Postal Union Files Second Unfair Practices Claim with NLRB

The American Postal Workers Union is filing and unfair labor practices claim against the U.S. Postal Service over its apparent plan to undercut the union through surveys of new and part time employees

This is the second such claim the union has filed against the USPS with the National Labor Relations Board in recent months.

The first, filed back in July, contested the legality of the USPS’s contract to sell postal products through Staples’ office product superstores without first bargaining with the APWU. That case is still pending.

In this latest filing, the union has charged that the postal service’s “Stay Survey,” where it asks newly hired non-career employees about their job satisfaction and the quality of their working conditions compromises the union’s power when it comes to arbitration over labor contracts.

The union is discouraging postal support employees, i.e. clerical staff, from answering these polls.

The NLRB has ruled that employers may not “‘attempt to erode a union’s bargaining position by engaging in a direct effort to determine employee sentiment rather than discuss such matters solely with the union,” said the APWU, in a statement.

It looks like the USPS will do anything it can to undercut the labor group and diminish the effectiveness. And this in spite of the fact that the USPS has cut out 250,000 jobs over the past 20 years, according to Government Executive

As if this were not enough, the postal service has upped its reliance on non-career employees.

The postal service is hell-bent on cutting worker benefits and compensation and further weakening their power to negotiate a decent standard of living, all in the name of trying to save itself a little money. To justify this, the postal service always falls back on its rhetoric about the eroding use of first class mail and growing use of email and the like.

Yes it’s true that people don’t write letters anymore and rely more and more on email.

But this is a misleading and disingenuous argument. Standard, or advertising, mail is growing as of course is package delivery. In fact, the USPS is touting the fact that it will process and more than half a billion packages this season. That’s nearly 11 percent more than last year.

Non-career workers serve in part time positions, but “can often perform the full range of duties of career counterparts at lower wage rates.” The employees generally receive some benefits, but are not eligible for federal life insurance or participation in the Federal Employees Retirement System.

Issues like these are at the heart of the APWU’s labor complaints. It remains to be seen just how much the labor board agrees with them and stem the tide of disempowering workers.

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