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Mail carriers get pay bump under union deal

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Wages will go up for 180,000 letter carriers though they will pay higher costs for health insurance, according to a new contract with the National Association of Letter Carriers decided by a three-member arbitration panel.

In its Jan. 10 decision (.pdf), the arbitration panel established seven cost-of-living adjustments for carriers through January 2016, as well as pay raises of 1 percent in 2013, 1.5 percent in 2014, and 1 percent in 2015. However, the award also lowered the entry wage for letter carriers hired on or after Jan. 12, 2013.

The pay changes under the decision only apply to Postal Service employees represented by the NALC.

The amount that employees pay for their health coverage increases under the agreement from 20 percent in 2013 to 24 percent by 2016--NALC notes this is still lower than the 28 percent most federal employees pay.

In its statement on the abritration decision, USPS says the cost-savings provisions in pay increases and lower starting wages will help the agency, but it did not get all of the changes it wanted. "We are disappointed that the Award continued limited no layoff protection and restrictions to contracting out," a service spokesman wrote. The layoff protection clause effects carriers with at least six years of service.

The agreement replaces a contract that expired on Nov. 20, 2011, covers NALC members through May 20, 2016, and has laid the groundwork for future positive negotiations, said NALC President Fredric Rolando on Jan. 11.

The agreement also establishes a new set of non-career employees called city carrier assistants who will earn less than career workers, but have more rights for advancement and promotion than the previous class of transitional employees.

The agreement also notes that the Postal Service is actively making arrangements with retail product suppliers to have the USPS collect and deliver products "both within and outside of normal business hours and days."

With this arbitration agreement in hand, the Postal Service now has contracts for three out of the four unions that represent its employees. Its arbitration proceeding with the National Post Mail Handlers Union is currently ongoing.

For more:
- download the arbitration decision (.pdf)
- see the USPS statement
- read Rolando's statement

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