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ADR Takes Commitment
If you have read my Branch Items in past issues of the Postal Record you should be aware that I am not in favor of the Alternate Dispute Resolution Process. I have written without hesitation that ADR is a misdirected attempt aimed at correcting something that is not broken. And, what really amazes me is the National Association of Letter Carriers has decided to agree with United States Postal Service management that there is something wrong.
Our Grievance-Arbitration procedure unarguably is the best dispute resolution process in organized labor. Oh, sure we could debate it, and there are many who would, but why. It is what we have lived with over the last 27 years. It is what has given us more than 17,000 interpretations of a National Agreement that understandably could be avoided, but isn't. So, we won't argue it.
My arguments against ADR are not without merit. Management's past actions towards other programs NALC has agreed to speak for themselves.
Of course EI comes to mind, and so does the Joint implementation of DPS to name a couple. Never mind that management has attempted to ignore our "equal" participation agreements.
It's funny how we enter into these compromises then we spend the next few years defending our reasons for agreeing.
Looking even further it is management that cried to Congress and said all of our processes are broken. What an excellent way to get the single worst enemy of unions to take steps to try and decertify the strongest union in the Federal government. Need more proof - then look at what Reagan did to the air traffic controllers.
So far we have managed to hold the hounds at bay. How long we succeed depends upon our commitment to the process of preserving our union.
Our national officers have decided that it is committed to the idea of agreeing with the Postal Service that we need the ADR process. My commitment is to look closely at every approach management takes to wreck the process.
My dislike for the process is not tied to the process itself, rather it is management's self-serving attitude. In less than seven months we are scheduled to be voting for a newly negotiated Contract. Without a doubt the success of the ADR will be on the table for discussion. The months proceeding that time will be the bench mark used to agree or disagree on ADR.
Consider that if management can persuade the union to accept any change in Article 15 it has won.
With Postmaster General Marvin Runyon and Vice President Joe Mahon out of the way, there is an opening for a negotiated agreement. New PMG William J. Henderson has said that he is committed to gaining an agreement that is an agreement. We can only ask if he is committed to the process.
If he is then we will have our agreement. However, if the rhetoric we have witnessed in action with EI, DPS and all of the others proceeding ADR then we need to strengthen our commitment to keeping our union strong, even if ADR fails.
Thom Green is a member of NALC Branch 116 - Fort Wayne, IN. He has been a letter carrier and employee of the US Postal Service for 25 years (October 16, 1972). Thom is a 25 year union member and has been a steward for 20 of those years (off and on). Thom has also been editor of The Summit City Mailbag for 9 years. For the last four years he has served as an NALC DPS Training Coordinator. Thom is also the Editor of Contracts & Conflicts.