More than 200,000 U.S. Postal Service employees would be in line for a raise but face a slight decrease in health benefits under a recently unveiled tentative labor contract.
The National Association of Letter Carriers, which represents 213,000 city mailmen and women across the country, reached the agreement with USPS management to avoid binding arbitration. NALC members will vote in the coming months on whether to formally ratify the contract, though the union’s executive council has unanimously recommended its members do so.
The agreement would actually begin retroactively to May 21, 2016, and continue through Sept. 20, 2019. All city letter carriers would receive a 1.2 percent pay raise retroactive to Nov. 26, 2016, and a 1.3 percent increase effective Nov. 25 this year. Employees on the second level of the two-grade pay scale would receive a 2.1 percent raise in 2018.
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On top of those general wage increases, employees would also receive a series of seven cost-of-living adjustments throughout the life of the contract.
Non-career employees represented by NALC would see an additional boost under the tentative agreement, as career carrier assistants would receive new step increases. The substitute carriers would receive payments adding up to a dollar per hour over the course of their first year at the mailing agency. They would also receive more generous wage increases than their career counterparts. USPS would convert non-career employees at the agency for at least 30 months to career positions en masse.
Employees working as letter carriers for at least six years would not be subject to layoffs for the duration of the contract, and prohibitions on contracting out their work would continue.
In a potential hit for employees, the Postal Service would cut its contribution toward employees’ health care plans by 3 percent through 2019. Still, even by the end of the contract USPS would pay for a maximum of 76 percent of any given plan, while the top contribution for the rest of the government caps out at 75 percent.
If the agreement is ratified, USPS and NALC would form a Joint Workplace Improvement Process to address issues.
Fredric Rolando, NALC’s president, thanked his members for their patience and “steadfast solidarity.”
“I am very happy that our members will have a chance to make the final decision about this contract through the ratification process outlined in our union's constitution,” Rolando said.
Darlene Casey, a Postal Service spokeswoman, declined to comment on specific provisions of the contract but called it a win for all parties.
“The tentative agreement addresses important financial and operational considerations of the Postal Service, serves the interests of the American public and is fair to our employees,” Casey said.
NALC will hold a national meeting in mid-June to “educate branch leaders about the proposed contract” so those individuals can then pass along the details to members before they vote on ratification.