For nearly three months, city letter carriers of the United States Postal Service (USPS) have been working without a new contract. The last deal ended on May 20, and a statutory 60-day mediation period ended on July 19, but the National Association of Letter Carriers union (NALC) has continued to meet with USPS for nearly a month without either party declaring an impasse.
The latter action would trigger binding arbitration, termed “Interest Arbitration,” as the final step in the process, resulting in the imposition of a new contract on terms almost certainly favorable to USPS. Given that this would deprive workers of the right to vote on their own contract, that would effectively imposed in a similar manner to the to the contract enforced last year on US railroaders. On the other hand, if no impasse is declared, negotiations can continue for a tentative contract leading to a vote by the workers.
But regardless of how the process proceeds, left in the hands of the NALC and USPS, the only possible outcome will be an attack on workers’ living standards. The experience of the rural letter carriers, under the National Rural Letter Carriers Association (NRLCA), is instructive. Under the new method for calculating their wages, the Rural Routes Evaluation and Compensation System or RRECS, rural letter carriers have seen their pay slashed by as much as $20,000 a year, with fewer days off.