In response to the declining first class volume and the deteriorating financial position it is no secret that the PMG wants to reduce the number of employees and has offered retirement incentives to other bargaining units. APWU represented employees who are retirement eligible have anticipated the offering of an incentive and many who are retirement eligible have delayed their retirement in order that they not miss out on a lump sum to cushion their transformation from a regular check to an annuity. Union leaders have acknowledged that discussions have been ongoing; however, the bland announcements in the June and August news releases do not come close to satisfying the need for information.
Thousands of APWU represented employees have put their lives on hold awaiting the outcome of the discussions and they have been provided absolutely no information. The only cogent information shared is that “no “official offer” has been made and an informal announcement that the national executive board supports the decision to refuse an incentive until the Postal Service complies with their contractual obligations. I am informed that during the convention it was reported that the delegates were told that postal officials have not proposed a specific amount. Is the amount the hang up, and if so what have they proposed and why not the same amount as supervisors?
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the amount offered supervisors; postmasters and mail handlers would be the starting point for discussions so other issues must be in play. Since this affects the lives of APWU members they have the right to know what the issues are. The retiree eligibles are not fools and the statement that “no official offers have been made or discussed” cries out for explanation of the “unofficial offer(s).” Release of this information does not constitute being “feasible or smart to conduct negotiations in public.” There is nothing privileged about announcing that an amount offered by the Postal Service is unacceptable.
If you recall in prior incentive negotiations the issues arose about excluding higher level maintenance employees that was worked through on each occasion, but we kept the members informed. Distribution of an incentive can also be an issue but without getting into specifics the members can be kept in the information loop.
Having negotiated three early outs, I know the issues that must be addressed and the need for confidentiality until a deal is finalized, but we owe those employees a timeline and a broad outline of the issues. You cannot tell intelligent people that “discussion” have transpired for almost five months and the only “official” statement that can be made is that the “Postal Service has not made an official offer.” What are the union’s objectives?
We did not just begin to negotiate with postal management starting in 1970, and we found ways to share information with the members about our objectives. We kept them informed about progress and lack of same. On occasion we invited members to be present at the bargaining table and personally witness the exchanges. Negotiating retirement incentives is not a national security issue and employees have the right to know the status of same.