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Impasse appears possible in postal labor talks

Jan. 3, 2011 - 05:28PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
The U.S. Postal Service's largest union, which represents postal clerks, says talks on a new labor contract are not making headway.
The U.S. Postal Service's largest union, which represents postal clerks, says talks on a new labor contract are not making headway. (File photo / Getty Images)

Labor contract talks between the U.S. Postal Service and its largest union are not at an impasse but they may be heading there.

Cliff Guffey, president of the American Postal Workers Union, said Monday on the union's website that postal executives "seem unwilling to make the commitment necessary to reach a negotiated settlement."

Guffey "summoned" the APWU's Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee to Washington for a Tuesday update. No tentative agreement appears imminent, he said.

Following the Postal Service's usual policy, spokesman Mark Saunders declined to comment. "We prefer to negotiate our contract at the table than through the media," he said.

The APWU represents 209,000 clerks, mechanics and other workers. Its four-year contract with the Postal Service was set to expire Nov. 20, but the terms have been repeatedly extended as negotiations continue. At this point, either side can declare an impasse that would result in mediation or binding arbitration, Saunders said.

An APWU spokeswoman could not be reached for comment on whether the union plans to take that step if further talks prove fruitless. An impasse has already been declared in the Postal Service's contract discussions with another union, the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association, whose contract also expired Nov. 20. The NRLCA represents about 115,000 career and non-career employees.

The Postal Service's contracts with its remaining two unions, the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, expire in November.

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