As Expected, Clerks Union Opposes Plant Closures

If Postmaster General Louis DeJoy had hoped to avoid opposition from postal labor to his 10-year Plan, such as by avoiding any requests for concessions on labor agreements or wages and benefits, he scuttled them by his recent decision to resume the network rationalization process that was halted in 2015.

As would be expected, the American Postal Workers Union, representing the clerk craft employees who staff processing facilities and retail operations, promptly announced its opposition.  In a typically overwrought statement, the union’s president asserted

“We have made crystal clear to postal management that any further plant consolidations are a misguided strategy that not only disrupts the lives of postal workers but will further delay mail.  The previous plant closings and consolidations were a complete failure and we will fight back facility-by-facility and community-by-community to save these processing plants.  After a year of courageous and essential frontline work in this pandemic, management’s actions are a slap in the face of postal workers.”

The union also complained that

“Management has prematurely begun ‘stand-up’ talks in the affected facilities.  Management as of yet has not provided the union any impact statements on how these changes will affect the workforce, whether there is any planned excessing of employees, or whether some of these facilities will be ‘repurposed’ to address the changing mail mix.”

Based on references in The Plan to network changes, the APWU had already taken to the ramparts, forming a “national plant closing and consolidation committee” led by a senior union official and five APWU regional coordinators.  The union added that this “fightback” committee will be working with the affected union locals regarding next steps.

The Postal Service had stated in its April 27 announcement that it expects the facility closures to be “completed by November 2021” and that “employee impacts resulting from these operational changes will be handled in accordance with our negotiated contract provisions.”

Union contracts typically contain elaborate processes for dealing with situations in which positions are reduced at a facility, including the sequence in which employees are displaced (usually by career status and inverse seniority) and the geographic area (facilities where new positions are being added) in which impacted employees can seek reassignment.  Though the USPS stated that the closures “will not result in employee layoffs,” affected workers, especially any with less seniority, may face the need to relocate to the facilities to which their positions are transferred (for example, employees at the Rock Springs (WY) CSMPC whose jobs are being moved to the Salt Lake City P&DC, about 190 miles away.)

Not that the postal unions, especially the APWU, would ever think about it this way but, as workers in the private sector would point out to the postal employees, it could be worse – they still have a job, albeit farther away; they’re not being laid-off or fired, which would be the typical consequence if a business were to close a facility or realign its operations.

As has been observed before, the mail processing work performed by members of the APWU has been at risk for years – and will continue to be – as mail volume declines or the mix shifts to packages.  Nonetheless, the union has failed to acknowledge the inevitable need for fewer clerk craft employees and adopt a strategy – other than head-in-the-sand opposition – that would manage complement downsizing in a way that minimizes the impact on it members.

Share this post:

Comments on "As Expected, Clerks Union Opposes Plant Closures"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment