USPS Sets Contract Negotiations With Four Unions

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The U.S. Postal Service will begin contract negotiations next week with its four largest unions.

Contracts with 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) all expire at midnight Nov. 20.

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

"We all know rates are going to continue to go up because of the escrow requirement," said Bob McLean, executive director, Mailers Council in Arlington, VA.

"The question is how much more rates will go up because of changes in employees' contracts, specifically if the negotiations result in the continuation of COLA [cost-of-living allowance] and the current formula the postal service uses for health care insurance payments," he said.

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

The following schedule has been set for negotiation opening sessions:

--Aug. 21 - NPMHU

--Aug. 25 - NRLCA

-- Aug. 28 - NALC

--Aug. 29 - APWU

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

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