier wage system, higher percentages of non-career employees and less job security, are not only unwarranted by any legitimate measure, but are an insult,” Dimondstein said. “And they exacerbate the problem of vast income inequality.”

 The APWU leader warned against a repeat of the most recent contract, which he maintained largely favored the fortunes of USPS over those of its employees.

“Clearly, the postal workers we represent took significant economic hits in the last round of collective bargaining,” he said. “It is the estimate of the USPS that for the life of the agreement ending in May 2015 these concessions amounted to almost $4 billion in savings to the USPS.”

At the same time, he said, “the economic well-being and purchasing power of our members has been reduced, career status opportunities diminished, full-time work compromised, satisfying careers and our futures dimmed.”

“It is now in the interests of postal workers to reverse the tide of the race to the bottom,” he said, “and turn back to the kind of standards of wages, benefits, workforce structure and rights that since the advent of collective bargaining in 1971 have made postal work a rewarding career, despite its challenges, that workers are proud of, where our work is honored and respected, our families are secure and our communities reap the benefits of both good and vital services and the positive impact of good jobs on the entire community.”

See Dimondstein’s full statement here: www.apwu.org/news/web-news-article/dimondstein-%E2%80%98postal-workers-earn-right-be-justly-compensated-our-service-and.

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