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Chapter 1 Compliance with Statutory Policies
6. Labor Relations
A. COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
The Postal Service has nine collective bargaining agreements with seven unions covering approximately 674,000 career and non-career employees. Negotiations with unions cover wages, benefits, and conditions of employment.
The Postal Service entered into negotiations with its four largest unions, the National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO (NALC), American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO (APWU), National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (NRLCA), and National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) at the end of August 2006. This marked the first time the Postal Service had negotiated new contracts simultaneously, yet separately. The Postal Service will also enter into negotiations with two smaller bargaining units represented by the APWU. The Information Technology and Accounting Service Center (IT/ASC) agreement covers computer and accounting employees at IT/ASC. The Operating Services Division contract covers maintenance employees primarily at Headquarters. The two collective bargaining agreements covering nurses and a small number of employees represented by the International Association of Machinists were extended through August 2007 and February 2007, respectively.
The Postal Service and the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) continued joint contract application training and Dispute Resolution Process (DRP) support by delivering training to nearly 240 Postal Service and NALC representatives responsible for addressing and resolving disputes locally. This training was cooperatively developed by the national parties and has been instrumental in reducing disputes and improving relationships. The Postal Service and NALC have also jointly developed an intervention process that has been used successfully to help local parties form a more cooperative and productive labor-management relationship.
Also during 2006, the Postal Service and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) co-hosted an annual Quality of Work Life Conference for the ninth consecutive year.
B. CONSULTATION WITH MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATIONS
Consultations were conducted with each of the management organizations representing postmasters, managers, supervisors, and other nonbargaining employees. These sessions presented an opportunity for the organizations — the National League of Postmasters, the National Association of Postmasters of the United States, and the National Association of Postal Supervisors — to participate directly in the planning, development, and implementation of programs and policies impacting approximately 73,000 managerial employees. National officers of the three organizations collaborated with postal management in support of this effort.
C. COMPLEMENT MANAGEMENT
The Postal Service continually tracks complement and workforce-related indicators. Complement correlation trends are used to evaluate the success of current staffing with core business processes. The Web-based Complement Information System (WebCOINS) program, which provides access to employee information, had several functional improvements this year. The number of active WebCOINS users has grown to 8,313. The Southwest Area best practice program, webTRAC, was made available
to all areas for tracking casual hiring and maintaining compliance with contractual obligations.
Incremental Complement Management (ICM) was developed in 2006 as a user-friendly tool for Operations functions to manage complement at a plant by day of the week and by operation code level. ICM is primarily used as a process to assist in making beneficial plant staffing and overtime decisions.
An important facet of the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 was to ensure effective postal services to residents of all communities. A change in community postal needs or the loss of suitable facilities may lead to the closing of a Post Office facility or its consolidation into a station, branch, or contract postal unit (CPU). Retail optimization is a dynamic process that establishes the decision-making criteria for updating the retail network. It takes into account the many ways in which retail services are made available to postal customers. These include counter services at Post Offices and CPUs, stamps-only sales at thousands of commercial retailers and ATMs, self-service through vending and the Automated Postal Center, online services using usps.com, and outgoing mail pickup and other services provided by carriers at customers’ homes and places of business.
As changes occur that affect the network, such as a change in operating hours, the Postal Service uses a variety of media to inform customers, employees, management organizations, and labor unions. Before a Post Office is discontinued or consolidated, the Postal Service follows a statutory procedure including customer notice and appeal rights. In practice, few Post Offices are closed or consolidated. In an average year about 100 of approximately 28,000 Post Offices might be closed. Historically, fewer than 10% of the decisions to close a Post Office have been appealed to the Postal Rate Commission (PRC), which in turn has remanded fewer than 1% of the total annual closures to the Postal Service for further consideration.
1. Postal Rate and Fee Changes: Docket No. R2006-1
On May 3, 2006, the Postal Service filed an omnibus rate case with the Postal Rate Commission (PRC) requesting an Opinion and Recommended Decision for changes in postal rates and fees. The Postal Service requested the changes to cover a projected revenue shortfall of about $5.9 billion in fiscal year 2008. Included among the proposed rate changes are a 42-cent stamp for the first ounce of First-Class letters, and a $4.65 rate for Priority Mail weighing up to one pound. The Postal Service also proposed a new classification for a “forever stamp,” which would always be valid for the first ounce of First-Class Mail letters regardless of subsequent rate changes; new pricing for certain Priority Mail pieces based on the size of the mailpiece as well as its weight; and a more detailed rate design for First-Class Mail that includes rates based