Members of the U.S. Postal Service’s largest union voted Wednesday to accept a new contract that includes a 3.5 percent raise and cost-of-living adjustments over four years.
Of the 91,802 American Postal Workers Union members who cast a ballot, three-quarters voted to ratify the contract. Ballots were mailed to 176,611 members.
The new contract expires May 20, 2015.
APWU President Cliff Guffey said in a statement that the contract protects members from layoffs and will “bring back thousands of jobs in each craft.”
The agreement creates new positions for “non-career Postal Support Employees.” These employees will make less money than career employees but more than transitional employees.
APWU represents clerks, maintenance workers and drivers.
In a statement, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said, “By working together we have created a new contract that serves the best interest of our customers, our employees and the future of the Postal Service. We look forward to negotiating contracts successfully with our other unions.”
USPS and the union had been negotiating the contract since September 2010, and the last agreement expired in November.
The schedule for the 3.5 percent raise is:
Nov. 17, 2012 – 1 percent increase
Nov. 16, 2013 – 1.5 percent increase
Nov. 15, 2014 – 1 percent increase
Union members will begin to receive cost-of-living adjustments beginning in March 2013. The COLA will be “back-loaded,” meaning the COLA for 2012 will be deferred until 2013, according to a March APWU newsletter.
The agreement also requires members to pay a greater share of their health care costs. Health care benefits will not change but members will see “a slight shift” in their share of contributions, according to the newsletter.
New definition for ‘full-time’ employee
The contract defines full-time employees as anyone who works 30 hours or more per week.
It also allows for the creation of different full-time schedules – including four 10-hour days, three 12-hour days, and four 11-hour days.
However, current employee cannot be forced to work less than 40 hours or more than 44 hours per week.
Mandatory overtime in “non-traditional assignments” will be eliminated.