In March of 2020, almost 26 months ago, the APWU and the Postal Service negotiated a series of important “COVID MOUs” including the “Liberal Leave Policy” to address the serious pandemic and protect the health and safety of the workers. Some of those policies instituted were the direct results of ideas and suggestions submitted by those of you working every day on the workroom floor. The plexiglass partitions are an example of those suggestions.
These MOUs were extended numerous times as the pandemic marched on, with the last extension expiring on Friday May 6, 2022. However, as previously shared, when we signed the last extension, the Postal Service put the APWU on notice that they did not have the intent to continue these MOUs beyond May 6th. In light of rising COVID cases and continuing safety concerns the APWU did engage in discussions with management on continuing the COVID related MOUs, but were not able to reach a settlement. The COVID MOUs and liberal leave policy expire on Friday, May 6th.
Postal workers have been very fortunate during this period to have a union voice that accomplished these MOUs. Not only did the MOUs protect all employees and give them peace of mind, but also were directly related to the various staffing MOUs that lead to thousands of PSEs being converted to career.
With the end of the MOUs, the Postal Service’s ability to exceed the district PSE cap to cover COVID-19 absences has also ended. It is expected that that the Postal Service will begin separating PSEs to remain under the contractual limit. However, management should not be using this as a reason to arbitrarily separate PSEs.
While we believe management’s decision is misguided in light of the science and facts, the APWU at all levels of the organization will continue the fight for the Safety and Health of Postal Employees. The discontinuance of the MOUs does not relieve the Postal Service of its obligation to provide every postal worker a safe and healthy work place, including proper contact tracing when positive cases emerge. We encourage to use all the tools at your disposal under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, under the various Postal Service handbooks and manuals and under Workers Compensation (OWCP) to ensure the Postal Service’s safety and health obligations are met and workers’ rights protected.
In addition, I sought clarification on three items today. This was around the PPE, plexiglass, and the probationary employee COVID-19 related absences. The email exchange is the attached document.
If there are more developments around the COVID-19 MOU issue, we will let you know.
You are welcome to share.
Thank you and remember—stay safe, wear your mask!
Industrial Relations Director
American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO