The National Board will be
contacting USPS Headquarters immediately in order to share the results of
the ratification vote. Thereafter, the parties will discuss next steps, and
the National Board will keep the membership apprised of important
developments as they happen.
|USPS, Rural Carriers Reach
Tentative Contract Agreement
USPS Press Release 12-08-2006
Negotiations continue with National Postal Mail Handlers Union
The Postal Service and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (NRLCA) have reached a tentative four-year contract agreement. Upon ratification by union members, the agreement will run through Nov. 20, 2010, and affect approximately 66,000 career employees and 52,000 non-career employees who deliver mail to residences and businesses on rural delivery routes.
The Postal Service and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (NRLCA) have reached a tentative four-year contract agreement. Upon ratification by union members, the agreement will run through Nov. 20, 2010, and affect approximately 66,000 career employees and 52,000 non-career employees who deliver mail to residences and businesses on rural delivery routes.“This tentative agreement serves not only the interests of the Postal Service and NRLCA members, but also our customers,” said Labor Relations Vice President Doug Tulino. “Working together, we will continue to meet our universal service obligation by providing affordable, high-quality mail service to everyone in America.”
The Postal Service and NRLCA formally opened national contract negotiations on Aug. 25, 2006. This year was the first time new contracts were negotiated separately at the same time with all four of the Postal Service’s largest unions.
Earlier this week, the Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union also agreed to a tentative four-year contract. Negotiations continue with the National Postal Mail Handlers Union. Negotiations with the National Association of Letter Carriers were not successful and the two parties will now enter the dispute resolution process, which may include binding interest arbitration.
The following represents some of the provisions of the tentative agreement. Additional details will be provided in a special edition of The National Rural Letter Carrier and on the NRLCA website.
Special Leave Replacement Provisions:
o Newly-hired RCA’s will be paid actual or evaluated time
for the route, whichever is greater, for the first five pay periods.
Miscellaneous Work Rule Changes
DONNIE PITTS, PRESIDENT
NATIONAL RURAL LETTER CARRIERS’ ASSOCIATION
Today marks the formal beginning of our negotiations for a successor contract to the 2000-2004 National Agreement and subsequent two-year extension.
Several weeks ago, the NRLCA National Board was in Charleston, South Carolina for the Union’s 102nd National Convention. We had a productive week of business and we left Charleston as one united union and one united National Board. Every member of our negotiating team believes deeply in the collective bargaining process and together we look forward to the opportunity to craft an agreement that will better the lives of the devoted and hard working rural carriers we proudly represent.
We have two goals for the 2006 negotiations and I want to be very clear about what they are.
Our first goal is related to process. More than ever, we want a collective bargaining experience that works. We want to have an open and honest dialogue about the issues that confront us from this day forward. We want to be frank with you and we expect no less from the Postal Service. We recognize that much is at stake. We are cognizant that the Postal Service will be negotiating four separate contracts simultaneously but we cannot let that fact detract, in any way, from the commitment we give to you, and expect in return, to make every bargaining session, every meeting a productive one.
For this process to work -- for us to achieve a negotiated agreement, we must work during the next several months to improve upon a relationship that for years was the best thing going in the Postal Service. Unfortunately, on a number of issues over the last couple of years, we have not seen eye to eye and we have worked against each other -- not with each other. We must let the past go -- whether it is portions of the Wells award that we disagreed with or the outcome of the 2002 National Mail Count Arbitration. It’s time to move forward. And, we cannot expect inflexible positional bargaining to get us anywhere. We will need to be creative. We will need to think of new ways to solve problems. Therefore, it will serve no useful purpose for us or for you to keep the curtains closed until November 20. We want to have weeks and months to piece together an Agreement that improves the standard of living for the women and men of this craft. And, we can hardly do that if the Postal Service is not interested in laying its cards on the table. We think that in this collective bargaining environment, there is no other way to reach a negotiated agreement -- for how can either of us be comfortable with a final outcome when we have not had the opportunity to weigh all of our options and balance the good against the bad, and the not-so-bad? So, that is our first goal. We want a process that works; a process that is transparent; a process infused with a healthy dose of trust; and a process that rewards initiative rather than intransigence. No arbitrator can write our contract better than we can and so we must collectively do what it takes to do the hard work -- to roll up our sleeves, and pant legs too -- if that is what is necessary to do this hard work so that we can come out of this process with a contract worthy of ratification by our members.
* * * * *
Our second goal is substantive. It involves tangible things. In order for us to reach agreement and avoid interest arbitration, we must see meaningful improvements to the wages and working conditions of all rural letter carriers. We need to be direct with you on this point.
We are not interested in stagnation or regression. We think it is vitally important and economically feasible to continue with appropriate general wage increases and historically significant cost of living adjustments. The Postal Service’s finances are in good shape. Your debt is essentially gone and the rural craft employees we represent have contributed mightily to your success. Productivity continues to be on the rise and our customers, by any measure, are happy. So yes, we do expect and deserve to share in the successes of this first-class Postal Service.
To insure that the standard of living for the rural carriers we represent does not suffer, we will seek to maintain, if not improve, the health care and retirement benefits for women and men who labor for them day in and day out.
As we have indicated for some time now, we have more than traditional economic interests. We also need to see a substantial improvement to the design of our equipment maintenance allowance and the amount rural carriers are paid per mile for supplying a route vehicle. There has been an imbalance for a considerable period of time. Our carriers have not fared well, and as we experienced in the wake of a devastating and tragic hurricane season last year, our system fails us in times of national emergency and we cannot continue to penalize individual rural carriers when disaster strikes or when for other reasons, gasoline prices soar. Yes, we will also accept more USPS vehicles on rural routes -- we need them more than ever to be sure -- but a couple of cents here or there does not offset a 50 cent or more spike in the cost of a gallon of regular, unleaded gas. And, rest assured, we are not opposed to reducing EMA accordingly when gas prices plummet.
I am certain our core economic issues will not surprise you. And, while we will want increases as I have suggested, our present intention is not to overload our main table discussions with issues that may detract from our reaching agreement on these important issues. We hope that subcommittees will be quickly established in a matter of days or weeks to make substantial progress on a host of issues that may require some extra hands-on attention.
We have a big job to do. All of us do. I was comforted, Mr. Potter, by the words you shared with those in attendance at our National Convention in Charleston. I know you want a negotiated agreement, too. And I sensed -- and hope I am right on this -- that you will give your chief negotiator and spokesman the leeway to go the extra mile to make a negotiated agreement a reality. We will and I trust that you will too.