Postal Service, APWU agree to four-year-plus contract

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The US Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union tentatively agreed to a new four-and-a-half-year contact on March 14. The deal, which would run through May 20, 2015, includes a 3.5% wage increase over the life of the contract, with the first raise taking effect in November 2012.

The deal must be approved by both the APWU's rank-and-file bargaining committee and its general membership. The USPS said it expects the union to ratify the agreement, which would affect about 205,000 clerks, mechanics, vehicle drivers and custodians, within two months.

“The last time, in late 2006, it took about five weeks,” said Sally Davidow, senior manager of communications at the APWU.

The USPS reported a net loss of $451 million in January, when it also cut work hours by 3.3%. The Postal Service also saw a net loss of $8.5 billion in its 2010 fiscal year, which ended September 30, 2010. The USPS has said the prefunding of retiree health benefits costs it $5.5 billion per year and has urged Congress to address the issue.

The contract with the APWU also includes limited long-distance reassignments, changed wages for new employees and increased workforce flexibility, according to the union.

The Postal Service's negotiations with the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association came to an impasse last November at the end of their last contract. The two sides are “still talking,” said Mark Saunders, PR representative for human resources, labor and stamps at the USPS.

The USPS will begin negotiations with the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union about 90 days before their contracts expire this November. The NALC represents mail carriers in metropolitan areas, while NPMHU employees work in mail processing plants and post offices.

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