Postal union 'frustrated' by pace of negotiations

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 5, 2011; 12:17 AM

The nation's largest postal union has summoned its top leaders this week to Washington as negotiations for a new multiyear contract with the U.S. Postal Service appear close to an impasse.

Cliff Guffey, president of the American Postal Workers Union, said this week that he is "increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress" in contract negotiations with USPS.

Guffey, in a message posted on the union's Web site, said talks on a labor agreement that was set to expire Nov. 20 have continued, but "six weeks later, management negotiators seem unwilling to make the commitment necessary to reach a negotiated settlement."

APWU represents about 220,000 postal clerks, mechanics, drivers, custodians and some administrative workers. Top union officials planned to brief regional representatives on the negotiations Tuesday.

The Postal Service does not comment on labor negotiations until a settlement is reached. A third-party arbitrator would have to broker a deal between USPS and APWU if talks end without an agreement. Similar negotiations between the Postal Service and National Rural Letter Carriers Association came to an impasse in November.

Postal negotiators are seeking greater wage and work-time concessions from APWU and NRLCA to stave off billions of dollars in losses. Officials said in September that they can no longer guarantee eight-hour, full-time shifts for most workers.

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