APWU members approve four-year contract

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Members of the American Postal Workers Union, the largest of the U.S. Postal Service unions, have voted to ratify a new four-year contract.

APWU members ratified the agreement by a vote of 84,486 to 12,016 in balloting that concluded Jan. 12. The new national agreement, which is retroactive to Nov. 21, 2006, will expire Nov. 20, 2010.

"I consider this contract to be among our union's strongest achievements," said William Burrus, APWU president, in a news bulletin posted on the union's Web site at www.apwu.org. "Wage increases, upgrades, and cost-of-living adjustments were secured, and 'no-layoff' protection and other benefits were continued."

The new contract will affect approximately 272,000 career employees in the clerk, maintenance and motor vehicle crafts.

The agreement provides for wage increases and upgrades as follows:

- Effective Nov. 25, 2006 - 1.3 percent salary increase of salary in effect on Sept. 2, 2006

- Effective Feb. 16, 2008 - all eligible employees will receive a one-level upgrade

- Effective Nov. 21, 2009 - 1.2 percent salary increase of salary in effect on Sept. 2, 2006

The contract also contains continuation of COLAs at current levels and a reduction in postal service health benefit contributions by 1 percentage point each of the four years.

The agreement also includes a memorandum of understanding, which, among other changes, will result in part-time flexible career employees being converted to full-time, and management having more flexibility with regard to the use of non-career, casual employees.

More than 215,000 ballots were mailed to union members covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

In addition, in an unprecedented organizing effort, non-members were invited to vote, provided they completed union sign-up cards enclosed in their ratification packets

In a letter accompanying the mailing to non-members, Mr. Burrus wrote, "The stakes are too high for you to defer to others the decision on your future. The only way you can have a voice in whether or not the changes to the National Agreement are enacted is by becoming a union member."

More than 700 non-members became members, according to Mr. Burrus.

The next step, he said, is to convert the agreement into contractual language.

"Once that is done, the postmaster general and I will affix our signatures to the official document," Mr. Burrus said in his letter.

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