NALC, USPS talks fall apart

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The U.S. Postal Service and the AFL-CIO's National Association of Letter Carriers were not able to reach a negotiated agreement, thus beginning the dispute resolution process.

The USPS said it regretted not being able to reach an agreement with NALC, one of its four largest unions. But it is continuing contract discussions with the additional three - the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO National Rural Letter Carriers' Association and National Postal Mail Handlers Union - to reach negotiated settlements.

"We came very, very close to reaching an innovative and forward-looking agreement, but when push came to shove, the final decision-makers for the [U.S.] Postal Service decided they could not commit to a true partnership for the future," NALC President William H. Young said in a statement on Dec. 1.

The NALC is the union of city delivery letter carriers working for the USPS. There are 300,058 active and retired members of the NALC, of which about 214,084 are active city delivery letter carriers employed by the USPS.

Despite a Nov. 30 deadline, the USPS and its four largest unions continued contract talks on Dec. 1 in an effort to reach negotiated settlements and avoid arbitration, the agency said last week.

In his message, Mr. Young provided an overview of the negotiations and announced plans for a special session in early 2007 to discuss NALC's plans for seeking its contract goals in interest arbitration.

"In this round of bargaining, we sought to build on our previous progress by working to fashion the most far-reaching and revolutionary proposals in the history of postal collective bargaining," Mr. Young said.

"We were prepared to fundamentally restructure city carrier work to secure the long-term future of the USPS while sharing literally billions of dollars in savings," he said. "We were also prepared to tackle the problem of sky-rocketing health-care costs through a new and dramatically innovative approach to the issue.

"Our price tag for doing this was a decent economic package and a commitment by the USPS to forgo any attempt to contract out existing city carrier work. The USPS was not willing to give us that commitment."

Mr. Young expressed confidence, however, in the NALC's ability to pursue its bargaining goals through alternative means.

He also indicated that no decisions had yet been made on the nature and timing of the dispute resolution procedures to be used.

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