Some postal workers are getting a raise

Seth Perlman/AP

Some postal workers will receive a pay raise in a few weeks.

Career employees represented by the American Postal Workers Union will receive a 1 percent pay increase, effective Nov. 17, and reflected in their Dec. 7 paychecks, according to the union. Those workers also will get two cost-of-living adjustments in March 2013. The pay boosts are a result of a collective bargaining agreement for 2010 through 2015 between APWU and the U.S. Postal Service.

It is the first pay raise in three years for the workers.

Postal support employees, who are not eligible for COLAs, will receive an across-the-board increase of 2 percent.

APWU career employees in March will receive a COLA for 2012 and 2013; the 2012 COLA was deferred until 2013 under the agreement between the union and the Postal Service because of the agency’s “dire financial straits,” APWU spokeswoman Sally Davidow said. The 2012 COLA based on January 2012’s Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers will result in an extra $62 per year for APWU career employees. The 2013 COLA reflected in March paychecks will be based on the January 2013 CPI-W figure.

Click here to see the new pay scales, effective Nov. 17.

“It is a very modest raise and certainly one that is well-earned,” Davidow said. APWU is the world's largest postal union and represents more than 220,000 USPS employees and retirees and nearly 2,000 private sector mail workers.

The Postal Service’s financial obligations stemming from a 2006 law and the popularity of electronic communication have nearly bankrupted the agency. In late September, USPS hit its borrowing limit of $15 billion after defaulting on congressionally mandated payments to prefund retirees’ health benefits. The agency’s inability to make those payments has not affected mail service or employee pay, but the overall financial situation at USPS is grim. The Senate has passed a postal service reform bill, but the House version -- which is very different from the Senate bill -- has stalled in that chamber.

The 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which included the retiree health benefits prefunding requirement, also prohibited the agency from raising postage rates above the rate of the inflation. “As we noted when the law passed, the restriction on increases in postage rates acts as a cap on wages, so our modest raises are an important achievement,” APWU President Cliff Guffey said.

Davidow said the country depends on the jobs these postal workers do and USPS employees perform a valuable public service. The Postal Service won praise from many people for its commitment to delivering mail during this week’s megastorm on the East Coast, which so far has killed nearly 100 people in the United States, destroyed countless homes and businesses, and dealt a severe blow to transportation systems up and down the Atlantic seaboard.

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