The U.S. Postal Service and the National Association of Letter Carriers agreed to extend contract negotiations into the new year because talks have been productive and they expect to reach a settlement.
The current three-year contract between the postal service and the association expired at midnight Nov. 20.
Both parties said the talks have been positive but that the pressure of dealing with the Sept. 11 attacks and the anthrax-tainted letters prevented negotiators from focusing on critical issues. The USPS has met daily with union and management association officials on employee safety and mail security issues since anthrax bacteria were sent through the mail.
“The talks have been very productive,” said Tony Vegliante, vice president of labor relations for the USPS. “However, we've been distracted from the negotiating process during the past several weeks as we've grappled with the challenges that have faced the nation, the postal service and employees due to the bio-terrorism threats.”
He said the postal service and the association hope negotiating teams now can focus on forging a new bargaining agreement.
NALC president Vincent R. Sombrotto said, “We want the time to give the parties a chance to reach a negotiated settlement. For obvious reasons, neither party has been able to devote full attention to the important issues remaining on the table.”