No surprise here, but the U.S. Postal Service and two of its unions failed to agree on new contracts by yesterday’s deadline and have agreed to keep talking at least through Dec. 7.
Existing agreements with the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union officially expired at midnight Sunday. “The parties continue to discuss a host of important and complicated issues,” NPMHU officials said in a news release posted on the union’s web site. “The negotiations are at a very delicate stage, and of this writing, it still is impossible to tell whether an overall deal is likely.”
“We have been working in good faith to hammer out a new contract and we hope that this extension will lead to an agreement that our members can enthusiastically ratify,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said in a separate online release.
Rolando, incidentally, has scheduled a news conference this afternoon at the National Press Club at which he will outline a new approach to employee health benefits to save the “Postal Service billions of dollars, paving the way for financial stability and preventing major service cuts for the public and businesses,” according to a news advisory.
The mail handlers union represents more than 45,000 USPS employees who work in mail processing plants and post offices; the NALC represents more than 195,000 letter carriers who deliver mail mainly in urban areas, according to the Postal Service. In May, the financially struggling agency reached a deal with the American Postal Workers Union that will run until 2015. Talks with the fourth major postal union, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, have reached an impasse, meaning a new contract in that case will be decided through arbitration.