08/21/2016 - Members of the Clerk Craft have a reason to celebrate: For the first time in over a decade, the craft has grown. After losing more than 100,000 jobs since 2003, 15,000 new members have been added to the rolls.
Craft Director Clint Burelson explained that the loss of jobs was due, at least in part, to management’s policy of contracting out postal work. Now, thanks to a moratorium on new Approved Shipper programs, Village Post Offices and Contract Postal Units, the APWU is reversing the trend and protecting service. The one-year moratorium is a feature of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Speaking at the National Convention, Burelson also praised the Stop Staples fight. “By pressing one large corporation, we discourage others from entering the postal business,” he said.
Our jobs are important to the community, he pointed out. Postal workers bring good union salaries into their neighborhoods and the public gets good service, he said.
Another impetus of Clerk Craft growth is the March 20, 2014, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Filling of Residual Vacancies, which outlines a specific process for conversion of Postal Support Employees (PSEs) to career. Over 35,000 Postal Support Employees have become regular as a result, and more than 25,000 have joined the union.
As a result of improvements to the Memo in the new contract, conversions will take place even more quickly.
Next Up: Increased Staffing
The craft’s next goal is to increase staffing in post offices and mail processing plants.
“Right now there are lines out the door and the Postal Service does this on purpose,” Burelson said. “The customer will see the line and go to a private place to do the mailing. They are not going to the post office because the Postal Service is discouraging them.”
Increasing staffing not only provides better service for customers, it creates a better working environment for employees, and he pointed out.
Burelson applauded locals for fighting against understaffing. On many work floors across the country, only one worker is running a DBCS machine, but there should be two.
The St. Louis Gateway Area Local picketed outside the downtown post office this summer, shining a light on the safety issue and garnering headlines.
“When people get out into the streets and get media attention, this is a great influence on the Postal Service. It gives us leverage to increase staffing at the post office,” Burelson said.
One way to provide better service is by implementing postal banking. “The Postal Service is a communication system connecting everybody across the country. We can also provide Internet and email and a public service to communities,” Burelson said, noting that postal banking would provide affordable financial services and an alternative to the predatory payday lending industry.
With understaffing so prevalent, some members have expressed concern about the extra work postal banking would bring and some have expressed concern about security.
“More work means more jobs,” Burelson said, “and any kind of issue with security can be addressed through ramped up security measures.”