The head of the 305,000-member National Association of Letter Carriers urged the President's Commission on the U.S. Postal Service yesterday to “tread lightly” in making changes to the collective bargaining structure governing postal employees, and rejected suggestions that such employees be placed under the Railway Labor Act.
The commission's fifth public meeting yesterday in Chicago focused on issues related to the postal service's work force.
NALC president William H. Young, whose union represents city delivery letter carriers, said in his testimony that collective bargaining has worked well under the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 with “an extraordinary record of labor peace” and no significant work disruptions.
Young was accompanied in his presentation by James Worsham, president of NALC Branch 11 in Chicago.
Young discounted suggestions by some in the postal community that provisions of the Railway Labor Act should apply to postal employees and cited the law's history in the airline and rail industries as reason to be wary.
He said major airline employers now want to substitute binding arbitration for the act because it led to “lengthy, bitter, open-ended, acrimonious negotiations that end up weakening the financial underpinnings of airlines.”
Under current law, postal unions and USPS management use mediation and/or binding interest arbitration in case of an impasse in contract negotiations.
“We in the postal community know that our system, while it may not be perfect, works,” Young said.
Young said the current system also has worked economically, furthering the postal service's goal of controlling costs. He noted that it has permitted all the key players in the postal community to share in efficiency gains resulting from postal automation and other investments.
Other witnesses included Anthony J. Veglainte, USPS vice president for labor relations; William Burrus, president, American Postal Workers Union; Gus Baffa, president, National Rural Letter Carriers' Association; and several arbitrators and other experts.
The nine-member bipartisan commission must submit its report to the president by July 31, 2003.