News Service Bulletin Vol. 35, No. 20
11/21/2005 – The long-expected USPS network consolidation has begun in bits and pieces, with individual offices being notified of changes to their mail processing operations. Recently, the union received notification from the USPS of the planned consolidation of “some operations” at 10 offices one week, followed by a dozen more several weeks later.
“The APWU will respond with all available resources,” APWU President William Burrus said in a Nov. 17 Update to local and state presidents. “A group of resident officers has been empaneled to coordinate the APWU response, including activating and updating APWU plans that were developed and distributed to local and state presidents in 2003.”
Local efforts also will be crucial in fighting this battle, he said. “Any attempt to deter management from closing facilities or consolidating operations will require a grass-roots effort” by members of affected locals, in concert with other postal unions and labor organizations, as well as with community organizations, Burrus wrote in an Oct. 24 letter to presidents of affected locals.
In 2002, Burrus informed APWU members that plant consolidation represented one of the most important challenges facing the union. “Concern about the effect consolidations would have on our members was a major factor in our decision to extend the 2000-2003 Collective Bargaining Agreement until Nov. 20, 2005,” he said on Nov. 17. (This past summer, members again overwhelmingly ratified an extension, until Nov. 20, 2006.)
The two-year contract extension required management to share its consolidation plan with the APWU by December 2002, and protected members from excessing beyond 50 miles through May of 2003. However, despite repeated union requests over the two-year period of the contract extension, the USPS never presented a consolidation plan.
“It is now clear that USPS management plans to alter the national network through a series of piecemeal changes. It is expected that in the coming months the Postal Service will inform the union of additional offices identified for change,” Burrus said. “These changes will include merging many mail processing operations, leaving some communities with only retail and delivery services.”
In a strongly-worded letter to the USPS on Nov. 18, Burrus expressed the union’s concern regarding management’s failure to provide the union with complete information about its consolidation plans, and demanded that all affected employees be made whole for any reassignments made in violation of the parties’ agreements.