The National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) is recognized as the exclusive collective bargaining agent for 47,000 Mail Handlers employed by the United States Postal Service. NPMHU membership is open to any Mail Handler of the USPS regardless of race, color, sex, age or national origin. Anyone else employed by the Federal Government or the Postal Service, who does not otherwise qualify for regular membership in the Union, may join as an associate member.
In 2012, the NPMHU will reach its centennial mark, celebrating 100 years of service as a key union within the postal community. Mail handlers are an essential part of the mail processing and distribution network utilized by the Postal Service to move more than 165 billion pieces of mail each year. We work in all of the nation’s large postal plants, throughout the 50 States and Puerto Rico, where mail handlers are responsible for loading and unloading trucks, transporting mail within the facility (both manually and using powered industrial equipment such as fork-lifts), preparing, sorting, and containerizing the mail for distribution and delivery, and operating a host of machinery and automated equipment.
The NPMHU is a national organization of employees dedicated to advancing the interests of its members and their families. The primary purpose ofthe Union is to negotiate and enforce a National Agreement with the U.S. Postal Service, a contract that establishes wages, cost-of-living adjustments and other pay increases, working conditions, and fringe benefits for all workers within its jurisdiction. The Union also protects workers’ rights by representing them in day-to-day problems on the job, like discipline, violations of seniority, discrimination, or other management abuse, and addresses such work-place concerns as safety, health, and the impact of technological change.
The NPMHU is run by its members. Every level of the NPMHU operates democratically on the principle of majority rule. As a member of the NPMHU, you have a right to be heard and the right to vote to express your concerns. All local and national officers are elected by the members by secret mail ballot. Any member can become a candidate for elected office simply by being nominated in accordance with the requirements of the NPMHU Constitution. All members also vote on ratification of the National Agreement, and elect delegates to the National Convention. The Convention convenes every four years and is the highest governing body in the Union. Between Conventions, the National Executive Board directs the Union’s policy and programs.
NATIONAL CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS:
Mail Handlers employed by the USPS are covered by a National Agreement, which is its collective bargaining agreement covering a wide array of issues relating to wages, hours, benefits, and working conditions. The NPMHU has a National Negotiating Team that meets with the Postal Service management several months before the contract expires. Based on suggestions submitted by rank-and-file Union members, the team proposes contact language to which the Postal Service responds, and through a concentrated series of discussions, and with the give and take of negotiation, they attempt to reach an agreement that works for everyone.
If a tentative agreement is reached, each and every Mail Handler who is a member of the Union is sent a package containing the details of the tentative agreement, along with a ratification ballot affording the membership the opportunity to either accept or reject the terms of the proposed agreement. Although the NPMHU believes that the right to strike is an inalienable right of all American workers, federal law prohibits strikes by postal employees and requires that contract negotiations not resulting in an agreement be submitted to an impartial third party for binding arbitration. If this occurs, all of the Union's resources are used to obtain the best possible contract for all Mail Handlers.
Once the National Agreement has been established, the officers and representatives of the NPMHU - at the National, Regional, Local, and Branch level - work to police and enforce the contract, and to protect the rights of Mail Handlers on the work room floor. Article 15 of the National Agreement allows Mail Handlers to file grievances with postal management- through their Union Shop Steward - when their contractual rights have been violated. The National Postal Mail Handlers Union is here to protect and represent each and every Mail Handler.
National dues pay for all the operating expenses of the Union. This includes contract negotiations, grievance handling above the local level, and the costs associated with national level arbitration. Members’ dues also cover the cost of publications, professional fees, legislative activities, education and training, and community service programs. Dues are very reasonable, and can vary from local to local. Mail Handlers seeking to join the NPMHU should contact their shop steward or local officer, who can advise as to the amount that will automatically be deducted from payroll once a Form 1187 - Authorization for Dues Deduction has been completed.
Mail Handler members belong to a local union, with jurisdiction in their city, town, or area. Locals elect their own officers and conduct their own day-to-day business. They negotiate a Local Memorandum of Understanding to supplement the National Agreement on certain local concerns. Nationally, NPMHU has its headquarters in Washington D.C. to administer the Union and to implement programs and policies mandated by the Constitution and the National Executive Board. The national resident officers include the National President and the National Secretary-Treasurer.
If a member feels that management has violated their rights, subjected them to harassment, or discriminated against them, that member should immediately discuss the problems with their steward. The steward, who is the front-line Union representative on the workroom floor, will determine whether a violation has occurred and will try to reach a settlement with the member’s immediate supervisor. If this effort fails, the Union can appeal management’s action to a higher level. If all of these efforts fail, the Union may request that an impartial arbitrator be called in to settle the grievance.
The most important benefit gained from union membership is the power to be heard. NPMHU members can determine their own future by participating in local meetings, voting for local and national officers, voting on the contract, and running for office or petitioning for changes throughout the Union.
The NPMHU is affiliated with a variety of other organizations, including the Laborers’ International Union of North America, the AFL-CIO, UNI Global Union, and the Postal Employees Relief Fund. All of these organizations work to promote the rights and interests of Mail Handlers. Members of the NPMHU automatically become a member, at no additional cost, of all of these organizations, and become eligible for all benefits that they offer.
Participating in Union meetings and the activities of the local will ensure that NPMHU members know what is happening, and what issues and concerns are currently being discussed within the Union. In addition, our members are kept informed through the NPMHU National Union website, and with local and national union publications, such as the monthly Mail Handler Update and the quarterly Mail Handler magazine.
The NPMHU maintains a very effective legislative program that monitors legislation being considered by Congress that will have an impact on postal workers and/or their families. The NPMHU has an active presence on Capitol Hill, and is often invited to testify before House and Senate Committees considering legislation affecting postal and federal employees.