Members of the U.S. Postal Service’s largest labor union have ratified a new four-year deal that gives them a 3.5 percent pay increase but requires they pay a greater share of their health-care costs.

More than 75 percent of members of the American Postal Workers Union who voted in the election approved the deal, the union said Thursday morning. The final tally was 69,451 to 22,351 in balloting that ended Tuesday.

In a statement, APWU President Cliff Guffey called the new deal “an important achievement” for the union, noting “We were able to retain protection against layoffs, bring back thousands of jobs in each craft, and limit” the reassignment of workers.

The agreement will expire May 20, 2015.

Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said USPS is pleased APWU ratified the deal. “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,” he said in a statement. “We look forward to negotiating contracts successfully with our other unions.”

The deal allows USPS to consider workers with as few as 30 hours as “full-time,” but also establishes more flexible schedules, including four 10-hour days, three 12-hour days, and four 11-hour days, the union said.

Despite the change, APWU said the agreement bars USPS from forcing any current full-time employees into a position with less than 40 hours per week or more than 44 hours per week.

APWU mailed ballots to 176,611 union members and 35,668 non-members who were invited to vote if they also filled out a union registration card.

The American Arbitration Association counted the ballots on APWU’s behalf on Tuesday, the union said.

USPS remains in negotiations with the National Rural Letter Carriers Association on a similar long-term deal and is set to begin talks with the National Association of Letter Carriers in August.

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