USPS, Mail Handlers Reach Tentative Deal

The U.S. Postal Service and the 58,000-member National Postal Mail Handlers Union reached a tentative two-year contract extension yesterday of their 2000 agreement, which had been scheduled to expire Nov. 20, 2004.

The tentative agreement provides for a 1.3 percent wage increase effective Nov. 27, 2004, and a 1.3 percent increase effective Nov. 26, 2005. Other terms include the continuation of the cost-of-living allowance and the creation of a joint task force to discuss issues related to repositioning employees. The extension would run from Nov. 20, 2004, to Nov. 20, 2006.

Meanwhile, the American Postal Workers Union said April 4 that implementation of an agreement to offer early retirement opportunities to APWU members has been delayed pending new regulations governing the authority of federal and postal agencies to offer early retirement, which are expected by the end of April.

In late January, the U.S. Postal Service asked the federal Office of Personnel Management for authority to offer early retirement to APWU members. It would have been offered from April 1 to Sept. 30.

The USPS said more than 16,000 positions held by APWU workers would not be needed by Sept. 30. Half of those positions would be eliminated through attrition, the postal service said, with early retirement needed to eliminate a portion of the rest.

The agency will not offer an incentive to workers to take early retirement. Members who are 50 or older and have at least 20 years with the USPS are eligible. About 58,000 APWU members qualify, and the USPS expects 3,000 to opt for early retirement.

Meanwhile, the union rejected overtures by the USPS to offer early retirement opportunities to employees in limited geographic areas.

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