NALC Head, Postmaster General Optimistic at Start of Negotiations

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The head of the National Association of Letter Carriers urged the U.S. Postal Service on Aug. 28 to build on an improved labor relations climate by rewarding letter carriers with fair wage increase and continued benefits.

NALC President William H. Young noted during the opening of contract negotiations that the USPS has eliminated the debt of $11.3 billion it had in 2001 when the current contract began, and has turned an $8.4 billion profit over the past three years.

The 28-member NALC Executive Council were committed to negotiating a contract that is fair to the nation's letter carriers, fair to postal management and fair to the American people, Mr. Young said.

He added that he was very optimistic about prospects for reaching a negotiated settlement, pledging to work with Postmaster General John E. Potter and Douglas Tulino, vice president of labor relations at USPS.

Mr. Potter, who also spoke at the opening of negotiations, said he looked forward to negotiations as well

The USPS is in an environment where every agency product has competition and First Class Mail is threatened by the electronic billing and payment, Mr. Potter said. However, he said that the two parties can reach a mutual agreement that deals with these issues and is fair to letter carriers.

The NALC represents 224,411 city letter carriers in all 50 states and U.S. jurisdictions

The 2001-2006 National Agreement was the first resolved at the bargaining table between the NALC and USPS since 1987. Three subsequent contract talks reached impasse and new contract terms were set by an arbitration board under terms of the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970.

Contracts with four of the association's biggest unions began this month. All contracts expire at midnight Nov. 20.

The USPS said this is the first time the agency has negotiated new contracts with all these unions at the same time.

Direct marketers are watching the negotiations closely because labor costs account for about 80 percent of the agency's expenses.

The USPS employs more than 676,000 bargaining unit employees, with APWU, NALC, NRLCA and NPMHU accounting for more than 99.5 of them.

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