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West Virginia Postal Workers Union

    Is Sub-Contracting Cheaper? Really?

    Chris Smith
    By Chris Smith,

    As we prepare to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement, one of the most important issues to resolve is what constitutes a “fair cost comparison of all reasonable costs.” It’s fair to say that this is a key issue for the Motor Vehicle Craft, especially if we are to return subcontracted work to our members.

    The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on “Contracting or Insourcing of Contracted Service,” which is part of the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement, provided the Motor Vehicle Craft with language we could sink our teeth into for the very first time. It states:

    “It is understood that if the service can be performed at a cost equal to or less than that of contract service, when a fair comparison is made of all reasonable costs, the work will be performed in-house.”

    The problem is that the United States Postal Service can’t determine what subcontracting costs.



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    Winning 'Automatic' Remedies for Staffing Violations

    Chris Smith
    By Chris Smith,

    Hopefully, every local applied the procedures outlined in the July 9, 2014, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding implementation of the MS-47 - TL-5 Handbook at the conclusion of fiscal year 2014.

    The agreement includes an automatic remedy for violations of custodial staffing requirements: In facilities maintained by USPS custodians, if staffing fell short of 90 percent of the work hours shown on Line H of PS Form 4852, management must compensate custodial employees identified by the local union at the overtime rate. (In fiscal year 2014, the first year of implementation of the MOU, the comparison period was prorated.)



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    Privatization, Walmart and Goin' Postal

    Chris Smith
    By Chris Smith,

    An agreement between Walmart and the private shipping company Goin’ Postal threatens to further privatize postal services. Under the arrangement, announced on Sept. 29, 2014, Goin’ Postal is lining up franchisees to establish postal kiosks in approximately 2,000 Walmart stores.

    The arrangement has the potential to dwarf the Postal Service’s agreement with Staples, which started as a pilot program at 82 Staples stores and which is being expanded to Staples’ 1,500 U.S. stores.

    The Walmart deal represents a new twist, however, because Walmart isn’t offering services through a direct agreement with the USPS. Instead, Walmart’s agreement is with Goin’ Postal.



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    Despite Huge Earnings, Walmart is Notorious for Low Pay

    Chris Smith
    By Chris Smith,

    According to the fortune global 500 list, based on revenue, Walmart is the world’s biggest company. With more than 2 million workers, it is also the largest employer.                                                 

    But despite its huge earnings, Walmart is notorious for the low wages it pays its workers. In fact, wages are so low, the company counsels its workers on how to apply for government assistance!

    Walmart is also infamous for its staunch opposition to unions. The giant retailer closed a brand new store in Canada because the workers there organized a union, and it closed all in-store meat processing soon after meat cutters at a Texas Walmart voted to form a union.

    The Los Angeles Times reported that Walmart managers are instructed to call a hotline at the first sign of union activity. A phone call to the hotline prompts a visit by a team from the company’s headquarters to disrupt union organizing.

    Walmart’s opposition to unions originated with its founder, Sam Walton, who wrote in his 1992 autobiography, “I have always felt strongly that we don’t need unions at Walmart…. The partnership we have at Walmart – which includes profit sharing, incentive bonuses, discount stock purchase plans, and a genuine effort to involve the associates in the business so we can pull together – works better for both sides than any situation I know of involving unions.”



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    The Impact of Plant Closures: Beyond the Postal Sphere

    Chris Smith
    By Chris Smith,

    How can we stop the usps from lowering service standards and closing or consolidating mail processing plants? How can we reach our communities? How can we motivate our legislators and neighborhood organizations? How can we reach the businesses in our cities and town?

    We must let residents know the effect the reduction in service standards and the closure or consolidation of postal facilities in their communities will have on their town and on them.

    Most of these groups don’t realize that they will also take a big hit if service standards are lowered and 82 mail processing plants are shuttered. They may feel sorry that postal workers will be forced to work outside the community. However, they have been told over and over that the USPS is broke and must make cuts. The Postal Service doesn’t dare tell members of the communities how they will be adversely affected.



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