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The Postal Service and two of its major unions have agreed to extend separate labor contract negotiations until January 20, 2012. Contracts with the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union expired at midnight Sunday, November 20, 2011.
The extension will allow the parties to continue to work on the important economic, health care, workplace, and other contractual issues being discussed. The NALC represents more than 195,000 employees who work as letter carriers delivering mail primarily in urban areas. The NPMHU represents more than 46,000 employees who work in mail processing plants and post offices.
Respectively, wages and benefits for NALC- and NPMHU-represented employees exceeded $15.7 billion and $3.5 billion last year. Should negotiations fail, a process begins which could result in a third party determining contract terms and work rules for more than 240,000 employees.
Unlike the private sector, when negotiations come to an impasse, postal employees are not permitted to strike as Congress has designated the Postal Service as an essential service to the nation. An arbitrator determines the final outcome and is not legally required to consider the Postal Service’s financial obligations when rendering a decision.
A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation, 150 million residences, businesses, and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products, and services to fund its operations.
With 32,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, usps.com, the Postal Service has an annual revenue of more than $67 billion and delivers nearly 40 percent of the world’s mail. If it were a private sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 29th in the 2010 Fortune 500.
Black Enterprise and Hispanic Business magazines ranked the Postal Service as a leader in workforce diversity. The Postal Service has been named the Most Trusted Government Agency six consecutive years and the sixth Most Trusted Business in the nation by the Ponemon Institute.