The United States Postal Service is one of the nations most thriving companies. It has over 600,000+ employees and is the second largest civilian employer in the United States. (DeHaven, 2010). While it is one of the countries most thriving businesses it is not void of faults.
To prevent the employees from being mistreated, most post office branches create unions. The unions not only protect those who take advantage of the membership but the other employees of the United States Postal Service (USPS) as well. This paper maps out the many benefits to being in the American Postal Worker Union (APWU) as well as the steps to take in order to unionize. It also covers how a union bargains as well as the effect union bargaining has on the organization.
The effects of the union on the United States Postal Service My mother has worked for the (USPS) for over 35 years and after retiring in October of 2009 she left the post office as the president of the American Postal Worker Union (APWU) Local 171 Portsmouth, VA. In the 10 years she was president I have seen her go to court week after week to help every member in her union. She has stood in front of the Post Master General and argued many of cases.
Seeing things like that happen made me understand that being unionized is not a way to keep people employed, it is the leading way to maintain peoples rights in the work place and give them a piece of mind. Being in the APWU is very beneficial to those postal employees that have taken advantage of the opportunity. The some APWU’s contract not only state that those in the union cannot be fired if they do not break the contract or commit any federal infractions, it also has many benefits.
Some of them include: Health Insurance, full Life Insurance paid by the USPS, the Postal Employee Relief Fund, regular pay increases, cost of living adjustments, Sunday premium and night differential pay, APWU MasterCard, Union Plus discounts and mortgage program, college and vocational scholarship programs and many more. With these benefits the unionized employees all profit from their hard work and the ongoing hard work of the union officers. The USPS is a federal entity and to ensure that the employees receive respect and fairness on the job partnered with a stronger voice and 100% control most postal stations forge unions.
It is very important to understand the process of how to organize a union in order to have employees’ opinions heard and respected. The steps to follow in the unionizing process do not usually waiver and are very essential to the success of the union. These steps are as follows: know your legal rights, gather information, build your own union, make your union official and win a strong union contract. For this example I will use the APWU as the forming union. Before getting started postal employees would learn about their legal rights to form a union.
The National Labor Relations Act gives workers the right to do things such as attend meetings during non-work time to discuss joining a union, read and distribute union literature as long as it is done in non-work areas during non-work times such as breaks, lunch hours or before or after work, and sign a card or petition to show support for a union. Once employees have made it known that they are interested in forming a union they would then start to gather information about where they work.
They will need to ask questions about the issues facing their co-workers as well as any common themes. Once the information is gathered the employees would then need to create a representative group of co-workers known as an “Organizing Committee”. Once that has been agreed upon they would then need to make their union “official”, by signing authorization cards or a petition. After those steps have been completed the forming union would now need to win a strong contract to ensure that a union that wont stop after wining recognition.
At the point that the certain branch of the USPS’s union is certified the employer, the federal government, would then be legally required to negotiate with the union, in good faith, a legally binding contract covering all of the aspects of employment. (Office & Professional Employees International Union, 2011) Like anything, with time comes changes and at some point employees might feel as if the contract they have should be amended and at that point the negotiation process starts. The APWU would, at this point, begin the negotiation process. To start the union would create a Contract Action Committee (CAC) filled with active members.
The CAC would then gather key information about things the members want to amend and plan a contract campaign. This campaign should be created with the intent to apply pressure to the employer. Once the campaign has started a bargaining team should be formed and trained. This team will work close with the CAC and negotiate the contract with the employer. The team will gather information from the union members and begin to lay negotiation round rules to schedule out the location and time of negations. They will also arrange leave for the union negotiators.
After the guidelines have been set the next step in the negotiation process is to form a strategy. In this process, the bargaining team should describe the planned proposal, explain how it works, describe the problem that is being addressed, give logical reasons why it benefits both sides as well as logical reasons why it is fair. At this point the USPS would present their proposal while giving all information and documents necessary so that the APWU can evaluate it. Once the initial proposals are given counter proposals will form until a final tentative agreement has been decided upon.
Everything is then proofread and the two parties agree on the ratification date and the date for final signatures. AT this point the bargaining team will then present the amendments o the union members, who have the option to agree or disagree. If the USPS and the APWU cannot come to an agreement they would then be at impasse. The have the right to strike the proposal all together or return to negotiations. (The National Labor College, 2006) Once a union is formed most people see the benefits to the employees from the very beginning.
The question, for some, then becomes “What effect does union bargaining have on the organization? ”. I feel as though the biggest effect union bargaining would have on an organization would be the stress put on the spending decisions. For example: the USPS is allowed to borrow funds from the US Treasury, and are subject to a limitation of around $3 billion per year and a total debt limit of $15 billion. The USPS also does not receive any taxpayer money. (Murray, 2012) With that being said, during the negation process the spending decisions can be strongly affected by the issues brought forth in the negotiation.
The USPS could suffer significant financial hardships if the APWU decided to keep an issue on the table for an extended period of time. Ultimately, unionizing is the best way to ensure that the employees receive respect and fairness on the job partnered with a stronger voice and 100% control. It will remain the leading way to maintain peoples rights in the work place and give them a piece of mind. Having a union can not only help guarantee job security for the employees but also ensure employers that they jobs put before the employees will be done to the best of their ability, if not beyond.